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What is a legal separation?

Ending your relationship may be a difficult decision, and if you are not quite sure you wish to make the end final, you can file for a legal separation instead of a divorce. 

According to the California Courts, a legal separation allows you to separate your lives without legally ending the bond of matrimony. It allows you to go through all the same processes as a divorce, such as dividing property and determining child custody, but it will not end the legal bond of marriage. 

Qualifying for a separation 

If you wish to separate from your spouse, you or your spouse must live in California. You will have to file a petition with the court and go before a judge, who will make the ruling in your case. You and your spouse can reach a separation agreement, which should cover child support and custody, property division and spousal support, or the judge can make those decisions for you. 

Reasons to file for separation 

You may wish to separate instead of divorce if you have religious reasons for not wanting to end your marriage. You may want to do it because you live apart and would like legal orders for dividing your property and handling parenting responsibilities. Another reason is that you may not meet the residency requirements to get a divorce. 

Some couples may opt for separation because they have financial reasons. While a separation is very similar to a divorce, some rights still remain from the marriage, such as inheritance rights and the right to remain on a spouse’s insurance. 



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