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Legal separation in California: some important things to know

So, are you legally separated in California or contemplating going that route?

Do your relatives, friends and coworkers even know what that means?

Many people likely do not and simply posit some close nexus between legal separation and divorce. Some individuals might even believe that the two legal marriage-related outcomes, while termed differently, are the same thing.

They're not.

All of our readers across Southern California, we know, fully understand the finality that is linked with divorce. That legal status flatly ends a marital union across all its dimensions (with, of course, select matters continuing to be relevant following some divorces, such as child custody and visitation).

The above-cited "finality" tied to divorce is prominently lacking in a California legal separation. As we note on the Guiding You Through Divorce and Separation page of our family law website at the Woodland Hills and Newport Beach Thomas Law Offices, legal separation "essentially ends a relationship without terminating the marriage."

Why would couples ever want such an outcome?

Many reasons might centrally underlie such a desire. Although some couples simply aren't sure that they want a divorce, they know that they are leaning that way and that they simply can't live together any longer. A legal separation can serve as a trial period to test those assumptions.

Religion is sometimes a factor promoting a legal separation in lieu of a divorce. Some faiths disapprove of or flatly forbid divorce.

A divorce completely severs some marriage-related benefits, of course (for example, preferential tax treatment), that are not compromised by a legal separation.

A point we centrally make on our website is that many couples opting for a legal separation rather than a divorce must still attend to things like property division, custody/visitation, spousal support and additional matters.

We help them do that. We welcome readers' questions regarding any aspect of legal separation in California, and we strive to provide every one of our clients with tailored legal representation that fully promotes their best interests.

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