LEGAL SEPARATIONA proceeding for legal separation has the same general purpose as that for marital dissolution, except that a judgment of legal separation does not terminate the parties' legal status. Legal separation is essentially a device to determine and settle the spouses' financial responsibilities to one another and to their minor children, as well as to determine child custody. A judgment of legal separation might be sought for religious reasons or other personal reasons, such as for the purpose of retaining certain spousal health or survivor benefits.
Spouses may seek legal separation rather than dissolution in order to retain eligibility for medical insurance that would otherwise be lost by a termination of the marriage. Spouses may also file for legal separation first and later amend the Petition and Response to request dissolution. This is done when the parties wish to divorce in California but have not yet satisfied the residence requirement.
After a judgment of legal separation, the parties remain "married" in name only, without the rights and responsibilities that attach to marital status. They cannot remarry unless one spouse dies or they obtain a judgment of dissolution. The spouses can later obtain a dissolution.
A Court cannot enter a judgment of legal separation unless both parties consent to it, except in default cases.