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