Many people in Phoenix, Arizona have probably heard about couples “separating,” and they may think to themselves “is there any difference between that and getting a divorce?” The answer is yes. Separating from your spouse is different than actually getting a divorce, so let’s look at what makes these two family law statuses what they are.

A divorce is the legal recognition that a marriage is over. The divorce legally dissolves the divorce, and it is no longer recognized by the state. In this regard, a divorce is “simple.” Separating from your spouse (and, thus, getting a “legal separation”) is a bit more complex simply because it doesn’t definitively end the marriage. In fact, during a separation, the marriage is still legally recognized.

The legal separation will be recognized by a court, and the court will mandate that the two of you live apart during this time. You will have a separation agreement that will act similarly to a divorce agreement: it will dictate how you and your spouse will deal with all of the things in your life in light of this separation. Separation maintenance is even possible, as are provisions for child custody and property division.

The separation can actually be used as a “trial run,” so to speak, for a potential divorce. After living separately, you or your spouse may realize that a divorce actually isn’t the right thing for you. Or maybe the separation only confirms what you originally thought, and you decide it is time to formally go through with a divorce. 

Source: FindLaw, “Legal Separation vs. Divorce,” Accessed Nov. 12, 2015