What Is A Legal Separation?
A legal separation is distinct from a divorce in that it allows the parties to obtain a court order dividing property and debt, set custody and child support, and establish spousal maintenance, if any, while remaining legally married. In Arizona, you must obtain a court order to achieve legal separation; simply living apart for a period of time will not relieve you of obligations entered into by your spouse or keep sole and separate any property acquired by you.
The process of a legal separation is identical to the process of a divorce ( dissolution of marriage). The only difference is that the end result leaves you legally married to the other party, but you have legally established yourself as someone acting in an individual capacity rather than on behalf of the community.
Why Legally Separate?
Reasons for obtaining a legal separation instead of a divorce may include religious concerns, the ability to continue to provide insurance coverage for your spouse, or other business or financial concerns. Regardless of the reason, if a petition for legal separation is filed in Arizona, and if the other party prefers a full divorce, the court will convert the matter to one for divorce. The only way to obtain a legal separation is if both parties agree that they prefer it to divorce.
After a legal separation, any commingled finances between the parties or jointly acquired property or debt is community property.
Let Us Help You Through Your Legal Separation
If you are considering filing for legal separation, you should at least speak with an attorney about how to do so, the process, and the potential ramifications and outcomes. The attorneys at Lincoln & Wenk, PLLC, have experience in a wide range of legal separation and family law situations, including complex property division cases involving ownership of businesses, division of retirement accounts and other matters.