Like other states, California has what is called a residency requirement for people who want a divorce. In order to obtain a divorce in California, one or both of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months. They also must have lived in Riverside County for at least three months, assuming that is where they wish to file their divorce case.
While for some people this might not seem like a long time to wait, others may want more immediate legal relief. In particular, victims of domestic violence may want a divorce quickly. It is important to victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse to make a clear legal break from their abusive spouses.
A legal separation is a way for a person to get faster court assistance
A Californian may be able to get court assistance faster by asking for a legal separation instead of a divorce. There are no residency requirements for a legal separation other than that one spouse has to live in California.
Riverside residents might consider a legal separation for many other reasons. For example, many people have religious reasons for not wanting a divorce, and others might not be ready for that step.
In some cases, a legal separation may be a smart financial move.
Practically speaking, legal separations work like divorces. Unless the parties agree on these issues, the judge will divide property and debts, address spousal support and make important custody and parenting time decisions.
The biggest difference between divorce and legal separation is that after a legal separation, unlike a divorce, the spouses remain legally married. They may choose to convert their separation to a divorce later, at least once they meet the residency requirements.
Victims of domestic violence may be able to secure a restraining order
Domestic violence victims may also get immediate relief by asking the court for a restraining order.
The advantage is that a victim can immediate, albeit often temporary, help with keeping an abusive spouse away from them and their property. The order may even require an abusive spouse to leave the family home.
At a minimum, a restraining order can help a victim in the short term while the pursue a divorce.
However, a person wanting a restraining order must be able to prove they were a victim of domestic violence.