Legal separation is similar to a divorce or dissolution of a marriage, but there are some significant legal differences. The biggest difference between the two, is that in a legal separation is that the parties remain legally married. Legal separations are similar to a divorce in that they deal with the same issues that arrive in a divorce, such as property & debt distribution, child custody, parenting plans, spousal maintenance, and child support.
When couples enter into a legal separation agreement, they can remain separated for any period of time that they choose. Or, alternately, the can also convert the separation into a divorce decree and thereby dissolve the marriage. In Washington, in order for a legal separation to be converted to a divorce, the law require that six months must pass from the date that the separation decree was filed with the court.
In cases of legal separation, both spouses must agree to it in order for the court to proceed. If either spouse does not agree with the designation of a legal separation, then the court will deny the request and will instead grant a divorce. The reasoning being choosing a legal separation can vary. Typically, couple may choose this option because their religious convictions do not allow for a divorce, but they understand that they no longer wan to live together. Some couples may also choose this option so that the other party remains eligible for financial reasons such as healthcare insurance, pensions, taxes, and immigration issues. While legal separation is far less common than divorce, there are cases where it is a suitable option. Contact the Law Offices of R.Bryan Geissler to see which option is best suited for your particular situation.