A Legal Separation proceeding is very similar to a Dissolution of Marriage or Divorce action, however, the main difference is that it does not terminate the marital status of the parties. This means that the Court will characterize and divide the community property of the parties; issue custody and visitation orders for any minor children of the marriage, set child and spousal support owed by one party to the other, and address all other issues it otherwise would in a Divorce case, but at the end of the case, the parties remain married to each other. This means neither party can get remarried without first returning to Court to terminate the marital status of the parties.
A Legal Separation proceeding is most useful for parties who either wish to maintain the marital status to preserve certain benefits afforded to spouses which would otherwise be terminated upon a judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, or for persons who maintain religious or other personal beliefs which prevent them from seeking a Dissolution of Marriage.
A judgment of Legal Separation can be granted only if both parties consent to the judgment, or if one party does not appear and the case proceeds by default. If one party seeks a Legal Separation and the other party instead requests a Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce), the Court will grant the request for the Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce).
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