Are You Legally Separated When You File for Divorce in Arizona?
Many people have asked if they are legally separated as soon as they file for divorce in an Arizona family law court. The filing of a divorce petition in Arizona does not render you legally separated from your spouse. You may only be legally separated in Arizona by the Court entering a Decree of Legal Separation, which must include provisions for parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance (if appropriate), and orders dividing the parties’ assets and debts.
Although you are not legally separated when you file for divorce in Arizona, a Preliminary Injunction is automatically issued upon the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage that impacts the community property nature of assets acquired and debts incurred thereafter.
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As a general rule, any assets or debts incurred after the issuance of a Preliminary Injunction will be the sole legal property or debt of the party acquiring that property or incurring that debt. There are, however, many exceptions to that general rule. For illustrative purposes only, an asset bought with community funds but purchased after the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will remain community property. Debts incurred after a divorce is filed to preserve or protect a community asset will also be considered a community debt.
Both parties should be aware the Preliminary Injunction automatically applies to the person filing for divorce and only applies to the other spouse when he or she is served with that Preliminary Injunction.