Filing for legal separation in California is similar to the divorce process. However, the main difference is that under 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 you with the legal separation process in California. In fact, many people use a non-attorney to prepare the necessary paperwork and help them 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 and lead separate lives without ending their marriage. After a legal separation, a couple may or may not continue living together.
Legal Separation Process in California
The legal separation process in California is very similar to filing for divorce. For example, the petitioner must file a petition for legal separation. Then, the respondent must file a response. Otherwise, the matter will proceed by default.
When filing for legal separation, both parties must exchange mandatory disclosures. Furthermore, the same process for dividing assets, debts, and resolving child custody and support issues as in divorce apply to legal separation. Finally, if the parties cannot agree on how the marital estate shall be divided, a family law judge will make the final determination.
Difference Between Date of Separation and Judgment of Legal Separation
In a legal separation, the date of separation establishes the date of a spouse’s decision to discontinue their marriage. Furthermore, the date of separation determines each spouse’s community and separate property interest. For example, property acquired by the community prior to the date of separation will be divided between the parties 50/50, unless the parties agree to a different division. On the other hand, property acquired after the date of separation will be the separate property of the acquiring spouse, unless they used community property funds in its acquisition.
In contrast, the judgment of legal separation addresses the division of the marital estate upon the finalization of the legal separation status. In other words, the judgment will determine the division of the community property home as well as assets and debts. Additionally, it will also resolve child custody issues.
Legal Separation in California Timeline
Unlike divorce, legal separation in California does not require any residency requirements and the date of separation takes effect immediately. Therefore, legal separation can be completed prior to the six month “minimum time frame” for divorce as there is no termination date of the marriage. However, a final judgment of legal separation can, of course, take longer if the parties are unable to reach a mutual agreement in dividing the community assets and debts. In these cases, the court will hold hearings to determine asset divisions.
Once a couple obtains a judgement of legal separation court order, they are officially legally separated. Therefore, the date of legal separation generally refers to this date of entry of judgment and court order. The order should resolve all issues such as the division of marital assets and debts, child custody, and spousal support.
Advantages of Legal Separation
Unlike divorce, legal separation is not definite. Instead, the legal separation process in California allows a couple time, opportunity, and legal protections while considering whether they would like to completely sever the relationship with divorce. Additionally, some people file for legal separation to keep their married legal status for healthcare or immigration purposes. Plus, couples who want to refrain from divorce based on religious or deeply held personal reasons also prefer legal separation. However, if one spouse seeks divorce and not legal separation, the court must permit the divorce to occur.
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.
I have been married to my spouse for 20 yrs. We have now decided to be legally spearated. We file our taxes seperate as well. I have lived in a different address. By
legally filling ? Do you think will help with our sons fininacial aid. I went to my tax prepare and she cant fix it. Thier is nothing to fix we live in different households. But the school eants our tsxes amendet because we are legally married. I am ready for starting my seperation process though.
Hello Marisol, I would consult with a tax professional or an attorney regarding your legal and tax questions. We can certainly help with the court paperwork, please call the office on 800-747-2780 to speak to a member of staff.
I’ve been married for 33 years but 7 years ago we filed for divorce and then canceled. Then 5 years ago I filed for divorce and canceled again, would that affect me if I want to file for separation? Can I put the date of my second attempt to divorce 5 years ago? Ever since then our relationship isn’t normal.
Usually the date of separation is the last date you both were living together.
My Partner and Me did a separation of assets and we notarized this letter. We both agreed about what belongs to each other but now we are filing the divorce my my still husband want to or his lawyer said the notary paper has no validity. It is true?
Hello Ramiro, Unfortunately as we are not attorneys, we could not answer that question. Please consult with an attorney or you could try avvo.com.
Is it easier for a spouse to file for legal separation if they are incarcerated in California?
Legal separation and divorce utilize similar processes so it would be the same.
If my wife and I obtain a legal separation, or a decree of separation maintenance, will we be able to file taxes “single?” I’ve read the IRS recognizes the above as single filers but that it also varies state by state. I can’t find specific info on if CA allows this.
I would check with your CPA
In California, is an agreed upon and court approved stipulation and order dividing assets and defining support prior to a divorce a legal separation?
A legal separation is a different legal process than a divorce. It sounds like you are looking for a legal definition of being “separated.” You may want to talk with a lawyer to get a better understanding of the definition if this with regards to your particular situation.
My wife and I had a legal separation filed at a US embassy. All it was, was a notarized, simple 1 page agreement about living separately and continous financial support. She is recieving my Social Security compensation and Military pension. I have decided that i will file for divorce. Will divorce agreement between my wife and I terminate all agreement made on legal separation?
I cannot say, but we can certainly incorporate those same provisions in a marital settlement agreement if you both agree.
Me and my husband are seniors with second marriage , (7 years married )and having our own respective adult children. Due to differences we may consider Legal Separation or divorce ( I am dependent on Social security and medicare on his work record, so would like to do legal separation only which will allow me to to continue to these benefits, but his adult sons are pushing him to go for divorce asap. How can I stop that?
If one person wants a legal separation but the other person wants a divorce, unfortunately the court will allow the divorce to go through. We can help you file paperwork and request motions that include support and other issues if you need help. Please give us a call at 800-747-2780.
I have been seperated from my spouse for 10 years in California. I would like to file for legal seperation, but want to know if I am still eligible to receive the tax break, if he buys me out of our martial home?
500K if married / 250K if single
Hi Monica – That would be a request you would have to ask your CPA or tax advisor. We could definitely help you with preparing your documents for the legal separation.
Is there an approximate or definite timeline from filing FL-115 with the court to judgement on legal separation?
Yes but it depends on a variety of factors that have gone on with the case. We would need more information in order to help you on this.
If a couple is legally separated, and the husband passes away, does the wife have say so over his body and funeral? And can his child from a previous marriage interview and try to stop the wife from having any say out doing with her father body/funeral?
You are asking legal advice and would need to direction your questions to an attorney.
I moved away from my husband in 2013. In 2016 I moved to VA to live w/my mom. I have 2 kids 10 & 13. My husband starting working on divorce papers last Oct by hasn’t completed them yet. My mom and I want to by a house together. The lender is asking for separation papers. We have 3 weeks before we have to sign for the house. Any suggestions would be appreciated
If it is a California divorce, we can help you both complete it. Have your spouse call us.
If you are legally separated but continue living together for economic and child reasons, do the years you live together after legal separation count toward California’s “10-year rule”?
That would be a legal question that you would need to confirm with an attorney about.
I have two young kids and I am the one with stable income. My spouse has not been able to secure a stable job in the past few years and lost medical benefits and he’s reckless with finances and has poor credit. He also diagnosed with scarcoidosis 5 years ago but need constant medical monitor. We’ve been married odor 14 years but has no “physical” contact for the last 6-7 years. I handle all bills and have good credit. I wanted divorce for a few years now but kids are only 7 and 11 years old. He came with debt and no asset into the marriage (lies and I uncover the truth later, here and there). I’m frightened of the debts he may incur and the lack of medical care and consistent medical insurance will put me and kids in danger/trouble. He threatened to take 1/2 of everything I have (he has nothing under his name) and fight for 50% of children (although he can’t take care of them physically or financially) just to make a point and stop me from divorce him and get him out of the house. He doesn’t want or care for the kids (he say he does to maintain an image) because these kids came from donor sperms because he can’t have kids on his own). I want to know how I can protect myself financially and not separate from my kids… legal separation?
It sounds like you may have financial exposure of supporting him if you file a legal separation or divorce, however the longer time to you are together, the greater the exposure you have. You may simply want to file for a legal separation to start the separation process and resolve all of the issues so that you at least can financially separate yourself from him and be able to make your own financial plans for future years. Give our office a call for help. 800-747-2780. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney.
I’m in California and I have been married for 3 years. I’m currently seeking to file for legal separation due to infidelity and mental and verbal abuse. I have no income because my husband never leaves me any money whatsoever. He makes plenty but I have no access to any of it. I don’t want anything at all I just want out of this marriage. We have no kids together but I have 4 of my own. He can have everything….
we can certainly help you file for divorce or legal separation. The reason you’re seeking a divorce or legal separation does not matter because in California you simply can file based upon irreconcilable differences. Olease give our office a call at 800-747-2780 if you would like to explore how we can help you in this matter.
My spouse filed a petition for separation several years ago. We attended one hearing where child/support was set. We never completed any agreement to divide assets and have no separation agreement or “judgment of separation”. We have lived separately but maintained a close and loving marital relationship. The support payments continue thru wage assignment but he spends most free time here at all ur family home. Would our separation be considered “legal” without a final judgment?
A judgment of legal separation is usually the document that creates an order of legal separation. It would seem you would want to make sure you get your case completed. Otherwise after awhile, most courts will simply dismiss your case for failure to timely complete it…making your case go completely away.
I have been legally separated from my husband since 2017 and we are planning to get back together as soon as we figure out how to get rid of the legal separation? I have been doing research and contacted the court house(in CA) and they can’t even tell me how to do it…would you happen to know or is the only way to find out is by contacting an attorney?
Usually an order to vacate needs to be filed. But you should check with your local courthouse regarding the specific forms they may require.