The reasons for obtaining a legal separation in California and the process to accomplish it are very similar to a dissolution proceeding. The process is basically the same for a legal separation as for a divorce. All issues surrounding the marriage are resolved as they would be in a full divorce proceeding.
The main difference in a legal separation is that, at the end of the process the parties remain legally married. In a legal separation all issues pertaining to property, debt, children and support are resolved. Unlike in a divorce, however, the parties are still eligible to retain certain benefits that would otherwise be lost in a dissolution proceeding.
Another key difference is that there is no residence requirement under CCP Section 395 which would require one of the parties to have been a California resident for at least 6 months.
After a Judgment of Legal Separation, the parties do not acquire further community property and owe each other no spousal duties of care and support except as was ordered by the court in the Judgment of Legal Separation.