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Understanding a legal separation

Sometimes California couples may realize that even though they are not ready to start divorce proceedings, it may be best if they are not living together. In this situation, people may want to get a legal separation.

Some aspects of a legal separation may seem similar to a divorce. According to FindLaw, people who become legally separated usually need to have a custody arrangement and visitation schedule for their children and they may also need to discuss how they will divide their property. Additionally, one spouse may sometimes pay alimony. However, there are a few key differences. If one spouse has credit card debt, the other spouse can usually still be considered responsible for this debt. People also generally keep their health care and social security benefits. Each spouse typically has a right to property if one of them dies unexpectedly.

If a couple wants to be legally separated, they usually cannot just set up separate residences. says that people typically need separation papers that discuss how marital property will be divided and which spouse will have custody of the children. One spouse usually files these papers, and the other spouse typically needs to look over them to agree with the arrangement or suggest different terms. Additionally, a judge generally needs to sign these papers to make the legal separation valid. Before a judge looks over these papers, it is a good idea for couples to negotiate about the terms of the separation so they can find an arrangement that works for both of them.

While some people may think that a legal separation is only for people who are on the way to getting a divorce, this is not always the case. Some people may prefer to get a legal separation if one spouse needs the health insurance of the other spouse. Additionally, separation can be an option if spouses are trying to work out problems and think they can solve these problems with time apart.


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