There is an option for couples experiencing marital problems that don’t involve divorce. This process is known as the legal separation Washington state. Many couples prefer to legally separate instead of divorce so that they’re going to have time to examine if they will reconcile or because a divorce goes against their religious beliefs. People choose legal separation over divorce for a variety of other reasons including medical insurance benefits, military benefits, or immigration status.
A legal separation in Washington State allows a couple to formalize a separation while remaining legally married. It’s accomplished through a court order and is a legally binding decree. Legal separation isn’t a requirement before filing for divorce and lots of couples can reconcile during this point.
As the dissolution of the marriage process, the legal separation Washington state process begins with the filing of a petition. The difference between the 2 petitions is that one asks for the court to dissolve the marriage, while the opposite requests that the parties be declared legally separated. The legal separation process includes the same phases as the dissolution process: filing of initial pleadings, temporary orders (in some cases), discovery, (sometimes) mediation or arbitration, and eventually, if the parties cannot otherwise agree, a trial. Also just like the dissolution process, the legal separation process culminates with a decree and other associated orders.
One of the foremost common reasons couples prefer to pursue a legal separation with the court is that it allows them to create financial arrangements, like deciding who can pay the bills and who will retain certain property and possessions. When the court is involved in the separation, temporary arrangements are made for the following:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Child visitation schedule
- Division of assets and debts
Just as being married doesn’t require you to live under the same roof, being legally separated doesn’t require you to live under different roofs. However, many legally separated couples prefer to live aside from each other for a variety of reasons. Some could be ascertained whether divorce is the right next step, while others may find it easier to separate their finances while living apart.
Who is legally separated rather than divorced may not remarry. Because the parties are still legally married, they’re not eligible to marry another person.
Importantly, six months after a decree of legal separation is entered either party can ask the court to convert the legal separation into a decree of dissolution ending the marriage. If this happens, the court will grant the petition and convert the legal separation to a divorce.
Just because legal separation isn’t as drastic a step as divorce doesn’t mean that you simply don’t need a family law attorney to assist you through the process. During a legal separation, you continue to divide your assets and debts together with your partner and come up with plans regarding your children, retirement, and living arrangements. If you’ve been married for an extended time, have tons of property, or have a complicated split, an attorney could also be ready to protect your rights and assist you through the process.
Although some legal separation Washington state is cut and dry, others aren’t. additionally, a bit like a divorce, you’ll not know what you’re entitled to or what you ought to fight for without chatting with a lawyer. You’ll even wish to talk with a lawyer to debate whether legal separation or divorce is the more sensible choice for you and your family.