Two rings beside a judge's gavel on a wooden table.

Divorce vs. Separation in California

When a couple feels that they can no longer make their marriage work, they may consider divorce. However, there are some spouses who can. While there are many divorces that take this route, there are some spouses who can go through other avenues to reach their goals. In some situations, the couples may not divorce at all. Instead, they may consider a legal separation. Not sure what this means? Our Rancho Cucamonga divorce attorneys at Chung & Ignacio, LLP break down the differences between legal separation and divorce, and which option is best for each specific situation.


A divorce is exactly what people expect it to be – two spouses dissolving their marriage legally and going their separate ways. In a divorce, there are numerous factors that must be considered before the divorce can be finalized. This includes issues regarding residency, alimony disputes, child custody and support agreements, property division, and more. There are also issues concerning tax implications and division of debt, in which divorcing couples may opt to sell their property, pay off their debts, and split whatever remains.

There are two types of divorce: contested and uncontested. A contested divorce means that the two parties cannot come to an agreement regarding the terms of their settlement, and as such, they will need to present their case before a family court in order to reach a resolution. In an uncontested divorce, the parties are able to work together to come up with an agreement. They have the chance to decide who gets custody of the children, who gets what property, and how much alimony will be paid. At the end of negotiations, they present their drafted agreement to a judge for final approval.

Legal Separation

There are many advantages that some couples may find in pursuing a legal separation instead of a divorce. For instance, it can allow the parties to maintain their marital status, which can help with medical insurance for the entire family. In many cases, legal separation allows for the parties to uphold religious beliefs that may frown upon divorce. Legal separation allows for the parties to live apart and go about their lives as if they were divorced, but without changing their marital status.

Legal separation also allows for a few other benefits of staying married that would be lost in such a final option as divorce. One of these is meeting the residency requirements California laws stipulate in order for couples to divorce. Another benefit is to retain joint health care insurance.

Many couples who go through legal separation see that it results in one of two ways: they either end up going through with the divorce or they use the time apart to discuss their marriage and work out their differences, eventually getting back together to continue the marriage. Before deciding to divorce or legally separate, couples should take the time to make sure that they assess both of their options and choose the one that is right for their case.

Our Rancho Cucamonga Divorce Lawyers Can Help

During a difficult time of transition, you may have a number of questions and concerns. After all, this is a confusing process that will have a significant impact on you and your family. If you are considering a divorce, you need legal counsel to help you understand the pros and cons of both divorce and legal separation. This will allow you to make the choice that best fits your situation and which will lead you toward your family’s goals.

If you need help going through a divorce or legal separation, call our firm today.