When married couples find themselves at a crossroads it’s often a choice between separation and divorce. What separates these legal processes can be confusing and most couples are often left with more questions than answers. In this month’s blog, we define and clearly distinguish the similarities and differences between filing for legal separation vs filing for divorce in California.
A legal separation is defined as an ordered agreement in which married couples have legally defined boundaries and responsibilities. This is often a three to four month process that couples take prior to filing for an official divorce sometimes due to financial or religious reasons, or because it was required by a judge. A separation can be reversed in court upon all parties’ agreement in the decision.
Divorce is the irreversible legal dissolution of a marriage in court. This process will take at least six months of hearings, negotiations, and court ordered agreements before it will be finalized by a judge and made permanent.
It is not necessary for both spouses to agree to end a marriage when separating or divorcing. In California, couples filing for these processes also do not have to prove that there was a ‘fault’ by either spouse that lead to the decision.
Throughout both of these processes couples will have to agree on the terms of child custody and support, alimony, child visitation, attorney’s fees, and the division of assets or property. So essentially, the settlement agreement in a legal separation is almost identical to a divorce settlement agreement.
The Major Differences
The main difference between legal separation and divorce is that when a legal separation is finalized, the parties do not revert to “single person” status. This is important to note for taxes and health insurance reasons. Ultimately, the most notable difference between legal separation and divorce is that divorce is final.
If you or someone you know is preparing for divorce or legal separation in Southern California, it’s crucial that obtaining a lawyer comes first and foremost. When choosing Family Law Richard E. Young & Associates as your counsel you will benefit from decades of industry experience combined with a reputation for honesty and success. Visit our website or call us today at (949) 951-9529 for your free initial consultation.