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Legal Separation in California

A resident of the Los Angeles area might come to a point where she recognizes that she must no longer live with her husband, sometimes even for the sake of her own safety or that of her children.

On the other hand, she may have moral or religious reasons for not wanting to end her marriage. She may also wish to keep the marriage intact for financial or business reasons, and sometimes it is just hard emotionally to admit that a relationship is over.

Like most other states, in addition to divorce, California also has a process called legal separation. While the term legal separation means slightly different things in different states, in California, it is for all practical matters like a divorce. The big difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that the couple remains legally married and, thus, not free to marry another person.

However, a legal separation in California can go on indefinitely, or it can last until such time that the couple reconciles or decides to go forward with a divorce.

Since legal separation in practice resembles a divorce in just about every respect, this means that the same issues which come up in divorces will also come up in legal separations. A couple will need to decide how their property and debts are to be divided and one spouse may be ordered to pay the other spouse alimony.

Perhaps most importantly, if the couple has children together, then they are going to need to make decisions regarding child support, child custody and parenting time as part of their legal separation.

In other words, if getting a legal separation is the right option for a California resident, he or she will still likely need the help of a family lawyer to navigate through what can otherwise be a complicated and frustrating process.