Legal Separations

Thousand Oaks Legal Separation Attorney

Is a legal separation an option?

There can be many reasons two spouses decide they cannot function well as a couple anymore, but are not ready to take the final step of divorce. Sometimes they need to have time apart in order to sort through issues. Other times, a couple wants to "try out" how a divorce would actually work by trying a legal separation first. Whatever the case, it's best to consult with a Thousand Oaks divorce attorney who can help you. Our firm, Richard Ross Associates, has over 30 years of experience guiding individuals who are in the middle of a very trying and emotional time. With our help, you can more smoothly initiate a legal separation, divorce, child custody issues and more.

A legal separation can be very much like a divorce, except that the terms that are approved by a court are not permanent. The spouses have court approval to live apart while adhering to the various stipulations laid out in the legal agreement. For example, one spouse may request a restraining order against the other spouse, or one party can request a court order for the other party to pay alimony during the legal separation. This could not occur if the couple simply decided to live apart for a while. There would be no legal authority to require and enforce such terms.

Westlake Village Lawyer Helps with Legal Separation

If you have never been through a divorce or legal separation before, you probably have many questions. We provide compassionate, individual service for every client, answering all of your questions and providing viable options for you to consider. You can trust that you will understand the legal separation process every step of the way. Contact us today for quality and caring representation.


  • I heartily recommend him to anybody in need of a well qualified, results-oriented, family law specialist.

    “I would not hesitate to, again, retain the legal services of Richard Ross.”

  • Our family and our dignity have been restored.

    “Mr. Ross and his supportive, competent staff put their hearts into their work and literally turned our lives around.”

  • The results far exceeded my expectations.

    “The entire staff at Richard Ross Associates really helped me through my divorce and they were with me the whole way.”

  • Extremely thorough and professional!

    “Richard has helped me through a very difficult divorce and I can't say enough good things about him.”

  • Polite, caring, and quick to respond.

    “Richard Ross is a subject matter expert in the field of family law.”


  • This is very important: If you have separated from your spouse before one of you has filed for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, avoid agreeing to and placing into effect a temporary parenting plan arrangement regarding the children unless you will be able to live with this arrangement after the divorce papers have been filed. Once you begin a parenting plan that seems to be working, it becomes the "status quo." It is very difficult to convince a mediator or judge to change the status quo, especially if it is working or appears to be working and is not detrimental to the minor children.
  • If you have not received a judgment dissolving your marriage before the end of the year, you may file an individual tax return under the status of "married, filing separately" or a joint tax return with your spouse. You should consult your accountant as to the advantages of these options. You may obtain special information booklets regarding tax information for divorce or separated individuals from your local IRS office or read the IRS booklet online.
  • To file an action for divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, a person must have resided in the state of California for six months and in the county where the action is filed for three months prior to filing the petition in court. This is true of either the petitioner or the respondent - either person can meet the test and allow a filing. If your spouse meets the residency requirement, you can file even if you do not meet it yourself.
  • The court can and usually will order you to move out of your residence if your spouse convinces the court that you have been violent toward your spouse or threatened your spouse. You could be given ex-parte notice to be in court the next day because your spouse is seeking an order to make you move out and stay out. You can be ordered to leave immediately and not return even if your spouse is not on the property title or lease agreement! Once you are ordered to leave, it is not likely that you will be allowed to return.
  • Before you get a divorce, photocopy all relevant financial documents that you can obtain and store them off-site with a trusted friend or relative. Do not store them in the trunk of your car where they can easily be found and removed by your spouse. There may be both personal and strategic reasons not to tip off your spouse that documents are being reviewed for a possible dissolution proceeding. Make copies of documents that you find in the residence and return the original documents to their original location as soon as possible so that your spouse won't notice that they are missing. It is often advisable to make the photocopies when you are sure your spouse is away for an extended time, such as during a workday. It is advisable to gather as many relevant financial documents as possible while they are still available and before they have been removed or destroyed by your spouse. This will significantly reduce the cost of divorce litigation if the documents do not have to be recovered later. It will also permit us to get a true picture of all community assets and debts as soon as possible.