I was recently looking online for a link to a specific law firm when I found information in a well-known legal directory. It was titled “When you need a divorce lawyer,” and I found this:
…getting divorced may be the most challenging thing you ever do. Add in the cost and
the complexity of hiring a lawyer, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But having an
attorney in your corner can help alleviate the stress of going it alone and avoid
costly mistakes, especially in situations such as: When you are pursuing a fault divorce. A “fault” divorce means the legal reason (ground) for divorce is that one spouse engaged in misconduct that led to the breakdown of the marriage. It would be best if you spoke to an experienced divorce attorney in your area before you file for a fault-based divorce to find out if you can prove your case, and whether there is any advantage to pursuing a fault divorce that may outweigh the added legal fees, court costs, stress, and conflict with your ex.
The other points were reasonably correct, but this is a glaring error. This is entirely misleading! What is missing here is that each state has different laws regarding
divorce. Washington State is a no-fault state. This means you do not have to prove fault for a divorce. The language on a petition is “The marriage is irretrievably broken.” End of story.
The court does not even want to hear your story. As a divorce lawyer who cares about her clients, I often listen to the story because it does give me some background and understanding of my client so I can best serve her. But the truth is I do not need to know why someone is getting a divorce. But to the court, it does not matter, period.
To be clear, this applies to divorce in Washington State. There can be a civil action for extreme abuse, physical or mental, but these actions are extremely rare, and I would recommend an attorney who specializes in these kinds of actions.
I have also seen financial advisors offer misinformation. Most likely, they are writing from New York or some other state. I have sometimes responded to them to clarify the law in Washington, but they have yet to respond. They don’t care. The most common error I see is that community property means all assets and debt are divided 50-50. This is not true in Washington State. Washington State uses the term “equitable.”
What does that mean? The answer is my oft-used expression, “it depends.” There
are situations in long-term marriages where one spouse has not worked for years, and they should be compensated with more than half the assets.
Bottom line: rely on something other than general divorce information you find online. Make sure you are talking to an attorney licensed in Washington State.