It is not uncommon for people to come into our office wanting to know what grounds they need to get divorced.
They might say, “My spouse has not had an affair or been abusive, but I just don’t want to be married anymore. Can I still get divorced?” We explain that Washington is a no-fault state, which means that you do not need grounds to get divorced (other than being able to repeat “the marriage is irretrievably broken”). You do not have to prove that the other party has done something wrong – you are entitled to get divorced simply because you want it.
On the other hand, we also get people who come into our office asking, “My spouse is very abusive and had an affair. Will that make a difference in the settlement?” We then have to explain that fault simply does not have anything to do with divorce in Washington. It will not affect the settlement, just like it won’t affect whether the divorce happens.
The divorce process looks at things like what the parties acquired during the marriage, what the needs and abilities of the parties are going forward, and the length of the marriage.
It is my understanding that all states now allow no-fault divorces, but that there are still some states where fault can still make a difference, such as allowing the divorce to complete more quickly. It is possible that fault (such as having an affair) might also influence the financial settlement in some states.