Does California have a formal separation period, and does it matter?

On Behalf of The Law Offices of Ronda A. Middleton |

If you are interested in getting a divorce, you should learn more about California’s legal separation process. This is somewhat unique to the state in that you can enter into this agreement before you end your marriage and live apart.

In California, you and your spouse have a right to enter into a separation agreement. This agreement can go over all the different parts of your separation such as child visitation, child support, custody, alimony and property division.

The state doesn’t require you to have a formal separation period, but there is a six-month cooling-off period that you will need to abide by. This requires at least six months to pass before the divorce can be entered after you file.

Why does a separation date matter?

The separation date matters because it helps you break down who gets what based on the date you stopped living together. For example, the value of a piece of property on the date when you separated might matter when you divide the value.

Legal separations don’t end marriages

You do have to keep in mind that legal separations don’t end marriages and that you will still need to go through a full divorce. That being said, the legal separation does legally separate your finances and signals the date you officially left the relationship.

The legal separation contract helps guide all kinds of issues ranging from custody concerns to child support.

Is a legal separation required before you get a divorce?

No, and interestingly, you don’t have to get a divorce after you separate, either. Sometimes, people choose to legally separate and get back together. Other times, they legally separate and later divorce. You don’t technically need a legal separation before you divorce, but if you plan to live apart and want to separate your finances, for example, then it may be a good idea.

A legal separation could be a good tool to use in your case if you would like to live apart from your spouse. It’s worth looking into it and deciding if it could be helpful as you consider a divorce over the next few months.

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