How Long Should My California Separation Last?

How Long Should My California Separation Last?

Deciding to end a marriage can be a difficult decision. Depending on the circumstances, a couple may want to separate instead of moving forward with a divorce. Once they decide to separate, one or both partners may question how long they should remain apart. The answer will depend on the people involved and several other important factors. How long should my California separation last?

California Separation

California law provides that a married couple can legally separate. Unlike divorce, legal separation allows a couple to remain married while having their lives and assets divided. California couples who legally separate will be subject to a court order that defines the terms of their separation. Should they reconcile, the couple can take steps to end their separation and continue with their marriage.

Legal Separation Terms

A California legal separation will involve many of the same terms as a California divorce. The terms typically include issues such as property and debt division, child custody and support, spousal support, and other marriage-related matters. However, unlike divorce, separation does not change the couple’s marital status.

How Long to Remain Separated?

The question of how long a couple should remain separated can depend on several factors. One of the most important of which is the reason for the separation itself.

A couple may decide to separate for numerous reasons, some of which may include the following:

  • Needing time apart to work on their relationship
  • Wanting to try living separately before moving forward with ending the marriage
  • Wanting to live separately during California’s 6-month divorce waiting period.
  • Needing time to establish California residency for divorce
  • Not wanting to divorce for moral or religious reasons
  • Needing time to work out important decisions such as child custody and property division.
  • A spouse needing to remain married to retain healthcare or certain other benefits.

In some cases, parties who separate may do so, planning to divorce ultimately. By contrast, a California separation may be premised on a couple not being certain about ending their marriage.

If you and your ex both want a divorce, you may want to consider having a shorter separation. On the other hand, if you are uncertain, it may be beneficial for you to have a longer separation to work through your questions and issues.

Evaluating Your Separation

Deciding how long to remain separated is a complicated and personal decision. On the one hand, separation can provide you with many of the same legal and personal boundaries as a divorce. On the other, being separated rather than divorced does not provide the same sense of closure as divorce. For some, remaining in the position can make it difficult to move on with their lives. For others, a separation arrangement may meet their needs. Every couple is unique; what works for some may be wrong for others. Much of the decision will depend on what each person requires and their short and long-term goals and expectations.

If you are considering separation or are already separated, it would be best to contact an experienced California divorce attorney to discuss your case. You and your California divorce lawyer can evaluate the reasons for the separation and other important issues that can assist you in deciding your next steps.

Contact a California Divorce Attorney

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced divorce attorneys who understand and can help. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.


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