When a marriage is on the rocks, it is perfectly normal for each spouse to consider an exit plan. But how exactly should you end the marriage? In Washington, sparring spouses can choose to divorce or to legally separate.
By far, divorce is the more popular option, but we have found that very few clients even know what legal separation is. Divorce and legal separation are very similar but have some key differences. Our Tacoma divorce attorneys can explain them to help you make an informed decision.
You Stay Married when Legally Separated
This is the big difference. You are not divorced, so you can continue to call yourself married. For some people with religious objections to divorce, this is important.
However, being married means that you cannot get married again while legally separated. So if you think another trip to the altar is in the works, then you will eventually need to divorce.
You Can Retain Important Benefits with Legal Separation
Why would anyone stay married to someone they no longer live with? Well, for the benefits, probably. If you are still legally married, you usually still qualify to stay on your spouse’s health insurance, for example. You might also qualify for other benefits that require you are married.
If you divorce, then you could lose these key financial supports. You should carefully consider whether you want to stay married for financial purposes.
No Waiting Period
A divorce in Washington has a 90-day waiting period. Legal separation does not, though we have found that many people will wait 90 days anyways because some judges believe that the waiting period also applies to legal separation.
In Sum, Divorce and Legal Separation are Very Much the Same
We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you that divorce and legal separation are more similar than different. You will use the same forms to file with the court and request the same relief. A judge will need to decide:
- Division of assets and debts
- Possible alimony
- Child support
- Parenting plan (child custody)
- Name change request
Of course, you and your spouse can reach an agreement yourselves and draft a separation agreement that addresses all these issues. Reaching agreement can speed up the legal process and make the separation less stressful for everyone involved. But you shouldn’t expect getting legally separated to be “easier” because it is really, at base, the same process as divorce. There is simply a different end result.
Work with Experienced Tacoma Divorce Attorneys
If you are deciding between divorce and legal separation, contact Alliance Law Group today. One of our Tacoma divorce attorneys will be happy to meet with you to discuss your options in depth. Although most of our clients choose divorce, we have ample experience with legal separation and can help you decide whether it is the right choice for you. We will help you understand how your situation going forward could benefit by being legally separated or divorced.
Contact us today. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers by calling or sending us an online message.