The decision to divorce is something that most couples do not come to lightly. It can be very upsetting to everyone involved, and matters can be complicated even further if children resulted from the marriage, or there was debt, wealth, or the acquisition of property. The more you know about the divorce process, the better you will be able to manage it and the less stress you will experience.

Alternatives to divorce:

When a marriage is irreparable, the process of divorce doesn’t have to be an all-out battle. Many spouses do not want to subject themselves to the expense, emotional stress, and the time required to complete a litigated divorce. Fortunately, there are other viable options to consider such as those explained below, including legal separation, mediation, or uncontested divorce. If you or a loved one is searching for an alternative to divorce, we can help find a solution that is right for you and your family.

Why Choose Us for Alternative Divorce Solutions?

  • We give clients the personal attention and respect they deserve.
  • We make it a point to be available to and remain in constant contact with our clients.
  • Our firm has more than four decades of combined legal experience advocating for spouses and their families.

Alternatives to Divorce Litigation


Declaring a marriage invalid or in other words, an annulment, is an option for Washington couples if one of the following legal grounds can be met:

  • Underage – one spouse was under the age of 18, or was at least 17 but did not have a parent’s consent.
  • Incompetence – a spouse was not capable of consenting to the marriage, whether due to being mentally ill, intoxicated, or incapacitated.
  • Duress – one spouse felt pressured into getting married.
  • Fraud – a spouse entered into marriage because they were defrauded by the other and without the fraud, the marriage would not have taken place. Examples can include hiding a venereal disease, a pregnancy from another man, or that a spouse is unable to engage in sexual intercourse.
  • Force – the marriage took place only because one spouse felt threatened or was physically forced.
  • Bigamy – a spouse is already married.
  • Incest – the spouses are related and closer than first cousins.

When a Washington court finds a marriage to be invalid, it is as if the marriage never took place.


The goal of divorce mediation is to amicably separate out a couple’s physical assets and decide what is best for the children. It can either be conducted using a court-supported Washington State Dispute Resolution Center (DRC), or conducted privately by working with divorce mediators. Mediation is ideal for couples with good communication, and who are willing to end the marriage on mutually beneficial terms. The process can also prove productive for couples who feel negatively towards one another, as mediation can take place with each party in a separate room. The mediator can then speak to each spouse individually and go back and forth. Mediators have the ability to help couples tackle issues such as the distribution of household tasks, parenting responsibilities, communication breakdowns and more.


A legal separation can be filed for in lieu of getting a divorce. Although the state of Washington does not require that a couple be legally separated before the dissolution of a marriage can be granted, there are many reasons why a couple may opt for it. Oftentimes one or both spouses would like the time to see if a reconciliation can take place, divorce may be against their religious beliefs, or one may wish to remain on the other person’s health insurance. From a practical standpoint, it is similar to being divorced, but the couple remains married in name.


An uncontested, or commonly referred to in Washington as a divorce by agreement, is available and is a less expensive option for couples who are able to agree on all issues. The following topics must be resolved prior to filing for an uncontested divorce action:

  • Child custody and visitation arrangements for minor children
  • Child support, health, and dental insurance coverage
  • Alimony or spousal support
  • Division of property
  • Division of all other assets, as well as debts
  • Any other issues related to the marriage

A 90-day waiting period is imposed on all divorce petitions by the state, beginning from the time the petition is served. When a divorce is uncontested, spouses can use that time to reach a settlement agreement.

SMYTHE JONES Law Office is Here to Help

No matter which divorce or alternative divorce solution you choose, we will do everything in our power to save you time, minimize conflict, and deliver cost-effective results. Reach out to our Family Law Attorneys today to schedule a consultation by calling (425) 436-5777 or filling out a contact forms online.