Like many other states, California allows for what the law refers to as a legal separation instead of a divorce.
In practice, Los Angeles residents can seek and receive a legal separation for the same reasons they are allowed to divorce, as Californians can ask for a legal separation because of irreconcilable differences between the spouses.
A legal separation works basically the same as would a divorce. Unless the couple resolves their differences through negotiation and submits their agreement to the court, a judge will decide issues like property division, child custody and support, spousal support and other issues.
The key differences between legal separation and a divorce are that, following a legal separation, the couple remains legally married and, thus, are not free to re-marry under California law.
In most cases, a legal separation can be converted into a divorce proceeding.
Furthermore, unlike a divorce, a couple does not have to wait several months before filing a request for legal separation.
People seek out legal separations for a number of reasons
One obvious advantage to a legal separation is that a person who needs ongoing protection can get the process started more quickly than a divorce since there is no waiting period to file.
A couple also may have religious or moral reasons for pursuing a legal separation instead of a divorce. Sometimes, a couple may not want to divorce because of their own emotional state or because they worry about their children.
In cases, it may even make more sense from a financial standpoint for a couple to legally separate without getting a divorce.
In any event, those considering a legal separation may wish to speak with an experienced family law attorney about the process.