Now that you have made the decision to legally separate from your significant other, you’ll need to take the 1st step and file for a legal separation. Prior to doing anything be sure you completely understand that a legal separation is an irrevocable, legal agreement that is just as pivotal as divorce.
Additionally, anything you consent to in a legal separation contract can set priority. Simply put, if you consent to your spouse living in the marital home when you file, and you keep making mortgage payments a judge can order you to keep doing so following a divorce. DO NOT consent to anything in a legal separation contract that you wouldn’t consent to if you have been going through a divorce.
Step 1. Check State Requirements
First, you need to fulfill your state’s residency requirements. The required residency is the identical for both legal separation and divorce. To determine your state’s required residency, look into the state’s divorce laws.
Step 2. File A Legal Separation Petition
If the requirements are fulfilled, you’ll then file a legal separation petition into the court as long as legal separation is acknowledged in your state. This is done by speaking with an attorney, using online services or getting in contact with the court clerk and having them file on your behalf.
Step 3. File Legal Separation Agreement
In conjunction with your petition for a legal separation, you’ll file your legal separation agreement. Be sure it includes all concerns like child(ren) custody and support, visitation rights, alimony, what happens with the marital assets, who is going to reside where, which one of you pays any debts, any guidelines and rules relating to dating and welcoming other people near any minor child(ren) and a period of time in which the separation will conclude.
Step 4. Have your Significant Other Served
If you each aren’t filing for the separation together, you are required to serve your significant other when you have filed the petition for legal separation. Just like a divorce, your significant other will have a certain period of time for them to reply to the petition.
Step 5. Wait for Counter Petition
When your significant other doesn’t agree to the arrangement set forth in the petition, they have the right for filing a counter-petition. When you cannot come to an agreement through mediation, you’ll have to face a judge to resolve the concerns you weren’t able to agree on. Sometimes, a legal separation could be as complex as getting a divorce.
Step 6. Sign & Notarize Agreement
If your significant other is in agreement with the stipulations in the petition all you’ll need is for each of you to sign and get the agreement notarized that way the court clerk can file it into court records for a judge’s approval.
It’s vital you understand that when the agreement is filed in the court it’s a legally irrevocable contract that you both have to follow.
Step 7. Wait For a Judge to Review & Sign
When a judge has approved and signed your agreement, it’ll be filed and placed on record by the court clerk. When it’s on record with the court you’ll want to make sure you keep a copy for your records. And to abide by the guidelines set forth in the agreement.
The information you just read is a common outline for filing for legal separation. Because laws are different in each state, make sure to check with an attorney to be sure you are taking the right steps to protect yourself legally throughout a legal separation in accordance to the laws in your state.
Long story short, you’ll want a legal separation agreement that can safeguard you throughout a separation in case the other party neglects to live up to their responsibilities as defined in the agreement. You’ll want an agreement that holds up in court if you need to go to court for it to be enforced. Together with peace of mind, included are financial benefits of a legal separation agreement that will safeguard you as well.
- “Child Support & Family Law.” Arizona Judicial Branch > Home, https://www.azcourts.gov/selfservicecenter/Family-Law-Forms.
- “Child Support & Family Law.” Arizona Judicial Branch > Home, https://www.azcourts.gov/selfservicecenter/Child-Support-Family-Law/Family-Law-Forms/Legal-Separation-without-Children.
- “Child Support & Family Law.” Arizona Judicial Branch > Home, https://www.azcourts.gov/selfservicecenter/Child-Support-Family-Law/Family-Law-Forms/Legal-Separation-with-Children.
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