How Long Does a Legal Separation Take in Arizona
Arizona Legal Separation
When it becomes apparent a marriage is ending, you have two choices: divorce or 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 before the filing of the divorce petition, a legal separation just requires that at least one spouse resides in the state of Arizona at the time of the filing.
There is no period of time required for Arizona residency before 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.
Grounds for Legal Separation in Arizona
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).
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about how long a legal separation can take in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about legal separation laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a legal separation should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.