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What Is a Legal Separation in Arizona?

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Disclaimer: Please note that this article is not intended to be legal advice. You should always talk to an attorney who is skilled at family law about your unique situation.

Legal separation is an agreement ordered by the court by which a married couple lives away from each other, leading independent lives. A legal separation is a favorable option to a divorce when the individuals aren’t sure of the status of the marriage but want to create financial responsibilities and limits, like child(ren) support, dependent custody, and division of assets. Nevertheless, for individuals that want a divorce, a legal separation might be needed prior to a judge granting it to them.

Key Takeaways

  • A legal separation is an agreement ordered by a court whereas a married couple lives independently, typically by living apart.
  • Separated partners may be allowed certain benefits even though they are legally separated.
  • A legal separation is preferable over divorce for some individuals because of financial reasons, religious beliefs, and for the minor children’s benefit.
  • The court ordered separation might designate financial responsibility, custody of the child(ren) and visitation arrangements, and child support.

How a Legal Separation Works

Even though the reasons for wanting a legal separation differ, there are some familiar ones worth taking note of. Many religions forbid married couples from getting divorced; a legal separation allows most of the benefits of a divorce without yielding their religious principles. Additionally, those that aren’t sure of their marital future can choose legal separation, in the hopes of reconciling. Those with minor children usually specify that legal separation is more beneficial for the children instead of a divorce. Even though the parents operate as an individual unit, the family can remain together, and for the most part, maintain order and stability. A couple of other reasons for choosing this arrangement is to keep retirement and health benefits.

A lot of couples decide to separate sans a court order because it is easier and avoids expensive legal proceedings. The increasing tendency towards no-fault divorces and unofficial separations is making the official legal separation procedure more and more uncommon.

When the true date of separation is decided, it suspends a spouse’s capability to spend money freely from a joint bank account or credit card. It also places limitations on management over other assets such as vehicles and properties.

Each party is legally responsible for their own debt following the date of separation.

It’s essential to treat legal separation just like divorce as both are court-ordered, containing obligations and duties that each spouse must legally abide by. If the spouse’s divorce later, judges might consider the specifics of the separation agreement when they rule on a divorce.

Legal Separation Benefits

For many, making it to their 10th anniversary is a momentous occasion, but it’s also a landmark when there are impacts on future benefits. When deciding to go separate ways, a legal separation might keep benefit privileges untouched. For instance, spouses of military personnel must stay married for a decade to make use of the benefits offered by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.

Additionally, staying married for a minimum of 10 years means freely making use of certain spousal social security benefits. When at retirement, a spouse may get more social security than the other, it is beneficial for them to stay married for a minimum of 10 years so they can get a bigger sum by drawing on their spouse’s social security retirement.

Despite the agony from a split, many times divorce doesn’t make sense, while legal separation does. For instance, legal separation may be brief, while a divorce isn’t. Many couples legally separate if trial separations aren’t working. This could be the last effort at saving the marriage.

Also, a legal separation is usually more economical than divorce, and many parents find it easier for their child(ren) to adjust to a divorce if they legally separate beforehand.

Legal Separation vs Divorce

Legal separation is a legal process that allows a married couple to live apart and divide their finances while remaining married, as opposed to divorce, which is a legal process of ending a marriage. Neither may feel like a great option. Still, understanding what each means can help. Your unique situation drives whether you should choose legal separation or divorce according to BestLegalChoices.

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