Ventura, CA Legal Separation Lawyer
If you are considering filing for separation in Southern California, make sure you are guided by the family law attorneys of The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC. Our renowned legal team has decades of experience aiding men and women in the legal separation process, while our extensive experience as divorce attorneys enables us to help our clients make complicated decisions about which arrangement is right for their situation. When you are represented by the Ventura separation lawyers of Bamieh & De Smeth, you can feel peace of mind that your divorce or legal separation will be managed by a knowledgeable, trusted, and responsive attorney who is well-versed in California’s property distribution laws, custody laws, and all other aspects of your case.
To learn more about the difference between divorce and legal separation in a free and completely confidential legal consultation, call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555. With conveniently located law offices in downtown Ventura, we proudly serve residents of the local communities of Southern California.
What is the Difference Between Separation and Divorce?
This is one of the most fundamental and important questions to think about when you’re considering filing for separation or divorce. While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably due to the fact that separation sometimes precedes or leads to divorce, they are distinct procedures.
In California, legal separation is a process that allows spouses to remain married while leading separate lives in separate homes or cities. There are many married couples who undergo a separation period in order to reach a decision about whether they should remain married or file for divorce. In short, the separation can give you and your spouse a clearer idea as to whether divorce is really the best option.
If you are not completely certain that divorce is the appropriate action at this time, separation can be a low-risk alternative. In the event that you change your mind, and decide that you wish to stay married after all, separation is more economic than going through the dual processes of divorcing and remarrying. Additionally, separation may be suitable if you do not yet meet California’s residency requirements for divorce, which are that either you or your spouse reside in California for at least six months prior to the divorce.
The primary difference between divorce and separation is that when a couple gets divorced, their marriage is terminated and each spouse is free to remarry. In comparison, a separated couple is still married. This crucial difference has significant ramifications not only for remarriage, but also property rights, tax liabilities, insurance benefits, alimony, child custody, child support, and other financial matters. For example, couples sometimes choose separation over divorce because it leaves more numerous or more advantageous tax options open to them.
California Legal Separation Process
The outcomes of divorce and separation are very different in that only divorce results in formal dissolution of the marriage. However, the procedures for filing divorce and filing separation are similar in Ventura County. The initial process for legal separation is summarized step-by-step below.
- The spouse who files for separation is called the “petitioner.” The first step is for the petitioner to file certain legal documents with the appropriate court. There are normally filing fees associated with divorce and separation documents, but in some cases the fees can be waived.
- The separation documents must be “served on” (delivered to) the non-filing spouse, or “respondent.” However, the petitioner is prohibited from serving the papers personally. The person who serves the papers can be anyone other than the petitioner – a friend, a family member, a trusted neighbor – as long as he or she is at least 18 years of age. Proof that the papers were served, aptly named “Proof of Service,” must be submitted.
- The respondent spouse files and serves a formal Response.
- Within 60 days of filing the petition for separation, the petitioner must complete and serve additional financial disclosure forms. Likewise, the respondent must complete and serve disclosure forms of his or her own.
- At this point, the case can go in several directions depending on whether the respondent files a Response for the case to proceed. Each situation must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in order to determine the appropriate way to continue with the process.
You do not have to worry about most of these details, as our separation attorneys will manage the legal aspects of the separation process for you. However, we want you to feel informed and involved in your case, and will communicate with you as often as necessary to answer your questions and address any concerns or obstacles that may arise.
Contact Our Ventura Legal Separation Attorneys for a Free Consultation
Making the decision to file for separation can be painful and upsetting. The emotional difficulty is compounded by the many court rules and legal documents involved in separation proceedings, which can create immense stress and confusion for those unfamiliar with the intricate workings of California’s family court system.
Don’t go through the separation process alone. Due to the complexity of California’s divorce laws, it is in your best fiscal interests to be represented by an experienced attorney who can advise you as to the effects of separation upon your taxes, property rights, custody rights, and other important aspects of your finances and family relationships. Without the benefit of legal representation, you are at greater risk of making an error or overlooking a technicality that could have significant consequences for you.
The Ventura separation and divorce lawyers of Bamieh & De Smeth can help you make an informed decision about what’s right for you, then guide you through the process while protecting your legal rights. To talk about filing for separation in California in a free and completely confidential legal consultation, call our law offices at (805) 643-5555 today.