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Does California Have Legal Separation?

Are you having marital problems with your spouse, but you’re not 100% sure that what you want is a divorce? Or, do you want to split up permanently with your spouse, but for some reason, you would prefer to stay married? If your answer is “yes” to either question, you may be wondering if California has legal separation. This is a valid thing to ask since not all states have legal separations.

California is one of the states that does offer legal separations and divorces. So, if you are interested in learning more about a legal separation, you can certainly compare it to a traditional divorce to determine which legal tool is best for you and your situation.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce

California legal separations are very similar to divorces. With a legal separation, a spouse can seek court orders for child support, child custody, spousal support, property, and debt division just as they would with a standard divorce. What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce? With a legal separation, you’re still technically “married” to your spouse, so you cannot legally remarry unless you get a divorce.

The reasons for seeking a legal separation over divorce are very personal; however, the motives behind a legal separation usually come down to the following:

  • Divorce is against the spouses’ religious beliefs.
  • The spouses want to stay married for the sake of their children.
  • One party is disabled or ill and needs their spouse’s health insurance.
  • The couple isn’t sure if they want a divorce, and they want a trial separation to see if the time apart will help them patch things up at a later date.

Why Get a Legal Separation?

Suppose you have one of those very passionate marriages where you truly love each other, but you fight all the time. Now, you can’t take it anymore and you want to do a trial separation. You know that the time apart may cause you both to run into each other’s arms and repair your marriage, or, it might do the opposite: you may realize that while you love each other, you’re happier when you’re not together.

Regardless of your reasons for separating, a legal separation keeps things well-organized and it clarifies each party’s rights and responsibilities. A legal separation is especially critical when you have children at home or significant assets or debts.

A legal separation can create orders for child support and custody, spousal support, who will pay what bills, etc. It’s also legally-enforceable like a divorce, so if your spouse fails to adhere to the agreement, you can take him or her back to court to have the order enforced.

To speak with a family lawyer and learn more about the advantages of a legal separation, contact our San Diego family law firm.