If your marriage is on the rocks, you can feel trapped. You may not want to be legally bound to your spouse anymore, but a divorce feels like a step too far. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many California residents find themselves in similar situations every year.
You don’t have to choose between remaining as you are and getting divorced, though. You can also consider a legal separation. This process has some unexpected benefits that can help you find the space you need without necessarily ending your marriage.
Benefits of Being Legally Separated
In a California legal separation, you and your spouse remain married in the eyes of the law. This means you cannot get remarried. However, the process still has many benefits that allow you to live like you are single. Some of the unexpected benefits of legal separations include:
- Dividing your finances and child custody. You can split your assets and those of your spouse with a separation. There will be no doubt about who owns what, and new property will not be considered community property. Similarly, you can pursue child custody orders to ensure you receive a fair amount of time with your kids.
- Maintaining your health insurance. Because you’re still legally married, you may still receive coverage under your spouse’s insurance policy. This can be a significant weight off your shoulders if you are the lower-earning partner.
- Ability to reverse it entirely or convert it to a divorce. Divorces are permanent. Legal separations do not need to be. You can remain legally separated for the rest of your life if you want, but you don’t have to. Separations can be converted into divorces with relative ease. They can also be reversed if you decide you want to remain married. As such, they are a convenient stepping stone no matter what you choose to do about your relationship.
These are just some benefits and reasons why you might get a legal separation instead of divorcing or remaining married.
How to Get a Legal Separation in California
Filing for a California separation is similar to filing for divorce. You will need to:
- Consult an attorney to understand your options and ensure you have representation.
- File paperwork with the court to notify them of your petition for legal separation.
- Serve your spouse with papers, so they know you have started the process.
- Draft your settlement agreement or schedule hearings to have the court decide it for you.
If you’re unsure about getting separated instead of divorced, that’s normal. At Viola Law Firm, P.C., we specialize in helping our clients find the right solution for their family law concerns. We can help you understand the differences between legal separations and divorce in California, how each will affect you, and how to start the process. Call our San Mateo family law firm at 650-460-2982 or reach out online to learn more.