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Westlake Village Separation Lawyer

How is Legal Separation Different From Divorce?

It is important to understand that legal separation does not mean the marriage is over. The main difference between legal separation and divorce is that divorce is absolute and considered the final step. In California, legal separation works in very similar ways to divorce, however, you cannot marry another person unless you are divorced.

A skilled Westlake divorce & family attorney can assist you with filing for legal separation and help you understand your legal options. Some couples use legal separation as a trial period to get an idea of what life will be like if they divorce or to decide if divorce is the right decision. This is also the time to settle terms about issues such as child custody and visitation, which are often similar to the way divorces are handled.

What Is the Purpose of Legal Separation?

Legal separation allows couples to split up the responsibilities while still married, but living tier lives separate from each other while also maintaining legal rights. Some choose legal separation for a variety of reasons, such as religious beliefs. There are several other benefits that may be better for your personal circumstances.

Here are some of the key elements and benefits of legal separation:

  • The terms of separation are similar to a divorce. Each couple has the chance to decide whether or not he or she can continue living with the terms.
  • You do not need to maintain California residency for 6 months prior to filing, as opposed to divorce.
  • A spouse can continue to receive insurance coverage from the other spouse.
  • One or the other spouse may still be entitled to certain tax breaks.
  • Marital status is preserved in order to gain benefits, such as social security, which requires a minimum 10 years of marriage.
  • Your culture or religious beliefs do not allow divorce. Legal separation can allow you to live life as though you are not married, but you can still retain your marital status.

There are also some cases where a judge will need to order legal separation, if, for example, one spouse does not wish to divorce and refuses to comply with the proceedings. If you are the filing party, you have the burden of proving to the courts that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and there is no chance of reconciliation as a result. I urge you to discuss your case with a skilled and knowledgeable Westlake Village family law attorney to iron out the details and find a plan that is most ideal.

Free Initial Consultation. Call My Westlake Village Family Law Firm Today!

With over 35 years of experience behind me, I, Attorney Jeffrey S. Graff, offer you legal advice and results-driven legal services. I have previously worked as Judge Pro Tem, as well as a mediator. I know how to handle difficult and often contentious situations, especially involving legal separation and divorce. I provide one-on-one counsel and give you undivided attention as we work through your case.

My firm, the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff has assisted clients throughout the Ventura area, including Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Newbury Park, and Calabasas. I am ready to help you—call today!

Hear it From Our
Happy Clients

  • His team helped restore hope into our family in a time of uncertainty. That alone make Jeff a fantastic attorney aside from his knowledgeable legal skills.

    “Jeff and his team are by far the best to work with. His staff is kind, courteous, and he is excellent at getting the job done in a timely fashion. He is very straight forward and makes it easy to understand what is going on step by step in your case. His experience and insight into the family law field is excellent. Jeff and his office have helped my family tremendously and I would recommend him to anyone who is looking for family law help. If you wants to be sure it is done correct the first time and that your family's best interest are always cared for, he is the guy. His team helped restore hope into our family in a time of uncertainty. That alone make Jeff a fantastic attorney aside from his knowledgeable legal skills.”



    “Mr. Graff was FANTASTIC!!! At the first meeting he was very knowledgeable as to my case details and clearly described the necessary procedures that I should expect. He was available anytime I had a question and always responded right away. When the court date arrived, he was absolutely the most professional in his presentation to the judge (compared to the other attorney who mumbled her way through) and I won my case. You can not go wrong with Jeffrey!!”


  • He was easy to work with!

    “Fees were reasonable and he helped me work through my divorce to ensure it was done in a timely manner. He was easy to work with!”

    Former Client

  • In a very difficult time in my life, Mr. Graff provided excellent service to me.

    “In a very difficult time in my life, Mr. Graff provided excellent service to me. Patient with my process, he was always prompt to return my calls, and gave me realistic advice. While other lawyers might be evasive in an effort to prolong the process (hence their fees), Mr. Graff was straightforward and eager to conclude the proceedings quickly in an effort to minimize my pain.”


  • I felt that he always had my best interest in mind!

    “I selected Jeff to represent me because he specialized divorce cases and had worked with the Ventura County judges for many years. He was very patient with me as dealt with the emotions of getting a divorce after a 19-year marriage, and helped me through the terrible stress of facing my ex-spouse and being in the courtroom. He gave me very good advice on how to manage the property settlement, especially on when I should capitulate and when I should hold my ground. I felt that he always had my best interest in mind (rather than just collecting his fee) and worked diligently to bring the case to a fair conclusion.”

    Mrs. M