In Arizona, legal separation and divorce (dissolution of marriage) have many similarities. In both circumstances final orders will be entered that address issues like the division of assets and debts, legal decision-making and parenting time for minor children, and alimony (spousal maintenance). Legal separation is different than a divorce in that the marriage is not actually dissolved between the parties, which has the effect of maintaining the parties’ status as being married.
Sometimes there are good reasons to seek a legal separation as opposed to a divorce, and thereby maintain the legal status of being married. Some religions, for example, prohibit divorce. And so obtaining a divorce would violate religious principles. In other cases, one of the spouses might suffer from a serious health ailment and maintaining the legal status of being married could allow the ailing souse to keep necessary health insurance coverage through the other spouse’s employment (depending on their employer). Persons who obtain a legal separation, however, are not restored to the status of “single,” and therefore may not remarry.
Initiating a legal separation is done much like in a divorce. The petitioner will file a petition and any necessary related documents. The petitioner will then serve copies of the documents filed on the other party. If the parties can come to an agreement, they can submit a consent agreement that details their agreement on various issues. In the event that the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the case will be submitted for trial on the unresolved issues, and the court will enter final orders resolving those issues.
Sometimes a legal separation and divorce are filed at the same time. If one party files for a legal separation and the other party files for a divorce, the court must allow the divorce to to go forward.
The experienced family law attorneys at Giordano & Heckele, PLLC can assist you with your Arizona legal separation issues. CALL TODAY for a consultation: (520) 433-9031. Or email us at [email protected].