What is Divorce Compared to Legal Separation?

The main difference between obtaining a legal separation and obtaining a divorce is that in a legal separation you do not ask the court to terminate your marital status. In this situation, you still must go through the same process as parties undergoing a divorce, such as dividing marital assets and debts.

Why Choose Legal Separation?

Some parties choose to pursue a legal separation for personal reasons, such as religious beliefs or health insurance concerns. Others choose legal separation because of their county of residence. In all of these cases, the parties have chosen not to terminate the marriage at this time. If you choose to legally separate, neither you nor your spouse will be able to remarry without obtaining a divorce.

The main difference between obtaining a legal separation and obtaining a divorce is that in a legal separation you do not ask the court to terminate your marital status.

How Does Legal Separation Work?

To file for a divorce in a certain California county, you must reside in that county for at least three months. If you have not lived in that county for three months, you can first file for a legal separation (which has no time restrictions for filing) and then later amend your Petition to file for a divorce once you have resided in the county for three months.

Do I Need an Attorney to File for Legal Separation?

Legal separation in California does require some paperwork and time dealing with the court system. While you can handle your own legal separation, a California divorce attorney can make the divorce planning process easier and often more cost effective as well.

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California Divorce Guide


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