Legal separation can be a great choice for couples that no longer wish to share their lives and finances, but many don’t exactly understand what legal separation is or why it might work for some people better than a divorce. Let’s dispel some common myths and misunderstandings regarding legal separation in Washington State:
Myth #1: You only have to move out in order to have a legal separation.
When you or your spouse moves out of the house, you are informally separated. To get a legal separation, you have to file paperwork in court. Some couples may benefit from simply separating physically but not legally, while others prefer to split legally, especially for financial reasons.
Myth #2: Legal separation is just like a divorce.
It’s true that legal separation and divorce are more similar than many people think, but there are a few key differences. In a legal separation, you are still married to your partner in name, and you can still share some of the benefits that married couples have, such as health insurance and retirement benefits. In addition, you may still be considered married by your church.
Myth #3: If we are legally separated, we can’t live together.
Just as being married doesn’t require you to live under the same roof, being legally separated does not require you to live under different roofs. However, many legally separated couples choose to live apart from one another for a number of reasons. Some might be ascertaining whether a divorce is the right next step, while others may find it easier to separate their finances while living apart.
Myth #4: If we are legally separated, we have to eventually divorce.
Many couples that legally separate eventually divorce. However, some remain legally separated permanently while others decide to reconcile their marriage. It is important to understand that because couples choose legal separation for a variety of reasons, the next step after their legal separation differs.
Myth #5: There’s no good reason to get a legal separation in Washington.
It’s true that it can be difficult to understand the differences between divorce and legal separation—and that, for many, legal separation is not the best option. However, legal separation is the ideal next step in many circumstances. For example, couples may choose legal separation for religious reasons (if their church or place of worship frowns upon divorce) or if one spouse needs medical support and the other spouse provides a health insurance plan. Couples may also choose legal separation if they are considering divorce but would like to first choose a less drastic option.
Myth #6: You never need a lawyer when filing for a legal separation.
Just because legal separation isn’t as drastic a step as divorce does not mean that you do not need a family law attorney to help you through the process. In a legal separation, you still need to divide your assets and debts with your partner and come up with plans regarding your children, retirement, and living arrangements. If you have been married for a long time, have a lot of property, or have a complicated split, an attorney may be able to protect your rights and help you through the process.
Although some legal separations are cut and dry, others are not. In addition, just like a divorce, you may not know what you are entitled to or what you should fight for without speaking to a lawyer. You may even wish to speak with a lawyer to discuss whether legal separation or divorce is the better choice for you and your family.
Seattle Divorce Attorneys
If you are considering a divorce or legal separation, you may wish to have the assistance of a Seattle family lawyer. At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we can help you navigate the process and make certain you get what you deserve before starting a fresh chapter in your life. Call us today for more information: 425-460-0550.