Defining Legal Separation

Legal separation is an alternative option to divorce that allows couples to find some closure without having to completely end the marriage. Sometimes legal separation is decided upon because of religious reasons or for other practical purposes, such as remaining on one spouse’s health care plan. If considering legal separation for health insurance purposes, you should double check that a legal separation does not disqualify your coverage under the plan.

There are still legal formalities that come with legal separation.

Steps to Obtain Legal Separation

Here are some of the steps you will need to take to file for separation:

1. You will need to file a petition, which is just the legal paperwork, for legal separation

2. You will need to make decisions regarding custody, child support, alimony, and property division. This agreement can be reached through a spousal agreement or by a court

3. You will need to receive a final judgment of legal separation from a court

Defining Separation Agreement

A Separation Agreement differs from the formal process of getting “legally separated.” Under California law, spouses that decide to separate may enter into a “separation agreement.” This is a legally binding contract that defines all aspects of the separation. If there are children it includes issues of child support and visitation. Additionally it outlines property division and alimony. Unlike an official “legal separation,” you do not have to go to court to enter into a separation agreement.

Addressing Issues Around Separation Periods

Couples are able to address important issues that arise during the separation period through a separation agreement that allows them to outline any pertinent things that will be impacted, including:

1. where the children will live (if there are children involved)

2. when the children will spend time with each parent (if there are children involved)

3. how the couple will pay the cost of living expenses, which can include; rent and/or mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, health care costs and even groceries

4. whether either spouse will have to pay child support and/or alimony during separation period

5. how the couple is expected to will manage assets such as bank accounts or investments during the separation period

6. whether the couple will have to divide or sell any property during the separation period

7. how property and income obtained after the date of the separation will be treated

A separation agreement is the result of a negotiation between spouses. This can either be done solely by the spouses or through a attorneys representing both sides.

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