How to file for legal separation in California
A court order separating you and your spouse is known as a "legal separation" in the state where you and your partner currently reside.
You and your spouse cannot even be in the same room without arguing. The problem is that you are not ready to give up on the marriage just yet. There still may be some way the two of you can repair your relationship.
A legal separation is an official court order from the state where you and your partner live apart and carry on your lives separately.
Married couples often believe that a trial separation is a good idea.
The two of you can be apart for a while to see how things go. People frequently believe they need to hire a lawyer and file formal paperwork in order to proceed with a trial separation.
What couples often do not understand is that they can be legally separated without having to file for a legal separation. There is a difference.
What is the Difference Between Being Legally Separated and a Legal Separation in Murrieta and Temecula, California?
Being legally separated is a state of mind. It is when one spouse in a marriage decides that the relationship is broken forever and cannot be fixed- no matter what happens.
That spouse then takes some action to end the relationship- such as moving out or separating the finances. For a separation to be legally binding, there are no legal papers required.
However, when spouses file in California for a legal separation, they are filing a lawsuit in the court. This action, called a “legal separation” is very much like a divorce.
In California, a Legal Separation must meet certain requirements.
There is no residency requirement in California for a legal separation, which means that you don’t have to be a California resident for six months or even a resident of the county in which you are filing for a minimum of three months.
The proceeding is very much like a divorce. The only difference is at the end of the litigation, the parties remain married and have to file new paperwork to end the marriage.
When people ask us about a California legal separation, they often are asking about a trial separation.
The question is, “Do I need to do anything legally if my spouse and I want to separate temporarily?” “No,” is the answer. If you’re contemplating divorce but aren’t sure if it’s for you, there’s nothing you need to do.
You and your spouse can live separate and apart without filing formal documents with the court.
The legal separation can be finalized prior to the so-called “six-month minimum time frame” required for a divorce. This is due to the absence of a marriage termination date in a legal separation.
Currently, the filing fee for a legal separation in California is $435, although this fee may differ in Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Francisco counties. During the legal separation procedure, many issues are handled similarly to divorce, including property, assets, debt, and child custody.
You and your spouse are not yet prepared to negotiate a comprehensive divorce settlement. Legal separation safeguards your rights and financial interests while you and your spouse decide whether or not to divorce.
The primary distinction lies in the finality of your decision. When a couple legally separates, they can live and act as separate individuals but can reunite as a married couple. Nevertheless, following a divorce, the decision to end the marriage is final and you are officially single.
Despite the fact that legal separation is not obligatory, many couples do file for separation prior to finalizing their divorce. There is a six-month mandatory waiting period in California after a couple files for divorce before the court can issue an order dissolving the marriage.
The three most significant disadvantages of legal separation are:
- Legal separations are just as complex as divorces.
- Equally stressful are legal separations and divorces.
- There may be no need for a legal separation in your relationship.
If the tax law considers you to be “unmarried” because you received a decree of separation maintenance before December 31, you may file as “single” or “head of household.” To qualify as “head of household,” you must have a dependent and pay at least half of the costs associated with maintaining a home.
Avoid These 5 Mistakes During Your Separation
- Keep things secret. Immediately after announcing a divorce, everyone will have a viewpoint…
- Do not leave your home.
- Do not pay more than your fair share.
- Avoid rushing into a rebound relationship.
- Do not delay the inevitable.
Obtaining a court decision
If children are involved in a legal separation, the judge determines their custody, maintenance, and education in accordance with their best interests and their legal rights. If possible, the judge considers any agreement reached between the parties.
You’d like to keep some of the perks of marriage, including being covered by your spouse’s health insurance. Being eligible for deductions on taxes Recipients of state aid (e.g. Social Security)
The decision that a married couple cannot be considered legally separated if they continue to live together was made by the Supreme Court of California in 2015. As long as they continue to share a residence, a divorced couple will continue to acquire property that will be considered community property when it comes time to divide their belongings.
Positive aspects of legal separation
Both parties retain their medical, life, and other insurance benefits under a formal separation. If the marriage has been long-lasting enough, both partners are eligible to receive the other’s social security payments. In addition, tax benefits continue after a legal separation.
Property Division - Protecting Your Assets in a Separation Case
Since a legal separation, as stated in California law, separates the parties’ finances, the action is helpful when the parties do not want a divorce but are worried about some future financial liability. The filing of a legal separation could protect you under the following circumstances:
Reasons for a Legal Separation in California
A legal separation is only appropriate in a very narrow set of circumstances. The most common circumstances include
What Are the Issues Involved?
- Child Custody: refers to who has decision-making authority over the marriage’s children and where they live. Child Visitation refers to the day-to-day parenting schedule, including holidays and vacations.
- Child Support: California has standardized “guidelines” for calculating child support that are based on the income of each parent and the amount of time the children spend with each parent.
- Spousal Support: Also referred to as alimony, the sub-issues of whether or not support is appropriate, the amount of support to be paid, and the duration of support should all be addressed.
- Property division: everything held, from retirement funds, bank accounts, and real estate, to furniture, furnishings, and appliances, must be divided in some way.
- Allocation of debts: All debts, including credit card obligations, personal loans, and tax bills, must be divided.
- Attorney fees: There are two primary reasons why a person may be required to pay the attorney fees of the other spouse. One reason is that one spouse has a larger financial ability to pay attorney fees than the other, and the other reason is because one spouse has acted inappropriately throughout the divorce procedures and gets punished.
The issue of marital status is conspicuously absent. You are still legally married to your spouse if you obtain a Judgment of Legal Separation.
If you desire to divorce your spouse following the finalization of your Legal Separation, you must submit a completely new and distinct dissolution of marriage lawsuit.
Notably, for California to have the authority (jurisdiction) to issue custody or visitation orders, the children must meet residency requirements, with the exception of emergency situations. Consequently, if you require child custody or child visitation orders, you may desire to investigate alternate options.
Family Law Matters Discusses The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce
The following figure provides an overview of California's legal separation laws, including the grounds for legal separation and the method for obtaining a court order.
Statutes Family Code Chapter 2310 (grounds for separation)
Family Code Chapter 2330 (process to initiate separation)
Family Code section 2030 (requests for separation attorney fees)
Our family law firm handles legal separation cases professionally and result-oriented. Contact our law offices to discuss your case today.