Legal Separation: a Hail Mary Effort to Save a Marriage

Legal Separation: a Hail Mary Effort to Save a Marriage

We’ve all known couples who’ve had trouble living with–and without–each other. One such couple came in to our Oakland office seeking a Legal Separation. Married for ten years, this couple had stressful, well-paying jobs, a mortgage, two children and a dog.

Their marriage had always been stormy

This couple experienced more than usual ups and downs of married life. Both spouses were prone to angry outbursts, and they worried that their children were starting to suffer the effects of the constant tension. While they’d tried several trial separations, they’d gotten back together for a variety of reasons—economics, the kids, and the more fundamental reason that they were truly great together when they were getting along. The problem was sustaining household harmony.

They both knew this Legal Separation was a Hail Mary effort—this would be their final attempt to create a more stable relationship and a better home for their children. There was a lot at stake: They still loved each other and both parents had great relationships with their kids. Their hope was that getting a Legal Separation would buy them space and time to work on their relationship. They had enlisted a therapist to help them learn to be better partners and parents.

Some things to think about if you’re considering a Legal Separation:

  • A Legal Separation agreement is a legal document signed by both spouses which details such issues as child custody, spousal support and living arrangements. If there are children, you will need to develop a formal parenting plan—just as with a Divorce.
  • If you are moving out, be sure your name is removed from any rental leases. If your spouse doesn’t pay the rent, you don’t want to be held accountable.
  • If you are contemplating a Legal Separation instead of divorce so that you can maintain health insurance coverage, check the policy language carefully. Some insurance companies include language which will cause coverage to lapse in the event of a Legal Separation.
  • It’s a good idea to consult with an accountant concerning pension plans and retirement benefits. You need to make sure that you meet all of the necessary legal requirements to maintain your interest in any pension accounts or retirement benefits. If you have an old-fashioned defined-benefit pension plan, you should hire a valuation expert to ascertain the plan’s true value.
  • All issues pertaining to financial responsibilities are outlined so that both spouses will be protected. California is a community property state. You and your spouse share responsibility for debt accumulated during the marriage. The Legal Separation may be a good way to resolve debts incurred during the marriage and for one spouse to disconnect financially from the other going forward. 

Our team at California Document Preparers assists our clients in the preparation of Legal Separation documents. Stop in at one of California Document Preparers three Bay Area locations. We’re here to help.