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Is legal separation the same as divorce in California?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2021 | Legal Separation

Each state has its own regulations surrounding the difference between legal separation and divorce. California doesn’t consider legal separation the same as divorce but requires some of the same steps as getting a divorce.

What is legal separation?

Legal separation is when you and your spouse have a legal agreement to live separately. It’s important that you follow the correct procedure for legally separating. Simply living in different houses does not count in California.

Negotiations are similar

Because legal separation requires a lot of steps and decisions to make, you want to make sure it’s the right option in your situation first. Just as in a divorce, you need to negotiate child custody and visitation, child support, division of property and spousal support.

Legal documents

You will receive a document from the court that lists your rights and responsibilities. One of the ways that legal separation differs from divorce is that your spouse needs to agree or default. You must file a formal request for separation, and your spouse has a certain time period to respond. If they fail to respond, then they default. Divorce, however, doesn’t require your spouse’s agreement.

As a no-fault state, California doesn’t require a specific reason for you to file for divorce or legal separation. If, however, there is a serious reason like abuse, adultery or drug addiction, then it could lean court proceedings in your favor on division of property and child custody to be open about this.

No wait time

You don’t have to wait six months of living in California to file for separation like you do with divorce. If you are certain that you want to divorce, then you could speed up the process of removing your ties by going the separation route first.

Only you can decide if separation or divorce is best for you. Consider the way each differs before making your final decision, and make sure that you follow the correct steps.