Perhaps your marriage is not working out as you hoped, yet you are not sure about filing for divorce. Residents of the state of California have an option other than divorce, known as legal separation. While not all states offer legal separation, the state of California does, allowing you to avoid the permanence of a decision until you are sure you are ready to make that choice. Whether you just need some physical and emotional space to sort things out, or whether you already know your ultimate goal is divorce, it is important to speak to the experienced legal separation attorneys from the Vanegas Law Group.
At this point, legal advice is imperative so you can get answers to questions that could impact your future, such as: “If I leave the house is it considered abandonment,” or “Will my leaving affect eventual custody decisions,” or even “If my partner is unemployed, will I be on the hook for alimony?” Speaking to knowledgeable legal separation attorneys from the Vanegas Law Group can significantly reduce your stress, helping you develop a plan of action that is unique to you and your specific situation. When you choose Vanegas Law Group, you have attorneys who are personable, relatable, and warm, while taking the decisive steps necessary to ensure you are treated fairly during your legal separation. That being said…
Why Choose a Legal Separation in the State of California?
A legal separation allows you and your spouse to live and act as separate individuals, while still leaving the option of reconciliation open. People may choose legal separation for many different reasons. In some cases, one or both spouses’ religion frowns on divorce, therefore, a legal separation could circumvent this, at least for a time.
Another reason for a legal separation could be that one spouse receives—and needs—health insurance benefits obtained through the other spouse’s employment. Other benefits like pensions and Social Security can also be a reason to legally separate rather than divorce. For some couples, a legal separation allows them to see how co-parenting will work (or not) should they divorce.
Some spouses simply want to hit “pause” on the divorce process, perhaps enabling them the time to more calmly discuss pending financial and custody issues. Finally, some spouses choose legal separation, hoping for a reconciliation and an end to talk of divorce. Spouses will have their own reasons for choosing legal separation over a divorce but according to Psychology Today, more than three-quarters of couples who choose legal separation will eventually file for divorce.
How Is Legal Separation Different from Divorce?
Deciding whether or not to proceed with a legal separation is a decision that should not be made lightly—and definitely could benefit from input from the legal separation attorneys from Vanegas Law Group. When you proceed with a legal separation, there can be temporary child support and spousal support put into place, and decisions can be made regarding child custody and asset division. Unlike a divorce, there are no residency requirements in the state of California for a legal separation—and the separation takes place immediately.
What is the California Legal Process for Separation?
The petitioner must first file the petition for legal separation, and the respondent must file a response. Both parties are required to exchange mandatory disclosures, and essentially, the same process that is used during a divorce for resolving child custody and support issues and dividing assets and debts takes place. Just as with a divorce, if you and your spouse are unable to agree on how the assets will be divided or how custody will be divided, then a family law judge will make those decisions for you.
Keep the following separation issues in mind:
- The date of your separation establishes your decision to discontinue your marriage, but you are not legally separated until a judgment is issued by the court.
- The date of separation determines the interest you and your spouse have in your community and separate property. This means marital property acquired prior to the date of the separation will be divided 50/50 (absent a pre or post-nuptial agreement). Property acquired after the date of the separation will be the separate property of the spouse who acquired the property unless it was funded by marital funds.
- A final judgment of legal separation can take a while—just like a divorce—if there is no mutual agreement regarding assets.
Do I Still Have to File for Divorce?
If you decide to divorce after your legal separation—and you meet the residency requirements of California for divorce—you will have to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, just as you would if you hadn’t been separated. If all the decisions regarding custody, asset division, spousal support, and child support still work for both of you, then those will become a part of your divorce settlement. If there are things one of you wants to have changed, then your attorneys will re-negotiate that part of your legal separation, transferring those new decisions to your divorce.
What are the Disadvantages of Legal Separation?
As with any family law legal procedure, there can be disadvantages of choosing legal separation. While a legal separation is not a divorce, the journey can still be complex and emotional. If your reason for the separation is that you are in love with another person and plan to remarry, then there may be little benefit in going through the legal separation process. If your goal is to sever all financial ties with your spouse, then legal separation is not for you.
Legal separation requires you and your spouse to act as a married couple in terms of financial responsibility, other than the financial responsibilities related to your children or spousal support. If you are absolutely sure you want a divorce, then choosing legal separation may only be prolonging the inevitable. Essentially, (unless you are hoping for reconciliation), if there is no financial benefit for you, then there is little reason to waste the time and money on a legal separation.
How the Legal Separation Attorneys at Vanegas Law Group Can Help
When you choose the Vanegas Law Group as your legal separation attorneys, you are choosing a firm that has experience dealing with family law issues. We will evaluate your family law issue objectively, then proactively move forward on your behalf, always providing candid, transparent representation. We are highly skilled negotiators who will work toward satisfactory resolutions as early as possible. If there is simply no way to negotiate agreements with your spouse, then we are also aggressive litigators when necessary. That being said, we understand that disputes that are dragged out have costs—both financial and human. We will endeavor to reduce the cost of family law disputes on your life and your future. If you are looking for a personable, relatable, candid, highly experienced legal separation attorney, contact Vanegas Law Group.