The choice between legal separation and divorce is often more complex than you might initially think.  If you are seeking a divorce, you should understand that a divorce is permanent and returns you to being individual, single people.  Choosing legal separation instead can have important benefits in a few circumstances, which the Ventura divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain. 

Reasons to Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce

If you are considering getting a divorce, there are a few situations where divorce might not be the best option.  In other cases, you might not be able to file for divorce right away and need to file for legal separation in the meantime.  Our Ventura legal separation lawyers will explain some of these circumstances. 

You Don’t Want a Divorce 

If you do not personally believe in divorce or you have a religious objection to getting divorced, you might not want to ever get divorced.  In this case, legal separation can be a final option for you and your spouse.  Since legal separation allows you to divide assets, move apart, split child custody, and become independent again, it has many of the same effects as divorce.  At the end of the day, you will still be married, though – which may be your goal with choosing legal separation instead of divorce. 

You Don’t Qualify for Divorce (Yet) 

To get divorced in California, you or your spouse must meet CA’s residency requirements.  This means living in California for at least 6 months and in the county you will file in for at least 3 months.  If you and your spouse want to get married but you want to move apart first, you will not meet the residency requirements for your old county since you moved away, and you won’t qualify in your new county since you didn’t live there long enough yet.  Alternatively, if you just moved to California, you might not meet residency requirements in the state, either.  Instead of waiting to file later, you can file for legal separation now and amend your petition to file for divorce after 3 or 6 months of waiting to meet the residency requirements. 

You Want to Divorce Slowly 

Transition periods are important for many people.  Some couples may not want to jump straight to divorce and opt to get legally separated for a while then turn that legal separation into a divorce later.  This allows them to take their time adjusting to single life and weaning themselves off joint finances.  It also gives them time to divide assets, find housing, and set up child custody and support before the divorce so that they can finish the divorce quickly at a later time. 

You Want a Trial Separation 

Divorce is final.  If you get divorced, your marriage is completely undone and cannot be put back together unless you go out and get married all over again.  Many use trial separation periods to test themselves and check if they truly want to get divorced.  If the couple gets legally separated for 6 months or a year as a trial run, they may have more information about themselves and their spouse to help them decide whether to get fully divorced or not.  If they decide to end the separation and get back together, they can do so quite easily.  If they decide they want to finalize the divorce and end their marriage, it is also simple enough to amend the separation petition and file for divorce. 

You Want to Share Finances 

Many couples rely upon the other for finances, assets, healthcare costs, and tax benefits.  If you are married, you can still share finances to some degree, have access to shared property like houses or cars, use your spouse’s health insurance, and file joint taxes.  Keeping these benefits may be important enough that you do not want to get divorced right away.  Your Santa Barbara divorce attorney can help you understand what benefits you keep during separation and what benefits you would lose if you got divorced. 

Is Legal Separation or Divorce Better for Me?

To understand whether legal separation is right for you, you should speak with a lawyer.  If there is any chance that you and your spouse might get back together, it is likely better to start with legal separation and upgrade to divorce if you find it necessary.  This is far simpler than getting married all over again.  Alternatively, legal separation might be better for you if you have shared assets or healthcare plans you need access to.  Legal separation might also be a better choice if you have a personal or religious objection to divorce – but you should speak with a lawyer for help understanding how this will affect your life. 

It is important to remember that a legal separation is not a divorce, and you will still be married and linked to your spouse throughout the length of the separation.  If you want to remarry, you must get a divorce first.  If that is not important, then the choice between immediate divorce, delayed divorce, or permanent separation might be a matter of how the divorce or separation will affect your finances or your rights to child custody and support. 

Call Our Ventura, CA Legal Separation Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation

Before making a decision, you should understand exactly what a legal separation will and will not do for you.  Your lawyer can help you understand the financial and legal effects of separation and divorce and help you decide which is best for you in your specific case.  For a free legal consultation on your divorce or separation case, contact the Ventura family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 643-5555.