Deciding to separate from your spouse is never an easy choice. For many couples across California, legal separation provides a unique opportunity to live independently while still maintaining the marriage. Although legal separation is a stepping-stone to divorce for some, others use it as a way to achieve their goals as a couple. Regardless of the outcome, it is important to work with the right attorney to ensure that the process is as smooth and peaceful as possible.
Our team of experienced Los Angeles legal separation attorneys has the skill and knowledge necessary to help you successfully navigate this complex legal process. Through our compassionate, client-centered, and solution-oriented approach, we have worked with countless individuals as they file for and obtain legal separation from their spouses. To speak with our team about your case, consider contacting Diaz Law Firm today at (626) 261-0402.
Our Practice & Values
Diaz Law Firm was founded in 2018 to provide compassionate and high-quality representation to individuals who are experiencing stress and anxiety due to legal matters. We understand that the legal system can feel daunting and complex, leaving many people unsure of their options and how to navigate their cases effectively. We work to demystify the process, educating our clients about the strategies available to them and the legal ramifications of their decisions.
When you work with a Los Angeles legal separation attorney at Diaz Law, you can expect to be treated in a way that aligns with our core values of equality, partnership with justice, peace, and self-criticism. We treat all of our clients with respect as we seek a peaceful resolution while defending their rights and fighting for justice at every step of the process. We take all criticism into account, continuously striving to better our practice and offer the most superb legal representation possible.
What Is Legal Separation in California?
Legal separation is common before divorce, largely due to the fact that numerous states legally mandate that couples spend a certain period of time apart before filing for divorce. Under California law, legal separation functions a bit differently. Instead of a prerequisite before divorce, a legal separation is an alternative option that provides couples with the opportunity to formally separate their finances and assets while keeping their marriage intact.
We have worked with clients who use legal separation to resolve key issues before seeking divorce to help streamline the process and avoid a long, drawn-out court proceeding. Others simply want to keep their spouse on an insurance or benefits plan, and staying married, but legally separated, is one way to do so. Regardless of the reasons for pursuing legal separation, it is important to understand how this process differs from divorce and how filing for separation works.
What Is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?
The obligations and rights between spouses are severed under the law in both divorce and legal separation. In both cases, property and assets will be divided, spousal support and child custody will be determined, and spouses can begin to disentangle their lives.
The major difference between divorce and legal separation is that in a legal separation, the court does not terminate the marriage. This means that although all assets and property are separated and each spouse can live independently, they do not have the legal right to remarry. Separated couples still enjoy marital benefits such as joint tax filing, access to health insurance, and Social Security benefits as well.
Finally, a divorce is a permanent order, meaning the decision cannot be reversed. Through legal separation, a couple can decide to reconcile, and the order can be vacated.
How Does a Spouse File for Legal Separation in California?
Filing for legal separation in California is generally similar to filing for divorce but with some key differences. Mainly, there is no waiting period before filing for separation. This is unlike divorce, where couples must separate for six months before filing divorce papers. The process of filing for legal separation can be broken down into five main steps, which include the following:
- Initiate the case. To begin the process of legally separating from your spouse, you must first file the Petition and Summons. In this document, you will describe the reason(s) for seeking separation and any actions you want the court to take. If you and your spouse have children, you will also need to file the Declaration UnderUniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. It is important to note that to pursue a legal separation, at least one spouse must live in the state.
- Serve your spouse. For the process to continue, your spouse must be served with the papers. You can have a third party—like a sheriff or a professional process server—hand the papers to your spouse. Once they are served, neither you nor your spouse can hide money or property, change insurance beneficiaries, or take shared children out of the state. If your spouse does not reply within thirty days, the case may move forward uncontested. Your Los Angeles legal separation attorney can provide greater detail on this part of the process.
- Share financial documentation. These documents are designed to make the process of asset and property division faster and easier. This step of the process is also necessary to facilitate negotiations regarding child support, spousal support, and custody.
- Make key decisions. Oftentimes, this is where couples encounter issues during the legal separation process. The courts will typically defer to what the couple has independently agreed upon, but issues that cannot be negotiated will be determined by the court as necessary.
- Finalize the legal separation. Once all key issues are agreed upon, the legal separation can be finalized by the court. In some cases, a hearing may be scheduled to determine the remaining issues. In other situations, the case can be resolved outside of court.
Hiring a Los Angeles Legal Separation Attorney Near You
Choosing to legally separate from your spouse can feel daunting and overwhelming. If you are considering filing for legal separation in California, it is important to fully understand the complexities and implications of the process. Our team of compassionate and knowledgeable Los Angeles legal separation attorneys has years of experience successfully helping clients navigate this process, ensuring that their rights and interests are upheld at every step. To learn more about how we can represent you and your family, consider contacting us at (626) 261-0402 today.