Legal Separation Process in California

Filing for legal separation in California is similar to the divorce process. The main difference is that with legal separation, the parties will not end their marital status after dividing community assets and debts. Luckily, you do not need to hire an attorney to help with the legal separation process in California; many people opt for a non-attorney to prepare necessary paperwork and provide guidance through the process.

Read on to learn more about the legal separation process in California and how a legal document assistant can help make it easier.

What is Legal Separation?

Legal separation allows a couple to divide their assets and debts, then lead separate lives without ending their marriage. After a legal separation, a couple may or may not continue living together.

Difference Between Separation and Divorce

People are often confused about the differences between a legal separation and divorce.

It’s important to understand that the processes for a legal separation and a divorce are exactly the same. The only difference is that at the end of a legal separation process, the parties are still legally married. If a couple remains married by law, they are able to keep certain ongoing benefits. When a couple files for a legal separation, the marriage is still valid and neither party can get remarried.

In a legal separation, the couple will divide all assets, including retirement and property, as well as handling custody, visitation, child and spousal support issues (if applicable). All of these matters would be similarly resolved in a divorce proceeding. In a legal separation, however, when everything is said and done, the parties are still legally married.

The Forms and Filing Process to Become Legally Separated in California

The grounds for becoming legally separated in California are actually the same as divorce; that is, irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity. However, unlike with divorce, you do not need to satisfy the six-month California residency requirement in order to apply for legal separation.

Declarations of what property you and your spouse own, as well as any debts in the marriage are required of both processes. If you have children, you will file more paperwork to help the judge address custody and resolve child support issues.

You must file with the court, pay the required fee, prepare a summons, and have your spouse served with copies of all the paperwork. The summons serves as notice that you have started a case asking for legal separation. Plus, it outlines the consequences if they do not respond within 30 days.

Why File for Legal Separation Instead of Divorce?

There are several reasons why couples choose to file for legal separation instead of divorce.

Religious Reasons: Some religions dictate that divorce is not accepted or allowed. Legal separation allows a couple to put space between each other and maintain some legal protection without filing for divorce. In the eyes of the church, the couple is still married, even though they are legally separated.

To Keep Options Open: Sometimes a couple files for a legal separation because they just aren’t sure they want to go through a divorce. In a legal separation, although you resolve all the issues surrounding the marriage, in the end the parties are still married. If they do decide to later reconcile, they do not have to get remarried.

Residency Requirement: An individual can also file for legal separation in California if they do not meet the residency requirements to file a California divorce. In order to file for divorce in California, you must have lived in California for six months and in the county where they are filing for divorce for three months. A person can file for legal separation first, and then convert it to a divorce proceeding once they have met the residency requirement.

Retain Marital Benefits: The most common reason people file a legal separation is because it allows the couple to keep certain benefits of being married that they otherwise would lose if they filed for a divorce. The most commonly desired benefit people want to keep in a legal separation is their joint health insurance. Older people who are not planning to get married again often opt for a separation rather than divorce. Be aware, however, that some insurance companies now try to prevent couples who have filed a legal separation from keeping each other on their policies.

Benefits of Using A Non-Attorney For Your Legal Separation

If you are considering filing for legal separation, using a professional, non-attorney legal document assistant will save you thousands of dollars compared to hiring an attorney. Plus, the process is much easier than trying to do it yourself. At A People’s Choice, we have helped thousands of California residents file for legal separation. Contact us for more information.

Get help with your California legal separation documents today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal separation forms instead of an expensive attorney!