Choosing Legal Separation in California

What is a Gray Divorce?
December 14, 2021

When you and your spouse are considering splitting up, there are a number of options available to you. You may qualify for an annulment, you can get a divorce, or you can get a legal separation. A separation is an alternative to divorce and may be the right choice for you and your family. The lawyers at Newport Divorce Attorney in California will walk you through your options and explain why legal separation may be a good idea.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce

There is a common misconception that a couple must file for a legal separation prior to filing for a divorce. This is not true. Legal separation is an alternative to divorce. With a legal separation, you and your spouse live in different homes, separate your assets, arrange a child custody agreement, and even allocate debt. Legal separation is essentially divorcing without technically getting a divorce. You and your spouse will still be married in the eyes of the law, and neither of you can get remarried until you get a divorce. Therefore, you can still receive some of the benefits of being married without being in each other’s lives.

Why Choose Legal Separation?

There are a variety of factors that could make someone choose such a type separation over a divorce. For some people getting a divorce is not an option because of religious reasons. For others, they want their spouse to be able to continue to use their health insurance, retirement, or military family benefits. Other factors include:

  • want to keep the option of reconciliation open
  • want to avoid the stress of a divorce due to children or emotional distress
  • want to separate sooner than California law requires for divorce
  • don’t meet residency requirements (must be a resident of California for at least six months or of your county of filing for at least three months)

Separation Agreement

If you choose to go the route of lawful separation over a divorce, there are many things that need to be arranged. A separation agreement is a legal document that is created by the two parties and addresses any issues that may develop with the separation. This can include

  • child custody/visitation arrangements—where the kids will live, when the parents will see the children, how much time each parent will have with them, etc.
  • child/spousal support—if either spouse will pay spousal and child support during the separation and how much they will pay.
  • division of assets—how the couple will manage their assets during the separation period this includes any real estate, investment portfolios, bank accounts, personal property, etc.
  • debt allocation—how the couple will pay for any outstanding debt and who will be responsible for it.
  • attorney fees—how much each person will pay in attorney fees.

Options Available After Legal Separation

After filing for legal separation in California, there are two main options available to you. You can pursue a divorce later, or you can pursue a reconciliation. Many people choose to file for a separation so that they can keep the option of reconciliation open and available. Instead of having to get remarried, they can instead file a Motion to Vacate Order of Legal Separation or file a Motion to Dismiss the legal separation.

Similarly, you can also file for a divorce. Either spouse is able to request a dissolution of marriage at any point in the legal separation process, including after the separation is official. If your main reason for legal separation was residency requirements, you can request a dissolution of marriage as soon as the residency requirements are met.

Legal Separation Attorney in California

Are you trying to decide between a legal separation or a divorce? The attorneys at Newport Divorce Attorneys can help. We have helped hundreds of couples navigate the nuances of a legal separation in California. We will review your case and go over the best options for you and your family. Contact our office (949) 752-2727 or visit our website to schedule a free consultation.

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