When divorce isn't possible, is legal separation a better choice?

There are many reasons why a California couple may choose to end their relationship and still choose to wait to divorce. In many cases, it is not prudent for one party to simply move out, yet living together may no longer be a feasible option. In these cases, it is can be beneficial to understand more about how a legal separation could work.

Legal separation is a formal process for a couple that is currently married but no longer wants to live together. It is not quite a quite a full divorce, but there are many elements of a separation agreement that function much like a divorce. If it is the right choice for you and your spouse, you would benefit from a formally drafted separation agreement in order to protect the interests of both parties.

What is legal separation anyway?

A legal separation is an agreement that outlines both the rights and the responsibilities of the two parties that may wish to remain married. By clearly establishing the roles of both parties, the two may live apart for an extended amount of time without legal complications. In your legal separation agreement, you may need to address several issues as you would in a formal divorce agreement. Some of these include:

  • Child custody and visitation
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Property division
  • Pertinent financial issues, such as separation maintenance for the children

Every family is different, and the issues affecting your separation will be unique to your individual situation. However, there are different types of separation that could impact how your agreement works.

Types of separation

Simply living apart is what some couples prefer, yet drafting a formal agreement could be beneficial for legal protections during this period of time. A trial separation is what some couples choose in order to determine if they wish to continue with the marriage or move forward with a divorce after a period of time. Depending on how long your trial separation lasts, it could be useful to have a formal agreement drafted.

One other option for couples who no longer want to live together is a permanent separation. When divorce is not an option, couples who want to permanently separate would be wise to do so with a formal agreement outlining how this will work for their individual situation. If you wish to permanently separate, it is smart not to just move out and start a new life, but to first be certain you are not exposing yourself to any unnecessary risks.

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