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Is legal separation a better option for me than divorce?

California couples who are at or near the end of a marriage will automatically consider how to move on. With the various factors that must be assessed in this process, a fundamental concern is whether a divorce is the preferable strategy or not. For some, a legal separation is preferable to divorce. There can be a litany of reasons for this. When coming to a determination, however, it is wise to understand all the ramifications of the choice they make and if a legal separation is better for their circumstances. Understanding the details of a legal separation is key.

After a legal separation has been granted, the parties should remember that unlike a divorce, they cannot marry another person. When there is a legal separation, the case can later be changed to a divorce when the necessary requirements are met. There are many reasons to choose a legal separation instead of a divorce. They include: wanting to live separately but not wanting a divorce as a divorce will have mandates as to property division, support and custody; their religion prohibits divorce; they have personal beliefs that prevent them from getting a divorce; there are residency requirements not yet met preventing them from divorcing in the state; or there are financial and personal concerns. There could also be other reasons.

A legal separation does provide for orders with child custody and visitation rights; support for the spouse and the child; property division; and debt responsibility. When a married couple wants a legal separation, the following must be in place: one must reside in California; sufficient time must have passed for the residency requirement for a divorce, the person can ask that the file be changed into an "amended petition" and the court can subsequently be asked for a divorce if that is what the person wants.

Everyone's case is different and the factors must be assessed in that context. The individual needs are paramount and if a legal separation is better for the person than a divorce, legal advice might show that. For anyone who is ending a marriage and needs help with the likely dispute in a divorce or other family law case, calling a law firm that has experience in these matters can be beneficial.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
699 Peters Avenue
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Pleasanton, CA 94566

Phone: 925-271-5650
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