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Why Bam Margera’s Wife Chose Legal Separation

Brandon “Bam” Margera, known for starring in the hit series Jackass, has been having a rough time recently. The TV star’s wife, Nicole Margera, filed her petition for a legal separation in February 2023, citing irreconcilable differences. 

His separation has been making the news again recently after Brandon appeared in court for misdemeanor assault charges against his brother, Jess. At the trial, it was revealed that Brandon has been receiving substance abuse treatment to maintain his relationship with the five-year-old son he shares with his estranged wife, Nicole.

This sheds new light on Nicole’s decision to file for a legal separation. The filing allegedly occurred after Nicole witnessed Brandon interacting with their five-year-old son while intoxicated. Nicole stated that she made the “hard choice” to “protect herself and her son” by requesting the separation. 

Other evidence supports this interpretation. In her petition, Nicole named the official date of separation to be nearly two years earlier, in February 2021. This suggests the couple has been living separately for some time, which is not unusual if one spouse is worried about the other’s behavior but still wants to salvage the relationship. 

Additionally, Nicole requested sole legal and physical custody of their son, which is common when there are concerns about abuse or neglect. While she agreed to permit Brandon supervised visitation, this came with the caveat that he would have to remain in the county during visits. Nicole also requested that the court order Brandon to attend both drug and alcohol abuse treatment for visitation to continue. She likely chose a separation to protect herself and her son while leaving room for Brandon to change his behavior in the future.

Nicole’s decision is not unusual. Legal separations are an invaluable alternative to divorces in California, especially for couples that may not want to end their marriages entirely. 

How Legal Separation Is Different From Divorce

Many people wonder why legal separation exists when divorce is an option. After all, the two processes are similar. Both allow the couple to divide their assets, request spousal and child support, and determine child custody. The primary difference is that divorce ends a marriage, while separation does not. Spouses who are legally separated are still technically married, so they may not remarry. 

It is often assumed that a divorce is the natural choice for couples who want to end their relationships. However, that ignores many situations where a couple may not actually want to end their marriages while still gaining some distance. It also dismisses some of the lesser-known differences between the two processes, such as:

  • Time limits: In California, a couple needs to wait at least six months before their divorce may be finalized. They must also have lived in the state for at least six months before they can file for divorce. Neither time limit exists for separations; couples can request and finalize separations as long as they live in California. This can be valuable if one spouse believes they are in danger or needs a resolution as quickly as possible.
  • Convertibility: A separation can be easily converted into a divorce once the residency requirements are met. Couples who aren’t sure about divorcing or don’t yet meet residency requirements can get separated and then convert it into a full divorce later. 
  • Reversibility: Separations are not necessarily permanent. If a separated couple reconciles, they can have their separation vacated, effectively making it like it never occurred. That’s often appealing to couples who aren’t sure they want to divorce, such as the Margeras.
  • Religious acceptance: Since separating does not end a marriage, it is often more accepted by strict religious communities. Couples may choose separations instead of divorces to make living apart easier while still following their morals.

Nicole Margera likely chose a separation for its potential speed and the ability to convert or vacate it later. 

Should You Consider a Legal Separation?

If you are considering ways to end your relationship, don’t dismiss the potential offered by separations. They may help you address some of the most common difficulties that divorce presents while providing you with most of the benefits. You can ask yourself the following questions to better understand if separating might be the right choice for you:

  • Are you confident you want to end your relationship? The permanent nature of divorce can be a big roadblock if you still care about your spouse. If you hope they change, you might want to separate instead of divorcing to make reconciling easier. 
  • Do you have any moral or religious objections to divorce? If you’re religious but no longer want to share a household with your spouse, legally separating could be an alternative. 
  • Do you meet residency requirements? You don’t have to wait three to six months to file for divorce after moving. You can get a separation instead and convert it to a divorce once eligible. 
  • Would a six-month waiting period put you at risk? If you’re confident you want to end your marriage but the six-month waiting period would put your finances or safety at risk, you can pursue separation instead.

In short, legal separations are fast alternatives to divorce with fewer barriers to entry. If that’s appealing to you, consider talking to an experienced attorney about your options. The experienced family lawyers at Kaspar & Lugay, LLP, are prepared to answer your questions about legal separations. We can explain how each would affect you and help you choose the best solution for your circumstances. Whether you’re estranged from your spouse like Nicole and Bam Margera or looking for faster divorce alternatives, our Marin County legal separation law firm can help you get on the right track. Schedule your consultation today to learn how.