Washington law currently requires a 90 day “cooling off” period before parties can finalize a divorce matter. This means that the parties must wait 90 days after filing and serving the Petition for Dissolution before final orders can be entered in the case, thereby terminating the marriage.
This same 90 day cooling off period does not currently apply to a request for legal separation. In that event, the parties could file a Petition for Legal Separation and enter final orders on the very same day (although they have to wait at least six months to convert the legal separation to a dissolution of marriage).
No Washington case had ever addressed what happens in the event the parties originally file for legal separation and then later amend the request to seek dissolution of the marriage. In a recent decision, the Washington State Supreme Court decided that the 90 day waiting period commences when the Amended Petition for Dissolution is filed and served, not when the original Petition for Legal Separation was filed.
Nicole M. Bolan, Attorney at Law
Blado Kiger Bolan, Tacoma, Wash.