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Know what separates legal separation from a divorce

When a married couple decides that the relationship is over, they have the choice to move forward with a divorce or arrange to live separately. For some California couples, immediately moving ahead with a divorce is not possible, but simply moving out could leave both parties vulnerable to complications. In this situation, drafting a legal separation agreement could be beneficial. 

Legal separation functions much like a divorce does, but the separated couple will remain married. Having a formal agreement can make the time of transition easier, but it can also allow both parties to ensure the protection of their property rights and financial interests.

Why would you choose a legal separation?

There are many reasons why a couple would choose a legal separation over a formal divorce. For some, religious beliefs prohibit divorce, while others may want to wait for financial circumstances to change first. Whether your separation will be on a trial basis, short-term or long-term, you may benefit from having a legal separation agreement drafted.

Addressing important issues

There are multiple factors that you would be wise to address in your legal separation agreement. Like a divorce order, being very specific can help you avoid complications and disagreements in the future. Some of the things you would be wise to address in your agreement include the following:

  • Property division, division of bank accounts and management of jointly held debt
  • Spousal maintenance, which also includes child support
  • Child custody and visitation schedule
  • Other pertinent issues unique to your individual situation

Like a divorce agreement, you have the right to ensure that your legal separation agreement suits your needs and your objectives. While you and your spouse may get along and believe that a verbal agreement is best, you would be wise to reconsider. A verbal agreement does little to protect you in case a disagreement or dispute arises in the future.

Know your options

A legal separation does not work for everyone, but it could be the right choice for you. It is prudent to know what you can and cannot accomplish with this process if you choose not to divorce.

This is an important legal step, and you have the right to know every option available to you. By working with a professional, you can ensure your interests are secure and that you have a strong legal separation agreement in place for the foreseeable future.

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William A. Feinberg 1928 - 2001

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