Articles Tagged with ending the marriage

Some people come to our office hoping that they can annul their marriage. People may want to annul marriage because they regret their decision to marry their new spouse, or because they feel like their marriage was a sham. They want their marriage (and their spouse) to go away and to be able to try and put their life back together. In Washington the process is not called an annulment it is called a determination of validity, but the effect is similar, and unfortunately for these people, is only available inĀ  limited circumstances.

While it is not called an annulment in Washington State, it has the same desired effect. A decree of invalidity makes it as if the marriage never happened. RCW 26.09.040 is the law governing the procedure and requirements necessary for someone to have their marriage declared invalid. The statute requires that both parties to the marriage be living and that at least one of the parties is a resident of the State of Washington (or a member of the armed services stationed in this state).

A declaration of invalidity may be obtained if the court finds that at the time of the marriage one of the following circumstances was present:

In Washington, instead of filing for dissolution of marriage, a spouse may request what is called a legal separation. People, are often confused about what this means. This is probably partially because the term “legal separation” or “separated” is used in different ways in family law. First, the term is used to define the period of time between when the marriage becomes defunct, and when the parties are finally divorced. Second, there is the legal process to obtain what is called a legal separation. This blog post intends to speak about the latter meaning of the term. Below please find a list of things you may want to know about legal separation:

  1. Legal Separation as defined by RCW 26.09.030 is not a necessary part of the dissolution process (though it can be part of the process). Instead, it is a separate process that can be used to achieve somewhat different (though overlapping) relief.
  2. With a legal separation spouses can obtain a parenting plan, a division of debts and liabilities, spousal maintenance, a child support order, and more.
  3. If a spouse files a petition for legal separation, and changes their mind and wants a divorce, that person may have to file a second petition (this time for dissolution of marriage) requesting that the court dissolve their marriage.
  4. Six months after a decree of legal separation has been filed, the decree may be converted to a decree of dissolution by either party (without the other party’s consent).
  5. Unless a spouse takes further action (see above), the marriage will not be dissolved at the end of the legal separation process.

If you have questions about legal separation, please schedule an appointment with a Seattle family lawyer.

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