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San Diego Separation Attorney

For some couples, separation is a better option than divorce, at least temporarily. If you are considering dissolution of your marriage, schedule a consultation with Scott and Matteson in San Diego. We can explain your options and provide the sound legal guidance you need.

Why Choose Us?

  • We are dedicated to providing quality in family law services throughout San Diego and Southern California.
  • Our lawyers have more than 85 years combined experience practicing in family law.
  • Attorney James Scott is a board-certified family law specialist.
  • We are open and transparent and strive to help you understand all your options before moving forward.

Why You Need a Lawyer

Filing for separation in California is similar to filing for divorce, with all the complexities that involves. Our attorneys are well-versed in all family law matters and procedures, including legal separation. We can help you navigate the legal system and streamline the process, while protecting your rights and interests, and those of your children.

What Is the Difference Between Separation and Legal Separation?

In a legal separation, spouses are not simply living separately. The procedure for separation is similar to the procedure for divorce. Assets and debts are divided, and custody and child support issues are decided in the process. Any earnings by either partner after the date of separation are solely theirs, not marital property.

In essence, the only real, tangible difference between a legal separation and a divorce in California is the spouses’ inability to remarry. That’s because the marriage is not completely dissolved when people obtain a legal separation. However, they must still go through the process of dividing the marital estate, working out support payments and resolving other issues such as child custody and visitation. Otherwise, the process for obtaining a legal separation is essentially the same as obtaining a divorce in California. Our San Diego family lawyers can help you determine which option is best for you.

Why File for Legal Separation Instead of Divorce?

There are various reasons why couples choose to file for separation as an alternative to divorce:

  • No residency requirement: To file for divorce, you must have lived in the state for at least six months and in the county where you are filing for at least three months. Filing for legal separation first is an option for people who have not yet met the residency requirements for divorce.
  • Religious reasons: Legal separation provides legal protection without dissolving the marriage. This may be an option for individuals whose religious beliefs prevent them from obtaining a divorce.
  • Marital benefits: Legal separation allows couples to keep certain benefits to which they are entitled through marriage that would be lost if they divorced. Examples include health insurance, military benefits, tax benefits from filing jointly, and meeting the 10-year requirement for social security benefits.
  • Possibility of reconciliation: For couples who are not sure if they want to go through divorce, legal separation allows them to keep their options open. If they decide to reconcile down the road, they are still legally married.

How Does the Legal Separation Process Work?

To obtain a legal separation, one spouse must file a petition with the court, and the other spouse must file a response, or the matter proceeds by default. Both parties exchange mandatory disclosures, and the same processes apply as in divorce for dividing assets and debts and resolving child custody and support issues. If the spouses cannot agree on division of the marital estate, a family law judge decides.

When Does Legal Separation Become Effective?

A couple is legally separated when they obtain a Judgement of Legal Separation from the Court. However, the date of separation creates a break in the marital agreement, and property acquired after the date of separation is sole and separate property – not part of the marital estate.

Potential Problems with a California Legal Separation

Unfortunately, there are also potential problems that could arise with obtaining a California legal separation instead of a divorce. The most common problem is the faulty assumption that if a legal separation is obtained, the process of simply having the marriage dissolved is fast and simple. That is not the case. Instead, the spouses would need to reopen a case for divorce and start from the beginning as though the legal separation never occurred.

Contact Us Today

Legal separation is quicker than divorce and offers significant advantages for some people. Our experienced family law attorneys at Scott and Matteson can offer sound legal guidance and help determine the best option for you.

Request a Free Consultation

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