Legal Separation Or Divorce?

It is not uncommon for a couple to decide their marriage is essentially over. However, it is not always easy to take the leap into divorce. Spouses may decide to separate instead of formally dissolving their marriage. For those in Washington considering this option, it is important to understand the laws and implications of such a choice.

While living together may be too painful, a couple may have good reason for not ending the marriage legally. For example, once spouse may depend on their other’s health insurance. They may not be eligible for certain Social Security benefits unless they are legally married 10 years or more, so they remain married but separated. Remaining married also offers the potential for tax breaks single people do not get. Finally, some couples may have the hope of reconciling and are reluctant to divorce.

Nevertheless, legal separation is similar to divorce in a number of ways. Spouses typically divide their property, determine child custody, and often pay child or spousal support during a separation just as in a divorce. However, a spouse may not remarry while legally separated, and any debt one spouse incurs during the separation may be the responsibility of both spouses.

Legal separation has its benefits, but it is critical that Washington couples have as much information as possible before taking this step. An attorney can assist a spouse who has questions or concerns about what to expect from a legal separation. If one spouse should decide to convert the separation to divorce, legal advice can make the transition less stressful.

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The Law Offices of Stacy D. Heard, PLLC

Stacy Heard is an accomplished and well-respected family law attorney in Seattle, Washington who has served clients for over 20 years. Stacy specializes in matrimonial and family law. She handles matters of divorce, high-conflict parenting plan/child custody issues, international custody disputes and Hague Convention cases, complex financial issues, relocation, restraining orders, child support, and modifications of Parenting Plans and Child Support Orders.

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