In Washington State, a judge cannot issue a divorce decree in anything less than 90 days from the initial filing. However, anyone who has ever gone through a divorce will tell you that a “90-day divorce” is technically possible but not realistic.

Why is there a mandatory waiting period?

According to Washington’s divorce handbook, the mandatory waiting period allows the parties to calm down and reach an agreement on property and custody matters. The law also believes that there may be reconciliation in the 90-day waiting period.

Why do divorces take longer than the minimum?

Ending a marriage takes a great deal of work – and in most cases– it takes far longer than just 90 days. Divorces must resolve all of the combined areas of the life you shared with your spouse, which can include:

  • Living situations
  • Childcare
  • Financial investments
  • Income
  • Bank accounts

There are a vast number of logistical complications in dealing with these issues. For example, in the case of many types of financial assets, such as employer-supplied retirement accounts, division is a delicate, complicated matter.

In addition to the logistical difficulties, there are often emotional conflicts. While a 90-day “cool down” seems wise, it’s often not enough distance to approach the end of a relationship to settle financial matters.

How long can divorce take?

There is no set time limit for a divorce. All that must happen is for both parties to agree on the terms of the dissolution. That will take as long as it takes.