Ask a Divorce Lawyer – Legal Separation Issues
How is a Legal Separation Different than a Divorce in California?
A legal separation is the separation of a “community relationship” as recognized by the law in California. The main difference between a dissolution and a legal separation in California is that with a legal separation the status of the marriage is not terminated. While division of assets and debts, financial support, and child custody orders may be made, the parties remain a married couple. There are a few reasons why filing for legal separation as opposed to for a dissolution may be right for you:
1. You want a divorce in California but do not yet meet the residency requirements to file in California.
California law requires that a party filing for divorce must be a resident of California for six months preceding the date of filing and a resident of the County in which they choose to file for the preceding three months. A Petition for Legal Separation does not have the same jurisdictional limitations. If you want a divorce but do not meet the time requirements you can file for legal separation, wait until you meet the requirements, and then amend your Petition to a dissolution.
2. You are considering a divorce and want to live separate lives while determining whether or not a divorce is right for you.
By filing for legal separation you are separating yourself financially from your spouse. Perhaps your spouse has a gambling or spending problem and you want for him/her to work on it before you decide on divorce. By filing for legal separation you can insulate your personal liability associated with the financial waste of your spouse. If you physically separate you can also obtain orders for the co-parenting schedule for minor children as well as financial support orders.
3. You cannot afford to lose your spouse’s employer sponsored health insurance coverage.
Depending on the sponsoring health insurance plan, so long as you are not actually divorced from your spouse, you are entitled to remain on his/her employer sponsored health insurance plan. Often you will see parties seeking a divorce purposefully delay the termination of marital status date in order to provide a longer financial transition period for the supported spouse.
If you are considering divorce or legal separation and would like to discuss how a legal separation may or may not be right to meet your particular needs give us a call for a free case analysis over the phone.