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Arizona Legal Separation as a Precursor to a Divorce
When it becomes apparent marriage is ending, you have two choices: divorce or legal separation.
Getting a divorce is the 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.
Many of those people want to know how long does a legal separation take in Arizona. A legal separation in Arizona can be completed in as little as 60 days in Arizona if both spouses agree on settlement of all the issues in the divorce.
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).
Legal Separation for Couples Who Don’t Meet Arizona Residency Requirements
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.
Required Filing of a Petition for Legal Separation
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).
How does Legal Separation work in Arizona
People have questions regarding legal separation and how it is different from divorce and which one will turn out to be better for their situation?
The criterion for divorce and legal separation are similar, but there are certain differences between the two that should be understood.
It should be known that both procedures require the division of all the assets and debts, a statement of child custody orders, as well as a statement of a child support order with, in some cases, an order consisting of granting alimony.
Married couples may prefer legal separation instead of a divorce because of a number of reasons. While choosing between the two routes, the foremost thing that should be kept in consideration is that there are more similarities between the two than differences.
Arizona Community Property Laws Apply to a Legal Separation
Legal separation and divorce both include final orders by the court that demand splitting up all the assets and debts owned by the couple, legal decision-making, a decision regarding parenting time, and other details concerning the child support and/or spousal support, depending upon the case. The marital community will be put an end.
According to Arizona Community Property Law, legal separation and divorce both involve termination of rights and responsibilities between the two spouses with respect to their property and debts.
However, if legal separation is pursued, neither of the spouses is allowed to remarry, whereas divorce restores the right of either of the two to remarry because each one of them gets out of the marriage as “single.”
There are certain reasons why legal separation is preferred by some couples instead of divorce. For instance, the couple may not be certain that they want to sever their marital relationship.
Legal separation is tried by some couples as a trial to check if they would be ok with the termination of their relationship or if they should try to make things work out between each other.
Impact of Health Insurance and Religion When Considering a Legal Separation
Other than this, sometimes the couples have concerns regarding healthcare coverage or religious beliefs about divorce. In case a spouse suffers from significant health issues, where the expense of health insurance would be excessive, the parties may decide to go for legal separation to allow the spouse in need of medical insurance continue to have the coverage of the other spouse if the health insurance plan allows.
There is a misconception that most couples who go for legal separation eventually dissolve their marriage.
Arizona Law states that any kind of property that any spouse acquires after legal separation, annulment or dissolution is owned solely by that spouse.
Agreements Between Spouses in a Legal Separation in Arizona
In both divorce and legal separation, the parties are allowed to make an agreement and submit it to the court, other than the court’s received final orders. The court will make sure that the agreement is irrevocable.
However, the agreement will be considered in accordance with the terms and conditions of the legal separation agreement, the economic circumstances of the spouses and other relevant evidence.
At times, the agreement may sound unfair to the court excluding provisions related to custody, parenting time and support of children.
However, if the spouses agree, the court will enter a decree that adopts the agreement submitted by the parties so long as the court determines the agreement is fair and equitable.
If you have questions about how long does a legal separation take in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona legal separation and family law attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in legal separation and family law cases.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your legal separation or family law case around today.
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