Do I Need to File for Legal Separation Before Divorce?

Some people believe that they need to file for legal separation prior to being able to file for divorce. This is a myth. Divorcees do need to file a separation agreement, but this is not the same thing. A legal separation is dealt with in the court, and is an alternative to divorce. Those who file for legal separation will still be considered married in the eyes of the law, but can live separately and conduct their lives as if they were divorced.

Some spouses prefer a legal separation because they can still benefit from a spouse's healthcare or other federal benefits. In some cases, a spouse may not want to completely cut off the marriage in hopes that it may resolve itself, but will want to separate for the time being to figure this out.

A separation agreement is not dealt with in the court, and can even be drafted at a kitchen table between two spouses. This is a document which will outline how two separating spouses intend to handle expenses, income, child support, child custody, and other issues during their temporary split while waiting for an official divorce. All terms of a separation agreement are only temporary, and will not dictate the solutions arrived at in the divorce settlement.

Attorneys recommend that you don't fill out a separation agreement alone. It is best to have a mediator or an attorney there to guide you through the process and work out solutions that are satisfactory. In California, filing a separation agreement is the first step towards achieving divorce, so if you take a long time debating back and forth on the terms this will prolong the process. Contact a San Fernando divorce attorney attorney at the firm today if you would like to learn more!