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Celebrity couple separates but does not file divorce papers

Previous posts on this Stockton family law blog have discussed the process that a couple must follow in order to legally end a marriage through divorce. Generally, after deciding to initiate divorce, one or both of the parties to the marriage will file paperwork with the California courts that will involve the judiciary in the termination of their union. If a couple chooses not to file this paperwork then they remain legally married.

Just over a year ago, two popular celebrities appeared to be heading for divorce court. Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck separated, indicating that their decade-long union was coming to an end. However, neither Garner nor Affleck has elected to file divorce papers with the court and they remain married despite their prior actions.

The marital situation of Garner and Affleck may cause some readers to wonder what options a couple has if they are not comfortable in its marriage but not ready to file for divorce. In California a couple may file for a legal separation as opposed to a divorce. Garner and Affleck have not initiated this process; the remainder of this post, however, will discuss this option.

A legal separation allows married people to establish what rights and responsibilities they will exercise in their relationship as a result of their decision to live separately from each other. In legal separations it is not uncommon for individuals to establish financial and support arrangements, as well as agreements with regard to the custody and support of their children.

Individuals who legally separate are not divorced. Their assets may still be considered marital if they fail to set up a property agreement that divides what they own between them. Separation is an alternative to divorce, and though Garner and Affleck have not started this process it is an option for those who similarly separate from their partners without filing divorce paperwork.

Source:, "Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck put their divorce on hold," July 13, 2016

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