Legal separation is a written agreement filed with the a family court that allows couples to live separately while still retaining certain responsibilities and benefits of a marriage. There are many reasons couples file for legal separation, but in most cases it is a step toward divorce. If you are considering filing for a legal separation, speak with a San Diego divorce attorney to determine if this is right for you.
How Legal Separation and Divorce Differ
A legal separation is handled through the courts, just as a divorce is. However, there is no wait time to satisfy a county residence requirement, and the separation is granted immediately by the judge. A divorce, by contrast, has a six month processing delay.
While your San Diego divorce attorney will help ensure your rights are protected, a judge will decree your legal separation and decide:
- Division of assets and debts
- Child custody and support
- Alimony and spousal support
Unlike divorce, however, legal separation means that the couple is still married and cannot remarry. A legal separation is most often sought by couples as a trial divorce; if after a period of time both spouses decide they wish to remain married, they can file to have the separation lifted. In most cases, however, divorce is the eventual outcome.
Benefits of a Legal Separation
Spouses who are legally separated enjoy certain benefits:
- Possible Tax Benefits – Some spouses enjoy tax savings if both can file as “Head of Household.” The six-month wait for a divorce that is granted after June 30 precludes spouses from such savings that year. Legal separation solves this issue.
- Religious Issues – If an individual’s religious convictions do not allow a divorce, legal separation can be a good option if living together is not in his/her best interests.
- Continuation of Insurance Benefits – Separating couples need to determine what their policies permit, however.
- Retention of Military Benefits
- Ability to meet Social Security ten-year qualification requirements
Call for Legal Assistance
If you believe legal separation is an option that may suit your needs, talk to a San Diego divorce attorney for more details. Call us for a consultation today at (619) 866-3756.