Legal Separation vs. Divorce in San Diego

As many spouses can attest, marriage takes a lot of work. Sometimes things don't work out as well as a couple hoped and they decide that something needs to change. However, divorce is a BIG decision and it's not one to be taken lightly, especially when a couple have children together.

Sometimes, as in the case of spousal or child abuse, infidelity, or substance abuse, divorce is the clear and only answer. Other times, spouses know they need a break but they aren't sure about divorce. Or, perhaps they're miserable together, but are strongly against divorce for religious or moral reasons.

When a couple wants to delay or avoid a divorce, sometimes they will decide to get a legal separation instead of divorce and there are reasons for this. In some states, a legal separation is not an option, but in California it is. So, what's the difference between a legal separation and a divorce? Not much.

What is the difference between the two?

With a legal separation, you get to enjoy many of the advantages of a divorce while enjoying the advantages of being single. You can get orders for child support, child custody, and spousal support, and you can begin dating someone new. You can remain on your spouse's health insurance, and the judge can issue orders for property division.

There is one distinct difference between a divorce and a legal separation and that is that you CANNOT remarry because technically, you're still legally married to your spouse. You may have split up and you may be living apart, but on paper, you're still husband and wife until you ask the court for a divorce.

Why People File for Legal Separation

Why do people file for a legal separation instead of a divorce? Each couple has their own reasons, but usually it comes down to one of the following:

  • They don't want to divorce because of the children
  • Divorce is frowned upon by their religion
  • The split is an experiment and they may reconcile
  • They want to take a break from each other
  • One spouse is ill and needs the others' health insurance
  • They have moral objections to getting divorced

You may ask, "Why bother with a legal separation when you can simply live apart?" This is a good question, but there are reasons why it's necessary to go to court. When it comes to child custodychild supportspousal support, health insurance, property and debt division, you're dealing with several critical issues that can become a burden if left unaddressed.

Without court orders in place, things can get complicated and messy. Fortunately, the family courts have systems in place that help couples address all of these issues during their separation and these processes make the financial aspects of the separation go much smoother.

If you're looking for a San Diego divorce lawyer to help you with your legal separation or divorce, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP for a confidential, free consultation.