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Legal Separation Vs Divorce In California

Couples Undergoing Legal Separation Get To Bypass Certain Legal Requirements Of Divorce

Legal Separation vs Divorce In California

One of the most intimidating aspects of getting a divorce is navigating all of the rules and procedures associated with the process. Luckily for you, opting for legal separation may be a way to clear some of the red tape.

First of all, couples who want to get divorced in California must first satisfy the states residency requirement.

To be specific, at least one spouse must reside in California for at least six months before they can legally file for divorce. If you and your spouse do not meet this requirement, your petition will be rejected, and youll have to try again later on.

Thankfully, California does not have a residency requirement for legal separation.

This means that if working out terms of your breakup is urgent, you can file for legal separation instead, and still end up with a binding legal judgment. If you later want to turn your legal separation into a proper divorce, then most of the work will already be done.

Similarly, the state of California has a mandatory six month waiting period between when the petition is filed and when a court will be willing to issue a decree of divorce.

There is no mandatory waiting period for couples undergoing legal separation. If you and your spouse manage to get it done sooner, you will have the legal protections of an enforceable agreement sooner as well.

You can download the California divorce papers for free from this link.

Do I Need An Attorney For A Legal Separation In California

Legal separation covers all of the same issues as a divorce in California. You and your ex-spouse will have to work together to agree on these issues or else face each other in divorce court. Hiring an attorney who specializes in legal separation can improve your chances of compromising with your spouse and reaching a successful settlement agreement. This can save you time, money and stress.

An attorney can help you work through the issues of your legal separation while protecting your rights. For example, your lawyer can help with child custody, visitation and support matters by helping you and your ex create a parenting plan. Your lawyer can also assist you with the division of your marital property, making sure that your ex or his or her lawyer does not take advantage of you.

For more information about how an attorney can help you with legal separation or divorce in California, contact The Boyd Law Firm for a case evaluation in Los Angeles.

Immediately Goes Into Effect

Finally, the most significant benefit for couples who are eager to separate is that a legal separation goes into effect immediately. As soon as your separation judgment is approved, the separation becomes active. Meanwhile, in California, there is a mandatory six-month waiting period before any divorce is finalized. When a couple has serious disagreements, time may be of the essence, and a legal separation may be the right first step.

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How Does A Legal Separation Work

A legal separation is similar to divorce in many respects.

The process is essentially the same as getting a divorce. With a legal separation, you and your spouse still need to reach an agreement on the following issues:

All of these agreements are binding and part of a court order.

In most states, the process of getting a legal separation is exactly the same as divorce, except you check the legal separation box as opposed to the dissolution of marriage box when you file divorce papers.

Reasons To Consider A Legal Separation

Legal Separation Vs Divorce in OC California  Respes

Couples might consider a legal separation for both personal and financial reasons.

  • If you’re not 100 percent sure you want to end your marriage, a legal separation can give you space to figure things out while still protecting you financially.
  • Couples that can’t go through a divorce for religious reasons also turn to legal separation.
  • A legal separation would mean one spouse may still be eligible for health insurance coverage from the other spouse’s job, whereas a divorce would end this coverage.
  • A legal separation also allows you and your spouse to continue filing taxes jointly, which can lead to some tax benefits.
  • Finally, you need to be married for at least 10 years to receive Social Security and military benefits from your spouse’s work. You may be able to use a legal separation to stay technically married until you reach this point.

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What Does It Mean To Be Legally Separated Versus Physically Separated

A physical separation simply means the husband and wife no longer reside together. Spouses may physically separate for various reasons. They may live separate and apart for months, years or decades without ever filing anything with the court. That does not mean they ever became “legally” separated. Physical separation, no matter how long it goes, does not one day suddenly become a legal separation judgment.

California Requirements For Divorce

California has time-bound restrictions before filing for divorce. Either you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last 6 months. In addition, the same person must have lived in the filing county for the last 3 months. If you or your partner do not meet these California residency requirements, you can opt for a legal separation, then file for divorce after the appropriate amount of time has passed.

Requirement exception for same-sex marriages

One exception to the residency rule is with regards to same-sex couples. If you originally got married in California, but currently live in a state that will not allow you to dissolve your marriage, you can still file for divorce in California. However, this may complicate other issues like money, property, support, or your children, so feel free to consult with us, as we have experienced over a decade of handling complex same-sex divorce cases.

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Disadvantages Of Legal Separation

There are a couple of disadvantages of legal separation.

First, you are unable to get remarried.

The other disadvantage is what happens if you get a legal separation and later decide to get a divorce.

If you already have a judgment for legal separation, that means that you have a formal agreement on all issues .

But, you would need to file divorce papers to change your marital status.

The good news is youve already done the hard work of resolving all the major items.

Should I Hire An Attorney

Legal Separation vs Divorce In California

A separation agreement is the result of a negotiation between spouses, which can occur at your kitchen table, in a mediator’s office, or through attorneys for both sides.

Spouses may resolve some simple matters directly, without any legal help , but for most people, negotiating and drafting a comprehensive agreement that will hold up in court is difficult. Because the decisions made in a separation may have serious consequences, it’s best to hire an attorney who can protect your rights and draft a valid agreement.

In addition, communicating with someone you’re separating from can be challenging at best. If your marriage is ending, you and your spouse probably weren’t communicating very effectively before the breakup, and it’s not likely to get better now. Although some spouses remain friendly and reach agreements easily, most separating couples can’t expect to get too far in a one-on-one discussion before emotions boil over and get in the way of a resolution. Most couples need professionals that can create a buffer and negotiate with the other side.

If you need help drafting a separation agreement, or you have questions about whether you should pursue a court-ordered legal separation or a divorce, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help you decide how to proceed.

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Its A Faster Decision

The court decisions made in a legal separation are made almost immediately, while the details of a divorce can be drawn out for months or even years. The decisions made may not be ideal for either person, but it does provide a vantage point so that each person can move forward.

When a couple is legally separated, neither spouse is responsible for the individual financial decisions of the other. A legal separation can save a person financially if he or she is married to someone with a spending or gambling problem. If the separation takes place without the court, the other spouse can still be held responsible.

Legal Separation Vs Divorce In California

Youve decided to take action in your marriage because it isnt working out as youd hoped. Ultimately, you have two legal recourses: legal separation or divorce. The main difference is in the permanence of your decision. When you separate legally, you can live and act as separate individuals but can join back together as a married couple. However, after you divorce, your decision to end the marriage is final and youre officially single. Lets take a look at other key differences between the two options.

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Pros And Cons Of Separation Before Divorce

When you’re certain that your marriage is over, and you know that you want to divorce, separating might still be a good idea. When you separate before divorce, you and your spouse have a chance to resolve some issuesand you can use any agreement you’ve reached to streamline your divorce. If you’re able to agree on all the issues in your divorce, you might even be able to file an uncontested divorce, which can save you money, time, and effort.

If you file for divorce without an agreement in place, your divorce might take a while to complete. It can take months to resolve issues like custody, support, and property division even on a temporary basis.

Some contested divorces can take a year or more to get to trial. And the longer your divorce takes, the higher your legal bill will be if you’ve hired an attorney. Additionally, drawn-out contested divorces usually take a major emotional toll on everyone involved, including children.

Deciding to divorce right away doesn’t mean you can’t resolve your differences before a divorce trial, though. If you think that you might be able to negotiate an agreement with your spouse, divorce mediation might be a good idea. Divorce mediation is successful for a lot of couples, and it allows couples to resolve their divorce on their terms. In fact, many states require couples to participate in mediation before the court will set a trial date.

How Does Legal Separation Work

How Long To Get A Legal Separation In California / 23 Facts You Must ...

To file for a divorce in a certain California county, you must reside in that county for at least three months. If you have not lived in that county for three months, you can first file for a legal separation and then later amend your Petition to file for a divorce once you have resided in the county for three months.

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Why Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce

There are many reasons spouses choose a legal separation over filing for divorce. Some of the most common include the following:

  • They are not sure whether they truly want to end their marriage.
  • There are financial benefits, such as tax incentives, to remaining legally married.
  • One spouses health insurance plan covers the other spouse, and he or she doesnt want to lose that insurance coverage.
  • Because of religious or other personal values, one or both spouses are against divorce.
  • They have not been residents of California for the required time period to file for divorce.

An Experienced California Attorney Can Help

To discuss whether legal separation or divorce is proper for you, reach out to an experienced Los Angeles divorce attorney at Fernandez & Karney. We will listen carefully to you and work diligently to meet your legal goals and expectations.

Schedule a confidential consultation with Fernandez & Karney now. We will walk you through both the legal separation and divorce processes, so you are well-informed when taking the next best step in protecting your future.

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What Is Divorce Compared To Legal Separation

The main difference between obtaining a legal separation and obtaining a divorce is that in a legal separation you do not ask the court to terminate your marital status. In this situation, you still must go through the same process as parties undergoing a divorce, such as dividing marital assets and debts.

Make Possible Future Divorce Simpler


Since legal separations involve many of the same decisions as a divorce division of assets, support orders, and custody orders they can set out a useful foundation if a couple decides to divorce. In fact, the decisions made for the legal separation can simply be transferred over to become the divorce judgment. That makes a future divorce as simple as resubmitting some paperwork in many cases.

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Pros And Cons Of Legal Separation And Divorce

If you do not want to enter a final divorce decree and end your marriage, then legal separation would be the way to go.The pros of legal separation include the following:

  • Remain married
  • Live separately and apart from your spouse
  • Gives you time to determine if you want to get divorced
  • Allows you to stay married for personal reasons, including religious beliefs, concerns over health insurance, and more
  • Covers matters including property division, spousal support, child support, and child custody
  • File joint tax returns

The Difference Between Separation And Divorce

A legal separation is a unique procedure that lives halfway between remaining married and getting a divorce. The most important part of a divorce is that it is permanent. Once two people are divorced from each other, then they are legally considered single again, without financial ties to the other person.

This isnt the case with a legal separation. People who are legally separated are still married to each other. If both parties agree, a legal separation can be reversed by filing a motion to vacate with your spouse. Any court orders or support payments regarding the legal separation will then be considered null and void.

Legal separations and divorces do , though. Both choices can involve:

In a legal separation, these orders can be dissolved if the couple reconciles. However, they can also be made permanent if they divorce.

There are some pros and cons to getting a legal separation instead of a divorce. Before filing for either, you should understand what makes a legal separation appealing in some situations.

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What Is A Legal Separation In California

A legal separation is a legal process where spouses obtain a legal separation judgment from the family law court. The assessment may include, if applicable, a division of assets and debts, child custody and visitation orders, and an order for support. However, notably, the spouses status as married persons remains intact.

Why Would Someone Get A Legal Separation Instead Of A Divorce

California Legal Separation Vs. Divorce (Which Do You Need?)

Legal separation is often used as a stepping-stone to divorce. However, some spouses get a legal separation to just take a break with the goal of ultimately repairing their marriage. Being married also offers spouses financial benefits, like tax breaks. Some spouses may choose to get a legal separation but move on with their personal lives as if they got a divorce. Spouses that choose not to live together but find reasons not to end their marriage find legal separation to be a great alternative to divorce. If you need help filing for legal separation in California, .

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Contact Us For Your Divorce Or Legal Separation Case

Please contact us for an affordable strategy session to discuss your specific situation. Our family law firm is highly experienced in handling pending and post-judgment divorce and parentage matters.

Nothing contained on this page or on our website is legal advice nor should it be construed as such. It is not intended to apply to your specific situation or answer your specific questions.

Legal Separation Is Not Always A Path To Divorce

When people hear that a couple has legally separated, many assume that the ultimate goal is divorce, but this may or may not be the case. No matter how frustrated one person is with his or her spouse, it isnt a good idea to leave the home unofficially. If there are children, this action could be seen as abandonment, even if it is the last thing that the person wants to do. If getting some space cant wait, it is better to head to a local hotel for a few days and retain the right to return to the home. If those few days arent enough to cool things off, it may be time to proceed with a legal separation. Here are some reasons why legal separation is sometimes a long-term solution rather than a step toward divorce.

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Required Separation Before Divorce

Several states require married couples to live apart for a certain amount of time before they can divorce. In most states, the required separation period applies to only certain types of divorces. For example, many states require separation only for couples seeking divorce on a fault-based ground. Most states that allow only no-fault divorces don’t have a required separation period.

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