Legal Separation in California

In California, one of the alternatives to divorce is “legal separation,” which occurs when a married couple decides to live separately while remaining legally married. Similar to divorce, legal separation requires spouses to file a petition, make decisions regarding property division, alimony, child custody, and child support, and obtain a final judgment of legal separation from the court. 

You can also file for legal separation due to irreconcilable differences. In addition, if you cannot agree on all issues related to the separation (e.g., child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, property division, etc.), a judge will then ultimately decide in court. 

Common reasons why couples choose legal separation: 

  • They follow a religion that forbid divorce 

  • Remain married because they share minor children 

  • Maintain one spouse’s health insurance (unless legal separation is a disqualifying event) 

  • Avoid being labeled a “divorcee” if a spouse does not plan to get remarried 

On other hand, a couple may choose to enter a “separation agreement,” rather than obtaining an official legal separation in court. Spouses that chose to separate may draft a legally binding contract that addresses all separation-related issues. 

Common issues to address in a separation agreement include: 

  • Where will the children live 

  • When will each parent spend time with the children 

  • If either spouse will pay alimony or child support during separation 

  • How the couple will pay for housing/living expenses during separation 

  • How the couple will manage assets during separation 

  • If income and property obtained after separation is treated as separate property 

Although a separation agreement is a formal contract that each spouse is bound to, it is not as strong as a legal separation ordered by the court. Whether you are interested in filing for legal separation or creating a separation agreement, you may need to hire an experienced family law attorney to protect your best interests and negotiate your terms on your behalf. 

If you and your spouse are interested in filing for divorce or legal separation in Elk Grove or Fremont, contact Samra Dhillon & Associates today at (916) 571-1550 to let us explore your legal options. Get a legal team with more than 40 years of legal experience on your side!