Under California law, when a couple is contemplating the termination of their marriage, they have two options: divorce or separation. Legal separation is an alternative to divorce and is often sought by couples who have religious or personal reasons, such as access to health care benefits, for not wanting to end the legal marriage. Since legal separation does not terminate the marital relationship, when the legal separation is finalized, the parties may not remarry. The legal separation proceeding itself is similar to divorce and serves to decide matters such as child custody, child support, and spousal support. With legal separation, the court will also divide the marital assets, and subsequent to the proceeding, the parties will not acquire further rights in the community property; in other words, they will no longer have a right to property held or obtained by the other spouse. In addition, legal separation serves to terminate any other legal rights and responsibilities of marriage, unless provided otherwise in the judgment.
If you are contemplating divorce or legal separation, our attorneys can help you evaluate your options and decide upon the best avenue to help you achieve your goals and safeguard the interests of you and your children.