Heath-Newton LLP Counselors at Law

Bay Area Family Law Blog

Aug
16
2011

California Legal Separation

What do you do when your marriage is falling apart but the concept of divorce is unacceptable? The answer might be “legal separation.” Divorce isn’t for everyone; sometimes for religious or other personal reasons, a couple will prefer a legal separation as an alternative to a divorce. A legal separation is very similar to a divorce: parties divide assets and address financial issues as in a divorce; the parties structure child custody and child support as in a divorce, and most parties live apart as in a divorce. The difference is in the name- the result is a “legal separation,” and not an actual “divorce.”

Because the parties in a legal separation technically remain “married,” they may not enter into a new marriage unless the first marriage ends either by death or an actual divorce.

Medical insurance is one practical reason that some couples choose to file for legal separation. If one party has a chronic illness that prevents him or her from obtaining adequate health insurance, a legal separation may allow the parties to continue to be covered by the same plan even though they are living apart. Some insurance carriers do not allow legal separation to qualify a couple for continued coverage, so you should check with an experienced California Family Lawyer before proceeding on these grounds.

Unlike divorce, a judgment for legal separation requires the consent of both parties. If one party wants a legal separation, and the other party wants a divorce, the divorce will prevail.

A legal separation is obtained similarly to a divorce. One party must file with a California Family Court for legal separation, all the proper paperwork and financial disclosures must be exchanged, and the Judgment must be granted by the Court. This requires nearly all the same legal proceedings and due process as a full blown divorce.

The drawback of a legal separation is that, because it requires the consent of both parties, either party may proceed with an actual divorce at anytime, and this may cause the workload to double.

If you would like to obtain a legal separation, or if you would like to learn more about California Legal Separation, you should contact a California family lawyer for a consultation to learn about your rights and responsibilities.

Categories: Divorce, Property

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