In the state of Washington, married couples who wish to separate but not divorce can file a petition for legal separation. Legal separation is not too different from marital dissolution. In fact, the processes for both are quite similar. The parties file a petition in court, and after the initial pleadings, the assigned judge may hear motions and make some early rulings.
A military divorce is something that some service members have to go through. They, or their spouses, no longer feel comfortable in their marriages and decide to end them.
When you're getting a divorce, you want to make sure your children get the best of both worlds. You want them to get time with you and the other parent while also feeling supported and having a stable routine. This is sometimes difficult, especially if you're about to be deployed.
In Washington, people who are not the biological parents of a child can be given parental rights under a legal doctrine established by case law over the last decade or so. The "de facto parent" doctrine was first introduced in the context of a same-sex divorce that involved a child. Since then, it has been expanded to anyone who can meet all four prongs of a test laid down by the Washington Supreme Court.
Divorce, unfortunately, always carries the possibility of having negative effects on the children involved. And most often, divorcing parents want to act in the best interests of their children. When the parents have a good relationship, they may consider a "handshake" child custody arrangement in order to do "what's best" for the children. In Washington, as in any other state, this is not the best idea.