A few years ago, my husband and I agreed to legally separate, and we submitted agreed orders to the court. I’ve since met someone new. While I am not ready to get re-married yet, I’d like to have the option and I understand that a legal separation means I’m still technically “married” to my ex. Is there a way for me to change to my legal separation into an actual divorce, or do I need to file for divorce?
No, you do not need to file a separate divorce action. Under Washington law, either party to a legal separation can ask the court to convert a decree of legal separation to a decree of dissolution. The only major requirement for doing so is to wait at least six months after the decree of separation is entered. There are relatively simple pattern forms for conversion of a legal separation available on the Washington court’s website.
The court also requires that you give your husband “adequate notice” of your intention to convert your legal separation to a divorce. In addition, you should note that all that a conversion from legal separation to divorce does is legally end your marriage. All of the other provisions of your decree of legal separation will be unchanged. What this means is that any and all agreements or orders about the division of your property/debts, arrangements for your children, etc., will be unaffected by the conversion to a dissolution.