When it comes to divorce in California, one of the biggest misconceptions is that you must first be legally separated before you can file for divorce, but this could not be further from the truth. Legal separations are an alternative to obtaining a divorce, and by no means are they required to get a divorce.

Legal separation and divorce are two very similar, but different methods of changing the structure of a marriage or relationship legally and permanently. The following are important facts you should know with regard to legal separations in the State of California.

Reasons to File for Legal Separation

Like divorce, it is possible to file for a legal separation without having to give the court a reason for wanting one. The State of California observes the concept of no-fault when it comes to divorces and this also applies to legal separations. A legal separation can be granted for one of the following reasons:

  • Irreconcilable Differences, which means the union has been permanently broken and at least one of the parties does not believe the union can be salvaged.
  • Incurable Insanity, which is the permanent and legal incapacity of one party to make decisions.

Legal Separation Requirements

Legal separation is different from divorce in the sense that it does not have residency requirements. This means that in order to file, the petitioner does not have to be a resident of the state for a minimum of six (6) months prior to filing. The petitioner also does not need to be a county resident for a minimum of three (3) months. Therefore, couples who have recently moved to the state can end the marriage and file for a legal separation without having to wait several months to begin the process.

Issues Covered When Filing for a Legal Separation

A legal separation will cover the same basic issues as a divorce, including: Child custody rights, Child visitation, Spousal and child support, Property allocation, and debt division.

It is important to recognize that once a legal separation has been obtained, the marriage is still considered valid. Should the parties decide to obtain a divorce after the judgment for legal separation is made, a new case/petition will need to be filed to dissolve the marriage.

Obtain the Legal Assistance of a Family Law Attorney

Deciding between obtaining a legal separation or a divorce can be difficult. Although some people can prefer to obtain a legal separation for moral preferences or religious reasons, others will do so because it is generally an easier process to deal with and has a minimal impact on the family. Additionally, others can seek to take the route offered by legal separations because they want to continue sharing certain health or insurance benefits.

If you are considering obtaining a divorce or legal separation in the State of California, you will need the legal support of an experienced family law attorney who will advocate on your behalf. While understanding the basic elements of legal separation is important, a proficient attorney will understand the adverse effects a separation can have on your life you may not yet recognize. Consult with an experienced litigator to ensure your interests are protected.

RM Law Firm, LLP is highly versed in legal separation and divorce cases in the State of California. The firm works diligently to ensure the interests of their clients are protected throughout the case. For a free initial consultation, consider contacting the firm today.