Important Issues to Think About if You Are Considering a Legal Separation in California

Some couples who are not yet ready to divorce choose to live apart.  One reason is that it allows the couple to have time to decide if they really want to divorce.  However, there are also several financial reasons that a couple may decide to delay divorce, including: waiting for the 10 year requirement for social security, keep health insurance benefits on spouses’ plan and potential tax benefits if able to file jointly.

If you decide that you are going to live apart, you should consider a Legal Separation Agreement.  A legal separation agreement addresses many of the financial and legal issues you would find in a divorce settlement agreement, such as alimony/spousal support, child support, visitation, and property and debt division.

California allows for legal separation as an alternative to divorce. However, the process is very similar to divorce and should be done with the same care as one would for a divorce.  As in divorce, any property acquired prior to the marriage and any gifts and inheritance received during the marriage are typically considered separate property.   All other property acquired during the marriage is typically considered to be community property and is divided equally.

Some separations can last several months or even years so you and your spouse should consider all of the immediate and long-term financial and tax issues before completing your separation agreement. Additionally, the legal separation is likely to be used as a basis for a final divorce agreement, which is why it is important to work with a divorce financial analyst to help you address your potential long-term financial needs and concerns.

Legal separation involved financial and legal issues.  You should consult with a family law attorney to be sure you understand your legal rights and obligations.

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