What is legal separation?

Washington State law allows married couples to get a legal separation instead of a divorce. In legal terms, the court issues a Decree of Legal Separation for separation whereby a divorce means a court orders for Dissolution of Marriage. Legal separation helps couples in certain situations (explained in a separate answer). It’s an optional step that some couples pursue, and is not required for getting a divorce.


Legal separation allows couples to make formal financial or child arrangements just as they would in an actual divorce. Legal separation allows a couple to legally split their property and debt. In addition, if a couple has children, legal separation, like a divorce, allows the couple to obtain court orders for child custody, support and visitation

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