Legal Separation in California

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A legal separation is a written agreement between the spouses filed at the state court which decides and addresses the responsibilities, rights and duties of both the parties. All the procedures of a legal separation are similar to a divorce process. The only difference between a legal separation and divorce is that both the parties remain married even after the separation is filed and all the processes are completed. The parties are not allowed to remarry when they are legally separated. If they intend to remarry, they should obtain a divorce first. The legal separation is also known as separate maintenance or judicial separation. It required documentation and merely living apart for a certain time does not constitute a legal separation. All 44 states except Pennsylvania, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia recognize a legal document or a court order for the couple to be legally separated. Thus, California recognizes and requires the documentation for the same.

Legal Separation in California

  • The process of legal separation in California is same as the divorce process. It is a trial of how assets and debts are to be divided between the spouses, the custody and visitation rights, determination of child support and payment of alimony.
  • Filing a legal separation petition in California is quiet easy. There is no residency requirement for filing the petition for the legal separation. It happens immediately whereas a divorce process takes at least six months to finalize.
  • However, if one partner files for legal separation and another files for divorce, legal separation cannot be granted. You have to file for divorce in such as case.
  • The earnings of one spouse after legal separation is considered as an individual property and the other spouse is not entitled as a co-owner.
Benefits of Legal Separation

There are several benefits of legal separation. These are as follows:

  • A person who cannot file for a divorce due to religious affiliations and yet the marriage is broken irreparably can attain the legal separation and live independently married only for the sake of religion. For instance, divorce is not allowed in Jewish culture or Hinduism; people stuck in such marriages can opt for legal separation.
  • Legal separation allows couple to reflect on how things are to be turned out after getting the divorce. They can mutually decide about the custody and visitation, child support, alimony, division of assets, property and debts as the legal separation inevitably leads to a divorce which can be amicable if each party acts thoughtfully.
  • A legally separated spouse has a right to enjoy the insurance benefits on the the coverage of their spouse. This is mandatory as it is considered as a marital property. All the retirement and pension plans can also be enjoyed by both the parties.
  • Other benefits such as tax, social security and military benefits can also be enjoyed on your spouse's coverage.
Always remember that a legal separation is not a trial separation. It eventually leads to divorce. It is not supposed to give the parties time to consider or analyze a possibility of reconciliation. It is a provision to make sure that the couple reaches to an amicable agreement regarding all the issues such as child support, alimony and other necessary but complicated matters.

If there is a hope for reconciliation, you should not take any legal action. Instead, consult a marriage counselor so that you can work on saving your marriage.

Legal Separation Laws in California

  • In California, the legal separation is granted on only two criteria. These criteria are as follows:
    • Irreconcilable Differences It is no-fault separation and divorce option where the parties amicably decide the things such as alimony, division of property and childcare etc.
    • Clinical Insanity In a marriage where a spouse is suffering from incurable insanity, the couple is granted legal separation after the provide a proof of a psychiatric examination.
  • Legal Separation is an alternative for divorce in the state of California. As this is a no-fault divorce state, they are inclined mostly towards an amicable settlement between the couple who do not wish to continue with their marriage and do not wish to remarry. An ideal option for couple in their late thirties and forties, this system provides a golden mean between the tedious procedure of divorce and staying together in a broken marriage.
  • The partners retain their own property after they are legally separated. However, as California is a community property state, the marital property is divided equally between the couple (50 50).
  • Spousal support in light of legal support is decided on the basis of the needs for the demanding spouse, his / her earning capability, standard of living enjoyed while being married, capacity of the other spouse to provide and the needs of the children. All these factors decide whether the demanding spouse will get a spousal support.

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