A couple considering divorce might opt for a legal separation instead of ending their marriage. During a legal separation, the parties resolve the issues they would resolve during a divorce action. However, they officially “pause” their marriage instead of legally ending the relationship.

Why Do Couples Choose To Legally Separate Instead of Divorcing?

It would seem if a couple wanted to separate, they would choose to end the marriage instead of going through a legal action that leaves them legally married. However, there are several reasons why a couple might want to live separate lives but stay legally tied together. 

Reasons why spouses might choose legal separation instead of divorce include:

  • A spouse needs to remain married to maintain their immigration status.
  • One spouse relies on the other spouse for their health insurance.
  • It makes financial sense for the spouses to remain married, including maintaining a married filing status for tax purposes. 
  • The spouses want to maintain military benefits or Social Security benefits. 
  • The couple has strong religious or moral beliefs that prevent divorce.
  • The spouses want to remain married for their children. 
  • The parties intend to work on their marriage through counseling and therapy.

It is important to remember that a legal separation can have significant impacts on your finances, parenting time, and property division. Seeking legal advice from an experienced San Diego legal separation lawyer can help you avoid making mistakes when you file for legal separation in California

As you work through the details of a legal separation, work with your lawyer to avoid making one of the following mistakes people make during a legal separation:

Failing To Consider the Implications for Your Future

It is easy to become focused on the immediate impacts of the legal separation. However, the decisions you make now can have long-term implications. Consider how the terms of your legal separation impact your future plans in five years and beyond. 

Couples nearing retirement age need to consider how the separation impacts their retirement plans. Likewise, you also need to consider estate planning issues when negotiating a legal separation. 

Do not allow your spouse to pressure you into signing a legal separation agreement without discussing the agreement with an attorney. You should have a separate lawyer from your spouse. Entering the agreement with a lawyer of your own might result in giving up your rights.

Never assume you will receive the property division and spousal support you demand when you separate from your spouse. Likewise, the agreement you have in place for time-sharing could change. 

The final agreement could differ from the terms you propose when you start negotiating a legal separation agreement. Therefore, it is wise to wait until you have a final legal separation order to make significant changes that could impact your finances or living arrangements. 

Failing To Consider the Needs of Your Children

You might not be getting a divorce, but your children may view the legal separation in the same way they would a divorce. To them, their parents are no longer together. As a result, they may feel as if they are losing a parent because they no longer live with both parents.

Help your children process the legal separation by maintaining a close relationship with your children. Consider counseling or therapy if your children have difficulty processing the separation. 

As always, never talk about the other parent in front of your children. Do not use children as a pawn or try to alienate your children from their other parent. If you believe your partner is an unfit parent, talk with a lawyer about taking legal steps to protect your children. 

Failing To Make the Agreement Legally Binding 

Do you and your partner agree on how to divide property and child custody? If so, it might be tempting to put your agreement in writing without consulting a lawyer.

However, you need to take steps to formalize the separation agreement with the court. If the agreement is not filed and approved by a judge, you could experience problems in the future. 

The agreement is not legally binding if it is not filed with the court. Therefore, if your spouse decides they no longer like the terms, you cannot force them to honor their agreement. 

An Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help Explain Your Rights and Options

A San Diego legal separation attorney can help you formalize your agreement to protect you now and in the future. Therefore, meeting with a lawyer for a free consultation is worthwhile to discuss your best course of action.

Contact Our Family Law Firm in San Diego, CA

Contact our experienced San Diego family law attorneys at San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC today for legal assistance. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 866-3756 to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108