While it can be easy to focus one's attention on the emotional aspects of a divorce there are a number of financial issues that must be handled as well. For example, if and how the parties will manage an alimony agreement or order must be managed. The parties must also address how they will ensure that their children are financially provided for.
Ending a marriage is challenging no matter what situation the partners to the couple find themselves in at the termination of their relationship. Even if they are both gainfully employed and amicable in their interactions they still must work through the gritty details of dividing their marital property and, if relevant, managing the important task of providing stability for their kids. When a pair of Washington parents pursues divorce they must prioritize the custodial well-being of their children.
When one reads about celebrity divorce shenanigans in the popular press, one could reasonably expect to see a byline of New York, Los Angeles or, perhaps, Miami. However, a recent divorce settlement with distinctively Washington roots has made a splash in the national media. In May, Francis Bean Cobain - the daughter of late Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain and musician and actress Courtney Love - announced that her split from Isaiah Silva had been finalized.
Clearly, divorce is much more common than it once was in the United States, with a large percentage of marriages ultimately being dissolved. On the other hand, since the 1970s, divorce rates on a nationwide basis have actually been declining. Even so, one out of every 10 people in the country is a divorced person who has not remarried. According to a recent study, more than 30 percent of divorced men and over 50 percent of divorced women are not interested in being married again.
While Washington does allow for contested dissolution proceedings, it is one of the states that understand that sometimes marriages or partnerships just come to an end. Most dissolved marriages occurring in the state are "no fault" divorces. In this type of proceeding, the petitioning party alleges that the martial bond is "irretrievably broken," and if the other party does not dispute the allegation, the judge will order the divorce after a 90-day waiting period.
In many states, couples who are getting divorced must allege - and if contested, prove - that a divorce is necessary based on a ground laid out by statute. Examples include such things as adultery, bigamy, abuse, incarceration, etc. Other jurisdictions recognize a "no-fault" divorce. In these types of dissolution proceedings, the couples basically just agree that they want to get divorced and file the necessary petitions.
Divorce is typically not an easy process for the individuals involved. There may be heartbreak or sadness, and in some cases, disagreement or animosity. If there are children involved, their well-being will be of utmost importance for both the parents and the court. Clearly the process of getting divorced can be fraught with emotion and scattered with pitfalls that can derail the process at any time.
In the state of Washington, married couples who wish to separate but not divorce can file a petition for legal separation. Legal separation is not too different from marital dissolution. In fact, the processes for both are quite similar. The parties file a petition in court, and after the initial pleadings, the assigned judge may hear motions and make some early rulings.
In Washington, people who are not the biological parents of a child can be given parental rights under a legal doctrine established by case law over the last decade or so. The "de facto parent" doctrine was first introduced in the context of a same-sex divorce that involved a child. Since then, it has been expanded to anyone who can meet all four prongs of a test laid down by the Washington Supreme Court.
Divorce, unfortunately, always carries the possibility of having negative effects on the children involved. And most often, divorcing parents want to act in the best interests of their children. When the parents have a good relationship, they may consider a "handshake" child custody arrangement in order to do "what's best" for the children. In Washington, as in any other state, this is not the best idea.