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Family law: Legal separation before divorce might be wise

When Washington couples decide to end their marriages, they will have different options to consider. One of the options available under family law is a legal separation. While they will remain married, they will be divorced from bed and board. Any property acquired after the date of the separation agreement will be regarded as non-marital assets.

Couples can negotiate a separation agreement and address the same matters as they would in a divorce settlement agreement. Issues included can be the division of property and debts and child-related issues, such as parenting, custody and visitation. They may also agree on child support and alimony, but it will have to be approved by the court, and both parents will have to be allocated reasonable visitation with the children.

If one of the spouses wants to relocate to another state during the period of legal separation, it might be wise to consult with an attorney to learn about the other state's laws regarding legal separations. If the couple ultimately decides to file for a divorce, the court might base the divorce settlement on the separation agreement. This would depend on how workable and effective the separation agreement was.

Some couples choose to use a legal separation to spend time apart before rushing to the divorce court. However, they might not realize that seeking legal counsel during this process is crucial mainly because this agreement might form the basis of a final settlement agreement. A Washington attorney who is experienced in all aspects of family law can be a valuable asset and source of support and advice during this challenging time.

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