Legal separation is NOT a “trial separation.” Rather, legal separation may be an alternative to divorce if a married couple would like to deal with the issues involved in their marriage, but would prefer to remain married. These issues may include things like child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony), property division, debt division or legal fees.
Some of the more common reasons for selecting legal separation as opposed to divorce include religious restrictions on divorce or to overcome California’s six month residency requirement for divorce. In addition, legal separation often allows someone to maintain health insurance benefits obtained through a spouse.
There are several significant differences between a legal separation and a divorce. For instance, both spouses must agree to a legal separation. If not, a legal separation becomes a divorce. Second, there is no “waiting period” for a legal separation. In the state of California, a divorce requires a mandatory six month “waiting period” between when a divorce is started and the earliest possible date when a divorce can be complete. However, a legal separation can happen immediately.
Another important difference between the two options is that legal separation does not carry the same six-month California residency requirement as divorce. In some cases, couples file for legal separation and then later amend the petition for dissolution of marriage, i.e., divorce, once the six-month residency requirement has been met.
Consulting with a Divorce Helpline attorney can help you determine whether legal separation may be a feasible alternative to divorce in your particular situation. Divorce Helpline attorneys can educate both spouses on the pros and cons of each option, and then help you as much or as little as you need to make the process as fast and inexpensive as possible while making sure all of your legal rights are protected.
Contact Divorce Helpline today and find out how we can help you understand your options and answer any questions you might have regarding legal separation and divorce.