Challenges in a marriage often lead couples to consider two main options: divorce or legal separation. These processes have their own implications, benefits, and drawbacks. If you are considering any of these options, you will want to understand the differences between legal separation and divorce in California. With that, you can make an informed decision about your relationship’s future.

Let’s look at some factors couples need to think about when choosing between these options.

divorce process

Legal Separation 

Legal separation allows married couples to live apart while still legally married. This option may be ideal for couples who want a break from their marriage. Some couples need time to sort out issues but don’t want to end their marriage.

Couples who choose legal separation in California stay legally married. They can’t marry someone else because they’re still legally bound to the other person. 

However, like divorce, legal separation involves dividing marital assets and debts. Couples must decide how to split property, finances, and debts during the break.

Legal separation also covers child custody, visitation, and child support issues. Just like in divorce cases, California courts prioritize the children’s best interests.

If one spouse needs financial help from the other, courts may order spousal support in these cases. The factors considered for spousal support are the same as those in divorce cases.

In a divorce, spouses lose eligibility for health insurance coverage under the other’s plan. But with legal separation, spouses can keep these benefits if they agree to it in the separation agreement.

Legal separation can be a good option for couples who haven’t met the six-month residency requirement for filing for divorce in California. It gives spouses time to meet those requirements while addressing their separation needs.

Divorce in California

Divorce, or dissolution of marriage in California, legally ends a marital relationship. Since divorce terminates the marriage, both spouses are allowed to remarry another person.

Divorce proceedings in California involve dividing marital property and debts. As a community property state, California usually divides property acquired during the marriage equally.

Like legal separation, divorce deals with child custody and support. Courts consider the child’s best interests when deciding custody.

The courts will also determine spousal support, or alimony, in these cases. The length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial needs, and their contributions to the union will all play a role in this decision.

After a divorce, spouses usually lose eligibility for health insurance coverage under the other’s plan. As a result, they will need to find alternative coverage.

Additionally, to file for divorce in California, one spouse must have lived in the state for six months. As far as other requirements, they need to be a resident in the filing county for at least three months. 

Find Out More About Legal Separation and Divorce in California

Legal separation and divorce in California are separate legal processes. Now that you understand the differences between these options, you can find the right one to fit your situation. Whether you have questions about divorce or legal separation, contact Roberts & Zatlin Law Office. For over 35 years, we have helped couples and families learn about their legal options throughout California. Our office in Temecula extends its services to Menifee, Hemet, Sun City, Lake Elsinore, Winchester, Wildomar, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange County, Vista, San Diego, Inland Valley, and all other parts of the state. To schedule a consultation today and receive a free initial assessment of your case, please call (951) 381-8147 today.

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