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What is the Difference Between a Legal Separation and a Divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2022 | Legal Separation

What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce in Carlsbad or a North County family law case?  Why would a couple consider a legal separation?

The primary difference between a legal separation and a divorce in Carlsbad, North County or anywhere in San Diego is divorce is final, while a legal separation accomplishes almost every step of a divorce but at the end of the process the couple is still legally married.  A legal separation manages all aspects of property division, child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and every other issue which needs to be addressed as part of a divorce.  Once a legal separation is achieved, the process to convert it to a divorce is fairly straightforward.

You might be asking yourself “Why in the world would anyone want to do that?”  There are actually several sound legal, financial, ethical, religious and moral reasons to consider a legal separation.  From a very practical perspective, a cooling off period actually helps save almost 10% of marriages heading for divorce according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.  Working on a legal separation allows the process of separating the parties to move forward while allowing realities to set in and keeping the door open to reconciliation.

There may be substantial financial advantages to filing a joint tax return for the coming year(s).  Many married individuals have strong religious or moral beliefs regarding the sacredness of marriage or the concept of divorce.  The completion of a divorce can affect one’s standing within a faith community, family or societal structure.  Another example is the preservation of military benefits and access to the amenities of the military base.

A very practical reason to reflect upon the difference between a legal separation and divorce is major illness.  It is not unusual for a married couple to share healthcare through a single provider.  Whomever has the better health plan adds the other spouse to their policy.  A divorce ends the coverage for spouses immediately and the cost of continuing the policy under COBRA is simply unaffordable.  While the couple may no longer be able to live as a married couple they understand and value the practical need to preserve insurance coverage through the illness, or until such time as the patient can obtain their own health coverage.

Finally, California has specific residency requirements which must be met before a divorce can be accomplished.  If you are considering options at the end of a marriage you need extensive pre-planning, strategy and sound advice and counsel.  We invite you to read the strong reviews of former clients and recommendations of the legal industry, protect your own interests and contact us or call 760-389-3927 to schedule an appointment for a remote or socially distanced consultation with one of our experienced Certified Family Law Specialists.