The Legal Separation of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau

In 1996, Mary Kay Letourneau was a Washington state suburban mother of four and a sixth grade teacher. Vili Fualaau was one of her students. Twleve-year-old Vili and thirty-four-year-old Mary Kay began an affair. The affair became public when Mary Kay became pregnant with Vili’s child. She gave birth to their first child, a daughter, while on bail.

Mary Kay was convicted of second-degree rape of a child and sentenced to six months in jail with three months suspended and three years of sex-offender treatment. She was also ordered to have no contact with Vili for the rest of his life. However, two weeks after her release from jail, Mary Kay again was found having sexual relations with Vili in the back seat of her car. She was returned to prison to serve her full seven-year sentence. She was also impregnated again by Vili, and gave birth to their second child, another daughter, during her incarceration. Upon her release, she was to register a sexual offender.

While serving her sentence, she and Vili co-authored a book entitled Only One Crime, Love. They published a second book while she was in prison called, If Loving You is Wrong.

Mary Kay was released from prison in 2004. Vili, now age 21, filed a motion in court to remove the no-contact order. The order was granted. A few days later, the two married and resided in Washington. Their marriage lasted, but in May 2017, Vili filed for legal separation in Washington.

In California, when spouses separate, they usually file for divorce. However, a legal separation may also serve in their best interests. If the parties have not met residency requirements (six months in the state and three of those in the court’s district) to file for divorce, then a legal separation is in order. A divorce takes a minimum of six months. By filing for a legal separation, the parties can accrue the minimum residency requirements, and then amend their documents to dissolution.

Spouses may also choose a legal separation instead of dissolution of marriage, because they (or at least one of them) hope they will be able to reconcile. However, the assets and debts will still be divided between them.

A legal separation still requires legal paperwork, and court dealings, so it may be in a person’s best interest to hire competent legal representation in family law to handle a legal separation.

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