Legal Separation or Divorce: Which Is Right For You?

by | Aug 16, 2019 | Divorce

Deciding whether a legal separation is right for you and your situation can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t quite know the difference between a legal separation and divorce. Each has pros and cons but there’s more to it than just the facts, both can be an extremely emotional situation in different ways.

What Is A Legal Separation?

Usually, the choice between legal separation and divorce ends up being a personal preference as they are similar in many ways. A legal separation in Arizona is established to create a space between you and your spouse. The first step tends to be living separately. Finances are separated including divisions of marital assets, debts, and spousal support (alimony). If minor children are involved this also means child support and child custody are ordered by the court along with finances. This division with our divorce attorneys to know all your options. Legal separation has the same effect as filing and serving someone with A Dissolution of Marriage Petition with a few exceptions. Read the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S) §25-313 for more information.

The Difference Between The Two

The divorce and legal separation processes are very similar with one key distinction when you divorce your marriage is formally ended. You are free to remarry, you are free to move on as a single person. This is not the case with a legal separation, where you are still entitled to inheritance, social security, and pensions in the case of death. Any child born to a married woman is considered the child of the spouse unless proven otherwise, which can bring up new disputes of child custody. A legal separation continues the relationship, at least to some extent. For some, this is a stepping stone to divorce while for others it allows for a couple to resolve important issues to determine what they want. The biggest distinction is that a legal separation more or less separates the financial situations of each party. Remember, in Arizona during a marriage most property and debt acquired is community-owned, meaning that absent a few specific situations, both parties own that property or are responsible for debt acquired (See our blog post on community and separate property and A.R.S. §25-211 and §25-213). In a Separation or Divorce community, property status is no longer assumed when the other party is served with a court-certified initial petition to begin proceedings. Another important distinction is that separation is reversible and divorce is not.

How To Get A Legal Separation In Arizona

A couple is free to separate whenever they choose for any period during which they live apart, no court involvement is needed but in the absence of any court orders or agreements, community property and debt will still be acquired. For more complex situations where a couple does not agree, court orders and even a trial may be necessary in which case discussing your options with a Phoenix divorce lawyer would be advised to represent you in court and file any necessary paperwork to protect your rights throughout this process. If you decide to go it alone, the superior court of Maricopa offers resources along with documents to file.

Legal Separation and Divorce are both well-founded options to consider when you are going through a rough period in your marriage. What’s important is to take the time to think, weigh your options, and discuss your options with an uncontested divorce lawyer. The Weingart Family Law Firm has the experienced and caring staff to help inform you of your options with a FREE 30-minute Consultation.