Separation Agreement in California in a Nutshell!

Standardized Legal Documents Separation Agreement in California in a Nutshell!

What Do You Need To Know About a Separation Agreement in California?

A separation agreement in California needs to abide by California laws regulating this type of legal document—but what do these laws stipulate exactly?

If you’re not someone who deals with contracts, you may be confused about what to do about your separation agreement. Luckily for you, DoNotPay has all the answers.

In this article, you’ll find out everything about the California separation agreement. You’ll also see how DoNotPay helps you write contracts without wasting your time on generic templates or your hard-earned cash on expensive lawyers.

What Is a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement—or a marital settlement agreement—is a contract that two spouses enter when they want to get a divorce or a permanent legal separation.

You should not confuse a separation agreement with a divorce decree. While it can become one of the divorce documents, the separation agreement does not legally dissolve a marriage.

A separation agreement serves to help the spouses who are considering getting divorced settle the following issues:

  • Marital property division
  • Tax issues
  • Joint debts
  • Child custody
  • Alimony
  • Health insurance
  • Pension plans

How Do Separation Agreements in California Work?

In California, there is a cool-off period that you need to wait to pass if you want to get legally divorced. It usually lasts for six months. With a legal separation, there is no cool-off period.

Justifiable reasons for getting a legal separation are:

  1. One spouse suffers from a severe mental illness
  2. Both spouses are determined there are irreconcilable difference in the marriage and want to get a legal separation

The court should allow the separation under these conditions as long as neither party is forced into a legal separation through fraud or coercion.

Note that you cannot be married to more than one person at the same time in California. This means that if you decide to get a legal separation rather than a divorce from your spouse, you won’t be free to remarry. Filing for a divorce does not require the consent of both spouses. If you choose to go this way, your divorce plea will most likely be granted even if your spouse doesn’t want it.   

Why Do People Use a Separation Agreement?

Drawing up a marital settlement agreement (MSA) is one of the smartest actions separating spouses can take. Whether you plan to be separated from your spouse permanently or file for a divorce in the future, you need a separation agreement if you:

  • Have one or more children with your spouse
  • Own marital property that needs to be divided
  • Have joint debts    

There are also plenty of reasons why choosing a separation agreement is simpler. If, for the time being, you want to only be legally separated from your spouse and decide after some time to file for a divorce, the pleading process will be much shorter and simpler with an existing MSA.

One of the reasons why couples may choose a separation agreement instead of a divorce decree is that divorce does not align with their religious beliefs. Other reasons are financial. For example, there are tax and health insurance benefits legally separated spouses can keep enjoying and that they would not be eligible for if they dissolved their marriage through a divorce decree. 

Is a Separation Agreement Legally Enforceable?

A separation agreement isn’t automatically enforceable by law. 

For the contract to become legally enforceable, the judge needs to incorporate the agreement into your divorce decree.

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