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Legal Separation

legal separations indio, california

Palm Desert and Indio Dissolution Lawyer

What is the difference between a divorce and a legal separation?

Both dissolutions and legal separations conclude with a Judgment. The Judgment divides community property, confirms separate property to one spouse or the other, and provides for custody, child and spousal support, and addresses whatever else must be decided. The only difference is that you remain legally married in a legal separation - your status as a married person isn't terminated. All of the protections that are available as temporary orders in a divorce can be secured in a legal separation. At any time in the future either spouse can seek to dissolve the marital status by filing a disso proceeding. You need an experienced legal separation attorney every bit as much as you need a competent divorce lawyer.

There can be important reasons for obtaining a legal separation rather than dissolving the marriage entirely. These include:

  • Couples are allowed time apart away from conflict of the marriage to decide if divorce is really what they want, and in their best interest.
  • If strong religious views against divorce exist, these can be honored.
  • Family members, including children, may be more comfortable with a legal separation. It has a flavor and feeling of reduced conflict.
  • Legal separations allow for the continued retention of benefits, most notably insurance coverage or the ability to file joint tax returns, which a divorce would bring to an end.
  • In order to be qualified to receive "derivative social security benefits" after a divorce, the parties must remain married for at least ten years. Terminating a marriage earlier than ten years destroys the ability of either spouse to obtain these benefits on account of what the other has paid into the system. Since derivative social security benefits are not paid at the expense of either person (i.e., has no effect upon what the higher benefitted spouse will receive upon retirement), it may make sense to delay the termination of the marital status until the parties have qualified for these benefits. A legal separation allows you to, in effect, obtain a divorce without being divorced.
  • Military spouses may want to remain married for 10 years to take advantage of the benefits set up by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Act.

Generally speaking, it is not a complicated or particularly expensive matter to subsequently dissolve the marriage.

Rancho Mirage Attorney Barbara E. Kristal has over 25 years experience dealing with Family Law issues and brings a seasoned view to all cases. Her helpful staff is ready to help and guide you through any procedure you require help with.

Please fill out our Family Law Interview Form and bring it with you to your first consultation.


Contact an experienced Palm Desert Divorce Lawyer today to schedule your consultation.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Rancho Mirage Office:
Phone: 760-324-3212
Address: 69730 Highway 111, Suite 209, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

Palm Desert Office:
Phone: 760-779-4535
Address: 74075 El Paseo, Suite A-11, Palm Desert, CA 92260