Legal separation is different from divorce in that at the end of a legal separation action, both parties are still married. The assets, debts, as well as any other fees and costs will still be separated between parties by court order, and any discussions regarding child custody, parenting time and child support will be addressed.
One of the most common reasons that couples choose legal separation over divorce is due to religious principles preventing divorce. Circumstances may also exist where a spouse needs to continue to maintain health insurance coverage and a legal separation is a more suitable alternative.
There are certain requirements for a legal separation to be recognized and granted in Arizona.
– At least one party must be a resident of Arizona or has been stationed in the state as a member of the armed services for at least 90 days before the petition is filed.
– Both parties must agree to the legal separation. If one party does not agree to the legal separation, the court may change the petition for legal separation into a petition for divorce. This can only happen if one or both of the parties have lived in Arizona for 90 days prior to filing the petition of legal separation.
– The marriage is irretrievably broken with no prospect of reconciliation, and both parties desire to live separate and apart.
– If one spouse seeks a legal separation, but the other party requests a divorce, the court must allow the divorce to proceed.
In order to reduce stress and conflict while making these decisions, mediation of legal separation is an option for both parties to look into. They will work together with a professional mediator to reach agreements concerning division of assets, debts, child or spousal support, and other benefits and accounts. The mediator will make sure both parties are aware of the legal, financial, parenting and any other issues of their situation and will help them effectively communicate to reach compromise and agreements. This is often a much more cost effective and easier alternative to litigation and other legal proceedings through the court.
If you or your spouse are seeking legal separation and need legal advice and mediation guidance, the experienced divorce attorneys can represent you. Schedule a free initial consultation with a divorce lawyer in Phoenix today.