If your relationship is over, divorce may seem like the next necessary step you need to take. There’s actually no requirement at all that you get a divorce or legal separation or do anything at all to change your legal status if you don’t want to.
If you and spouse end your relationship but don’t get a divorce, you can live separately and go on with your lives independently. While you remain married you can obtain custody, spousal support, and child support through the Arizona courts as long as you are living separately.
You will need to continue to file taxes as married and indicate ‘married’ as your legal status on legal forms. You can continue on each other’s health insurance. If one of you passes away, you are eligible for Social Security on that spouse’s behalf. You can continue as each other’s life insurance beneficiaries and health care proxies if you wish.
What are the downsides to remaining married when your relationship is over? You will need to continue to have contact with each for legal matters. If you remain married and unseparated, your marital property cannot be divided by a court. You can informally divide it yourselves, but there is no enforcement available and no way to stop your spouse from using or destroying marital assets. You will continue to be liable for each other’s debts. If one of you passes away, there is a spousal right to inheritance even if the spouse is written out of the will. Additionally, remaining legally married can create an emotional burden and connection that you may find you are not entirely comfortable with.
If you are weighing whether or not to get a divorce, you need to talk with an attorney who can explain all of the options, implications, and considerations. The Sampair Group is here to help you work through these choices. We represent clients in Maricopa County. Call us for an appointment with one of our knowledgeable attorneys now.