Divorce is not the only way to end a marriage in the state of California. A legal separation may be a viable alternative to some spouses, as it provides some benefits that divorce may not. Much like a divorce, legal separations also require lengthy court proceedings, and must be approved by a judge.
The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C. can guide you through this process and advise you on your options regarding legal separation. Our San Mateo County legal separation attorneys can inform you on the advantages and disadvantages of both divorce or legal separation, determine what is right for you, and work diligently by your side to ensure whatever decision you make is for your optimal benefit.
Why Choose Us
- We have Certified Family Law Specialists (CFLSs). CFLSs receive certifications from the State Bar of California after obtaining additional education, training and experience in family law. A CFLS will have specialized knowledge to benefit your legal separation case.
- The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C. has been representing individuals and families in legal separation cases for over 35 years. We can help clients in San Mateo County and throughout California with even the most complicated family law matters.
- We provide personalized legal advice, services and representation to each client based on their unique situation. We protect our clients using tailored strategies and practice child-first family law.
What Is Legal Separation?
Legal separation means that a married couple is no longer together in the eyes of the law. The couple no longer forms their own community. While they are still married on paper, they are viewed as single and may lead separate lives. The marriage is not dissolved. Most couples who are legally separated take it as a time to cool down, evaluate the relationship and determine where to go from there.
Like a divorce, a couple that gets legally separated must work out the division of their community property, including real estate, assets and debts. They must also obtain a child custody agreement or create a parenting plan for any minor children. Unlike a divorce, however, a legal separation does not have to be permanent and does not dissolve the marriage. This can allow one or both spouses to retain certain marital benefits, such as tax or health insurance benefits. It also leaves room for reconciliation.
What Are the Requirements for Getting Legally Separated in California?
Legal separation in California requires specific paperwork and legal processes. These processes are very similar to a divorce. It starts with filing a petition for legal separation and paying a filing fee. There is no residency requirement for legal separation, however, as there is for a divorce. You can seek legal separation in California regardless of how long you have resided in the state or county.
As in a divorce case, you and your spouse will need to determine issues such as the division of your property. If you can both agree on the terms of your legal separation, you can reach a settlement and avoid a trial. A judge in San Mateo County will most likely sign off on the agreement that you and your spouse create. If you cannot agree, however, the case may be handled by a judge.
A couple is not officially legally separated in California until the court issues a judgment of separation. Establishing your date of separation prior to this, however, can help you protect your separate property. Moving out instead of sharing a home with your spouse, for example, establishes a date of separation, after which any money you make or property you acquire will be yours (separate property). Expressing your intent to end your marriage can also create a date of actual separation.
How Can a Legal Separation Lawyer in San Mateo County Help You?
Although legal separation is not as permanent as getting divorced in California, it is still a complex legal process that can have major repercussions on your life. If your legal separation case has any complications, such as minor children or high-value assets, it is important to hire an attorney in San Mateo County to help you improve the outcome of your case.
A law firm has smart legal strategies to fight for your desired results, as well as special legal resources and experienced staff members. Throughout your legal separation case, a lawyer will advocate for your rights and explain the legal process in a way that is simple and clear. The goal of your attorney will be to achieve a positive outcome while helping you through a difficult time in your life.
The Benefits of a Legal Separation in San Mateo County
Generally, there is little difference between a legal separation and a divorce – both signal the need to conclude a legally upheld partnership. However, some married couples may opt for a legal separation over a traditional divorce for a few reasons:
- They do not meet the residency requirements for divorce. In order to file for a divorce in California, you must have lived in the state for the past six months, and in your residing county for the past three months. No such restrictions exist for legal separations.
- They would like to retain some of the benefits that come with marriage. Unlike a dissolution, married couples who separate legally may still retain their spouses on a joint health insurance plan, or keep any relevant tax benefits.
- They are part of a religion that disapproves of divorce. Legal separation is a loophole of sorts for married couples whose religion prevents them from officially filing for dissolution of their marriage.
- There is a potential to reconcile the marriage. Some couples undergo a legal separation as a preliminary action if they’re unsure of officially filing for divorce. If a couple decides to stay together, they do not have to get remarried, as they are still technically married in the eyes of the law.
Ultimately, the process for filing for divorce or a legal separation are generally the same, with much of the same legal proceedings involving child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. This process can be as complicated as the traditional divorce process, so it is essential to hire an experienced family law attorney to offer guidance and insight into your best options.
Diligently Representing Legal Separation Cases in San Mateo County
The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C. has served clients for more than 35 years, assisting clients in Foster City, Menlo Park, Burlingame, Daly City, South San Francisco, San Bruno, and San Carlos.
As legal professionals specializing in all matters of divorce and family law, we can help you successfully navigate the legal separation process. We ensure you understand all the advantages (and disadvantages) that come out of legal separation, and handle your paperwork and all other proceedings with comprehensive diligence. We firmly handle all of the specifics of a legal separation, including child custody, child support, property division, and any spousal support issues that may arise.
Additionally, if you have already filed a legal separation and decide to dissolve your marriage in the near future, we can advise you on what is necessary in order to do so.
Please contact our legal separation lawyers online or call (650) 761-9523 for your initial consultation, and if you are unsure which path to take to effectively end your marriage.