Divorce & Legal Separation Litigation in San Diego

Anton Georghiou is a San Diego family law attorney with extensive experience in divorce and legal separation. Mr. Georghiou understands that going through a divorce can be stressful and emotional, and he aims to minimize conflict and work efficiently toward practical solutions using his legal experience and compassionate guidance.

As one of San Diego’s most trusted divorce lawyers, Mr. Georghiou’s goal is to provide clients with the personal, caring, and professional legal services they need at a rate which they can afford. He has a reputation for confidently helping clients work through even the most difficult or complicated family law issues, whether your case involves a divorce (contested or uncontested), legal separation, or dissolution of a domestic partnership.

Under California law, either spouse or either party in a domestic partnership can decide to end the marriage or domestic partnership at any time. Below you can learn about the difference between Divorce and Legal Separation.


Divorce in California is called a Dissolution of Marriage. California is a “no fault” divorce state, so proof of an error or mistake in the marriage is not required to obtain a divorce. Judges don’t consider fault when dividing property or determining support, either. If one spouse wants a divorce, he or she only needs to state that there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage as the reason for ending the legal relationship.

It’s important to note that there is always a mandatory six-month waiting period after the divorce is filed before is officially finalized. In order to file for divorce in California, at least one of the parties must have resided in California for at least six months prior to filing, and in the county where he/she plans to file for the divorce, for the prior three months.

To start the divorce process, one of the spouses must file for divorce at the superior court in the county where he or she meets the above residency requirements. The spouse who files for divorce is called the “petitioner” and they must serve the other spouse, known as the “respondent”, with copies of the petition to divorce along with any other relevant paperwork.

How Do You Know If You Need A Divorce Lawyer?

Divorce cases can vary in length and complexity, often depending on the assets and debts or if children are involved. Talking with an experienced divorce lawyer like Anton Georghiou about how the divorce process works and your legal options can help you understand how to best proceed and protect your rights and interests, especially if you and your spouse don't agree on how to resolve your divorce settlement.

If your spouse hires a divorce attorney, you should also hire an attorney, even if you think you can represent yourself. When one spouse hires an attorney and the other doesn’t, it often results in the unrepresented spouse getting an unfair deal.

Legal Separation

In California, to be legally separated means the married couple has a legal separation judgment. Like a divorce, a legal separation does allow for court orders regarding the division of property and assets, child custody, child support and family support. However, with a legal separation, the couple is still maintained as a married. Unlike divorce, a legal separation takes effect immediately after it is ordered. During a period of legal separation, neither spouse may remarry or enter a domestic partnership.

A couple may decide on a legal separation instead of a divorce for several reasons, including:

  • They may wish to avoid divorce due to religious or personal beliefs.

  • They may wish to remain married for financial reasons, such as health insurance or other benefits.

  • They may not yet meet the residency requirements for divorcing in California, so they obtain a legal separation until the requirements are met.

  • They may want to live apart with court orders regarding money, property and parenting, but are not yet ready for a divorce.

  • They may not be certain whether they wish to completely sever the relationship through a divorce in case they decide to reconcile later.

In order to be granted a legal separation, one of the spouses must file a petition with the appropriate court. Decisions regarding child support, custody, property and spousal support must be determined either by agreement of both parties or by the court. The court then makes a judgment regarding the legal separation and the terms of the separation. During a proceeding for a legal separation, individuals may ask the court to grant a protective order in case one of the spouses has been violent or threatened the other spouse or the children

If a couple that is legally separated decides to get a divorce, their legal separation agreement could possibly serve as the foundation of the divorce agreement.

People can sometimes confuse a physical separation with a legal separation. A physical separation simply means the couple no longer resides together. They may live apart for months or years without ever filing anything with the court. That does not mean they ever became legally separated.

Do You Need A Lawyer For A Legal Separation?

When it comes to creating a separation agreement, some may be resolved directly between spouses without any legal help (for example, when the couple has minimal or no property, few debts and no children). However, for most people, negotiating and drafting a comprehensive separation agreement that will hold up in court can be difficult to navigate.

Since the decisions made in a separation agreement may have serious consequences, you may want to consider hiring an attorney who can guide you through the process, draft a valid separation agreement for you, and ensure that your rights are protected.

Schedule A Free Consultation

To schedule a free consultation with Attorney Anton L. Georghiou, please contact us and we will get back to you promptly.