How to File for a Legal Separation in Washington State

by Anna Assad
    Property, including the family car, can be addressed in the legal separation.

    Property, including the family car, can be addressed in the legal separation.

    Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images

    In the state of Washington, you may file for legal separation from your spouse if you want to live separate and apart but not divorce. Filing for a legal separation makes the separation official, as opposed to one spouse simply moving to a different residence. Washington law does not require a period of legal separation for a divorce and doesn't set a residency requirement for a specified length of time. You only need to be a resident of Washington on the day you file the petition for legal separation and may file in the Superior Court of any county in the state.

    Step 1

    Complete the information requested at the top of the petition. Enter your name as the petitioner at the top left of the form. Enter your spouse's name as the respondent. Leave the "No." field blank, as you'll be assigned a case number when you file.

    Step 2

    Complete the personal information section of the petition. You will need to enter your name and address, spouse's name and address, and names and ages of your dependent children, if any. Identify each child's parent as requested on the form. If a line doesn't apply, leave it blank. Enter the date of your marriage and the city and state where you were married on the designated lines. Check off the statement that applies to you in item 1.6 and enter any dates (such as the date your spouse moved out of the family home) that apply to your statement selection. Check off the applicable statement in item 1.7.

    Step 3

    Provide details concerning your marital property. You may opt to have the court consider property division later or state how you want the property divided with your spouse. Accurately describe the property if you are requesting property division. For example, if you want the family home, identify the home as real estate and by street address, city and state. Include bank names and account numbers for all financial accounts. Identify make, model and years for any vehicles.

    Step 4

    Complete the next section on martial debt and liabilities. As with property, you may chose to have the court decide debt and liability division later, or you can request a specific division. Identify all debts by total amount owed, creditor and account number, if applicable.

    Step 5

    Complete items 1.10 to 1.15 in Section 1, and review each item carefully. If an item does not apply – for example, you and your spouse have no children – select the "Does Not Apply" option. Item 1.16 of Section 1 is for other issues you want to address on the petition not covered elsewhere.

    Step 6

    Complete Section 2. Check any boxes next to the relief you are requesting from the court besides the legal separation, such as spousal maintenance.

    Step 7

    Sign and date the petition, using the lines designated for "Petitioner or Lawyer" and on the petitioner lines below. Enter the city and state where you signed the petition on the applicable lines.

    Step 8

    Complete the summons. Enter your name as the petitioner and your spouse's name as the respondent at the top of the form. Check off that you are requesting a legal separation on item 1. Date the form, print and sign your name as the petitioner at the bottom of the form. Select where you want your spouse to deliver his response to the petition – you can specify yourself or your lawyer – and provide the address for whichever delivery method you choose. You don't have to use your home address. Insert the name and address of the court where you intend to file in the spaces at the bottom.

    Step 9

    Complete the confidential information form. You use this form to notify the court of any information that must be kept confidential and should not become part of the public record, such as driver license numbers. Complete all areas of the form that apply. Sign and date at the bottom.

    Step 10

    Visit the Superior Court in the county where you intend to file and go to the court clerk's office. Bring valid identification, your petition, the summons and the confidential information form. File your petition and summons, and pay the filing fees, which vary by county. Complete any other forms provided by the clerk, such as a case information cover sheet. Follow all instructions on these forms. Make sure you make and save copies of all filed forms.

    Things Needed

    • Petition for Legal Separation
    • Summons
    • Confidential Legal Separation form
    • Filing Fee

    Tips & Warnings

    • You may obtain legal separation forms from the Washington State Courts website or an online legal document provider.
    • Ask your spouse to sign and date the Joinder section of the petition, if possible. If your spouse joins in the petition with you and checks the "Waive Notice" box, you won't have to serve the petition and summons on him personally after you file.
    • Consult with an attorney if you have questions about your legal separation or any aspects of your case, such as child custody.

    About the Author

    Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images