The Main Differences between Divorce and Legal Separation in Arizona

Arizona gives couples who are having trouble in their relationship two opportunities – legal separation and divorce. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand the differences between divorce and legal separation in Arizona.

A legal separation doesn’t dissolve the legal status of the marriage, which gives some room for eventual reconciliation. Divorces, on the other hand are final and there will be no turning back. Choosing one option or the other depends on the specifics of the relationships and the needs of the two spouses.

What is a Legal Separation?

A couple that goes through a legal separation is still married. This means that the two partners are separated from each other but they’re not legally allowed to get remarried. A person who is legally separated cannot consider themselves to be single, unless the couple decides to go through with a divorce.

One thing that the legal separation in Arizona has in common with a divorce is that all assets are going to be separated.

People may choose to go through a legal separation instead of a divorce because of several reasons. The most common ones include:

  • Uncertainty about getting a divorce and fear about its finality
  • Inability to get divorced due to social or religious reasons
  • Desire to keep insurance benefits stemming from a group plan
  • A chance to give children some time to adjust prior to the finalization of a divorce

What is a Divorce?

A divorce in Arizona is a final separation between two people. Assets are separated, child custody is figured out in court and the two people involved revert to their single status.

Couples who believe it’s impossible to mend a broken marriage will typically opt for a divorce.

Arizona is a no-fault state. This means that couples seeking divorce or separation will be free from having to prove which party is to blame for the problems in the marriage. There’s no need to provide reasoning for the decision – any spouse that wants to get a divorce will simply need to approach court and file a petition.

The person who doesn’t want to get a divorce cannot prevent the procedure from getting started. Thus, only one spouse wanting to go through with the procedure will be sufficient to initiate divorce proceedings. The same applies to the legal separation in Arizona.

Other Considerations

Choosing divorce or legal separation depends on individual preferences and getting adequate advice from an experienced attorney. In some instances, it will be pretty easy for spouses to figure out how to proceed with their separation. Other situations, however, come with complications that make the selection of the right option more challenging.

differences between divorce and legal separation in arizona

Whenever the couple has children, a more thorough assessment will have to be carried out. Child custody in Arizona is handled in a similar manner for separating and for divorcing couples. The court’s main priority will be guaranteeing the best interest of the children. Parental time and responsibilities will be determined regardless of the scenario being chosen.

As far as debt is concerned, it will be handled in similar manners during divorces and legal separations. The date on which a legal separation or a divorce petition is handed to the receiving spouse is the date on which community ends. After that date, income will be separated and the same applies to debt.

Finally, there’s a situation in which partners are undecided about moving forward 

together but they don’t want to get a divorce. In such instances, mediation will be suggested before seeking divorce or legal separation. The mediation process is the same, whether the couple is considering legal separation or a divorce. The only difference is that mediation could make it possible to work over the biggest differences and reach a mutually beneficial outcome that doesn’t involve any form of separation. Thus there are not many differences between divorce and legal separation in Arizona except the single status to get remarried.