There are several scenarios where the parties might not be ready to divorce but need some separation as they work through the challenges of ending a marriage. It makes legal and financial sense for some couples to consider a Legal separation as an alternative to a divorce. A legal separation provides some parties the time they need to work through complex issues.
In some cases the challenge may involve a serious illness or medical issue. Spouses usually share health care and often select the most comprehensive healthcare option (based upon value) between their two employers. So what happens when the spouse who is ill is not on their own health insurance? Once the divorce is completed most former spouses are no longer covered by health insurance. While they may be able to extend existing insurance coverage under COBRA, the cost makes this option impossible. A legal separation allows the parties to remain married under the law (preserving needed insurance) while living separate lives.
Another common reason a couple may choose legal separation as an alternative to a divorce is to keep open the option of reconciliation. If the couple reconciles, they simply have to file a request of the Court to vacate existing orders if a legal separation has been completed or dismiss the action if it is still underway.
There are a wide variety of reasons to consider legal separation as an alternative to divorce. If a couple has just completed a move there may be an issue with California’s residency requirement before a divorce can be finalized. Some couples choose a legal separation as an alternative to a divorce due to religious or moral reasons. Another reason to begin a legal separation is to clearly establish the financial and property division advantages provided by the “Date of Separation.”
A legal separation will accomplish all of the orders of a divorce including child custody and parenting time, the division of assets and debts and resolve support issues but it simply does not bring the marriage to an end.