Leon F. Bennett, Esq.
Los Angeles and Ventura County Marriage & Legal Separation Lawyer
Some couples going through marital issues who feel divorce may be imminent prefer to take a step back and take some time apart in a way where Legal Separation can provide perspective without permanent marital closure. Separation can be a temporary solution to test the waters of what a divorce would feel like while the couple hopefully tries to work through issues that brought them to this place in their marriage.
Defining Legal Separation
Legal separation is a legally binding agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the spouses during the time that they are living apart from each other. It involves many elements of a divorce from the division of property, the family home, custody of children, asset protection, visitation rights, and spousal support and must be agreed upon by both spouses.
Why Legal Separation Over Divorce
- Maintain a marriage for religious reasons
- Provide a chance for couples to experience what their divorce would be like
- Continue receiving spouse’s insurance benefits
- Retain military or tax benefits
- Protect certain social security benefits
Separation isn’t technically a way to dissolve your marriage. Instead, you and your spouse remain married but are able to live as separate individuals. Of course, the spouses cannot re-marry while separated, but many couples use separation as a way to “test drive” a divorce before making a final decision and perhaps even hope that differences can be worked out and that reconciliation becomes a reality. Others resist divorce due to religious or cultural reasons or to retain the necessity of some marriage benefits such as medical, retirement and tax benefits from their spouse.
Whereas the terms of divorce are final and cannot be undone, a Legal Separation can be terminated if the couple reconciles their differences. Legal Separation also takes effect immediately after the agreement is filed whereas a divorce in California can take six months or longer to finalize. Then if, after a period of time of separation, the couple decides there can be no reconciliation, the couple is already on their way to a divorce settlement with the guidelines laid out in the separation agreement if they so desire.
The goal of our legal separation attorney is to make Legal Separations as seamless as possible for both parties, and especially the children, to bring temporary closure to a strained situation without the finality of divorce.