Is it Better to Get a Divorce or Legal Separation in California?

Is it Better to Get a Divorce or Legal Separation in California?

Deciding to end your marriage is a complex decision that can raise numerous questions. Are you ready to divorce? Would it be better to live apart? What about a trial separation? Is divorce a better option than separation? How will you divide your property and share custody of your kids? Is separation preferential to divorce in California? If you are thinking about ending your marital relationship, you will want to know: Is it better to get a divorce or legal separation in California?


California Divorce


In California, a married couple who wishes to formally live apart can divorce or legally separate. When a couple decides to divorce, they will agree, or a court will decide how to divide their assets and debt and share custody of their children. Additionally, when there are kids involved, the California divorce court will make decisions about child support and other related matters. Further, in some situations, one spouse may be ordered to pay the other spousal maintenance or alimony.


California Separation


California law also allows for legal separation. A legal separation permits the separating couple to make many of the same decisions as in a California divorce. Specifically, when a couple decides to legally separate, the court will issue an order that states how the couple’s assets and debts are to be allocated, how parents will share legal and physical custody of their children, how child support will work, and, if applicable, spousal support details.


The Difference Between Divorce and Separation


The main difference between a California divorce and a California legal separation is that one severs the marital relationship and one does not. However, both legal options allow a couple to live apart, divide their assets and debts, establish their legal and physical custodial rights, and determine child support and spousal maintenance.


Deciding Between California Divorce and Separation


A California divorce and a legal separation offer similar results and a way for a couple to formally make decisions about their property, debt, children, support, and lives. Deciding between California divorce and separation often comes down to personal circumstances. If you want the finality of ending your marriage and moving on, it may be better to go through with a divorce. On the other hand, if you are comfortable remaining married but living separate lives, a legal separation may meet your needs.


Why Choose Legal Separation over Divorce?


The decision to divorce or separate is personal and often depends on the people involved and numerous other factors. There are various reasons a person may choose to legally separate rather than divorce.


People who formally separate commonly do so for one of the following reasons:


  • Religious beliefs
  • Personal beliefs
  • Family
  • Being unsure about wanting to end the marriage
  • Wanting to have a “trial separation”
  • Maintaining health insurance or Social Security benefits
  • Tax benefits
  • Keeping military spouse privileges
  • Waiting to meet the California residency requirements for divorce


There is no right or wrong answer when deciding whether or not to legally separate or divorce. One of the best ways to examine your options and the issues is by working with an experienced California separation and divorce attorney. You and your divorce lawyer can discuss the pros and cons of separation and divorce to help you determine how you want to proceed with your case.


The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California separation and divorce attorneys who can help you understand the options so you can make informed decisions. 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.