When it comes to legal separation in WA, it’s complicated by the fact that the State of WA doesn’t recognize legal separation. That isn’t, however, the end of the story. There are ways around this obstacle that will allow you and your spouse to accomplish the legal equivalent of a legal separation. If you’re considering a legal separation in WA, do yourself and your case a favor by working in close tandem with an experienced legal separation lawyer in Bellevue .
Why Choose Legal Separation in Bellevue, WA?
In states where legal separation is available, it generally has the same effects on one’s marriage that divorce would have. As such, many people wonder what the benefits of a legal separation are, and it’s an interesting question. Couples often have their own very individual and personal reasons for choosing this alternative to divorce, and they are sometimes based on factors such as the following:
- Each spouse can retain any federal benefits, like social security benefits, that he or she receives based upon the marriage.
- Legal separation can allow one spouse to remain on the other’s employment-based health insurance.
- Legal separation can be a good option for anyone who has a moral, religious, or social problem with divorce in general.
While you can’t actually get a legal separation in WA, you can take steps to achieve very similar results, and you may have any number of reasons for doing so. Finally, it’s worth noting that simply living separately has no bearing on your marital status as far as WA is concerned.
Your Marital Property
In a WA divorce, your marital property is divided in a way that the court deems fair in relation to the circumstances. Because there is no legal separation in WA, any workaround that you put in place as a divorce alternative is unlikely to assuage this fact. As such, any debt or assets that either of you acquires during the course of what you think of as a separation will very likely be considered marital property in the event that you do move forward with a divorce – or upon the death of one of you.
A Partition and Exchange Agreement
A partition and exchange agreement is a legal contract that allows you to transfer marital property to both of you individually, thus rendering the properties indicated separate property. Any property not accounted for in the contract, however, will remain marital property. For instance, if you draft the contract and divorce 10 years later (without amending it), any assets amassed in the interim will likely remain marital property to be divided fairly between you upon divorce. Further, if you and your spouse reconcile, the partition and exchange agreement will remain in effect until you terminate it, which can have significant inheritance implications. If, for example, you reconcile and your spouse dies – without having amended or terminated the partition and exchange agreement – the property assigned as separate property to your spouse won’t automatically flow to you as dictated by estate rules. Instead, your spouse’s heirs may share your right to inheritance.
Issues Related to Your Shared Children
When it comes to shared children and legal separation, there are several issues that are important to address, including your custodial arrangements, child support, and possible future relocation. These aren’t matters that you’re going to want to leave to chance, and as such, the State of WA allows you to file a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPR), which allows the court to address these important issues even if you aren’t divorced. If you and your separating spouse are able to settle on arrangements that work for you, the court is likely to accept them. If not, the court will make the determinations on your behalf. If you later need to alter the terms – in accordance with your evolving circumstances – you’ll need to seek a modification (just like you would post-divorce).
A Separation Agreement in Bellevue, WA
While WA does not recognize legal separation, it will allow you to draft a contract between the two of you that legally memorializes the terms you’ve landed upon. Your separation agreement can address custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and/or the issue of separate property, but it will need to be formalized by the court. If your spouse veers from the arrangements set forth in your separation agreement, you can seek the court’s intervention.
An Experienced Legal Separation Lawyer in Bellevue Can Help
If you are interested in a legal separation, it’s a complicated matter, but a resourceful Bellevue legal separation lawyer at Aberdeen Family Law are committed to helping you obtain a separation that protects your rights now – and into your future. We’re here for you, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 206-790-6430 today.