There are different possible reasons why a husband and wife in Arizona may opt for legal separation instead of going through a divorce process. While similar, divorces and legal separations are distinct from each other, so it’s important to delve into their differences before choosing to go one way or the other.
Comparing Legal Separation and Divorce
In each legal process, the family court will issue final orders that detail the following:
- Marital property division, including both assets and debts.
- Determinations regarding parenting time and decision-making.
- Particulars on spousal support as well as child support for couples with minor children.
Both options sever the two spouses’ marital community, rendering their legal rights and obligations to each other terminated under the community property law of Arizona.
In terms of division of property, court orders detail the solution to be executed. For divorce cases as well as legal separation and annulment, the law states that property gained by one party after the petition for divorce or otherwise has been served is the separate property of that individual, provided that the petition ends in a separation or divorce decree.
Contrasting the Two Processes
The main difference all boils down to the fact that there is no dissolution of marriage in legal separation. Legally separated couples remain married and cannot remarry. In contrast, each spouse becomes single after divorce. Following divorce proceedings, a remarriage is an option for both spouses.
Why Choose Legal Separation
Although both processes culminate following a court order, divorce is definitely more final. There are good reasons why some couples prefer to just legally separate even when there are serious grounds for divorce. Here are some of them.
- The couple may not be certain that they should end their marriage, in which case, legal separation becomes a trial run to see if they should go ahead and file for divorce or work things out.
- The couple or at least one spouse may be of a religious persuasion that absolutely does not allow divorce, not for adultery, not for desertion, and definitely not for irreconcilable differences.
- The couple may prefer to continue their family health care coverage.
- The couple may be leery of what the dissolution of marriage may cost each or both of them.
There are many other possible reasons why a couple would choose legal separation over the complete dissolution of marriage. At the end of the day, couples would go with the choice that suits their needs and serves their best interest.
It’s also possible for the two parties to just amicably reach an agreement, which they will simply submit to the court. The agreement will then be made binding unless the court finds the terms of the separation agreement to be unfair. So, even if the parties are agreeable, the court will enter a decree, one that adopts the parties’ agreement.
Family Law Attorneys
There are many factors other than your feelings to consider and determine when making decisions about your marriage, and, whether you choose to legally separate or divorce, sensitive details such as spousal support or alimony, child support, child custody, visitation, parenting time, and many more, will have to be addressed. It’s best that you do go through everything under the legal advice and guidance of a family law attorney.
If your domestic relations are strained and you’re considering separation, divorce or annulment, hire an attorney to give you legal information and assistance. Legal issues abound in a marital settlement agreement so avail yourself of proper legal services to look after your interests. Call us at Pew Law Center for legal representation in family law matters.