Legal Separation vs. Divorce

legal separation meaning

Legal Separation vs. Divorce

legal separation meaning

Dealing with either a divorce filing or legal separation is not easy. However, trying to stay together for high conflict, abusive, or already broken families can be more devastating, traumatic, and damaging to both children and parents. If you are planning to get a divorce, are looking for divorce advice, or are considering other legal options such as legal separation, give us a call. 

If you have any clarifications on these things, seek legal assistance from a law office specializing in divorce matters and legal separation actions filed. Our Orange County divorce attorneys know marriage and state laws that can help you handle legal separation or divorce proceedings.

This article is divided into the following sections:

  • General Overview of Divorce
  • Getting Divorced in California
  • General Overview of Legal Separation
  • Getting Legally Separated in California
  • Divorce Filings vs. Filing for Legal Separation
  • Seeking Legal Advice from a Diligent Local Attorney
  • Contact Our Orange County Family Law Firm Today

General Overview of Divorce

Under divorce and family law, divorce cases can be uncontested or contested—couples who decide to agree on how the dissolution of marriage takes place to file an uncontested divorce. Conversely, the legal process is called a contested divorce. Here, child custody issues are often decided upon through court hearings.

In general, child custody rights, or legal decision-making rights, are awarded to both parents who decide to get a divorce. However, the actual would-be court order will be primarily influenced by one’s criminal record, mental health issues, or history of domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse. Discuss these with your divorce law attorney.

You must know which paperwork, records, or other documentation would be helpful when you lobby for child support or spousal support. You may use financial accounts, emails, or even phone records in your divorce case.

Additionally, you must know when to cancel joint credit cards and how to safeguard joint bank accounts. These are crucial to protect yourself financially during the divorce proceedings.

Getting Divorced in California

California has strict divorce laws. If you are planning on filing a divorce, you need someone who can help you file and fill out paperwork. Seek legal help from someone experienced with marital separation, spousal maintenance, or family law cases brought to the divorce court. 

There are various grounds for divorce, and couples end their marriage for different reasons. Think it through before proceeding. Once you finalize your decision to file divorce papers, the first step in the process is to get a reliable divorce attorney in California.

Divorce documents can be pretty confusing. Add to this the fact that a divorce filing could also involve mediation and negotiation on alimony, physical custody, and child visitation.

Because of these, it is important to seek reliable legal representation before proceeding. The legal grounds for divorce can be challenging to understand. More so, you must know the steps that you must take before actually filing for divorce.

General Overview of Legal Separation

Many reasons why a married couple would not file a divorce and opt to separate legally instead. One typical example would be medical insurance benefits. Unlike in divorce proceedings, lawfully remaining married can ensure continued health insurance coverage for the non-employee spouse.

In most cases, this legal action is filed by a married person (or domestic partner) who wishes to stay married (or in the domestic partnership) and hopes to resolve other legal issues. While this may sound simple, the required forms and paperwork can be pretty confusing.

Unlike the case of those going through a divorce, filers live separately from one another without changing their marital status. According to § 2310 of the California Family Code, one can pursue a legal separation based on either irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity.

Since no two couples have the exact needs and goals, there are various ways to obtain a fair and equitable outcome from your filing. Whether it would be through courtroom litigation or negotiation and settlement, a hardworking Orange County family law attorney can provide quality legal services.

Getting Legally Separated in California

A legal separation can be described as a court order that mandates the rights and duties of couples who are living apart but still legally married. It is often applicable for couples who are not ready to terminate their marriage but want to be considered separated for tax liability purposes, immigration matters, or religious reasons. 

Essentially, filers live separately from one another but do not change their marital status. Here, both parties involved are no longer legally responsible for each other. This legal proceeding is comparable to but in many ways distinct from a divorce petition. In most cases, couples use it to divide property and debts.

If you are currently considering a legal separation or are still unsure whether you should file for legal separation or divorce, consult with a dedicated Orange County legal separation lawyer. While a legal separation does not end a marriage, you may eventually convert it into a divorce petition.

Aside from the complexities of the required court forms and paperwork, it is essential to remember that relevant statutes on spousal support and division of marital property and child support guidelines vary from state to state. So do child custody laws. A diligent California family lawyer can help you evaluate your situation and carefully explore all available options.

Divorce Filings vs. Filing for Legal Separation

Many people are confused about what the term dissolution of marriage means. The best way for the family court system to protect their legal rights is to file for legal separation for some married couples. For others, it is a divorce petition. A competent legal professional can help explain the nuances of divorce and family law cases.

Legal separations emerge as a better choice for those who feel that divorces can gravely affect personal and financial aspects of life. In general, you may remain legally separated from your spouse for as long as the two of you desire. How long you can be legally separated is your judgment call.

Through this legal process, couples have time to resolve personal and financial issues while staying married to each other. However, it is essential to note that spouses remain married during this period of being legally separated. This means that, unlike divorced couples, neither party can remarry.

Religious principles and failure to meet specific requirements are two of the most common reasons a couple would file for a legal separation rather than proceed with a divorce.

Additionally, California family law requires at least one person in a marriage to have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six months and a resident in the County where they file a legal action for three months. Some couples who do not meet residency requirements may choose to initiate a legal separation since no residency requirement is involved.

Seeking Legal Advice from a Diligent Local Attorney

Getting divorced or legally separated is never easy for either spouse. More than legal fees, the actual cost of a divorce or legal separation can be seen in what parties are going through emotionally. Getting a divorce or filing for legal separation is difficult for couples with no children, even more so for those who have.

Parents hire a lawyer for the protection not only of their legal rights but that of their children as well. Here, the legal separation agreement or divorce proceedings must consider the best interest of the children involved. 

If you are considering divorce or legal separation, it is essential to get legal advice from an Orange County divorce lawyer who can explain the pros and cons of each. To avoid legal problems, one must take into account pertinent state law and guidelines for both.

Our divorce and family law attorneys can help you understand the difference between a separation and a marital settlement agreement. We can also explain residency requirements for divorce filings and help you make a better-informed decision.

Contact Our Orange County Family Law Firm Today

Consult with credible Orange County family law attorneys if you need assistance with legal separations or divorce filings in California. Our California legal separation and divorce law firm can provide the legal help that you need. Contact us at Trevino Law and speak to a hands-on Orange County, CA, family law attorney today.

Whether you're dealing with legal affairs or planning for the future of your family, our Orange County family law and estate planning attorneys can help you take control of your life.

Trevino Law

What do you need help with?

Tips for Leaving an Abusive Relationship, Getting a Restraining Order and Building Your Life Again.

Get Your FREE Book Copy!

15 Ways to Protect Yourself When Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Mail a copy?

A guide to help make decisions about your divorce, and get peace of mind—all without leaving your home.

Get Your FREE Book Copy!

Divorce Lawyers