Divorce Solutions

Question #4

Are “legal separation” and “divorce” the same thing? I’ve been married to my husband for less than two years. This marriage has too much hurting. My husband wants a divorce, but I thought we should separate for a while to allow each other space to think it over and sort things out before deciding to give up this marriage. In the case of legal separation, does it mean the ultimate result is divorce? Also, we live in the state of California. How do we go about finding a mediator now that California State Bar Association is shut down? I don’t want this separation to be nasty, but what if my husband disagrees with what I think I deserve? Will the mediator help us to reach an agreement?

Legal separation and divorce are distinct legal processes. Legal separation is meant to divide the assets of the married couple, provide for separate living quarters, if they so desire, and in general provide for separate and individual financial responsibilities from the date of separation. It would entail the drafting of a Separation Agreement in which all of the issues involved would be set forth, including child custody, child support, spousal support, separation of marital assets, etc. The couple, however, would remain legally married, and would not be allowed to marry any other individual, the other party would inherit the first party, unless the Separation Agreement expressly provided for disinheriting the spouse, etc.

Divorce, on the other hand, would require the same preparation of the Separation Agreement, and would also require the filing of divorce papers with the court having jurisdiction over the matter. It would be a final and full termination of the marital status of parties allowing each to remarry and to be completely free and unrelated to the former spouse.

Legal separation does not necessarily require that you conclude it with a divorce. You may decide to continue the marriage and perhaps reunite with your spouse.

Mediation properly conducted will only help you arrive at a resolution of your situation, which is acceptable to you. The mediator is not an arbitrator or judge and cannot impose a settlement on you, without your mutual agreement. A professionally trained attorney-mediator will be able to help you bridge the gaps between you and your spouse and help you both satisfy your individual needs, given the particular circumstances.

I suggest that you ask other people who you may know who have used attorney-mediators professionally trained in divorce for recommendations or call the local bar association office in your town or city for help.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions