What Are the Disadvantages of a Legal Separation in California?

What Are the Disadvantages of a Legal Separation in California?

If you have found yourself in a struggling marriage, it may be time to consider your options for the future. California offers various forms of legal action you can take; the two primary options include divorce and legal separation. The path you choose will depend largely on your personal circumstances. However, there are certain benefits and disadvantages to both legal routes.

For those considering a legal separation in California, it’s vital to educate yourself on the state’s laws, how the process works, and the pros and cons of choosing that legal pathway.

The Basics of Legal Separations in California

While divorces are the more common choice for couples who find their marriages in disrepair, some individuals choose to pursue legal separation instead. A legal separation is a court order that allows a couple to formally separate themselves and their belongings while still staying legally married. If a married couple decides to legally separate, they can receive some of the benefits that divorce provides, such as:

  • Fair division of marital property
  • Fair division of debt
  • Child custody and child support orders
  • Spousal support orders

If the couple acquires any court orders, such as child custody designations, they will be considered temporary. This is because, in a legal separation, the separated couple can reconcile their relationship at any point. If they ultimately do so, the temporary orders would then be terminated, and the marriage would carry on as it was before the separation. On the other side, if a couple decides to further their separation by getting a divorce, the orders in place will most likely become permanent. For a spouse to request a modification to any of these orders, they must seek assistance from a Pasadena divorce attorney.

The Disadvantages of Legal Separation

While there aren’t many, it’s important to be aware of the disadvantages that may come with a legal separation if you are considering one. Some disadvantages of a legal separation are that:

  • It Does Not Formally End the Marriage. Legal separation does not permanently dissolve a marriage in California. When a married couple chooses legal separation, they are granted the opportunity to separate and live their lives individually. However, they are still considered to be married in the eyes of the law, even if they have separated. This is because legal separations leave room for a couple to reconcile if the opportunity is there.
  • It Does Not Provide All of the Benefits a Divorce Would. While legal separations are a great option for married partners who may need some space, they aren’t the top choice for couples looking to fully separate their lives. Legal separations can aid with some matters like a divorce, such as child custody, child support, and alimony. However, a legal separation will not separate your finances, legally end your marriage, or give you and your spouse a permanent solution.
  • You Cannot Get Remarried. Because legal separations do not terminate a marriage, individuals do not have the ability to remarry if they are part of an active one. For either spouse to remarry, they must go through the formal divorce process to officially dissolve their marriage. This is because although both partners may be living on their own, their marriage is still legally upheld.

You Finances Can Remain Shared

While you can request assistance for property division from the court, many of your financial assets may remain shared. This is because your marriage is not formally terminated, meaning there is no immediate hold put on joint accounts that stops either spouse from using them. It’s also important to note that because you are still legally married, community property laws state that you’re still responsible for any debt that is collected during your marriage. This includes before and after the separation occurs.

Advantages of Legal Separation

Legal separations do come along with their fair share of benefits, too. The advantages you might find by filing for legal separation include:

  • No waiting period
  • No time requirement for residency in CA
  • Quicker than a divorce
  • Opportunity to mend the relationship and continue the marriage
  • You and your spouse can live separate lives while still benefiting from being legally married.


Q: How Do You Choose Between Divorce and Legal Separation?

A: Deciding what legal option to take will depend on your situation. If you don’t want to fully end your marriage and, for example, stay together for your kids, a legal separation may be better for you. Oppositely, if you’re looking to cut all ties with your spouse and move on with your life individually, you will probably be better off with a divorce.

Q: How Long Does a Legal Separation Take in California?

A: Legal separations take much less time than the average divorce in California. This is because a couple simply needs to file and then wait to hear back for a final judgment, whereas a divorce has a 6-month waiting period plus litigation hearings before it can be finalized.

Q: Can You Have Your Finances Split in a Legal Separation?

A: The court has the power to make decisions regarding your finances during a legal separation. Because you will still be seen as legally married, you can request to have your finances fairly split by the court if you’re worried about continuing to share.

Q: What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a Legal Separation?

A: Unlike a divorce, a couple does not have to meet any requirements to file for a legal separation other than simply having to live in California. There is no specific length of time they must be residents for.

Your Pasadena Family Attorney

Deciding what steps to take for your struggling marriage can be exhausting. We understand the complexity of these decisions. At Khalaf Law Group, we offer legal guidance for spouses considering ending their marriage. We know that these decisions are never made easily and can provide the support and representation you need to get through them. To speak with a team member about our legal services, contact Khalaf Law Group today.

About Ted Khalaf

As you maneuver the difficult process of divorce and custody, it is essential that you are supported by a team of legal experts well versed in California specific Divorce and Family Law. For well over a decade, Khalaf Law Group have been serving clients across Southern California in all areas of Divorce and Family Law. With an exceptional track record of courtroom successes, Khalaf Law Group take great pride in providing their valued clients with the knowledge and information they require to maintain peace of mind and a positive outcome in their case.

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