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What is the Difference between Separation and Divorce?

Los Angeles, California Divorce Attorney

Many people are confused about what it means to be “separated.” Unlike divorce, a legal separation does not put an end to the marriage, it enables you to live separately but remain married. During the time you are living apart, you have a court order that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse.

You remain legally married while choosing to live separate lives. Issues that can be addressed in a separation agreement are division of marital assets and debts, child custody and child support, visitation schedules and spousal support.

There are four different types of separations. Los Angeles Divorce & Separation Attorney Charles M. Green has experience in handling the various types of separation and divorce.

Living apart is simply when a couple does not reside in the same dwelling.

Trial separation is when a couple lives apart to determine if they want to separate permanently. Trial separation is not usually legally recognized, so any assets or debt accumulated during the trial period is still considered marital property.

Permanent separation is when the couple has officially decided to split up. In most states, assets and debts accumulated during a permanent separation are considered separate. However, debts incurred for necessities like providing for children or maintaining the martial home are considered joint responsibilities.

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Legal separation is when the parties are separated and the court divides the property, alimony, child support, custody, and visitation—but does not grant a divorce. Although a separation of some kind is required for no-fault divorces, legal separation is usually for couples who do not want a divorce. They may want legal separation rather than divorce for religious, financial, or personal reasons.

If you decide to remain married because one spouse will be entitled to the other spouse’s benefits (such as Social Security or health insurance), make sure you read the fine print associated with such benefits. Some benefits will specifically exclude legally separated spouses from eligibility.

Charles M Green has experience in handling legal separations and can explain to you the pros and cons of legal separation vs. divorce. He began his career by earning both a Master of Business Administration degree and certification as a public accountant (currently inactive,) and can help you understand the possible financial ramifications of legal separation.

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About the author

Charles M. Green is Certified as a Family Law Specialist through the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California. He has worked extensively in both the financial fields and as a litigation attorney specializing in Family Law Cases. He is also diversely experienced in a number of other practice areas of importance to individuals and families. You can find him on Google+

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