Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation in Arizona
Divorce or Legal Separation: Know the Difference in Arizona
Many people want to know the difference between divorce and legal separation in Arizona to decide if they should file for divorce or legal separation. We want to share information regarding the differences between those two options as well as to discuss some of the benefits of a legal separation over a divorce in Arizona There are many reasons you might choose legal separation over a divorce.
The main difference between the two types of family law cases in Arizona is that a divorce completely dissolves the legal status of the marriage and returns each spouse to the status of a single person. A legal separation does not dissolve the legal status of the parties’ marriage and does not, therefore, return each party to the status of a single person. An individual who is legally separated, therefore, can’t get married.
In either case, you will either have to file for divorce or file for legal separation. The court is then required in both an Arizona divorce case, as well as an Arizona Legal separation case, to divide the parties’ debts and assets, enter orders regarding the care, custody, and control of the parties’ children, enter a spousal maintenance award, if appropriate, and order the payment of child support.
All assets and debts incurred by either party after the service of the Petition for Dissolution of Legal Separation or Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will be the sole and separate property or debt of the party acquiring that property or debt. The same happens after a divorce, or legal separation becomes final. Arizona child custody law and Arizona community property laws are applied the same way in either a legal separation or a divorce in Arizona.
Benefits of Legal Separation Instead of a Divorce in Arizona
Some of the benefits of choosing a legal separation over a divorce in Arizona if you want to be eligible to claim higher social security benefits under your spouse’s social security benefits but have been married less than the ten years required to do so. You also might choose a legal separation to stay on your spouse’s employer-sponsored group health insurance plan.
You need first to verify that the group plan permits you to remain on the plan if you are legally separated. Another difference and benefit of a legal separation versus a divorce in Arizona are that you may have firmly held religious beliefs against divorce, in which case you may choose legal separation over a divorce.
The Process of Divorce and Legal Separation
Now that we have addressed the difference between a divorce and a legal separation, as well as the benefits of a legal separation over a divorce, you need to understand the process of legal separation in Arizona.
Unfortunately, a legal separation is no different than a divorce. Both actions required that you file an initial complaint, disclose certain information and documentation, and either settle your case or present your case to a judge in a final trial for the court to issue its Decree of Legal Separation the same way the court would proceed with an actual divorce. So, a legal separation will take just as long and be just as costly as a divorce.
However, there are some things you can do to save time and money going through either a legal separation or a divorce. The first thing you can do to save time and money on a legal separation or divorce is being organized.
Make a spreadsheet of all of your assets and debts and bring that spreadsheet to your lawyer. Compile copies of all of our account statements for all of your assets and debts, as well as retirement accounts and present them to your attorney in an organized manner. Speak to a qualified Arizona legal separation attorney or divorce lawyer to determine what will likely happen to your children, your assets and your debts and try to resolve your case without having to go to trial.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about the difference between a divorce and a legal separation in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about divorce and legal separation 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 divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.