Parties to a Placer County divorce often confuse a judgment of legal separation and a judgment of divorce.  In Placer County divorce cases, a judgment of legal separation is different that a judgment of divorce.  A judgment of legal separation allows the court to divide property, debts, set custody orders and support orders, but otherwise leaves the parties’ formal marital status intact.  This means that even though everything is divided up, the parties are still legally married and cannot re-marry without violating criminal law.  A judgment of divorce is different from a judgment of legal separation because a judgment of divorce actually severs the marital status and restores the status of both spouses to single persons.  Thus they can legally remarry after the judgment of divorce is done.

Another common misunderstanding is confusing a “judgment of legal separation” and “being legally separated” from one’s spouse.  The spouses become “legally separated” on the date that one spouse clearly communicates to the other spouse that they are ending the marriage and all subsequent facts demonstrate the parties did not later reconcile and resume the marriage.  The facts demonstrating separation could be: ending further marital sexual intercourse, friends and family are told of the separation, one spouse leaves the family home, cessation of gifts/cards/flowers, etc.  (However, a spouse does not have to actually leave the family residence to be “legally separated.”  This is a common misconception.)

If you are in a Placer County divorce or legal separation case, or if you believe you and your spouse have become legally separated and are in need of legal advice, please give our office a call.  It is important that you have an attorney help you understand your legal rights and obligations.