Legal Separation in Washington state

For some people, divorce is easier said than done.  Sometimes people are unsure about a divorce, but need separation and flexibility to figure out whether or not reconciliation is in the cards.  For other people, there is no question that a divorce is needed but considerations around finances, health or religion make a divorce problematic.  A legal separation can provide the legal framework to secure residential time with children, support, insurance coverage and property ownership while a couple negotiates the act of separation.

How to file for legal separation in Washington state

The process for a legal separation is very much like a divorce in that it is commenced with the filing a petition and summons. All that’s required of you is that you are a resident of Washington and you file in the Superior Court of your county of your residence or in the residence of your spouse if they live reside in a different county.  Thereafter, if the parties are in agreement with the legal separation a separation contract defining the specific terms of the separation is typically drafted and filed with the Court.   Where the parties are not in agreement, a party can still seek temporary orders from the Court to address specific needs just as would be done in a regular divorce action.

What if we want to end the separation and live together again?

As long as both people agree to reconcile, a court can approve a motion to withdraw, dismiss or vacate any petition or orders relating to the legal separation.

What if we decide to divorce later?

A spouse can convert the legal separation into a divorce after six months of separation. Keep in mind that both spouses do not have to agree to get a divorce as long as the other spouse is legally notified.

Legal separation: How to handle child arrangements

A Legal Separation may be one way to assist children in the adjustment to their parent’s failed marriage. A separation agreement can provide for:

Contact a Washington separation lawyer

If you would like to obtain a legal separation, or if you are already involved in a family law dispute, it is important to seek legal counsel experience with family court to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected.

To schedule a consultation to discuss your family law case, contact our experienced Vancouver family law attorneys at Spencer & Sundstrom. After that initial consultation, we will thoroughly review your case and expectations. You can rely on our experience to provide solid legal counsel and guidance for you and your family.