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.

Contact JWB Family Law Today


    Connect With Us



    San Diego Office
    1620 Fifth Avenue, Suite 600
    San Diego, CA 92101

    Phone: 619.234.6123

    Temecula Office
    43537 Ridge Park Dr, Suite 100
    Temecula, CA 92590
    Phone: 951.297.3871

    El Centro Office
    300 S Imperial Ave, #10
    El Centro, CA 92243
    Phone: 760.460.4608


    Family Code Section 2030 and Its Role in Alleviating Financial Struggles in Divorce

    Within the intricate landscape of family law, Family Code Section 2030 assumes a pivotal role by addressing the economic imbalances that often surface during divorce proceedings. Its primary objective is to ensure that both parties embroiled in a divorce have...

    Tips for Protecting Your Financial Interests During a Divorce

    Tips for Protecting Your Financial Interests During a Divorce   Divorce is a challenging and emotionally charged process, often accompanied by numerous financial complexities. Protecting your financial interests during a divorce is crucial to ensure your future...

    How to Divide a Community Property Home?

    When individuals go through a divorce, they often contemplate selling their home quickly to divide their community property funds swiftly—an action that can be potentially costly. It's crucial not to sell the house until a written agreement has been established and...

    Child Support for Children with Special Needs

    Many individuals experience an increased likelihood of divorce when their marriage involves raising a child with special needs, be it due to conditions like autism or other medical issues. This heightened risk of divorce can be attributed to the significant stress...

    Federal Laws & Procedures Impacting Military Divorce

    Several federal laws are relevant procedurally when one or both spouses in a dissolution proceeding are members of the military. Although not every Act applies to every case, it is good practice to be aware of the federal laws and procedures that may impact your...

    A Detailed Breakdown of the Divorce Procedure

    Divorce is a challenging and emotionally charged process, often accompanied by numerous financial complexities. Protecting your financial interests during a divorce is crucial to ensure your future financial stability. In this blog, we will discuss several essential...

    The Difference Between Contested & Uncontested Divorce

    Divorce is a significant life event that involves the legal termination of a marital union. It is a decision often accompanied by complex emotions, legal considerations, and a multitude of issues to be resolved. When pursuing a divorce and finding a divorce attorney...

    Common Mistakes to Avoid During Divorce Proceedings

    Divorce is a complex and emotionally challenging process that requires careful consideration and strategic decision-making. From navigating legal intricacies to managing the emotional turmoil, divorcing couples often find themselves overwhelmed and prone to making...

    Property Division in Divorce: What You Need to Know

    Divorce is a challenging and emotionally charged process, requiring careful consideration and resolution of various legal and financial matters. One critical aspect that often arises during divorce proceedings is property division.This encompasses a broad range of...

    How to Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer for Your Case

    Divorce is an emotionally challenging and legally complex process that marks the end of a significant chapter in one's life. When facing the dissolution of a marriage, it’s crucial to have the right legal representation by your side. A skilled and experienced divorce...