Legal separation (also called Judicial Separation) and divorce differ in many ways. The process and expense of filing Legal Separation and Divorce are often very similar as you must work out the same issue. In both cases the parties are now living apart from one another with a specific legal, financial, and custody agreements in place. The main difference is that legal separation does not completely dissolve the marriage, nor completely dissolve future financial responsibilities, divorce severs both.
What Is Legal Separation?
The parties will come to agreements, often through negotiations, on financial, legal and custody issues and the agreement must be filed with the court. This process generally involves at least one attorney and often involves a mediator.
California requires that both parties to a legal separation agree. If they do not agree a legal separation is not going to be an option.
Legal separation is very similar to a divorce. However, divorce results in the complete dissolution of the marriage and legal separation does not.
Benefits Associated with Legal Separation
For most, legal separation is the first step to a final divorce. It is often undertaken for financial benefits, including tax benefits or where religious conviction place importance on attempting a step short of complete dissolution. The decision often stems from the details
Benefits of choosing Legal Separation:
- It is usually a stepping stone to an eventual divorce, or reconciliation.
- There are federal tax breaks for married couples the parties would like to continue benefiting from.
- maintaining health insurance benefits from the other patties health plan.
- The possibility of reconciliation is alive. A legal separation keeps your marriage intact in the event you are able to work out your differences.
- Religious convictions – generally against divorce.
- Financially stability – both parties may wish to stay legally married to reduce living expenses.
- Increased social security benefits. Upon reaching 10 years of marriage the amount of these benefits can increases.
- You are simply not yet ready for a divorce but living together is no longer an option.
- If you plan to stay separated on a long-term or permanent basis, it is imperative that you have a separation agreement in place so that you both have your interests legally protected.
- All the following are covered in a legal separation: child support, custody and parenting time, asset and property division, payment of marital debts, and spousal support.
Legal separation protects the current interests of both parties allowing them to separate and gain independence.
Downsides of Legal Separation
As with any legal procedure involving family law, there are some cons to choosing a legal separation. Even though legal separation isn’t a divorce, the journey is still complicated and emotionally taxing. This is all the more reason to choose an experienced attorney like Bruce A. Mandel to represent you and process your paperwork.
Downsides of Choosing Legal Separation:
- Legal separation is not a divorce; therefore, you remain married. It is illegal to married to two (or more) people at once.
- You are not financially independent from your partner. Legal separation does not sever your joint financial responsibilities, (with the exceptions of child and spousal support obligations.
- If you or your partner are absolutely sure they want to dissolve your marriage. Choosing legal separation only prolongs your stress and discontentment and increases the legal expenses.
- Short of a financial benefit or financial necessity there is little reason to waste time and money on a legal separation.
Legal separation is just as complicated as a divorce, and the process is very similar. Both parties must agree and must be willing to continue to share financial responsibility going forward.