Washington does not recognize the concept of "joint custody," even when the parties agree. 50-50 shared residential time is sometimes allowed where the parties have established a history of parental cooperation, and the children have adjusted to this schedule (e.g., both mom and dad live close to the school). The courts do not simply adopt a parenting plan just because the parties agree to it. If a 50-50 plan were allowed by the court and one parent makes a lot more money than the other, it is likely that the high earner would pay some support to the other. Your case sounds like a classic case where a mediator or two good collaborative attorneys might be able to negotiate a reasonable solution which the court would accept. This would save both you and your wife a lot of money, reduce the kids' anxiety, and increase the chance of a smoother road in the years ahead.
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I will tackle a couple of the other questions you asked.
You should check with your bankruptcy attorney to ask how your Chapter 13 plan might affect your dissolution action.
A legal separation has very little difference from a dissolution action in dividing assets and debts. Choosing a legal separation instead of a dissolution is unlikely to make any difference with your Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
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