California is one of the states that do not only have a “no-fault” divorce but also offer you a chance to get a legal separation. The latter might offer some financial benefits, while getting a divorce gives you as much freedom as is possible to have in this case. Consider both options carefully and think about your future before making the final decision.
Divorce Vs. Legal Separation: When to Choose What
First of all, you need to understand that both divorce and legal separation cover the same things. You will need to negotiate the division of assets, custody, and spousal or child support payments. You will also need to make legal formal agreements on all these matters when separating to have some security.
The main difference is that in case of a legal separation you won’t be able to legally remarry without taking that final step and getting a divorce. Therefore, this option is often used by couples who aren’t sure they won’t be able to reconcile eventually.
It can be a good choice if you need to “take a break” while working on mending your relationship or dealing with some personal issues. The “legal” part of the separation will protect your rights in this case and can make it easier for the couple to work through their problems by giving some order and stability to their volatile relationship.
However, the biggest reason to choose legal separation is rather materialistic. Without breaking off the relationship completely, as divorce would do, you will be able to retain some tax benefits. You will also be eligible to share your spouse’s medical or social security benefits.
Moreover, a legal separation has no waiting period, which means you can use it as an initial stage of breaking off your relationship once and for all. There are ways to get a simple divorce in California. But you won’t be able to make it immediate because there is a mandatory waiting period of six months. If speed is of the essence, you can get formally separated while waiting for the mandatory period to move on with your life completely.
On the other hand, you should choose divorce in any scenario where you won’t get any benefits from the separation. Also, do this if you are sure that it’s impossible to fix your relationship. The definitive closure that comes with a divorce can help you both legally and psychologically.
And don’t forget that if you want to remarry in the future, there is no other way but to get a divorce. Considering the waiting period, the sooner you file for it, the sooner you will have the freedom to legitimize any relationship you have or will have in the future.
Legal Separation and Divorce Procedures in California: Important Things to Know
Both processes start with filing a petition that allows you to choose whether you are filing for a divorce or legal separation. From then on, you either file additional forms and serve the papers to your spouse, in case of separation, or get on with a full-fledged divorce.
In either case you will need to disclose your assets and negotiate over their division, child custody and support payments. Regardless of which option you choose, it will be best to obtain legal counsel to help you through negotiating these agreements.
If you and your husband cannot reach an agreement, there will be no choice but to go to court. In this case, divorce will be your only option. You will also need to prepare yourself emotionally for a rather trying time ahead. An attorney will be able to help with the legal part of things, but there is no avoiding the emotional turmoil and extreme stress that a court case will generate.