Legal Separation in California

Legal separation in California is different from a divorce. A divorce is a complete dissolution of a marriage, while a separation agreement allows couples to live apart and decide on property and parenting issues without obtaining a divorce. A separation agreement outlines the important terms of the separation, including the following:

Difference between legal separation and divorce

While both a legal separation and a divorce determine matters of property and childcare and proceed the same way through the court, there are important differences between the two:

  • Couples who enter into a legal separation may not marry anyone else until they have obtained a divorce, while a finalized divorce allows for each party to remarry.
  • Spouses must both agree to a legal separation. If they do not agree, the separation automatically becomes a divorce.
  • There is no residency requirement for a legal separation, while a divorce requires that a spouse has lived in the state for at least six months.
  • There is no waiting period for separation, while a finalized divorce takes at least six months.

When to file for legal separation

Legal separation is not appropriate for every couple. If there is hope or expectation of reconciliation, the parties should not take legal action. Reasons for filing for legal separation rather than divorce include the following:

  • Religious reasons. Divorce is against the spouses’ religion and neither plans to remarry.
  • Medical reasons. One party has medical issues that would prevent him or her from obtaining private insurance and must continue to be covered on the other’s health plan.
  • Residency requirements. Neither spouse has lived in the state long enough to obtain a divorce.

In most cases, a legal separation is a temporary arrangement that is filed with the intention of eventually obtaining a divorce.

Contact our Santa Barbara attorneys

Finding the right family law attorney is not always easy, but it is important. If you are considering filing for separation in Santa Barbara, contact us online or call 805-564-2191 to speak with the experienced lawyers at Wilson & Pettine, LLP. Learn how they can help you through your case and help you learn about all of the options available to you.

Conveniently located one block from the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Wilson & Pettine, LLP represents clients throughout Santa Barbara and the neighboring area, including Carpinteria, Montecito, Goleta, and Summerland.

Last update of the article: 08/04/2020