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Orange County Family Law Attorney

When a Divorce Isn’t a Divorce

When divorce doesn’t seem like a viable economic solution to marital problems many are opting for a new approach. Say hello to the new “non-divorce.”

“There is certainly more than one way to end a failed marriage, although traditionally speaking, it has been to go to a divorce lawyer and get a divorce through the courts. After that, each person went on their separate way, only dealing with their ex-spouse if children were at issue,” recounted Gerald A. Maggio, an Orange County divorce lawyer. Of course, if there were no children involved, the couple just took the spoils of the divorce and went on to other relationships.

These days, it’s becoming more and more common for those who want to divorce, but can’t swing it economically, to go for a “non-divorce” divorce. While this may sound a bit counterintuitive, it does seem to be a solution of sorts for some couples.

“In essence, a non-divorce is an accord between the two spouses who are agreeing to keep their marriage intact, but making it a point to recognize the relationship they once had has failed. In other words, they want to feel like they are divorced, still live together, and not get a “legal” divorce. I should add, they have no intentions of reconciling either,” added Maggio.

The couple furthermore doesn’t want to hire a lawyer, file any papers, discuss custody or support issues, see their children any less or take the risk of losing half of their financial assets. “The net result of this approach is that while still legally married, they are acting as roommates who share child care. Living like this also preserves the marital estate, in their minds,” Maggio outlined.

Aside from some of the psychological fall out this type of living arrangement may have for couples, there are also legal ramifications that they are not taking into consideration. “The most important point here is that if the couple does finally decide to call it quits according to the ‘law’ and wants to get a divorce, there is no date of separation,” said Maggio. The date of separation is important when it comes to family law and divorce proceedings because it marks the death of the community of the marriage.

“From the date of separation, the law states that are no community assets or debts. It then becomes a spouse’s separate property and/or debts, and they start to accrue, much like they did prior to marriage. It also means that the spouse will be entitled to half of your property and you in turn, will be liable for half your spouse’s debt,” Maggio explained.

Put another way, if two people living in the same house, acting as if they are married, but they are each managing their finances separately and there is no full disclosure, this adversely affects the situation. “How? Your spouse is still entitled to all the benefits you had when you were ‘happily’ married and living together as man and wife, as opposed to living together as roommates, and that may mean rights to health insurance, the family residence and any gifts from wills or trusts,” indicated Maggio.

This whole new non-divorce area is fraught with other legal landmines that are best discussed with a competent divorce attorney before anyone should attempt to try living like this.

Gerald A. Maggio is senior partner of The Maggio Law Firm, Inc., an Orange County and Riverside Divorce and Family Law firm headquartered in Irvine, California.  The Maggio Law Firm is experienced in all aspects of divorce and family law matters, including child custody, child support, spousal support, complicated high asset marital property cases, and domestic partnerships.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting

divorce_attorneyGerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce attorney and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.



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