Legal Separation

In Washington, one spouse can file for a legal separation if they want to live separately but do not want to divorce. The process of filing for a legal separation makes the separation officially recognized by the court and creates special consequences if the parties later decide to divorce.

Many people decide to file for a legal separation while the parties decide whether to seek a divorce. In these cases, the parties want to live separately and have their finances separated. The parties might also file for a legal separation in order to get help with issues related to child supportchild custody, the division of marital debts and assets, and spousal support.

Attorneys for Legal Separation in Seattle, WA

If you want to file for a legal separation or a divorce, then contact an experienced matrimonial law attorney in Seattle, Washington, at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. Contact us to find out more about the process for obtaining a legal separation recognized by the state.

We represent clients throughout King and Snohomish County and the greater Seattle–Bellevue-Everett metropolitan area including Seattle, Everett, Lynnwood, Woodinville, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, Bothell, North Seattle, Greenwood, Greenlake, Ballard, Medina, Redmond, Renton, Tukwila, Burien, Normandy Park, Kent, North Bend, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Kirkland, Carnation, Issaquah, Sammamish, Vashon Island, and Maury Island.

Call (206) 712-2756 to discuss your case today.

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The Difference Between a Divorce and Legal Separation in Washington

What is the difference between a divorce and a legal separation? Both require the filing of a Petition. If you have minor children, both a divorce and a legal separation require that you attend a mandatory parenting seminar before entering final orders, even if all issues are agreed upon prior to filing.

The court requires a 90-day mandatory waiting period prior to entry of final orders in a divorce. But for a legal separation, the court can enter final orders at any time after filing. You must still wait six months prior to either party filing a motion to convert the legal separation into a divorce.

In all other respects, both the divorce and the legal separation action require the same documents and have all of the same results, except that at the end of a legal separation the parties cannot marry another person.

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The Steps for Filing or a Legal Separation in Washington State

No period of legal separation is required for a divorce. Additionally, unlike a divorce, a residency requirement for a specified length of time is not required prior to filing for the legal separation. In fact, the parties can file for the legal separation in the Superior Court in any of the counties in the state of Washington

The first step in obtaining a legal separation is filing the petition. Any children should be identified in the petition for a legal separation. The petition will also identify the date of your marriage and the city and state where the parties were married. The petition also states the date that one spouse moved out of the marital home. The petition describes the marital property owned by the parties and any request to divide the property now or have those issues decided later. Property that can be divided in the legal separation can include the marital home, other real estate, bank accounts, and vehicles.

The petition for a legal separation in Washington will also discuss the parties martial debt and liabilities including any request to divide the property or debts. As with property, you may choose to have the court decide debt and liability division later, or you can request a specific division. Identify all debts by total amount owed, creditor and account number, if applicable. Other relief requested in the petition for a legal separation can include spousal maintenance or alimony.

You must also complete the confidential information form to notify the court of any information that must be kept confidential so that it does not become a public record. Other documents that must be filed with the petition include the case information cover sheet. The legal separation petition can be filed in the Superior Court in any county in Washington. You must also pay any filing fee which varies by county.

After the legal separation petition is filed in the Superior Court in any county in Washington and the filing fee is paid, you must serve a copy of the petition and summons on your spouse.

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Additional Resources

Petition for Legal Separation in Washington – Visit the official website for the state of Washington to find the forms for the petition for legal separation, the confidential information form, the attachment to confidential information for for additional parties or children, the notice about a marriage or domestic partnership the certificate of legal separation, proof of personal service, agreement to join petition (often called the “joinder”), and service accepted form. Your attorney will help you schedule the final hearing using the appropriate court forms to schedule the hearing, known as the notice of hearing. After the trial, the court will enter the Legal Separation Order. When minor children are involved, the court will also file a Child Support Order, and Washington State Child Support Schedule and Worksheets.

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Finding a Lawyer for a Legal Separation in Seattle, Washington

A legal separation is a court order that mandates the rights and duties of a couple while they are still married but living apart. On the other hand, a divorce is the only way to end the marriage. Whether you want a legal separation or a divorce, contact an experienced matrimonial lawyer in Seattle, Washington.

Our family law attorneys in Seattle, Washington, also help clients obtain a certificate of dissolution, declaration of invalidity of marriage, or legal separation.

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