Some couples choose to get legally separated rather than divorced for religious or personal reasons. While legally separated people are under no obligation to ever get divorced, those people who wish to remarry will have to get divorced to do so. In Washington, the state allows separated couples to convert their legal separation into a divorce if they meet certain requirements.
If a couple wishes to be divorced, they must wait six months from the date of their separation. After the six month waiting period, either person can petition the court by motion to convert the separation to divorce.
Either person can submit this motion. If the motion is uncontested by either party, then both individuals can sign together, similar to how they would if they were filing an uncontested divorce.
The motion to convert the separation may include additional requests or issues. For example, as part of the divorce the couple may need to re-negotiate things like spousal support, child support, or the division of property and debts. If this is the case, then usually the couple will present an agreement to the judge with the order converting the separation to divorce.
Once the judge signs the conversion order, the couple will be legally divorced and free to marry who they please. The new dissolution decree and any associated orders will now control the couple’s support obligations, property division, and other issues rather than the separation agreement or order.
Converting a legal separation to a divorce is a relatively easy process if you have help. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our attorneys will review your existing separation agreement and help you create a plan for your divorce. If you need assistance with divorce, child support, legal separation, or any other family law issue, contact Pacific Northwest Family Law today by calling 509-572-3700.