Choosing Between Legal Separation and Divorce in California

legal separation and divorce

Although everyone hopes for a happy ever after when they get married, it doesn’t always work out that way. And if you find yourself at that point in your marriage and live in California, there are two legal options: legal separation or divorce. Learning the difference between the two is essential so that you can choose the option that works best for your circumstances.

While both options involve a couple living separately, some significant differences exist. This article will discuss the difference between legal separation and divorce in California and how to decide which is right for you.

Legal Separation in California

Legal separation is a process in which a couple can separate their lives but remain legally married. This process allows the couple to live separate lives, but marriage’s legal obligations and responsibilities still bind them.

In California, legal separation is governed by the California Family Code FAM § 2320, which outlines the procedure for obtaining a legal separation and the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved. Legal separation involves negotiations similar to a divorce, such as the division of marital property, child custody and support, visitation rights, and spousal support.

When to Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce

Here are some reasons why you may want to choose legal separation.

  • You want to live separately but aren’t sure you want to end your marriage altogether.
  • You aren’t sure if you want to end your marriage altogether, but you want to lay out a property, financial and co-parenting issues.
  • Your religious beliefs prohibit divorce.
  • Your personal beliefs prohibit divorce.
  • You still want to take advantage of the benefits of marriage, such as remaining on your spouse’s health insurance, tax benefits, and receiving government benefits such as Social Security.
  • You haven’t met the residency requirements for a divorce, but you want to be legally separated.

Requirements for a Legal Separation in California

When filing for legal separation in California, you or your spouse must be a legal state resident. Since California is a “no-fault” state (meaning neither of you has to prove that someone did something wrong), you don’t have to provide a specific reason for the separation. However, you must still explain why you want to separate—for example, irreconcilable differences.

Divorce in California

Divorce, or “dissolution of marriage,” is the legal process of permanently ending a marriage. When a divorce is finalized, you are legally single and able to remarry. You have the choice to mediate or litigate your divorce. 

In California, divorce is governed by the California Family Code FAM § 4336, which outlines the procedure for obtaining a divorce and the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved. Like legal separation, both spouses must agree on how assets, debts, custody, and support payments will be handled.

When to Choose Divorce Over Legal Separation

Here are some reasons why you may want to choose divorce.

  • You both know that you don’t want to reconcile.
  • You want to remarry in the future. However, to legally remarry, you must be divorced.
  • You want a financial split from your spouse.
  • There are no financial benefits from being legally separated.

Requirements for Divorce in California

You or your spouse must be a legal resident of the state for at least six months to file for a divorce in California. In addition, that person must have also lived in the county where the separation or divorce is being filed for at least three months. If you don’t meet the residency requirements for a divorce, you can file for a legal separation and then file for divorce after you complete the residency requirements.

Exception for Same-Sex Marriages

The exception to the residency requirement is same-sex marriage. So if you were married in California but now live in a state that will not allow you to divorce, you can file in California. However, remember that this can cause issues like marital property, support, money, and your children.

Turn to the Expert Family Law Attorneys at Azemika and Azemika

There are advantages to both legal separation and divorce, so it’s essential to know the differences between them to make the right choice for your situation. If you have any questions or are still unsure of which option is right for you, enlisting the services of an experienced family law attorney can be beneficial.

At Azemika and Azemika, we know there’s no easy way to end your marriage. We will devise a fast, effective solution for your unique circumstances and your family’s needs. We will fight for you and protect you and your family throughout the separation or divorce process.
For comprehensive legal counsel, contact us today for a consultation.

The Different Types of Adoption in California Explained

adoption in california

Adoption is a beautiful and loving act of creating a family for a child who needs it. And it allows biological parents facing an unexpected pregnancy to place their child with adoptive parents looking to build their family.

It’s a process that involves legal and emotional commitments and can be complicated, but the outcome is worth all the effort. In California, a prospective adoptive parent can choose several types of adoption, and each has its unique requirements, processes, and benefits.

This article will discuss the different types of adoption in California and some important factors to consider when choosing the right type of adoption for you.

Step-parent Adoption

Step-parent adoption is a process that enables a step-parent to legally adopt their step-child and become their parent in every sense of the word. The step-parent adoption process in California is relatively simple, especially compared to other types of adoption.

One of the most important things to remember when considering step-parent adoption in California is that the biological parent’s consent is required. That means the biological parent must agree to terminate their parental rights, allowing the step-parent to adopt their child. In addition, in some cases, the biological parent may have already passed away, so the stepparent must provide evidence of this.

Foster Care Adoption

Foster care adoption is a type of adoption where a child is placed in a foster home while waiting for a permanent family. It’s typically done through the state government or a private agency, and the goal is to provide a safe, stable, and loving environment for the child while they wait for their permanent family. The children in foster care come from various backgrounds and can be of any age, race, religion, or culture.

Prospective adoptive parents interested in foster care adoption must undergo a rigorous screening process, including background checks, home studies, and training to become foster parents. The process may take several months, but once completed, the adoptive parents become licensed foster parents and can begin fostering and adopting a child.

In California, foster care adoption is a cost-free process, and the state provides financial support for the child’s care, including medical expenses, clothing, and educational needs. Therefore, foster care adoption is an excellent option for those who are open to adopting children of any age and background and are willing to provide a safe and loving environment.

Domestic Infant Adoption

Domestic infant adoption is a type of adoption where prospective adoptive parents adopt a newborn or young infant who is born within the United States. Domestic infant adoptions are usually done through private adoption agencies or attorneys.

The domestic infant adoption process involves the birth mother choosing the adoptive parents for her baby. Then, the adoptive parents and birth mother work together to create an adoption plan that works best for everyone involved.

Prospective adoptive parents must undergo a rigorous screening process, including background checks, home studies, and training. They must also be prepared to handle the emotional aspects of adoption and be open to communication with the birth mother throughout the process.

Domestic infant adoption is a costlier option compared to foster care adoption. Still, many adoptive parents feel that the benefits of being able to adopt a newborn or young infant are worth the investment. Adoptive parents can also take advantage of the tax credits and other financial benefits available for adopting a special needs child or a child who was part of the California public child welfare agency.

International Adoption

International adoption is a type of adoption where prospective adoptive parents adopt a child from another country. International adoption can be a complex and lengthy process, and prospective adoptive parents must be prepared to meet the requirements of both the country of origin and the United States.

In California, international adoption is usually done through private adoption agencies or attorneys; therefore is typically a costlier option compared to domestic infant adoption or foster care adoption. However, prospective adoptive parents must undergo a rigorous screening process, including background checks, home studies, and training.

Open vs. Closed Adoptions

Depending on how involved the birth parents are will determine if your adoption will be open or closed.

Open Adoption

In an open adoption, the biological parent and adoptive parents share their identities and remain in contact during and after the adoption. Some people mistake an open adoption for co-parenting. This is not the case. As adoptive parents, you can set contact limits with the child’s biological parents.

Closed Adoption

In a closed adoption, both parents have no contact, and their identities aren’t shared. All adoptions in California are Closed Adoptions by default. However, you can still opt for an Open Adoption.

Let Azemika and Azemika Help You on Your Adoption Journey

The adoption process and the laws surrounding it can seem complex and confusing. Seeking the assistance of a family law attorney should be your first step to becoming an adoptive family.

At Azemika and Azemika, we know how exciting becoming a parent can be. We will advise you on all aspects of the adoption process so you can start parenthood in the right direction on firm legal grounds.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What to Know About Gray Divorce

gray divorce

Ending a marriage can be difficult regardless of how long you’ve been married. But the longer your marriage lasts, the more complicated it can get. If you’re over 50 and are in the midst of or considering a divorce, you’re part of a growing trend called “Gray Divorce.”

The United States Census Bureau reported in 2021 that the divorce rate for adults between the age of 55-60 hit a record high of 43%, making this age group the highest divorce rate among married adults over the age of 20. And this isn’t a trend specific to the United States. The number of gray divorces has increased worldwide.

This article will discuss eight things you should know when going through a gray divorce in California.

#1. Marital Assets Will Be Split 50/50

Two methods are used to divide marital property in the United States; equitable distribution and community property. California is a community property state.

That means each spouse is entitled to half of all marital assets (and responsible for half of all marital debt) regardless of which spouse earned the income or whose name is on the paperwork for the assets/debt.

#2. Spousal Support Will Likely Be Awarded

Spousal support will likely be granted if your marriage lasts over ten years. However, this doesn’t mean you will automatically be awarded spousal support. Before making a decision, the judge will take into consideration the following factors:

  • Your standard of living during the marriage
  • The income and assets of each spouse
  • The need for support
  • The higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay spousal support

#3. You Will Likely Only Receive Half of Your Nest Egg or Retirement Fund

California is a no-fault divorce state. That means that it doesn’t matter who was at fault for the divorce, marital assets will still be divided evenly in your divorce. This includes any nest egg or retirement funds you and your spouse may have accumulated throughout your marriage.

#4. You May Have to Reenter the Workforce

You may have become accustomed to not working during retirement while your spouse worked a regular job during your marriage. However, you may have to get a job if you’re not granted spousal support or if it’s insufficient to cover your expenses.

#5. Even Adult Children Can Be Affected By Gray Divorce

Although you won’t have to deal with raising children as a single parent, grown children can also be affected by divorce. Even though you shouldn’t overshare the reason behind your divorce, you should give your children a reasonable explanation for what’s happening. This can allow them to process the divorce and try to make sense of what’s going on.

#6. Avoid Dating Before Your Divorce is Final

It can be lonely, especially for older people, when getting a divorce. However, getting into a new relationship can be a mistake before your divorce is final. Not only could it upset your children, but it could anger your spouse and end up increasing the time and cost of your divorce.

#7. Get a Prenuptial Agreement if You Remarry

Your divorce has been finalized, and you’ve fallen in love again. If you choose to remarry, you should get a prenuptial agreement. A prenup can outline the assets you wish to keep separate if your marriage ends in divorce.

#8. You Could Receive Social Security Benefits From Your Spouse’s Record

If you’ve been divorced longer than two years, and your ex is receiving retirement or disability benefits, you might be able to collect social security benefits from your spouse’s record.

You may be able to collect on your spouse’s record if :

  • You were married for ten years or longer
  • You are unmarried
  • You are 62 or older
  • Your social security benefit is less than your ex-spouse’s
  • You are eligible to receive disability benefits or Social Security retirement

You will be paid your benefit amount first if you qualify for social security benefits. Then, if your ex-spouse’s record is higher, you’ll get additional benefits so that your monthly benefit amount equals the higher amount.

Turn to Azemika & Azemika, the Family Law Experts in Bakersfield

Gray divorce can affect multiple generations of a family. And while it can be scary to start over after you’ve been married for decades, it can also provide you the opportunity for growth and self-discovery and can give you a chance to form new relationships. If you or someone you know is considering gray divorce, it’s essential to enlist the help of a qualified, experienced divorce attorney.

At Azemika & Azemika, our practice is exclusively devoted to family law. With over 64 years of handling family law cases, our partners have successfully handled some of the most challenging and high-asset family law cases in Kern County. We provide our clients with aggressive, knowledgeable, and affordable representation.

Contact us today if you’re looking for a family law attorney who is sensitive to your needs and will fight for you.