Legal Separation Experienced lawyers to give you the results you deserve.

Santa Barbara Legal Separation Lawyer

Helping Clients Through The Legal Separation Process in California

Is your marriage in a rough patch but neither you nor your spouse want to call it quits? 

Chances are that you are at a loss as to what to do. Legal separation could be the solution you're looking for.

What Is Legal Separation?

Legal separation occurs when spouses want to remain married but undergo property division as if they were getting a divorce. This allows spouses to retain their marital status but lead lives independent of each other. When a couple seeks a legal separation, a judge divides their community assets and debts and determines child custody and spousal support as they would in a divorce case. 

You can think of legal separation as a way to get the space you need to work on your marriage. You can also think of it as a trial run for leaving your spouse. If one spouse seeks divorce over separation, the court is obligated to allow the divorce to proceed.

Have you been asked for a legal separation, or are you thinking about asking for one? Call Morales Law, P.C. at (805) 422-7966 for a free consultation with a separation attorney in Santa Barbara.

Why Should I Get A Legal Separation?

A legal separation can look and feel like a divorce, but it can be used by couples uncomfortable with the finality of divorce or whose religious values disallow divorce. Different from an informal trial separation, spouses can use legal separation as a real-life proving ground for divorce. 

If a divorce is eventually desired, the terms of separation can be converted to a divorce agreement if no major disputes regarding the initial arrangement arise.

What are the Benefits of Legal Separation Over Divorce?

Legally separated couples can use the retention of their marital status for benefits, such as:

  • Possibility of filing a joint tax return
  • Remaining married for religious reasons
  • Obtaining or keeping health insurance
  • Obtaining other insurance policies
  • Immigration purposes
  • Retaining military benefits
  • Protecting financial interests while apart

If you and your spouse are discussing a legal separation in Santa Barbara, seek assistance from a qualified lawyer. Your legal separation agreement could become your divorce agreement, so be sure your interests are protected.

Can a Legal Separation be Converted into a Divorce?

In Santa Barbara, a legal separation can indeed be converted into a divorce. Legal separation allows couples to live apart and make separate decisions while still being legally married. This process can be beneficial for those who have religious, financial, or personal reasons for not wanting a divorce immediately. However, circumstances may change, leading one or both parties to seek a divorce.

The conversion process is relatively straightforward. Either party can file a request with the court to change the status of the legal separation to a divorce. This typically involves filing a motion or a petition to amend the original legal separation agreement. The court will then review the request, and if both parties agree, the judge will usually grant the conversion without much difficulty.

One of the advantages of converting a legal separation to a divorce is that many of the terms established during the separation, such as property division, child custody, and spousal support, can often remain in place. This can simplify the divorce process since many issues have already been resolved during the separation phase. However, it's important to review these terms with a qualified Santa Barbara legal separation lawyer to ensure they are still fair and applicable to the current situation.

It's worth noting that if the couple has reconciled during the period of legal separation and decides to continue with their marriage, the legal separation can be dismissed. This dismissal is generally straightforward and involves filing the appropriate paperwork with the court. However, if the reconciliation fails and one party decides to pursue a divorce later on, the process of converting the legal separation to a divorce can be reinitiated.

How Does Legal Separation Affect Property Division?

Legal separation significantly impacts the division of property between spouses. In Santa Barbara, as in the rest of California, community property laws govern how assets and debts are divided. These laws state that any property or debt acquired during the marriage belongs equally to both spouses, regardless of who earned or incurred it. However, legal separation creates a cutoff date for the accumulation of community property and debt.

When a couple decides to legally separate, they must detail their assets, debts, and how they wish to divide them. This agreement can be comprehensive, covering everything from real estate and bank accounts to personal property and retirement accounts. During the legal separation process, the court may issue orders to divide these assets and debts fairly.

An important consideration is that property and debt acquired after the legal separation date are generally considered separate property. This means that any income earned, debts incurred, or assets acquired by either party after the legal separation will belong solely to that individual. This distinction can be crucial for spouses who wish to protect their financial interests during the separation period.

Legal separation can also provide a framework for property division that may be used if the couple later decides to divorce. The terms established during the separation can often be carried over into the divorce proceedings, streamlining the process and reducing the potential for conflict. However, it's essential to revisit these terms with a Santa Barbara legal separation lawyer to ensure they still meet both parties' needs and legal standards at the time of divorce.

Do you think a legal separation is right for you? Contact a Santa Barbara legal separation attorney online or by calling (805) 422-7966 today! Your consultation is free!


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