What is legal separation in Washington State and how is it different than divorce? Legal separation allows a couple to remain legally married while at the same time allowing both individuals to engage in most activities in the legal capacity of a single person.
Let’s say you’re more of a Greyhound than a St. Bernard when it comes to timelines — you like things done in a hurry — and you’ve heard that a legal separation can be quicker than a divorce. It’s true, legal separations may be finalized as quickly as you and your spouse can agree on the terms. However, sometimes something called “discovery” is necessary to fully determine the financial position of your spouse, which can slow things down. With all that said, our attorneys would advise you to think about other important factors besides speed when it comes to determining how best to dissolve your marriage.
The process of obtaining a legal separation in Washington state is very similar to that of a divorce. Either you or your spouse may file at any time requesting a legal separation. However, if your spouse wishes to seek a divorce instead of the legal separation, the court will require the matter to be a divorce.
Although parties can be legally separated indefinitely, either party may convert the decree of legal separation to a decree of dissolution ― that’s “lawyerese” for a divorce, if you’re wondering ― after 6 months from entry of the final decree of legal separation. Once the decree of legal separation is converted to a divorce decree in Washington state the marriage will be dissolved.