At Nachshin & Langlois, the highly experienced and respected team of Los Angeles family law attorneys has handled many cases dealing with the intricacies of legal separation proceedings.�Sensitive to each client’s needs, filing for a legal separation is often an alternative for those who need time to fully consider whether or not they wish to terminate his/her marriage or to create an immediate “distancing” between one spouse from another or to seek a legal separation for other reasons which might include religious, personal and legal considerations. One common reason some parties choose to file for a legal separation is that one party may not meet the residency requirements needed to file for a dissolution of marriage. Legal separation is also chosen by many who wish to remain eligible for certain “perks” the marriage has provided. These might include medical insurance and income tax relief.�While there are a number of reasons some couples choose this alternative to divorce, most legal separations eventually end in divorce.
Just because an individual files for a legal separation it will not signify that the party’s marriage is legally over. Only a dissolution of marriage (divorce) can sever the marriage in its entirety. Therefore, a person is not eligible to move forward into another marital contract until such time either party dies or he or she files for, and is granted, a dissolution of marriage.
In Los Angeles and California, unlike a dissolution, a judgment specifying a legal separation renders the marriage bonds intact. When a judgment of legal separation is granted and entered, it means, however, that the parties remain married in name only. Neither party is entitled to the rights a marriage would provide nor do they bear the same responsibilities they normally would under a marital contract.
Once granted, a judgment may include stipulations for support, child custody and visitation, and community property rights and obligations under the same laws that govern a dissolution of marriage. If both parties indicate that they need time to sort out their custody issues and/or their support and community property matters, a legal separation allows them an unlimited amount of time to do so.
In order to have the Court grant a legal separation, both parties have to agree to this course of action. Further, if one party wishes to dissolve the marriage at any time after the legal separation has been granted, he or she may petition the court for a dissolution of marriage.