What Are the Benefits To Legal Separation Instead of Divorce in Arizona?
There are many reasons why a married couple may be considering legal separation as opposed to divorce in Arizona. But it’s important to know how these two different procedures are distinctive, as well as similar, before deciding. When comparing legal separation and divorce in Arizona, there are far more similarities than differences. Here are the Benefits to Legal Separation instead of Divorce in Arizona.
In both legal separation and divorce, the court will distribute final orders that stipulate division of spousal assets and debts, legal decision-making and parenting time determinations, and details regarding spousal support and/or child support. The marital community will be severed. In both legal separation and divorce, the obligations and rights between the two spouses are terminated under Arizona community property law. However, legal separation does not restore the right of either spouse to remarry. Of course in divorce, each spouse walks away “single” and is free to remarry if he or she wishes.
Although orders will be given by the court in both situations, there are some reasons why a legal separation is preferable to a divorce. For example, a couple may not actually be sure they want to end the marriage. Some couples attempt legal separation as a “trial” to see whether they wish to terminate the marriage or attempt to work things out. Other issues exist, like concern over continuous healthcare coverage or religious beliefs regarding divorce.
Some couples recognize the cost a divorce or dissolution would result to one party. If a spouse has significant health issues and the cost of health insurance would be prohibitive, the parties may choose to pursue a legal separation in order that the spouse needing the medical insurance may remain on the other spouse’s coverage. There are a myriad of reasons a couple may decide on legal separation instead of divorce. Most importantly, such a decision should be that of the couple – what suits their needs most? Legal separation or dissolution?
While many people who become legally separated, ultimately dissolve their marriage, this is certainly not true for everyone. Arizona law provides the community is severed and any property acquired by a spouse after serving a petition for dissolution, legal separation, or annulment, is the separate property of that spouse IF the petition results in a decree – whether dissolution, legal separation, or annulment.
In addition to the court entering final orders in both a divorce and legal separation, the parties may enter into an agreement and submit it to the court. The court will find the agreements binding. However, after considering the terms of the legal separation agreement, and considering the economic circumstances of the parties and other relevant evidence, the court may find the agreement unfair, except for those provisions related to providing for support, custody, and parenting time of children. Therefore, even if the parties agree, a decree will be entered by the court – a decree adopting the parties’ agreement.
Before making a decision such as legal separation or dissolution, it is suggested to consult with an experienced Arizona Family Law attorney in order to determine what is in one’s best interest.