If I have a legal separation in place, how would I change it to a divorce?

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If I have a legal separation in place, how would I change it to a divorce?

Do I need to go through an attorney to have this done, or is this something I can do on my own through the county court system?

Asked on March 7, 2011 under Family Law, Washington

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can always represent yourself in court but it would be a good idea to at least consult with a divorce attorney before moving forward to file for a divorce. A legal separation is important because it sets a specific court-ordered date of how your assets and liabilities will be treated until actual divorce. When you are legally separated (typically living separate and apart with no possibility of reconciliation), your income and other assets are considered now to be your separate property and the same holds true of your liabilities (like credit card debts and loans). Filing for divorce is to legally dissolve the marriage.  It is a separate motion and proceeding than one for legal separation. While some of the issues may be raised again (like support and custody and separation of assets), the final accounting is handled through the divorce process.


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