When is a divorce not a divorce? California recognizes legal separation as a marital status where couples are financially separate from each other but still legally married. The process of legal separation works similarly to the divorce process. One spouse files for legal separation and the other has an opportunity to respond. Then they submit a separation agreement containing details about division of property and, if applicable spousal support; if they have minor children, they follow a parenting plan just like divorced couples too, and the wealthier spouse usually pays child support. The only difference is that they are still legally married after the court declares them legally separated. Just as it is possible to represent yourself in a divorce, you do not need a lawyer to accomplish a legal separation in California. A better option is to have a professional legal document assistant prepare your legal separation forms.
Why Choose California Legal Separation?
Lots of couples choose to live separately and to separate their finances to some extent, but they do not want to break the bond of marriage entirely. Maybe the last straw was when you got turned down for a car loan after your spouse maxed out yet another credit card on a multilevel marketing business opportunity that (surprise, surprise) never became profitable. Maybe you want to travel the world and live modestly as a digital nomad, but your spouse wants to stay in the suburbs to work the 9 to 5 job they have had for years. There are plenty of reasons to disentangle yourself from your spouse. Some couples choose to file a California legal separation instead of divorce because their religious beliefs say that the bond of marriage is unbreakable. In some cases, one spouse has a pre-existing health condition, and the other spouse’s health insurance is the only feasible way of paying for necessary medical care. Some couples that get a legal separation in California later reconcile and go back to being a married couple, some eventually divorce, and others remain legally separated until one of them dies.
Not Divorced but No Longer a Couple
California is a community property state, which means that the couple’s marital property gets divided in half in a divorce or legal separation. Marital property is all the assets they acquired from the day they married until they divorced or legally separated. Likewise, debts incurred after the wedding and before the legal separation are marital debts, but debts incurred after the legal separation are separate. After a California legal separation, creditors will not come after you if your spouse spends 150% of their income on Star Wars memorabilia or invests in a shady cryptocurrency. If you are legally separated, though, you are not legally single. You cannot enter a new marriage unless you first get a real divorce from your current spouse.
You Do Not Need a Lawyer to File for a California Legal Separation
You do not need a lawyer for a California legal separation case unless your relationship with your spouse is especially acrimonious. Contact A People’s Choice for professional document preparation services to help you finalize your legal separation from your spouse.
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