If you are not sure whether divorce is right for you but find you can no longer live with your spouse, a legal separation may be what you need. With a legal separation, you can have most of your rights determined as if you were divorced, while still retaining many of your marriage benefits, such as staying on one another's health insurance. Later, should either party elect to have a divorce, status can be changed from “legally separated” to “divorced” with relatively little time or expense.
What Is the Difference Between Legal Separation & Divorce?
The only real difference between an actual "legal separation" and a divorce is the breaking of the bonds of matrimony. That is, a legal separation addresses custody of children, parenting schedules, asset division, debt responsibility, and other financial issues - just like a divorce - but the couple stays married.
Individuals generally elect legal separation for one of four reasons:
- They are undecided as to whether they will ultimately reconcile or want a divorce, but in the interim, they need their rights adjudicated, including a determination of spousal support and child support, division of community property, and a schedule for child custody and visitation.
- They no longer wish to be married, but do not want to give up certain marriage benefits, such as sharing health insurance.
- They are morally and/or religiously opposed to divorce, but they can no longer live with their spouse.
- A party wishes to file for divorce in California immediately, but has not been residing in the county or the state long enough to qualify to file for divorce. A petition for legal separation is filed and after enough time has passed, the petition is amended to a divorce.
If you have decided that a legal separation is right for your unique circumstances, our divorce lawyers can help you understand the process and explain your rights and obligations as a legally separated individual. Our caring legal team can explain the legal separation process to you and help you decide if this is the best option. We serve clients throughout Orange County, North San Diego County, Riverside County, and Los Angeles County.