The Petition – Part 6(a), (b) – dissolution v. legal separation

The Petition – Part 6(a), (b) – dissolution v. legal separation

You’ve married.  And now you want to get divorced.  Or maybe legally separated.  What’s the difference?

A judgment of dissolution (aka divorce) means the parties are back to being unmarried and can re-marry if they so choose.  Fam. Code § 2300.  If the parties choose to be “legally separated” they cannot re-marry, but they can later enter a judgment of dissolution if they want.  Fam. Code § 2347.

Both a judgment for dissolution or legal separation can address paternity, custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, property division, and attorney’s fees.  The main difference is that in the latter, the parties are still married.  Some people choose that route for religious reasons or to maintain insurance or other financial benefits.

It’s All Your Fault!

You want to get divorced and share a few choice words about your soon to be ex-spouse.  However, the Court only cares about “irreconcilable differences” or “incurable insanity”.  Fam. Code § 2310.  California is a “no-fault” state which means the reasons behind the break-up are less important than the the fact you are breaking up.  However, bad acts are not ignored and will likely implicate the outcome of custody/visitation, support, and property division decisions.  (Each area to be discussed in a subsequent post.)

“Irreconcilable differences” is defined at Family Code Section 2311. Those differences can range from people growing apart all the way to adultery.  One party need testify that the marriage cannot be made right again.

“Incurable insanity” is defined at Family Code Section 2312.  A party needs to show “competent medical or psychiatric testimony” to obtain a dissolution/legal separation on these grounds.

If you want to learn more about the differences between legal separation v. dissolution, be sure to speak to a qualified family law attorney.