Married couples can choose to file for a legal separation rather than a divorce. Legal separation can be an alternative to divorce in cases of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and when both partners agree to the separation. A legal separation does not terminate the marriage, but in all other respects, it is the same as a divorce.
Legal Separation in Arizona
In Arizona, no specific period of residence is required for a legal separation. The only requirement is that at the time when the action for separation is brought, one of the partners must reside in Arizona. Legal separation can therefore be applied for when neither partner has been residing in Arizona for a sufficient length of time to secure a divorce. As for divorce, the court can make provisions for child support and custody, property division and maintenance.
Some couples choose a legal separation rather than a divorce for religious reasons, moral reasons, or health insurance concerns. The majority of insurance policies will continue to provide for a legally separated spouse, but not a divorced spouse. It is customary for some couples to choose a legal separation in order to allow a partner with a medical problem to continue to be covered by the other spouse’s medical insurance.
If after one party has filed a Petition for Legal Separation the other partner objects, then the court cannot proceed with the matter. In such cases, the court will direct that the action be changed to a divorce action. This means that residency restrictions will apply and at least one partner must have been residing in Arizona for a minimum of 90 days.
Filing for Legal Separation in Arizona
The filing of a legal separation proceeds by the same process as a divorce with one exception. The court must find either that both partners wish to live apart or separate or that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The Petition for Legal Separation must contain certain information according to the laws of Arizona and an experienced lawyer will be able to help with the preparation of this document.
The procedure for a covenant marriage is the same as for a non-covenant marriage, but for covenant marriages in Arizona there are seven specific grounds for a legal separation. These include abandonment for a minimum of one year, adultery and either the sexual or the physical abuse of a child or the petitioner.
If you want to find out more about the legal separation process in Arizona, please contact us for a free consultation. Our office can be reached by calling (602) 254-8880 or by using our confidential email form. Our team has years of experience with Arizona Divorce and in the initial consultation we’ll educate you on the options available to you.