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How a legal separation can help spouses who are living apart

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2023 | Divorce

California recognizes legal separation as well as divorce. Some couples choose to get a legal separation rather than end their marriage for religious or other reasons. However, for many couples, legal separation is a step toward divorce.

Filing for legal separation is similar to filing for divorce, as a petition and financial disclosures need to be filed with the court. Let’s look at just what a legal separation is and what it can do for couples who either haven’t yet decided on divorce or are working towards it.

What’s involved in getting a legal separation?

A legal separation allows couples to have court orders regarding how their finances are divided and how much (if any) spousal and child support are paid. It also allows parents to put a custody order in place so that there’s an agreement on how children will divide their time and how child-related decisions will be made.

Waiting periods for divorce

Obtaining a legal separation can be particularly important in California doesn’t allow for “quick” divorces. State law mandates that a divorce can’t be final until at least six months after the respondent (the spouse who didn’t file for divorce) received the filing from the petitioner (the spouse who initiated the divorce filing) or their first appearance in court – whichever occurred first.  

Further, at least one of the spouses must have resided in the state for at least six months. They must have lived in the county where the divorce is filed for a minimum of three months. 

Codifying legal separation agreements can expedite eventual divorce agreements

Putting a legal separation agreement in place can allow you to lay some of the groundwork for your divorce agreements. It can also give you a chance to see whether a custody arrangement you thought would work is really the best one for your family.

A legal separation doesn’t always have to lead to divorce – or even a continued separation. Some couples reconcile after some time apart and agree to dismiss it. 

If you’re considering separating from your spouse or you’ve already begun living separately, it’s a good idea to learn more about how a legal separation can be in everyone’s best interests. Getting sound legal guidance is always a good idea.