There may be benefits of legal separation vs. divorce in Washington state. For some, legal separation may allow one spouse to retain valuable benefits. Our attorneys have decades of experience with legal separations in Washington state. The term “Legal Separation” can have at least two meanings in a family law matter. At the time the marriage is deemed to be “defunct” and there is no marital community, the separation date has occurred. A marriage is deemed to be defunct at the time one of the spouses has made the claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Debts and liabilities incurred after the separation date may also be characterized as the separate debt or liability of the spouse incurring the debt or liability after the separation date. Spouses may also file a Petition for Legal Separation as opposed to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The difference between these two types of petitions is that at the end of the case when a Petition for Legal Separation is filed, the parties are still married. A Decree of Legal Separation is entered with the Court rather than a Decree of Dissolution.
However, the Court has the same authority to divide assets and debts, make provisions for spousal maintenance, child support and child custody in a Decree of Legal Separation.The filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is a bright line establishing the separation date. The separation date is important in that property and debt acquired after the separation date is characterized as separate property, even though the parties are still married. Therefore, earnings from employment or other funds acquired by the effort of a spouse may be determined to be the separate property of the spouse earning or acquiring the funds.