There are two legally relevant points of separation. First, there is the point in time that you and your spouse or partner have “broken up for good.” This point is considered your date of separation. Second, there is the entry of a court decree in family law court declaring you and your spouse separated as of a specific date.
Sometimes, parties have broken up for good but they do not wish to actually get a divorce. This might be for one of a few reasons, whether religious, health insurance purposes, emotional or value-related issues, filing requirements, or uncertainty as to what direction the party wishes to go. In those instances, you may wish to have the court enter a separation.
If at some point either after filing for a separation, or, after the entry of a judgment of separation, you wish a dissolution, you may do so. There are procedures to follow to obtain the dissolution.
A judgment of separation can do everything that a judgment of dissolution does except terminate the marital status. Thus, in a separation judgment, there can be custody, property and support orders. A separation judgment, like a dissolution judgment, can be obtained by stipulation or by trial.
The date of separation itself (as opposed to entry of the judgment of separation) can be very important and is sometimes disputed between the parties. Because of the laws concerning property characterization, sometimes it matters what date you and your spouse agree to be the date you broke up for good, or, what a court determines to be that date.
As with dissolutions, agreement concerning separation issues is always the better way. Parties can separate without commencing a court proceeding but there are many reasons that parties often wish to have a judgment and not just an agreement.
There are many ways to obtain assistance through this process. There are self-help clinics, non-profit organizations, private attorneys, tax-payer based family law services, mental health professionals, mediators, arbitrators, parenting coaches, accountants, friends, family, internet resources, books, periodicals, State Bar of California resources, document preparers, school officials, and law enforcement agencies.
We are private attorneys and we are a boutique family law and litigation firm in Sherman Oaks, California serving clients from border to border. We appear both in state and federal courts. We are appear in both trial courts and appellate courts. Should you wish our assistance, please call us. We would be honored to help you.