What Is The Difference Between a Divorce and a Legal Separation?

There are a lot of legal terms floating around the divorce arena including divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation, and date of separation. This article explains their meaning and their differences; however, you should contact and experienced San Diego family law lawyer to determine which path is best for your situation.

Divorce & Dissolution of Marriage
Everyone has heard the term divorce and most people know that a divorce is the termination of a marriage. A divorce restores people to the legal state of a single person no longer tied to their former spouse by the marital contract. The term dissolution is the more general and I suppose politically correct term that is synonymous with the term divorce. Don’t get confused, they mean the exact same thing.

Date of Separation
In California there is a very important term we use, date of separation. The date of separation is a date in which married persons or domestic partners have parted ways with the intent to end their relationship and have not resumed the relationship. This is a general definition of the date of separation as the specifics can sometimes get tricky and may require litigation resorting to case law for guidance. However, for most people the date of separation will be the date one spouse moved out of the family home.

Legal Separation
Although they share a common word, Date of Separation should not be confused with the term Legal Separation. They have very different meanings. A Legal Separation is an alternative to a divorce, so to speak. If a court grants a legal separation the spouses remain legally married to each other in the end; however, all other aspects of their marriage are dissolved such as division of their property, support, and child custody and support issues. In California people have the right to be divorced if they choose. Therefore, a legal separation must have both parties’ consent to be granted; whereas a divorce requires only one person’s consent. In California the process for a legal separation is nearly identical to that of a divorce/dissolution of marriage, except at the end of the case in a legal separation the parties are not restored to the status of single persons.

These can be complicated subjects that will have dramatic effects on your rights and obligations to your spouse or soon to be ex-spouse. Click here to Contact Mesnik Law Group, Inc. for a free one-hour consultation to help determine which path is right for you and to protect your rights.

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