What’s the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

Divorce

In California, there are two primary ways to separate your finances and provide for child custody and visitation, as well as child spousal support. These are known as Legal Separation and Dissolution of Marriage (also known as divorce).

What’s the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

Details of Legal Separation

In a legal separation case, a final judgment does not end your marriage. You remain married to your spouse even though you may have divided everything and have been physically separated for an extended period of time.  You must continue to file taxes as a married person.  You do not have to terminate health insurance coverage if legally separated.  If you later want to end your marriage, you will need to file a new divorce case and go through the process that is required there.

One significant difference between legal separation and divorce is that in the former there is no residency requirement to file the case. In fact, the parties do not even need to reside in California to file a legal separation case, though doing so under these circumstances is rare.

Details of Divorce

In a divorce case, there is a basic residency requirement that must be met before filing in court. This means that one or both parties must have been a resident in California for at least six months and a resident in the particular county you want to file in for 90 days. 

After the divorce paperwork is filed and served on the opposing party, you must wait a minimum of six months before a judgment of divorce can be granted. This doesn’t mean you can’t do all the paperwork and get to an agreement sooner than six months, it just means you cannot remarry until the final judgment has been filed.

What you do not need to prove in a divorce is a reason why you want the marriage to end. California is a “no fault” divorce state, meaning all you have to establish with the court is that you have “irreconcilable differences” such that you cannot continue in the marriage. The court will never ask what those differences are.

After a divorce judgment is final, your marital status will be terminated and you will be free to remarry and file your taxes as a single person. 

If you need help deciphering whether to obtain a legal separation or file for dissolution of marriage, JWB Family Law is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and get the peace-of-mind you need to move forward.

Is Domestic Violence a Felony?

Yes, domestic violence can be a felony. A criminal case begins when someone reports an incident of domestic violence to law enforcement. If an arrest happens, criminal charges may be filed by the District Attorney. What is considered domestic violence? California...

How is Spousal Support Calculated?

In California, there are two types of spousal support: temporary and permanent (or long-term support).  Temporary support is support that is ordered before your final judgment of dissolution. Permanent or long-term support is ordered either at trial or through...

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in CA?

If you plan to file for a divorce in the state of California, you're probably wondering how long the divorce process will take to complete. The answer to that question is—it depends. Under California family law, a couple cannot be divorced until at least six months...

JWB Family Law Adds Anne B. Howard ESQ., as a Senior Associate Attorney

JWB Family Law is expanding its team to welcome Anne B. Howard, ESQ, as a Senior Associate Attorney. Anne brings extensive expertise in family law to the team, specializing in child support, paternity, asset, and property division, and divorce. “I was drawn to the...

Custody and Successful Co-Parenting During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in our daily lives. Schools are closed, parents are working from home, and some have lost their jobs. Life is not what it was just a few months ago. Children are now with parents all day—every day. Parents are now responsible...

How to Deal With Domestic Violence During COVID-19

There is a growing concern amongst professionals regarding a rise in domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the period from March 1 through April 25, 2020, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department logged 2,309 domestic-related calls. This is roughly a three...

JWB Family Law Continues to Serve Clients During COVID-19

Heightened anxiety and uncertainty in the world often result in significant family distress, including a surge in domestic violence incidents. As a family law practice, we need to show up for our clients now more than ever. For that reason, JWB Family Law is operating...

How Do I Change My Family Court Order and When Should I Do It?

When should you change your Family Court order?  When it no longer serves the needs of your family.   For example, if a custody order is entered when your baby girl is two years old, it may say she stays with each parent for 2 or 3 days and then trades back.  This is...

What is Family Court Services Mediation and Do I Have to Attend It?

If you are unhappy with your current custody plan, or need to create a new one, you may ask the court for assistance.  To do that, you will need to file a Request for Order with the local court. Immediately upon filing the Request, you will receive a date to attend...

How to Legally Obtain a Paternity Test

It happens.  Sometimes we do not know who the biological father of a child is.  It is important information. Paternity effects health issues, as well as the socioeconomic ones.   Enter the paternity test.  It is not like the old days of enormous expense, blood tests,...