Everything You Need to Know About the Cost of a Legal Separation

The current filing cost for a legal separation in California is $435, and this amount includes any response either party may submit. Here’s everything you need to know about the cost of a legal separation in California.

In other states, legal separation can range in cost. Separation is an alternative to divorce, and some couples choose this option as a means of closure without legally ending their marriage. Legal separation still requires both parties to complete many of the same steps of divorce proceedings, such as filing a petition and corresponding paperwork, making decisions surrounding child custody (if necessary), alimony, and division of assets, and receiving a final judgment of legal separation from a California court. Additional fees may be associated with completing these steps.

Related: How to File for Legal Separation in California

Information to Consider

Couples deciding to separate may do so for a range of reasons. Perhaps they are looking to divorce in the future, or they wish to mend their relationship. Regardless of their outcome, there are financial implications for engaging in the legal separation process.  For example, it is important for spouses to note that once the date of their separation is set, their joint banking account and/or credit/debit cards are frozen and they can no longer make withdrawals from them. By nature, separation also limits some of their other shared assets, such as their property or vehicle(s). Asset division is commonly discussed in detail within the spouses’ legal separation agreement.

For Military Spouses

It is also critical for spouses to consider the timeline of their relationship. When couples reach their tenth year of marriage, this milestone impacts their future financial benefits. For example, under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, military spouses must remain married for one decade in order to receive compensation. If couples remain married for 10 years, even if they are now seeking separation, their spouse may still be eligible to receive these payments.

Related: Divorced Military Spouse Benefits: What Am I Entitled To?

Potential Social Security Benefits Amidst Separation and Divorce

The ten-year marriage mark also qualifies spouses–– even those who are seeking to separate or even divorce–– for some Social Security benefits. Separated or divorced spouses may be entitled to collect Social Security payments based on the earnings/income of their former spouse.

Some requirements for qualifying ex-spouses include:

  • Must have been married for 10+ years,
  • Must be entitled to receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits at the time their former spouse applies,
  • 62 years of age or older, and
  • Not currently in another marriage.

If an ex-spouse is eligible for these Social Security benefits, they can receive payments on their former spouse’s record for at least two consecutive years, and if their ex has not yet applied for retirement benefits (but can qualify for them).

Additional Resources

For your reference, explanations for the steps required of spouses seeking to legally separate in California can be found here, along with a comprehensive list of statewide civil fees for family law cases on pages 6-7.

Contact Us

If you have any more questions on the cost of a legal separation, contact us. At Her Lawyer, our attorneys specialize in helping spouses file for legal separation. Get your free consultation with the right attorney for you.