Some couples tend to think that legal separation is the first step on the road to a divorce – or a time to consider whether divorce or reconciliation is the better option under the circumstances. It is important to note, however, that legal separation cases involve the same basic issues as divorce cases. The only exception is that during the separation period, the parties remain married to each other in the eyes of the law.
Disadvantages of Legal Separation in California
Legal separation, like divorce, can be an extremely stressful process. In some cases, couples may be better off simply filing for divorce immediately, as opposed to going through the lengthy, drawn-out legal separation process. In fact, many couples who have obtained a legal separation, immediately followed by a divorce, have described the process as being like two separate divorce proceedings, as opposed to just one proceeding. Some of the main disadvantages include the following:
- Complexity – Like divorce proceedings, separation proceedings involve a great deal of paperwork. The same issues that arise during divorce proceedings are equally applicable to legal separation proceedings in California. These issues include spousal and child support, legal and physical custody (i.e. in cases where minor children are involved), and distribution of marital property (i.e. assets and debts acquired by the spouses over the course of their marriage). As with divorce cases, if separating spouses cannot agree on these issues, they must still go to court for a resolution, necessitating additional time and money.
- Stress level – Because separation proceedings are comparable to divorce proceedings, the stress levels associated with both are relatively the same. Sometimes the increased stress levels associated with legal separation can ultimately lead to final divorce proceedings anyway.
- Lack of necessity – Although some couples use separation as a means to ‘feel the waters,’ they may be better off to informally separate and then make a decision about whether or not to go forward with the divorce proceedings. This allows the spouses more time to make their decision, without the added cost and complexity of legal proceedings.
Benefits of Legal Separation
Some of the benefits associated with legal separation in California include the following:
- Avoiding divorce – For couples who have personal, religious, or cultural objections to divorce, legal separation allows the spouses to live separate and apart – and to make provisions for child support, alimony, and property division/distribution – while still remaining legally married.
- Health care considerations – Being legally separated usually allows for one spouse to remain on the other spouse’s health care plan for a significantly longer period of time than if the parties were divorced.
Contact a Fresno Family Lawyer Today
Attorney Rick Banks has the legal knowledge and expertise to help you decide whether legal separation is right for you under your individual circumstances. Contact The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today at (559)222-4891