As many can attest, going through a divorce is never easy. An alternative for some couples in Arizona is legal separation. While many people become legally separated as a stepping stone to ending their marriage, others view separation as a way to achieve other objectives. Whether you are considering a divorce or legal separation, it is important to work with the right family law attorney.
Cohen Family Law provides comprehensive legal services to couples and families throughout the state of Arizona. Knowing that marital disputes have the potential to become contentious, we strive to create an atmosphere of dignity and respect with which you can resolve your marital issues amicably. Because separation is a court-supervised process, it takes a skilled attorney to help you navigate the legal system and protect your interests. When you come to Cohen Family Law, you will be better positioned to confidently move ahead with your life.
Key Reasons for a Legal Separation in Arizona
There are many reasons why a married couple would consider legal separation rather than a divorce. Some couples may attempt legal separation as a trial run for a divorce, while others may use it as an opportunity to resolve their differences. There may be other issues involved as well, such as:
- The couple’s religious or social beliefs forbid divorce
- Concerns over continued healthcare coverage
- The tax benefits of being a married a couple
- The couple doesn’t meet the state’s residency requirements for a divorce
- Regardless of the reasons, we know that choosing a legal separation instead of a divorce is a deeply personal matter.
Our team will offer you compassion, knowledge, and first-rate legal representation.
What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?
Legal separation and divorce are similar in that the obligations and rights between the spouses are severed under Arizona community property law. In addition, the court will issue decrees in both a legal separation and a divorce regarding property division, spousal support, parental rights and responsibilities.
Legal separation and divorce are fundamentally different because separation does not terminate the marriage. This means that the spouses are still married to each other, even if they live separate and apart, and they do not have the right to remarry. In a divorce, the court legally terminates the marriage and each spouse is free to remarry.
Ultimately, a divorce is permanent, and the decision cannot be reversed (unless the couple decides to remarry of course). In separation, if the couple reconciles, a motion can be filed with the court to vacate the legal separation order.
Who can obtain a legal separation?
Under Arizona law, you can file a petition for legal separation (with or without children) if you have been a state resident for at least 90 days. The court will grant a request for separation if you can demonstrate:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken, or
- At least one spouse wants to live separate and apart
- The other spouse doesn’t object to the separation
Do I need a separation agreement in Arizona?
It is worth noting that once the court enters a decree for legal separation, any property acquired by either spouse is the separate property of that spouse. Before a judge approves a petition for separation, however, the couple must reach an agreement on issues that are customarily associated with divorce, such as the division of property, legal decision-making, parenting time and child support.
In short, a well-conceived separation agreement should specify how the couple will divide the marital assets, share parental responsibilities and parenting time. If the couple cannot reach an agreement the court will be forced to intervene. When it comes to matters of parental rights and responsibilities, the court will assess what is in the best interests of the children, much as it would in a divorce. In any event, a separation agreement must be fair and reasonable to each party to receive court approval.
Contact Our Phoenix Legal Separation Attorney
At Cohen Family Law, we help couples navigate the process in Arizona. We will take the time to understand your circumstances and explore all of your options. If you are not ready to end your marriage, or divorce is not workable at this time, we can help. Our legal team is well-versed in the Arizona Marital And Domestic Relations Law and comfortable representing clients in multiple jurisdictions.
We have extensive experience resolving the key issues in separation. Our attorneys know how to negotiate and prepare separation agreements that will protect your interests now and in the future. You can rest assured that our caring attorneys will stand by you and always put your best interests first. If you are considering separation in Arizona, call our office today or complete the convenient online contact form to set up a consultation.