See our post from May 16, 2023 for a comparison of Divorce v. Legal Separation
Couples sometimes no longer wish to live as a married couple, but they also do not want to get a divorce and legally end the marriage. Like most states throughout the country, California law recognizes legal separation for these situations. Separating from your spouse though, is still a legal process and so, it is important to know the law that surrounds it.
What is a Legal Separation?
A legal separation is an alternative to divorce in California. When a couple separates, they must obtain a decree from the court that allows them to live separate and apart and live their individual lives. A separation does not legally end the marriage (terminate the legal marital status), but orders must still be issued regarding spousal support, child custody, and property division.
Couples can also resolve the terms of the separation on their own without court intervention, or they may have to appear before a judge who will decide the issue. For example, each spouse may want to keep the family car so they can continue to go to work. The couple can negotiate an agreement with the help of a Campbell family law attorney. If they cannot reach an agreement, both parties will have to appear before a judge and argue their case.
Why Do Couples Separate Instead of Getting Divorced?
There are many reasons why couples sometimes choose to separate rather than get divorced. The most common of these are as follows:
- The couple wants to live apart and have financial independence but does not want to legally end their marriage
- The couple wants to resolve issues about property division, finances, and co-parenting but does not want to end the marriage
- Divorce is not an option for one or both spouses due to religious beliefs
- Divorce is not an option for one or both spouses due to personal beliefs
- Remaining married will allow one or both spouses to receive certain benefits, such as Social Security or healthcare benefits
What are the Requirements to Legally Separate in California?
Unlike in a divorce, there is no residency requirement in California for a couple to separate. While couples must file in the state, they are not required to have resided in California for a certain amount of time before legally separating.
However, one must still state the grounds for separation. In The Golden State, there are only two. The first, and most common, is irreconcilable differences. When separating due to irreconcilable differences, a spouse must only state that they can no longer get along with their spouse. Neither party has to prove irreconcilable differences.
A couple can also legally separate due to incurable insanity, but they must establish that fact when they file.
Call Our Experienced Family Law Attorney in Campbell Now
Deciding whether you should separate or get a divorce is not easy. At Hepner & Pagan, LLP, our Campbell family law attorney can advise you of your legal options so you can make an informed decision about how to move forward. Call us now at 408-688-9153 or contact us online to schedule a consultation so we can review your case.