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Rombro & Manley LLP
Top Certified Family Law Specialists
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How does legal separation work in California?

Like many other states, California offers couples the option to ask a judge for a legal separation instead of a divorce.

In California, a legal separation is a way in which a couple can stay legally married but still get many of the same benefits as a divorce.

As part of a legal separation, a judge can order child support, set up child custody and parenting time, and order one of the spouses to pay the other alimony. The court is also able to divide up the couple’s property and debts.

Of course, as in a divorce, the couple can come to agreements about both their children and their property.

Why would I consider a legal separation?

Because a legal separation does not end a marriage, people who get one are not free to legally marry again unless they divorce.

On the other hand, if either spouse at any time decides he or she would rather go through a divorce instead of a separation, it is a relatively simple legal process to do so.

Still, people have many reasons for considering a legal separation. For instance, unlike a divorce, neither spouse has to have lived in California for any given period of time.

The upshot is that a couple who wants a final split quickly may want to consider a legal separation.

In other cases, people may have religious, moral, or emotional reasons for considering a legal separation instead of a divorce.

Likewise, some people may have financial or unrelated legal reasons, like being able to access health care or maintain one’s immigration status, for seeking a legal separation.