It is not always easy to make major family law choices that could affect the future of your family. Sometimes, it may not be right to move forward with divorce, but at the same time, staying in your current situation may not be practical or possible. In this case, it could be appropriate to legally separate. 

Legal separation is not the same as divorce, but it does allow you and your spouse to separate your lives and move forward while remaining legally married. It is still beneficial to proceed through this process thoughtfully and carefully, and you will still find it necessary to think about how you can protect your interests. Even in legal separation, there is a lot at stake, and you take steps to make sure you make smart decisions.

The main differences 

There are specific situations in which it is appropriate for a couple to separate rather than divorce. For example, a couple may want to separate while they figure out important financial matters. They may want to refrain from divorce for religious reasons. If your situation makes divorce impossible, you still have options available to you. Some of the main differences between divorce and legal separation include:

  • Legal separation allows for couples to continue to share health insurance and remain on the same plan, whereas divorce would stop that ability.
  • When legally separated, spouses retain the right to death benefits in the event that the other one dies during the time of separation.
  • Spouses are still mutually responsible for the debts of the other person while they remain legally married, even if they are not living together.
  • Spouses are not able to remarry while separated, even if they have lived apart for a long time.
  • During a legal separation, spouses still retain the right to make decisions for the other. 

If you believe that a legal separation is the right choice for you, you will also have to consider things like spousal support, who will remain in the home and how you and your spouse will share custody. Separation can last years, and it’s smart to be thoughtful about the decisions you make. For many people, a legal separation agreement lays the groundwork for a smart divorce order if the couple makes the choice to move forward with that process

A complete assessment of your case can help you understand how the right choice for you and your spouse may be legal separation. It is still beneficial to speak about your case with and receive guidance from an experienced California legal advocate.