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Legal Separation

Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in the State of California. The answers given on this webpage only relate to the law of the State of California. For any other states, please contact lawyers in specific jurisdictions.

What is Legal Separation?
A legal separation is for spouses who want to live separately but do not want to divorce. If you are legally separated, you cannot  marry a different person. With a legal separation, the court can make orders about:

  • child custody, visitation, and support
  • spousal support
  • division of assets and debts.

What are the differences between dissolution of marriage and a legal separation?
There are several differences between a legal separation and a divorce. To list a few:

  • The main difference is that a judgment of legal separation does not terminate marital status (i.e., neither party can enter into a new marriage until the existing marriage is dissolved by death of the other party or by a judgment of dissolution.) Most of the time, the parties obtain legal separation when the spouses do not want to live together but cannot divorce for religious or personal reasons. For example, one of the parties has a preexisting medical condition (for which new coverage would not be available) and wants to retain eligibility for medical insurance available through the other spouse’s.
  • There is no waiting period in a legal separation.
  • Both spouses have to agree to a legal separation (i.e., if one spouse wants a separation, but the other spouse wants a divorce, legal separation may not be granted.)

What happens if I want a legal separation but my spouse wants a divorce?
If you file for a legal separation, but the respondent in the responding paperwork requests dissolution of marriage, the court will grant the dissolution of marriage.
Where can I find help with getting a legal separation?
Please contact our Orange County attorneys for help with filing and handling your legal separation case in California.
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