Family Law

What are the Benefits of Legal Separation?

Divorce has a heaviness to it that can be intimidating to some people who are unhappy with the condition of their marriage. To completely and permanently end a marriage (and any benefits the marriage may afford) causes many couples to hesitate, even if they no longer want to be together. If you are finding yourself in this situation, you should know that there is a “comfortable in-between” called legal separation.

In Washington, legal separation is a legal action that enacts certain elements of a divorce, but does not end the marriage. This can be a benefit for couples who rely on some of the benefits of being legally married. Some people enjoy tax cuts for being married, others rely on their spouse for health insurance, and others may need to be married to stay in the country. A divorce would have removed all of that and more, but a legal separation does not.

Another benefit of legal separation is that it can give a couple room to decide. Sometimes couples just need space and time apart before they can work on the health of their marriage or decide to move forward with a full divorce.

Deciding Divorce-Like Conditions
Just as legal separation looks like marriage in some ways, it also takes on aspects of a full divorce and should be approached just as you would with a divorce. In particular, you and your spouse – not ex-spouse since you haven’t divorced, remember? – will need to make decisions and come to agreements on many important aspects of your day-to-day lives, just as if you were divorcing. To ensure that your interests are protected, both spouses should seek out legal representation by a divorce attorney.

Legally separated couples will need to consider:

Parenting plans
Child support
Property division
Spousal support (alimony)
It is within this process that legal separation can become complicated, as if it was a complete divorce. Legal separation involves many of the same technical and legal aspects as divorce – it is not a quick or easy solution, but one that may provide some couples with the best of both worlds (married and divorced). To help avoid conflicts and get a firm grip on the direction your marriage is taking, we invite you speak with our Washington divorce attorneys at McKinley Irvin. We have offices located throughout the state and would be happy to hear your case.