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.