Separation Agreement Lawyer in Los Angeles Simplifying Legal Issues for Our Clients
No matter how in love two individuals may be, no marriage is completely free of difficulties. In many cases, this leads to divorce — which has a certain finality to it. In other situations, two individuals may instead opt for a trial separation. Others may choose to go the route of legal separation simply to make divorce easier down the road by handling the most pressing matters in advance. There are various reasons and methods for ending a relationship without getting a divorce. In any of these situations, though, you may benefit from speaking with a separation agreement lawyer in Los Angeles.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, our clients come from all backgrounds and have a variety of needs. We strive to make sure that every person who walks through our doors understands their rights and responsibilities. We provide legal advice so that you can make the most suitable decisions while potentially avoiding the difficulties experienced during litigation. And since our law firm offers free consultations to prospective clients, you have absolutely nothing to lose by seeking legal advice. Contact us today to learn whether getting legally separated is the right move and what this will mean for your marriage going forward.
Legal Separation vs Separation Agreements
It’s important to note that there are some fairly significant differences regarding similar separation agreements under California law. It’s vital that you understand each of these prior to making any major decisions — because the route you choose will have a significant effect on your case. To put it simply, separation agreements and legal separation agreements are two distinct documents. The following sections will discuss each so you can decide which is more appropriate in your situation.
Legal Separation Agreement
A legal separation agreement is a contract entered into by married individuals to seek a state-recognized severance of marital ties. Again, this does not end the marriage itself. Such an agreement can be drafted in advance so that a judge isn’t making major life decisions for you. When your legal relationship status changes — whether through legal separation or divorce — the courts decide on things like child custody and alimony if you can’t reach a decision yourself. By speaking with a Los Angeles separation agreement attorney, though, you can have a legal document created dictating what happens with property division, child support, and other issues during your split.
A separation agreement is very similar to a legal separation agreement. This contract also dictates what happens during a breakup. It can lay out child support, visitation, property division, and much more. The major difference is that you’ll never have to go to court for this agreement to take effect. With a legal separation, a court must approve the agreement and review all of its provisions. This isn’t the case with a separation agreement. Although it still constitutes a legally binding contract, a separation agreement doesn’t need to be approved by a judge since it will not have the same effect as a divorce or legal separation. If any of the provisions of the agreement are violated, though, going to court over a contract breach may be appropriate.
How to Get a Legal Separation in California
When filing for a legal separation in California, the process is very similar to that of divorce. You must file a petition, pay the appropriate fees, serve your spouse with the paperwork, and provide financial disclosures. Like a divorce, a judge can then make decisions about important issues. Of course, this isn’t how your legal separation has to play out. Just like in a divorce, you can come to an agreement with your spouse regarding your separation period. This will allow the two of you to decide what’s in your best interests — and the best interests of any child — without letting courts dictate how your life will play out.
Whether you come to an agreement with your spouse or have to seek a court-ordered legal separation, you’ll need to show that your partner is permanently incapacitated or that you have irreconcilable differences. You’ll both have rights and responsibilities while living apart. On the surface, there will be very few differences between what goes on in the lives of divorced couples and separated couples. The one significant distinction is that the latter are still married, so they cannot get remarried. Remarriage can only occur if the two create a divorce agreement or one of the parties requests a divorce decree, and it’s granted by a judge.
What Does a Separation Agreement Cover?
A legal separation agreement covers a wide area of issues under the law. Nearly every consideration you can account for could fall under these agreements. Illegal acts and provisions that go against statutory requirements are not valid, but all of the same issues that would be decided during divorce proceedings can be laid out in a separation agreement. Here are just a few of the common topics covered in these contracts:
- Child custody, support, and visitation
- Payment of spousal support
- Living arrangements
- Management of assets and debts
- Property division
- Life insurance, retirement accounts, etc.
- Treatment of assets obtains subsequent to separation
- How will bills be paid
Regardless of why you’re seeking a legal separation, each of these issues must be decided upon. Even if you can reach a complete agreement on all these topics, though, contacting a law firm is still likely in your best interest. Having legal counsel means you’ll be able to avoid many of the common pitfalls experienced by those seeking legal separation. Your legal representative can assist in drafting legal paperwork that adheres to state law, and they can then submit this with the necessary related documents to the court. And if you opt for a separation agreement without legally separating, a family law attorney can help ensure your contract is enforceable.
With a free consultation at our law firm, you can get a better grasp of your situation and the best way to move forward. Contact us today at Kim Mediation and Law Center to learn how we can help.
What Reason Would Someone Choose a Legal Separation Agreement?
Most of the technical aspects of legal separation are the same as a divorce case. Because of this, many people question why someone would opt for separation rather than divorce. There are many reasons people choose this route, and all of these reasons are completely legitimate. If you’re wondering whether foregoing divorce is right for you, consider the many motivations people have for this making this decision:
- The couple is on the fence about divorce but wants to either live separately or clearly define certain issues
- Religious or personal beliefs can make divorce undesirable
- Establishing separate property from the marital property in case of a future divorce
- Parents may want to keep their minor children in one household or in a “traditional” family
- Maintaining certain benefits of being married (e.g., Social Security benefits, healthcare, taxes, etc.)
- Avoid the residency requirements for filing a divorce case under California law
Any of these reasons can be enough to choose legal separation over divorce. Regardless of your situation, though, seeking legal counsel can be beneficial. For instance, did you know that some health insurers will disqualify your spouse from coverage if you get a legal separation? Additionally, there are a significant number of legal pitfalls and hurdles you may encounter during separation. Such situations frequently arise when child custody or spousal support is involved. That’s because courts will consider the best interests of a child, and a judge will want to know that a spouse who should receive financial support understands their rights.
For these reasons alone, visiting a law firm before embarking on this legal endeavor is ideal. Don’t make a mistake that could prove costly or even render your separation agreement invalid.
How Can an Attorney Help With a Legal Separation Agreement?
The benefits of having a lawyer helping with your separation have been mentioned several times throughout this guide. There are other advantages, however, based on an attorney’s skills and specialties. For instance, did you know that failing to agree on important topics does not necessarily mean you have to go to court? Even with issues as significant as child custody or disputes over who owns the personal property, an attorney trained in mediation and collaborative law can help you reach a separation agreement without a courtroom.
That’s because mediation and collaborative law have the distinct goal of avoiding litigation. While attorney advertising may focus on “winning” in court, the truth is that there are no real winners in these situations. The best outcome is one that’s agreed upon by both parties. California law makes many things clear regarding marital separation and dissolution. For instance, the state has mathematical formulas to decide child support, alimony, and other important financial issues. Many people go to court simply because they think they can get a better outcome, but in reality, the outcome of a case is often predictable from the start.
Fortunately, separation agreements don’t have to bend to such requirements. When two individuals can come together and make their own decisions, their agreement might not satisfy all California guideline requirements. And that’s okay. Two legally married individuals know their situations better than anyone else, so their negotiating will typically lead to a more agreeable outcome for everyone involved. Kim Mediation and Law Center offers both collaborative legal representation and mediation services. If you’re ready for a split but want to remain married for any reason, we can help simplify the process as much as possible.
Contact a Separation Agreement Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
No one ties the knot expecting their marital status to change one day. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. Couples may not always be ready to call it quits completely, though, and this is when a separation period may help. While you could certainly attempt this with no legal documentation — or by creating your own separation agreement — the fact remains that most individuals would benefit from legal services during this process. Whether you want the courts to formally recognize legal separation or you simply want a contract in place dictating the rules of a trial separation, getting advice from a Los Angeles family law attorney can prove invaluable.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we strive to help our clients avoid the difficulties and adversarial environment of the courtroom. How you approach your separation is up to you, but our legal professionals can help ensure your rights are safeguarded, and all-important issues are accounted for during this process. Contact us today by calling (213) 351-1000 to speak with a separation agreement lawyer in Los Angeles. While discord in a relationship will always be stressful — particularly if it leads to the end of a marriage — we can help you navigate difficult times without the far-too-typical combative developments that emerge in these situations.