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2019: Why Would You File for Legal Separation Instead of Divorce in San Diego Family Court?

For many San Diego spouses, unfortunately, their marriage will end in either divorce or legal separation. A decision will need to be made to elect either legal separation or divorce. This can be a very important decision and benefits and disadvantages for both. Before making y our election, it is advised to consult with an experienced attorney who can explain the differences for your individual case. You will need to select one of these in the petition. Doppelt and Forney, APLC is a local San Diego family law firm with full time attorneys and staff who can assist in representation with either of these options.

Divorce: This is the most common. The reason is that many want to have their legal status changed from married to single. This is for many factors including being able to remarry. The divorce case will include all issues such as where the children live, legal custody and decision making, spousal and/or child support, debt and asset division and others. This is the same as with a legal separation and there is no distinction in this regard. Orders for child support, for example, are the same with either. It can be very complicated to move from pre judgment to judgment and it is a good idea to start with the judgment checklist on the San Diego Superior Court website.

Legal Separation: This is much less common since most do not want to go through this once and, certainly, do not want to go through this twice. If the Petitioner requests a legal separation in the petition, then the Respondent can either agree with legal separation or ask for a divorce in the response instead. Under California law, the divorce will be granted and not a legal separation unless both parties agree. Also, a legal separation petition may be amended to a divorce before judgment is entered. After judgment is entered, then if the parties want a divorce, a new family law case for divorce must be filed. There are two main reasons why a person would want a legal separation. First, some have religious convictions that they will never divorce. There are still two countries in the world which do not have divorce: Vatican City and the Philippines. Under California law, all marriages which are valid in the country where marriage performed are recognized as lawful marriages in San Diego. Second, some spouses need medical coverage which can be unaffordable through private insurance. If one spouse is employed and has medical coverage and the other spouse does not, a legal separation would allow for continued medical coverage for the non member spouse even though judgment is entered. This is not a family law code but is per the insurance coverage through employment. As such, if continued medical insurance coverage through the member spouse is of crucial significance, this benefit can be preserved. Also, although not preferable in most cases, a judgment of legal separation can be entered and when insurance coverage is no longer an issue [such as when MediCare is available or employment for the non member spouse which then provides health insurance coverage] then a divorce petition can be filed.

Doppelt and Forney, APLC represents clients in all of the family law court houses in San Diego County. These include Chula Vista, El Cajon, Vista and Downtown. You may call 800-769-4748 to schedule an appointment in their office for up to 30 minutes which is free for the initial consultation. As you can see, these legal issues can become very complex and legal advice can be very beneficial. Feel free to bring a list of questions so that you can have these answered as it is easy to forget when you are meeting with the lawyer.

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