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Why Get Divorced When You’re Already Separated?

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If you are legally separated, you may wonder why you need to get divorced. For some, the benefit of divorce over legal separation is not apparent. Is there a reason to get divorced if you are already separated? First, consider the legal definitions.

Legal separation is a legal arrangement by which a couple remains married, but lives apart, following a court order.

Divorce is a legal dissolution of a marriage by a court.

When deciding between a legal separation and a divorce, it is essential to understand the possibilities and weigh the options carefully. Both legally create a space between a married couple. The couple lives separately, and their finances are separated. The court orders child custody, child support, division of property, and spousal support. Both legal Separation and divorce create a division in the lives of the married couple with rules and boundaries they are legally bound to follow.

The critical difference between legal separation and divorce is that when legally separated, a couple is still married. When divorced, a couple’s marriage is formally and legally ended. No longer married to each other, the two parties are free to remarry if they wish. A divorce means moving forward as a single person once the final decree is issued. When a couple obtains a legal separation, they remain legally married to each other. They cannot remarry. They are required to continue marking legal and official documents as “married.” They still have the right to inherit from one another. A child born to a mother legally separated from her husband is legally the child of the other spouse unless paternity testing proves otherwise.

The decision between legal Separation and divorce is typically a personal one. Some have religious or personal beliefs that forbid divorce, so legal Separation allows them to avoid divorce while leading separate lives. Others prefer legal Separation so they can retain entitlement to certain benefits (i.e., social security, pensions, etc.) paid to surviving “spouses.” In some cases, legal Separation is a step toward divorce; a way to resolve essential issues like custody and finances while the couple determines what they want.

If you are weighing your options and need help deciding whether to seek a legal separation or file for a California divorce, please get in touch with one of the experienced family law attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today.

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