Do You Need a Separation Agreement?


If you are contemplating using a Pasadena separation agreement with your spouse, it’s important to keep in mind that a separation agreement is not the same thing as a legal separation under California law. A legal separation requires that you file a petition for legal separation; make decisions about issues such as child custody, child support, property division, and alimony; and then have a final judgment of legal separation entered by the court. A legal separation is often used for religious reasons such a moral objection to divorce, or practical reasons such as needing to preserve health insurance coverage for an ill spouse. A separation agreement addresses the same issues as a legal separation, but you do not need to go to court to create the document.

Even though you do not need to go to court as part of the process, a separation agreement is a legally enforceable contract. As such, it is strongly recommended that you and your spouse both see an attorney to make sure the separation agreement is in your best interests. You should not have the same attorney representing the both of you, however. An attorney is legally obligated to protect your interests, but your interests and the interests of your spouse are bound to conflict during the process of drawing up a separation agreement.

There is no law requiring you and your spouse to create a separation agreement, but this document is helpful in many circumstances. It protects your interests if you're the lower wage earner and financially dependent upon your spouse. If the children will be staying with your spouse during the separation, it ensures that you'll be able to visit with them and maintain your parental relationship.

The disadvantage of creating a separation agreement is that the process only works if you and your spouse are still on relatively amicable terms. If you are separating because of infidelity, for example, you may be too angry with each other to successfully negotiate an agreement without the help of the court.

How Can We Help?

If you are unsure whether a legal separation, a separation agreement, or a divorce is your best option, an experienced Pasadena family law attorney can help you better evaluate your situation. Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our Pasadena family law attorneys are eager to advocate for your needs so you can successfully move on to the next phase of your life.