legal separation attorneys
Separating in Lieu of Divorce
Legal separation may be the appropriate choice for couples who wish to dissolve their joint financial lives, but are not ready to dissolve their marital status for various reasons. A legal separation judgment is similar to a divorce judgment, but reserves jurisdiction, or the court’s power, over the issue of marital status for a later date.
Legal Separation in the State of California
Legal separation of two spouses in the state of California does not officially end the marriage or domestic partnership. Rather, legal separation allows both parties to understand their rights and responsibilities as they make the decision to live apart, and yet not divorce. While a legal separation does not terminate a relationship completely in the eyes of the law, the process to file for legal separation in the state of California is quite similar to that of a divorce. However, because both parties remain married (or in a legal domestic partnership), they may be able to retain health insurance benefits, which may be particularly important where a spouse has pre-existing medical conditions or employment that does not provide health insurance. Through a legal separation, spouses can do everything they could otherwise do through a divorce, such as dividing their marital property, and entering into child custody orders, spousal and child support orders. The only thing that must remain intact in a legal separation is the marital status itself.
Both Parties Must Agree
Sometimes one spouse will petition for legal separation and the other spouse will petition for divorce. Where this conflict exists, the spouse who wishes to dissolve the marriage will be able to obtain a divorce.
Temporary Legal Separation
Legal separation is distinct from a divorce because unlike in a divorce, there are no residency requirements for a legal separation, meaning you don’t have to prove you lived in the state of California or a specific county for any specific amount of time. Having this option to file a legal separation where you don’t meet the residency requirements for divorce can be helpful where immediate orders are needed, and you plan to reside in California indefinitely. Later, once you have met the residency requirements, the petition for legal separation can be amended to a petition for divorce.
Official Date of Legal Separation
“Legal separation” is often confused with the parties’ “date of separation,” which is the date the complete and final break in the marital relationship has occurred. You will not have an official legal separation until the end of the case, when the court issues a judgment declaring you legally separated.
Contact an Experienced Separation Attorney
If you are considering obtaining a legal separation instead of a divorce, you should take care to ensure that your legal rights are protected with respect to your children and your finances. Contact an experienced family law attorney today at the Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall, A Professional Corporation, at 714.644.8760 or online today to schedule a consultation and to help you with your next steps.