San Diego Divorce Mediation – What’s the Difference Between Legally Separated vs Divorced?

Legally Separated vs Divorced

When your marriage is not working and you want to separate, family law in California provides two options: Legal Separation or Divorce. Legally separated vs divorced, what’s the difference? The main difference is that a divorce is permanent whereas a legal separation is temporary and can be reversed. As a San Diego family law attorney firm, we offer the following details to help clarify each option. Whether you pursue divorce or legal separation, we encourage couples to choose an amicable process called mediation.  Mediation benefits your kids, assets and mental health.

Legal Separation
In California, a legal separation is an official court order. Once legally separated, you and your spouse can live in separate homes and live separate lives. However, because you are not divorced, you cannot remarry. Benefits of a legal separation include

  • it allows you to live apart without formally ending your marriage
  • if your religion or beliefs forbid divorce, then a legal separation will give you the freedom you want without going through with a divorce
  • it allows you to retain some of the benefits of being married such as being on your spouse’s health insurance plan, getting tax benefits, getting government benefits like social security
  • In a California divorce, you can file for divorce if at least one of you has lived in California for 6 months or more. If you do not meet this condition then a legal separation will allow you to live separately until you are eligible to get a divorce.

A divorce is the dissolution of a marriage; it is the permanent end of your marriage. Once divorced, you are legally single and you can remarry. You can no longer be on your spouse’s health insurance and you cannot claim tax benefits.

In terms of process, legal separated & divorced go through very similar processes, namely:

  • you will need to file for legal separation (or divorce) with the court.
  • you will need to exchange mandatory disclosures of assets and liabilities
  • you will need to agree on how the assets and debts will be divided
  • you will need to agree on spousal support and custody of children
  • if you cannot agree to any of the above, a judge will hear your case and make the decisions for you.

Need more information on the difference between legally separated vs divorced? Please contact our  top rated mediation lawyer in San Diego at 858-255-1321 or email and let us know if you need help filing documents for a legal separation or a divorce.