If you live in California and believe you and your spouse are heading towards divorce, but you’re not entirely ready to officially call the relationship quits, you have other options. You can get a legal separation first before deciding if divorce is right for you.
A legal separation is similar to a divorce in many ways. Depending on your current circumstances, when legally separating from your spouse, you might need to decide who will have custody of the children, the degree to which you and your spouse will provide financial support to one another during the separation, and more. These types of decisions overlap with those you might make when getting a divorce.
However, there is a key difference between legal separation and divorce: When you get a legal separation, you are still officially married to your spouse.
This arrangement can be a positive one or a negative one depending on your goals and preferences. On the one hand, there are certain limitations you must accept if you choose to get a legal separation instead of a full divorce. For example, because you are still legally married to your spouse, you will not have the option of marrying someone else if you are only legally separate from each other. You will need to get a divorce first if you wish to marry someone else.
On the other hand, there are a number of reasons you may find the idea of getting a legal separation more appealing than the idea of divorcing your spouse.
Often, couples choose legal separation over divorce because they genuinely believe there is a possibility they can reconcile once they have spent some time apart to address other issues that may be complicating their lives. Although they could technically remarry after getting divorced, the process of doing so is more costly and complex than the process of reuniting after a legal separation.
There are also certain practical reasons to choose legal separation over divorce. For instance, you may want to stay married for tax or healthcare purposes.
Some couples also opt for legal separation rather than divorce due to cultural or religious factors. If you and your spouse can’t get along properly, but your religion or culture frowns upon divorce, getting a legal separation may be ideal. You and your spouse can officially remain married while also limiting your active involvement in each other’s lives.
These are just a few factors to consider. Once more, deciding whether you want to divorce your spouse or try a legal separation first is a personal decision. There is no one choice that is ideal for all couples.
However, if you do believe getting a legal separation is the ideal choice for you, it is nevertheless important to coordinate with an attorney. Getting a legal separation still involves such tasks as making decisions about child custody and property division. You’ll need a lawyer to address these aspects of a legal separation properly.