How to File for a Legal Separation in Washington State

By Joseph Nicholson

Legal separation is very similar to divorce with one important difference. Spouses who are legally separated are technically still married and cannot remarry. Otherwise, the legal process for legal separation in Washington is very similar to that of divorce. In some cases, legal separation provides an opportunity to repair a marriage, but in others it is only a temporary stop on the way to full divorce.

Meet the residency requirement. By law, you must be a resident of the state of Washington on the date you file for legal separation. Alternatively, you can also file if you are a member of the armed services stationed in Washington. If you meet either of these criteria, in-state residency of your spouse is not necessary. There is no requirement that you and your spouse be actually separated and living in separate residences at the time of filing for legal separation.

Download a petition for legal separation and summons. The document that initiates a legal separation in Washington, the petition for legal separation, can be downloaded in Word format directly from the Washington Courts site linked in the References section. The summons can be downloaded from the same site.

File summons and petition in state court. Complete the petition and summons downloaded in the previous step and file them with the clerk of the local Superior Court in your county. A filing fee of approximately $260 will apply, though the precise amount varies by county.

Serve process. A copy of the filed petition and summons must be personally delivered to your spouse. Service of process in Washington can occur through the county sheriff, a professional process server or anyone over 18 not a party to the suit.

About the Author

Joseph Nicholson is an independent analyst whose publishing achievements include a cover feature for "Futures Magazine" and a recurring column in the monthly newsletter of a private mint. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida and is currently attending law school in San Francisco.

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