The Differences Between Legal Separation and No Fault Divorce

Legal separation is not considered final and does not automatically strip

Legal Separation is an official process by which a divorced married couple can formally formalize a temporary separation from marriage while still retaining legally married. A legal separation typically is granted by the courts in the form of an order from a California court. It does not carry the same weight as a divorce, and is only one step along the way to the dissolution of a marriage. Unlike a divorce, a legal separation does not require an attorney to file the paperwork on one’s behalf. Legal separation is not considered final and does not automatically strip a person of their citizenship or property rights, nor does it prevent them from entering into new romantic relationships. Although a separation does not restore marital vows, it does provide time for an individual to think things through before getting married again.

To start the process of obtaining a legal separation, the couple must first be approved by the court to initiate the proceedings. Once the paperwork has been filed with the court, the couple must await the hearing on their separation agreement. The hearing is generally scheduled for two weeks; however, it can vary depending on the court clerk. During this time, they are still obligated to appear before the judge and answer any questions that they may have. Should the judge approve of the legal separation agreement, then the papers will be sent to the Office of Supportive Services to be processed.

divorce proceedings have been filed

If no other divorce proceedings have been filed in circuit court, an Order to Show Cause is filed. This is referred to as a “writ of course.” In most cases, a trial separation agreement will be filed in circuit court, but it may be filed in state court as well. In either case, if no other divorce proceedings have been filed, an order to show cause will be filed and the legal separation will commence.

In some cases, both parties agree that a legal separation versus a no-fault divorce is the best option. For example, many members of the working class feel that a divorce is the only way to solve family disputes such as child custody or spousal support. A legal separation allows both parties to work out the details of the agreement and settle their differences without having to go to court. This avoids unnecessary delays that can occur if a dispute was to be contested in court. It also enables a person to remain employed by the other spouse, if applicable.

A trial separation agreement is entered into by both parties

However, legal separation may not be the right choice for certain couples. If one party is fearful that a divorce will negatively affect their employment or reputation, a trial separation may be the better option. A trial separation agreement is entered into by both parties after a lengthy investigation and bargaining session. The parties then make a written agreement regarding the division of assets, support, visitation, child custody/visitation rights, and other aspects of the separation. If no settlement is agreed upon, then the case goes to trial.

Regardless of which type of legal separation agreement is entered into, a divorce is inevitable. If you are currently living together as a married couple, it is important to determine your eligibility to file for a legal separation. Only you and your spouse can decide if living together is what you want in your future. If you are legally married, a divorce will immediately follow.

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