If you’re searching for information about legal separation or divorce in Arizona, you’ll want to know the difference between legal separation and divorce in Arizona. These legal options may be important to you.
When it becomes obvious that a marriage is in crisis, people generally believe it is time for divorce or, in some cases, a legal separation. Most people do not know what a legal separation is, so they turn to divorce. Getting a divorce is a thing most married couples would least hope for, leading a lot of people to choose legal separation in Arizona. Legal separation may be a first or last step when people think the marriage may not work out. A legal separation is often regarded as a trial run for divorce. (Divorce may happen after legal separation, but it is not inevitable. It is an independent action). Legal separation may be a valuable option to protect both people in the marriage while they explore reconciliation or resolution out of court.
A legal separation is also an alternative for couples who do not meet Arizona’s residency regulations for divorce. A common question from people who don’t meet Arizona’s minimum residency regulations for divorce is, “How long does it take for legal separation to complete?”
While Arizona divorce law insists that at least one spouse have a 90-day minimum of residency in the state prior to the filing of the divorce petition, a legal separation has different requirements for filing. So, the legal separation is a viable option for couples facing the of their marriage, but who may not meet the threshold for divorce petitions.
Legal Separation vs. Divorce
A lot of divorce cases start when one spouse files a petition for divorce. Throughout the court process, the couple (or the judge) will put together a divorce agreement that explains asset division, child custody, and support issues. Ultimately, the court legally ends the couple’s relationship, after which each spouse can remarry if they wish. Absent court orders or agreements between spouses, there is no automatic duty of alimony or spousal support, also called spousal maintenance.
Legal separation is not like divorce because separated couples continue to be legally married to each other, even if a spouse lives independently and apart. You can carry on two separate lives but remain legally married. Divorce and separation are like each other in that the court will address the same legal issues, but separated couples can’t remarry unless they file for divorce at a later time.
Divorce is final, so couples can’t ask the court to backtrack its decision. On the other hand, if the separated couple reunites, either spouse can file a motion with the court to overturn the legal separation. The action lets the court know that the couple reconciled and no longer needs additional custody or support orders to stay in place.
Grounds for Divorce vs Legal Separation in Arizona
Grounds for petitioning for legal separation are not the same in Arizona for divorce and legal separation. For a divorce, the marriage must be described to the court as “irreparably broken.” In a separation, that descriptive line is left out of court petitions. Arizona law also lets couples file for a legal separation if they wish to live separately, but the court won’t order legal separation unless each spouse is in agreement. In comparison, the court will allow a divorce upon the request of one spouse if they can demonstrate that the marriage is broken; even if the other spouse is opposing the divorce.
To request legal separation from a spouse, one spouse would need to file a Petition for Legal Separation. This request comprises of basic info about each party involved as well as specifics related to assets, finances and any minor children involved. But a legal separation will require the cooperation of both spouses. When legal separation is in place, each party may have the option to convert the separation to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
- Heinig, Melissa. “Legal Separation in Arizona FAQs.” Www.divorcenet.com, Nolo, 27 Apr. 2018, www.divorcenet.com/resources/legal-separation-in-arizona-faqs.html.
“How Long Does a Legal Separation Take in AZ | Hildebrand Law, PC.” Scottsdale Arizona Family Law & Divorce Attorneys, www.hildebrandlaw.com/legal-separation-in-arizona/how-long-does-a-legal-separation-take.aspx.
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