Brad and Sheila’s marriage had been rocky almost from the start. Still, they always seemed to be able to patch things up. This time, though, Brad did more than just move out for a few weeks before returning home. He filed for a legal separation from Sheila. Both Brad and Sheila felt that a legal separation might be best since they still were not sure about their split. Before reaching a final decision, they should understand a little more about how legal separation works in California.
Every state has its own family laws. While some states do not recognize legal separation, California law does
allow legal separation of both marriages and registered domestic partnerships. However, the parties will go through a formal court proceeding.
To start the process, one spouse files a petition with an appropriate court asking for a legal separation. The other spouse has 30 days to answer the petition for legal separation. After considering issues like child support, custody, property, and spousal support, the court decides whether to allow a legal separation.
You may be wondering why a couple would go to the trouble of obtaining a legal separation rather than just getting a divorce.
During a legal separation, the parties are still married and so cannot marry anyone else. For some people, this is an advantage.
After a judge approves the legal separation
, the “earnings and accumulations of each party are the separate property of the party acquiring the earnings or accumulations.” Separation of earnings may be a compelling reason for some couples to legally separate.
Some may prefer legal separation to divorce because some religions do not condone divorce. The couple can live apart without breaking religious laws.
To obtain a divorce, either party has to meet California residency requirements:
- At least one spouse must have lived in California for the past six months, AND
- That spouse must have lived in the county where the divorce will be filed for the past three months.
People who want a legal separation are not bound by such residency requirement. In fact, some parties file a legal separation, then convert it to a divorce as soon as they have met the residency rules.
Legal Separation May Be a Solution
Our couple, Brad and Sheila, preferred the legal separation because it gave them time to adjust to the reality of divorce before
actually divorcing. At some point, they may choose to convert their legal separation to a divorce or
end the separation by reconciling.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger
are experienced at all phases of legal separations and divorce proceedings. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.