A divorce is not the only legal remedy if you no longer wish to be married to your spouse. Legal separation is an alternative that can come with several benefits. If you wish to lead separate lives while remaining legally married, legal separation is the solution.
Like a divorce, legal separation in California comes with specific requirements. A San Jose legal separation attorney can guide you through the process while answering your questions and protecting your rights. Contact the Schoenberg Family Law Group for more information. Our attorneys will work diligently to give you the best possible legal experience.
Why Choose Us?
- We provide effective advocacy in and out of the courtroom. Our legal separation lawyers try to resolve all cases without litigation, but we are formidable trial lawyers, as well.
- Our law firm knows California family law. Debra R. Schoenberg is a Certified Family Law Specialist with over 35 years of experience handling legal separation cases.
- Your lawyer will devote his or her attention to you and your case. Your lawyer will prepare documents, file forms and execute all of the tasks required in a timely manner.
Do You Need to Hire a Legal Separation Lawyer in San Jose?
Legal separation can be a difficult and expensive process. While it may not be as complicated as a divorce, you and your spouse must still divide your property, work out child custody, deal with tax implications, and take care of many other tasks and processes. A lawyer can guide you through these processes to protect your rights and work toward your case goals. You can focus on building your future post-separation while a lawyer handles legal matters for you.
In general, a couple will not need to hire a lawyer in California for a simple legal separation case, such as one that does not involve children or a great deal of property, or if both parties can communicate with each other and compromise on the terms of the separation. If your case is complicated or contested, however, it can be beneficial to hire an attorney in San Jose. If your ex-spouse has hired a lawyer, this is also a sign to hire one of your own.
What Are the Benefits of Legal Separation vs. Divorce?
Legal separation means that a couple is living separately but is still married in the eyes of the law. Legal separation is similar to divorce in that the couple divides their assets and works out issues such as child custody and child support. However, it does not dissolve the marriage. There are several potential benefits to a legal separation.
First, it can help you protect your assets if you believe that your marriage will end in divorce. California is a community property state, meaning that all of your assets that are classified as community property – everything you earned or acquired during your marriage – will be divided in half in a divorce. Your separate property, however, is safe from division. Separate property is anything you owned prior to your marriage. It is also anything you acquire after your date of separation or any inheritances or separate gifts.
Legal separation also has an advantage in that it is reversible. It is much easier to end a legal separation and return to married life than it is to get remarried after a divorce. If there is any chance of reconciliation, therefore, legal separation can be the best option. Finally, legal separation can allow you to keep certain benefits related to being married while still living a separate life from your ex-spouse. These can include tax benefits, health insurance and Social Security benefits.
What Is the Legal Separation Process in California?
For a legal separation, you or your attorney will need to fill out and file the correct papers with the Santa Clara County family courthouse. These are the same papers that are used for divorce. It is critical to be careful when filling out these forms, as they can affect the outcome of your legal separation. You will need to pay the filing fee and serve the papers on your spouse. Then, you and your spouse will enter into negotiations, which will either end in a settlement agreement or a trial.
You and your spouse will either need to work together to reach a settlement agreement or take your case before a judge. A settlement agreement for ending your marriage or domestic partnership is typically preferred, as it is faster and less expensive than going to trial. If you cannot reach a settlement, however, a San Jose legal separation lawyer can represent you before a judge to present your case.
How Does California Divide Property?
As mentioned above, California is a community property state. This is one of the benefits of legally separating before getting divorced; you can set a separation date, after which all income and property that you acquire will be classified as separate property and will not be divided with your ex-spouse. All of your marital property will be subject to a 50/50 split if your case goes to trial. This is true of a divorce as well as legal separation.
Before a judge will intervene and divide all community property in half, you and your spouse have the chance to create your own property division agreement. Negotiating with assistance from an attorney can be the best way to protect your assets and real property during a legal separation. A lawyer will improve the odds of reaching a property division settlement with your ex through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation. Your lawyer will also make sure that your separate property is properly classified.
How Is Child Custody Determined?
You and your spouse will also have the opportunity to design your own parenting agreement before the matter goes to a judge. If you cannot work out child custody during your legal separation, a judge will make this determination based on the best interests of the child. This means the schedule that will protect the child’s physical, mental and psychological well-being the most after legal separation.
A court-ordered custody agreement looks different from family to family. What is best for your child may be a 50/50 parenting time split, or it may look more like 25/75. A judge will carefully analyze the specific needs of the child to decide what type of custody arrangement will protect his or her best interests.
How Long Does a Legal Separation Take in California?
Legal separation is generally a faster process than getting divorced in California. Unlike a divorce, there is no residency requirement or waiting period for legal separation. The date of separation will take effect immediately upon a judge signing off on the final paperwork. A divorce in California, on the other hand, takes at least six months and one day, at a minimum. Legal separation may take longer, however, if the parties cannot agree on the terms of the separation. In this case, the couple will go to court in San Jose, which will lengthen the legal process.
Interested in Legal Separation? Request a Consultation With Our Lawyer in San Jose
Working with a family law attorney in San Jose can make for a much easier legal process for you and your family. It is especially important to hire a legal separation attorney if your case has any complications, such as minor children or high-value assets. Your lawyer will protect your legal rights and allow you to focus on the future. For more information about legal separation in San Jose, contact the Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C. for a consultation.