Legal Separation vs. Divorce

In the state of Arizona, obtaining a legal separation is very similar to obtaining a legal divorce. However, it is important to understand the difference to determine which course of action will best suit your individual circumstance. There are cases when legal separation may make more sense for the family dynamic and other times when divorce is the best choice. Working with an experienced Arizona divorce attorney like Brad Crider will help you understand the difficult decisions you must make during your transition to separation or divorce.

A legal separation from one’s spouse has just as many implications on family matters as a divorce. The couple must decide how assets, debts, and finances will be divided, how to care for and support children, and whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. The main reason couples choose legal separation over divorce is a belief that future reconciliation is possible. Some choose separation due to a religious aversion to divorce. Some choose separation over divorce as a means of providing continual health insurance benefits to a spouse or partner in need. Others opt for legal separation because their spouse’s financial debts are too much of a liability, yet they wish to remain married.

Regardless of the reason behind the decision, petitioning for a legal separation must be a joint decision. Proof must be provided that both parties wish to live “separate and apart”. If both parties do not petition amiably, a petition for the dissolution of the marriage, or divorce, will proceed. Arizona is a “no fault” state, so all that is needed to petition for the final dissolution of the marriage is one party stating that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”.

Two petitions are available in the state of Arizona for those wishing to become legally separated: “Petition for legal separation with children” and “Petition for legal separation without children”. The courts will determine the custody rights of each parent with the best interest of the children in mind. Additionally, one or both spouses must have lived in the state of Arizona or have been stationed here on military duty for a minimum of 90 days to petition the courts for separation or divorce. When two partners are legally separated, but the marriage has not been completely dissolved, both spouses are held accountable for their responsibilities to each other and cannot remarry. If after an extended period of time as legally separated partners, one spouse chooses to petition for divorce, the courts will generally maintain the same custody, alimony, and asset division agreements to make the official dissolution of the marriage easier.

If you or your loved one is considering a legal separation or divorce, be sure to consult Brad Crider, an experienced Arizona family law attorney, to determine the best course of action for you and your family. Call Crider Law today to set up an initial consultation.

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