1) Does the state of Washington offer the option of legal separation, in lieu of an absolute divorce?
Yes. If the filing party requests the court to decree a legal separation in lieu of an absolute divorce, the court shall enter the decree in that form, unless the other party objects and petitions for a decree of dissolution of marriage or, in the alternative, a declaration of invalidity of the marriage.
2) What is the difference between Divorce and Legal Separation?
Both a Legal Separation or a Decree of Dissolution ( a divorce) will divide property and debts, provide for a parenting plan for any children of the marriage, set child and spousal support, and enter restraining orders if needed. The main difference is that Legally Separated persons may not legally remarry; unless the separation is converted into a divorce.
There is a six month waiting period before a Legal Separation can be converted to a Divorce, but after that wait, it's a fairly simple process.
3) Why choose a Legal Separation instead of Divorce?
Social Security Benefits, Some people married for close to 10 years will seek a legal separation rather than a divorce until a 10 year threshold is met. If the marriage has lasted at least 10 years, a divorced spouse who has not remarried may be entitled to social security benefits based upon their former spouses income.
Health Insurance, Some employers will continue to provide coverage for a spouse who has legally separated.
Religious, or other personal reasons, such as the hope to get back together.