In practice, legal separation shares a number of similarities with divorce – but in the legal system, these are two different processes with unique requirements. Fortunately, California law allows couples to convert a legal separation into a divorce, or to change their minds during the separation proceedings. However, it can often be tricky to navigate this kind of change without the help of a skilled Granite Bay divorce attorney.
When you call Myers Family Law, we’ll perform an extensive review of your separation circumstances and help you understand all the requirements necessary to pursue divorce instead. We want to make sure our clients are aware of every option out there, and we’ll provide compassionate counsel and a listening ear for the most complicated family matters life has to offer.
Legal Separation vs. Divorce
Filing a legal separation is not that different from filing a divorce petition. In the end, you’ll still be living apart from your spouse and negotiating the terms of child custody, property division, and financial support. However, one crucial difference alters the entire legal approach: In a divorce, you are actually ending the marriage on all of your official legal records. That’s just one of the reasons couples may pursue a legal separation prior to divorcing – it can function as a sort of “trial period.”
Court-sanctioned legal separations also have formal agreements, similar to a divorce decree. Unlike with divorce, however, you don’t need to be a California resident for at least 6 months in order to legally separate. That doesn’t mean that you should take the decision to separate lightly, as these terms may later be used if you do change your mind.
Changing a Separation to a Divorce
Under California law, you can either convert your petition while in the midst of separation proceedings, or you can file for a divorce after the separation agreement has been ordered. That means you don’t need to wait until the separation is final in order to get started. This is especially helpful if you don’t want to pay the additional costs associated with re-filing for a dissolution of the marriage.
However, depending on how far along you are in the separation process, you may need to re-trace certain steps in order to file for divorce. For example, if you’ve already served a separation petition to your soon-to-be-ex, you will need to serve an amended petition with the box checked for “Dissolution of Marriage.” If you are already in the midst of negotiating terms, those same terms could still apply to your divorce case.
Call a Skilled Family Law Attorney in Granite Bay
With more than 25 years of combined experience and extensive specialization in family law and divorce mediation, our experienced divorce lawyers at Myers Family Law can help you find a solution that will work for your family. We pride ourselves on being responsive and deeply invested in each of our clients, and from the minute you walk through our doors, you’ll know that we care about your unique case. Divorce can be tough, but ultimately it can empower you to find a better future – and we’ll make it our mission to ensure that you can face that future with confidence.
Call us at (916) 634-0067 for a low-cost consultation in Placer County today!