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A legal separation is the filing of a lawsuit against which gives the court the power to decide on any and all issues related to your marriage. This includes dividing up all your property, deciding who your children should live with and how much time they should spend with each parent, deciding how much support should be paid, and deciding who should pay what debts. A legal separation proceeds just like a divorce, except at the end, the spouses are not divorced, and additional paperwork must be filed in order to finalize the divorce.
There are several significant differences between a legal separation and a divorce. For instance, spouses must agree to a legal separation. If not, a legal separation automatically becomes a divorce. Second, there is no waiting period. In the state of California, it takes six months to become divorced. However, a legal separation can happen immediately. Finally, there is no residency requirement for a legal separation. A spouse does not have to live in the state for six months before filing the action. Most importantly, a legal separation will not allow the spouses remarry in the future.
A legal separation is not an appropriate lawsuit to file simply because a spouse is unsure about a divorce. I a spouse does not want a divorce, the filing of a legal separation almost always ends up in the other party requesting a divorce. If there is hope of reconciliation, a party should not take legal action of any kind. Generally speaking, it is usually appropriate to file a legal separation only in a very narrow set of circumstances: Divorce is against the spouses religion and neither party plans on remarrying; the parties need to remain married for an additional period of time in order for one spouse to be eligible to claim an interest in the other's Social Security benefits; one spouse has significant medical issues which prevents him or her from obtaining private medical insurance; neither spouse has lived in the state long enough to file a regular divorce action. See: http://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=5032
You can try to file the necessary paperwork on your own. Below is a link to California Courts Self Help Page regarding Divorce/Separation/Annulment:
You just can't get rid of his belongings. You could box them up and put them in storage or box them up and put them somewhere where they won't be destroyed or damaged. After the paperwork is filed, you can request a court order to dispose of the items.
You won't be responsible for any crimes that he may commit while he is away. However you may be responsible for any debt that he incurs on credit cards, etc. If you are a joint owner of any credit card, you should notify the credit card immediately that there may be problems.
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