- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 6, 2003

DAVENPORT, Wash. (AP) — Yesterday was Divorce Day in the Lincoln County Courthouse.In the morning, a clerk brings bins and mailbags from the post office full of new filings for dissolution of marriage. In his office one floor up, Superior Court Judge Philip Borst gets writer’s cramp signing final decrees in marathons that can last six hours or more.This is the quickie-divorce capital of Washington. It is one of the few counties in the nation where marriages can be dissolved by mail without a court appearance.Paralegal specialists and attorneys from across the state swamp County Clerk Peggy Semprimoznik’s office each week with filings for state residents desiring to sever ties from their spouses more quickly and inexpensively than they can in the counties in which they live.This wheat-farming county of just more than 10,000 people handled 4,035 domestic filings last year, most of them divorces, Miss Semprimoznik says. That is more than any other county in the state did, except King, home to more than 1.75 million residents in and around Seattle, which had 5,487 domestic filings, according to the state Health Department.”If I had my rathers, I’d rather people stayed married and had a happy marriage,” Judge Borst says. But, he says, many of the couples have tried marriage counseling without success and cannot afford a drawn-out breakup.Dissolving their marriages with a stroke of the pen can save them money and ease the strain on the whole family, he says.”From practical experience, once they get to court and fight, they can’t agree and kids suffer and they suffer,” Judge Borst says.Typically, the judge’s signature makes a divorce final in a little more than the 90-day waiting period mandated by the state. The Lincoln County rule that says a court appearance is not required in uncontested divorces was adopted in 1983 by a judge convinced it would be a timesaver. Judges have the right to issue such rules. At least two other small Washington counties follow the same practice.

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