Legal Separation in Arizona

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The legal separation in Arizona is same as the divorce process. The only difference between the divorce and the legal separation is that the husband and wife still remain married and cannot remarry even after legal separation is granted. If either of the spouses wishes to remarry, they must obtain the divorce by filing the 'Decree for the Dissolution of Marriage'.

Means to attain the Legal Separation in Arizona:

The legal separation in Arizona can be attained by two means. These are as follows:

  • Litigation Litigation is filing of the lawsuit to sort the marital issues during the legal separation. This method is used when the couple is unable to reach an agreement regarding the important marital issues such as child custody, visitation schedule, child and spousal support, retirement plans, insurance coverage and tax benefits etc. The petitioner files a suit and the respondent files a response. The judge gives the decision on the arrangements of the above mentioned issues which is binding on both the parties. Litigation is expensive, stressful and complex as it involves hiring the attorney and fighting legal battles. After these complex battles, the judge sorts these issues out and they are legally binding to the parties.
  • Mediation Mediation is a method of resolving disputes by the means of one neutral party or person (the mediator) who helps to reach a compromising mutual agreement between the parties. This is a method used when the parties cannot reach an agreement and do not want to fight it out in the court. This method is less expensive, less stressful and quick. The mediator is a trained person who can draft the paperwork and submit it to the court on the behalf of the husband and wife. The court appearance is not necessary for legal separation in Arizona. This method is mostly preferred by parties over litigation in case of disputes and conflicts.
In the statute of Arizona, the processes of legal separation and divorce are identical. The court is required to divide the property equally or on an equivalent basis, assign the custody and visitation and order the payment of child and spousal support.

However, in the state of Arizona, after the legal separation is granted, the spouses don't have the same rights over each other's property and their responsibilities also differ from what they used to be before the separation.

All the property, assets and investments acquired and done after the separation are considered as the individual property of the spouse acquiring it.

Legal Separation in Arizona:

The legal separation in Arizona can be processed only if both the spouses agree to it. If one spouse files for legal separation and the respondent responds with the divorce plea, the court has to process a divorce case in stead of separation process.

If the other spouse requests to convert the separation process to the divorce process before or after the separation, the court is bound to process the divorce plea.

The residency requirement for legal separation is that the petitioner must be a resident of the state of Arizona on the day of filing the petition for legal separation. The residency requirement for the divorce is 90 days before the filing of the petition.

Grounds for Legal Separation in Arizona:

The legal separation in Arizona can be granted on the grounds of the desire of the petitioner to live separated from the partner. They only have to state that they have a 'desire to live separate and apart' from their spouse. The court grants the legal separation and sorts the issues related to children, property etc.

The custody and visitation as well the decision for the property and debts is handled in a similar way by the court for the divorce and legal separation process.

Processes for Legal Separation in Arizona:

There are two processes for legal separation in Arizona depending upon the involvement of minor children in the lawsuit.

  • Legal Separation with Minor Children: The legal separation with minor children involves many issues such as custody and visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. It also affects the decision of the calculation and payment of alimony to the custodial parent if he / she is dependent on the income of the non-custodial parent. The environment of the household is also taken into consideration before deciding the custody rights. The property is also divided such that both the parents are able to contribute to the education and other basic needs of the children. The lifestyle the children were provided before the separation is also taken into consideration.
  • Legal Separation without Minor children: The legal separation without minor children involved is easier to process as there are no sensitive issues. The only thing the parties and the court have to decide are the property division, alimony, retirement plans, insurance coverage, fate of the family home, real estate etc. These issues are generally sorted out by the couple with the help of the attorney or the mediator provided.

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