The Burke Law Group, PLLC
Old City Hall Building
221 N. Wall St., Suite 624
Spokane, WA 99201

Main Office: (509) 466-7770
Collaborative Law: (509) 999-6747

Legal Separation

A legal separation action allows the Court to address and grant all of the relief that is available in a dissolution of marriage action.  However, the Court does not dissolve the marriage.  Clients, at times, will choose to legally separate, in lieu of dissolution, because they do not want to divorce or perhaps to maintain one spouse's health benefits for a period.  (Legal separation is an option for persons who do not want to divorce based on religious convictions.) 
The following are (some) important facts regarding filing a legal separation, versus filing a dissolution of marriage action:
If a party files a legal separation action, but during the tendency of the legal separation action he/she decides that it is time to dissolve the marital union, an amended petition (a petition for dissolution of marriage) will need to be filed and served on the other spouse, unless the other spouse has already cross-petitioned to dissolve the marriage.

If the parties finalize a legal separation action, i.e. the decree of legal separation, and it is entered with the Court, the decree is easily converted to a decree of dissolution, (i.e. a divorce decree). Six months after the Court finalizes the decree of legal separation, either spouse may at any time file a motion with the court to change the decree of legal separation into a decree of dissolution without the other spouse's agreement/consent. The Court must grant the request. All of the other parts of the legal separation orders, such as the order of child support and final parenting plan, will not be affected and will remain in full force and effect.


Meet Our Attorneys

Dena Allen

Principal / Member of the Firm, practicing in Family Law Litigation, Collaborative Law Divorce, Cooperative Divorce, Adoptions, Estate Planning, and Probate

John Burke

Of Counsel, practicing in Collaborative Law for Divorce, Uncontested Divorce and Estate Planning. On medical leave.

Matthew Fischer

Principal / Managing Member of the Firm, practicing in all areas of Family Law Litigation, Divorce and Uncontested Divorce. Also serves as a Spokane County Superior Court Pro Tem Commissioner

Cathy Helman

Associate Attorney, practicing in Appeals, Probate, Estate Planning, Family Law, and Bankruptcy. Also is an Administrative Law Judge Pro Tem with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings.

Joseph Linehan

Of Counsel, practicing in Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) appeals, Family Law Litigation, Divorce, and Dependency. Also serves as a Spokane County Superior Court Pro Tem Commissioner

Robin Schmahl

Senior Associate Attorney, practicing in Family Law Litigation, Uncontested Divorce, Estate Planning, Probate, and Guardianship

Rhylee Smith

Associate Attorney, admitted to practice in Washington and Idaho, practicing in all aspects of Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody and Support, and Modifications to Existing Orders

Kenneth Zigler, Jr.

Of Counsel, practicing in Family Law Litigation, Divorce, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and SSI benefits, and Lawsuits and Disputes including Personal Injury

Joanna Stranger

Rule 9 Intern, practicing in Family Law and Divorce