Despite the best of intentions, often those who so lovingly and wholeheartedly said, "I do" on their wedding day, sometimes find that their marriages are not what they expected, leading first to separation, and then perhaps, divorce. California, like most states, defines separation in its own terms.
Legal Separation in California
While friends may advise you by delineating the different sorts of separation, it is important to realize that, in California, there is only one legal form of separation and that form of separation is granted by a court. If you and your spouse can negotiate a means of dividing property, arranging child support and visitation arrangements, you can manage your own trial separation. If, however, you fail to come to an agreement on one or more of these issues, it will likely be best for both parties to go the legal route.
To get a legal trial separation in California, it is not necessary to meet divorce residency requirements. If you do not yet meet residency requirements, then having your trial separation legitimized by a court can protect you, your child and your assets while you are on the road to divorce or reconciliation.
Trial Vs. Permanent Separations
Trial separations differ from permanent separations in that the former tend to denote a "cooling off" period in which no major lasting decisions for the future need to be made. It is important, however, in the event that a trial separation does not lead to a reconciliation between the two partners, that some legal steps are taken to ensure both parties respect the agreements that were made when the separation was in the trial stage or to renegotiate the terms of the separation.
Donald P. Schweitzer, a family lawyer practicing in Pasadena, California claims that a legal separation need not be viewed as a permanent separation. He has also stated that a legal trial separation need not be negotiated in a court of law. In fact, there are often legal means of establishing the terms of a separation outside the courtroom that will be amenable to both partners.