A 90-day "cooling off" period before a divorce decree, is prescribed by law in Washington State. But there is a hotly-debated issue as to whether legal separations deserve the same allowance. In reading the actual RCW (posted underneath), I don't see how this law can be interpreted that legal separations have no wait period whereas divorces etc. do.
In WA, certain counties uphold the 90 days for legal separations and others do not, which to me signals a badly-written law.
The actual logic and grammar of the law does not at all describe the surgical extraction of the 90 days just from legal separations (d) because the preamble should, by grammar and logic rules, apply to all subheadings after the colon.
The preamble specifies "dissolutions" and though a legal separation is not a dissolution per se, since 87% of legally separated couples wind up divorced and the same custody, property and maintenance agreements are enforced, it is definitely en-route to dissolution and should itself have a "cooling off" period, one would think. Reversal is often difficult or impossible, so the status ruling is as serious as a dissolution. The detour from legal separation to reversal (motion to reverse) is not even guaranteed.
And by not allowing the cooling off period as with divorces, the law offers a "quickie divorce" cheat method: If you removed the 90 day wait period from legal separations, the verbiage describes how a person could just get a legal separation, the other object to it, and then they get a dissolution without the 90 day wait period at all! No fault, no wait, bam, done. The legislature in WA has made clear that due to ill effects on children, that dissolutions (and I'd argue legal separations) require time and reflection.
Is it worth arguing that there should be a 90 day wait period for legal separations? Why is the court motivated to not want the wait period just for Legal separation? Thanks
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+++++++++++ RCW §26.09.030 ^
Petition for dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership—Court proceedings, findings—Transfer to family court—Legal separation in lieu of dissolution.
When a party who (1) is a resident of this state, or (2) is a member of the armed forces and is stationed in this state, or (3) is married or in a domestic partnership to a party who is a resident of this state or who is a member of the armed forces and is stationed in this state, petitions for a dissolution of marriage or dissolution of domestic partnership, and alleges that the marriage or domestic partnership is irretrievably broken and when ninety days have elapsed since the petition was filed and from the date when service of summons was made upon the respondent or the first publication of summons was made, the court shall proceed as follows:
(a) If the other party joins in the petition or does not deny that the marriage or domestic partnership is irretrievably broken, the court shall enter a decree of dissolution.
(b) If the other party alleges that the petitioner was induced to file the petition by fraud, or coercion, the court shall make a finding as to that allegation and, if it so finds shall dismiss the petition.
(c) If the other party denies that the marriage or domestic partnership is irretrievably broken the court shall consider all relevant factors, including the circumstances that gave rise to the filing of the petition and the prospects for reconciliation and shall: (i) Make a finding that the marriage or domestic partnership is irretrievably broken and enter a decree of dissolution of the marriage or domestic partnership; or (ii) At the request of either party or on its own motion, transfer the cause to the family court, refer them to another counseling service of their choice, and request a report back from the counseling service within sixty days, or continue the matter for not more than sixty days for hearing. If the cause is returned from the family court or at the adjourned hearing, the court shall: (A) Find that the parties have agreed to reconciliation and dismiss the petition; or (B) Find that the parties have not been reconciled, and that either party continues to allege that the marriage or domestic partnership is irretrievably broken. When such facts are found, the court shall enter a decree of dissolution of the marriage or domestic partnership.
(d) If the petitioner requests the court to decree legal separation in lieu of dissolution, the court shall enter the decree in that form unless the other party objects and petitions for a decree of dissolution or declaration of invalidity.
(e) In considering a petition for dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership, a court shall not use a party's pregnancy as the sole basis for denying or delaying the entry of a decree of dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership. Granting a decree of dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership when a party is pregnant does not affect further proceedings under chapter 26.26A or 26.26B RCW.