How is legal separation different from divorce?

Like many other states, California affords couples who want to live apart the option of pursuing a legal separation instead of a divorce.

Probably the biggest difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that, in the case of a legal separation, the couple legally remains married.

Otherwise, though, legal separations and divorces work pretty much the same in practice. At the conclusion of a legal separation, a judge will enter or approve orders establishing child custody, child support and, in some cases, spousal support.

The court will also divide the couple’s property and determine who is responsible for which debts.

Why would a couple want to pursue a legal separation?

Even though the process of legal separation and divorce are similar, they are reasons why a couple in the Bay Area might prefer a legal separation.

For one, some people have religious or moral objections to ending a marriage and may therefore appreciate being able to remain married. Legal separation gives such people a way out of abusive or intolerable home circumstances.

In other cases, there may be financial or emotional reasons for people to consider a legal separation over a divorce. For example, some couples may wish to remain legally married since that is easier for their minor children to accept.

One legal benefit to separation is that it has stringent residency and waiting period requirements than do divorces. A person may even think to ask for a legal separation and, down the road, ask the court to change their request to a request for a divorce.

Just like divorces, legal separations can be complicated legal processes that have serious and far-reaching consequences. It may be important for a person in the San Francisco area to seek the help of a legal professional.