Washington State law does allow married couples to enter into a binding legal separation instead of an actual Dissolution of Marriage (divorce).
Legal separation in Washington State allows you and your spouse to obtain a court approved Decree of Legal Separation. However, legal separation is not required before filing or obtaining a divorce in Washington. There are many reasons that spouses elect to get a Decree of Legal Separation instead of a divorce (or Decree of Dissolution of Marriage). The most common reason a splitting couples choose legal separation is to make formal financial or child arrangements just as they would in an actual divorce.
What is the process for Legal Separation?
The process for Legal Separation is very similar to an uncontested divorce. The primary difference is that the legal documents vary and the initial request to the court is different. The final Decree from the court is a Decree of Legal Separation instead of a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. A Decree of Legal Separation can be converted to a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (divorce). If the court has already granted the Decree and one of the spouses wishes to convert the Legal Separation to a divorce, a motion can be made with the court to convert the legal separation to a divorce.
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