How Long Does a Legal Separation Take in Arizona

When it becomes apparent a marriage is ending, there are two main choices: divorce and legal separation. Getting a divorce is a last resort for married couples leading many to opt for legal separation in Arizona as the first step when they fear the marriage may not work out.

A legal separation is often viewed as a trial run for divorce. (Divorce may occur after legal separation, but it is not automatic. It is a separate action). A legal separation is also an option for couples that do not meet Arizona’s residency requirements for divorce. A common question from individuals who do not meet Arizona’s minimum residency requirements for divorce is, “How long does it take to complete a legal separation?”

While Arizona divorce law requires that at least one spouse have a minimum of 90 days of residency in the state prior to the filing of the divorce petition, a legal separation simply requires that at least one spouse reside in the state of Arizona at the time of the filing. There is no time period requirement for Arizona residency prior to becoming eligible to file for a legal separation. So, the legal separation is a viable alternative for couples interested in ending their marriage, but who have not lived in Arizona long enough to obtain a divorce.


How Long Does Does a Legal Separation Take in Arizona | What You Need to Prove

Grounds for filing for legal separation are the same in Arizona for both legal separation and divorce. The marriage must be declared “irretrievably broken.” Arizona law also allows couples to file for a legal separation if they desire to live separately, but the court will not order legal separation unless both spouses are in agreement. In comparison, the court will grant a divorce upon the request of one spouse if they can prove that the marriage is broken; even if the other spouse is opposed to the divorce.

To seek legal separation from a spouse, one of the spouses would need to file a Petition for Legal Separation. The petition includes basic info about the parties involved as well as details related to property, finances and minor children involved. When a legal separation is in place, either party may file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage at any time (as long as minimum residency requirements are met).