Photo of Professionals at McCoy Fatula, APC
Photo of Professionals at McCoy Fatula, APC

California Divorce and Legal Separation: What’s the Difference?

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2016 | Divorce

If you are considering divorcing but want to go the route of a legal separation because you think it is easier or cheaper than a divorce, you should understand that procedurally, the two proceedings are very similar.

What’s The Same?

In both divorce and legal separation proceedings, you need to file the same paperwork and pay the same filing fees to the court system; the only significant difference on the paperwork itself is how it is completed.

Both types of proceedings will end with a division of your property and your debts. And, if you have one or more minor children, you can expect both proceedings to include rulings on which parent should have custody and how spousal support and/or child support should be handled.

What’s Different?

A divorce officially terminates the marriage; a legal separation does not. This means that if a couple gets a legal separation and later one of them wants to re-marry, they will not be able to do so because they are still married.

Sometimes, couples do not meet the minimum residency requirements in order to get divorced in California; at least one of the spouses must have lived in California for at least six months, and in the county where filing for divorce for at least three months, in order to qualify. In those cases, it may be preferable to file for a legal separation and then later go through the process again to get divorced after satisfying the residency requirements.

In other situations, clients’ religious beliefs may mean that divorce is not an option, so legal separation is still a way to legally divide the couple’s lives.

Contact Us

To learn more, and to explore whether a divorce or a legal separation makes the most sense for your situation, contact an experienced California family law attorney at McCoy Fatula today. Involving a lawyer early in the process is the best way to make sure your divorce or legal separation goes as smoothly as possible. When you work with our law firm, you have an advocate on your side, every step of the way.


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