Does Arizona Require Legal Separation Before Divorce?
Unlike what most people assume, divorce isn’t a quick and easy process, as every couple may have a different path to follow. Some couples may want to terminate the marriage, while others may want to figure things out before calling it quits. This is where legal separation becomes a go-to for most later couples.
However, for your family law case in Mesa, it’s essential to establish if legal separation is a requirement in Arizona before the divorce. The answer is no. Arizona doesn’t require spouses to separate before divorcing legally. There is, however, a provision for legal separation in Arizona. Let’s take a look at how that works.
What is Legal Separation in Arizona?
Legal separation is the legal process of allowing couples to live apart while still married. This is entirely different from divorce, as divorce involves legally terminating a marriage. Some reasons couples choose legal separation over divorce include:
- Staying married for moral objections or religious reasons
- To continue having benefits like health insurance or social security
- Separation helps serve as a trial period to help save the marriage. This helps ensure that couples don’t have to get married again if they choose to stay together.
- To use whenever couples aren’t 100% they want to get divorced.
- To help divide assets, separate finances, and protect one party from the other spouse’s debt.
- A way to avoid the headaches that come with divorce negotiations.
Arizona law allows couples to file a legal separation request. Couples are allowed to be legally separated for the duration of time they wish, as legal separation has no time limit.
What are the Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce in Arizona?
The first difference between divorce and legal separation is that you can leave apart as husband and wife while still married but by mutual agreement. On the other hand, when one spouse files for a divorce, it is the beginning of legally terminating your marriage.
When a divorce happens, each spouse is free to find other partners. The divorce agreement will also address custody, property, and support issues.
Another difference is that divorce is permanent, as no spouse can reverse the decision. Legal separation, on the other hand, isn’t permanent. There is room to make your marriage work again. In a legal separation, the federal government sees spouses as still married, meaning they file taxes as a couple. With a divorce, the Federal government requires couples to file their taxes separately.
Similarities Between Legal Separation and Divorce
The first similarity between the two legal procedures is that it automatically terminates any financial relationship between your spouse. Another similarity is that the court addresses similar legal issues with separation and divorce. The legal issues of divorce and separation include child support, final custody, and visitation.
In both instances, you and your spouse live separately. The two processes take the same amount of time to complete.
However, for both processes to be legal, there must be an agreement. For a legal separation, you require a separation agreement.
What is a Legal Separation Agreement?
This is a legally binding contract that the couple or the court creates. The agreement contains a detailed stipulation of how the couples will split or share custody of their kids. It will also include any visitation of the children. It will also provide conditions of child or spousal support. The agreement will also stipulate how the couple will divide their marital debts and assets.
However, before both parties sign the paperwork, they must agree on the terms. If one spouse objects, the court can decide on the disputed terms.
How Does Legal Separation Affect Community Property?
Like divorce cases, separated spouses are still required to split their community property and debts equitably. They also both retain equal ownership of their assets regardless of the spouse’s name on the property.
Other than having to share community property equally, legal separation allows couples to:
- Keep their finances without worrying about the spouse’s future debts
- Keep your separate property
How Do You File for Legal Separation?
- Start by consulting a lawyer before filling out the legal documents. Your family lawyer will help explain your options when filing for separation.
- Fill out the necessary forms with the help of your lawyer.
- Your lawyer will then file the paperwork
- Serve your spouse with the legal separation process
Like divorce, legal separation isn’t a clear-cut process. Working with a family lawyer will help make your transition much smoother.