A legal separation is a formal legal action that two people who are married can take to start living separate lives. A legal separation allows you to divide the marital assets, get an official custody order in place for co-parenting, and separate your finances. It is very similar in process to a divorce, except the marriage is still intact. If you are granted a legal separation, this is not the same as being legally single, and you are not free to remarry.
If you’re not sure if a legal separation is the right option for your family, talking with an attorney can help you get a better understanding of the pros and cons. Contact our firm to schedule a consultation today.
What Are the Benefits of Legal Separation?
The major benefit of a legal separation is that it provides an avenue for a couple who doesn’t want to legally divorce to be able to live separately and apart. A legal separation lets you put formal parameters on matters related to child custody, so you don’t have to worry about the other parent trying to keep you from seeing the children, and it makes it much easier to have separate finances and be independent of one another. Staying legally married also ensures that you still have access to certain benefits, such as health insurance, government funds, and tax breaks that are specifically for married couples.
Can I Get Child Support or Spousal Support in a Legal Separation?
Yes, it is possible to have court-ordered child support and/or spousal support if you are granted a legal separation. The process for this is very similar to what happens with divorce. The courts will look at the income of the parents and other factors to determine if child support or spousal support is appropriate for the situation. The parties are also free to agree to an amount–or term length in the case of spousal support–and the courts can make this agreement official through an order.
What Happens If We Decide Later to Get a Divorce?
One of the downfalls of getting a legal separation instead of a divorce is that you have to go through the entire process of financial declaration, child custody, support payments, and asset division if you decide to get a divorce later on. However, some couples find that they are able to agree on these matters much more easily after a legal separation because they are already living separately and apart. Many simply choose to agree to continue to the terms of the legal separation and are able to just have a judge sign off on the agreement to terminate the marriage itself.
A legal separation can be a great option in some situations, but it isn’t the right one for everybody. Call our office at (213) 351-1000 to find out more about legal separation in California and how it might benefit you.