Compassionate, experienced family law counsel

What does separation mean legally in California?

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2023 | Family Law |

California allows you to ask for a legal separation if you don’t want to get a divorce but want to live separately and legally separate your property and finances. As such, you can stay married but have the court divide your property and debts. In fact, if you have kids, the court can make orders concerning custody and financial support as well.

You’re eligible for legal separation in California if you have been a resident of California for at least six months preceding the filing of the separation petition and a resident of the county where the petition is filed for at least three months. Furthermore, your spouse should share your intention to live separately because the law doesn’t allow you to cohabit as a legally-separated, yet married couple.

What’s the legal separation process in California?

The process of obtaining a legal separation begins with you or your spouse filing a petition with the family law court. The petition should outline the grounds for separation and include details regarding child custody, support, property division and other relevant issues.

Once the petition is served to the other spouse, their response should address any disagreements or modifications to the terms outlined in the petition. This is so that you may negotiate to reach an agreement.

When you reach an agreement, the court will review the agreement to ensure it is fair, reasonable and compliant with California family law guidelines. And once the court approves the agreement, it becomes legally binding. If you cannot agree on the terms of your separation, you’ll need to litigate your case.

What are the implications of legal separation?

After a legal separation in California, you’ll remain legally married to your spouse despite living separately. This is to say that neither you nor your spouse can enter into a new marriage or domestic partnership. However, after legal separation, either spouse can convert the separation into a divorce by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage.

Legal separation in allows couples to live separately while maintaining their legal marital status. By understanding the requirements and implications of legal separation, you can make informed decisions about your marriage.