Phoenix Separation Agreement Attorney
Protecting Your Rights Upon a Separation in Arizona
It can be a difficult decision to legally and officially end a marriage. Some spouses may no longer get along, but they may
be hesitant to file for divorce due to religious values or financial reasons, such as taxes or health insurance coverage. In addition, even if you are certain you want a divorce, the process can take time and money, and you may live apart for months or even years before a divorce is final.
Whether you think you may reconcile down the line, you are waiting for a divorce, or you plan to live apart but remain married indefinitely, you want to make sure your rights and interests are fully protected. A legal separation agreement can govern the rights and responsibilities of spouses who are not yet divorced in Arizona.
Legal Separation Compared to Divorce in Arizona
A divorce order and a legal separation order both will address many of the same legal issues, though there is one key difference – spouses who are legally separated will still be married and cannot marry anyone else without first obtaining a divorce. Divorce is a permanent court order, and you cannot change your mind and request a reversal of the divorce at a later date. On the other hand, if a couple who is legally separated changes their minds, all they have to do is request that the court overturn the separation order by filing a motion to vacate. The couple can then reconcile, move back in together, and live as a legally married couple with little difficulty.
The similarity between a divorce judgment and legal separation is that they will both set out how you will resolve necessary issues. When you are living separately for some time, you will need to decide how you are going to divide financial responsibilities, who will get what property, how you will divide time with your children, and more. A legal separation will address all relevant issues, which may include:
- Division of assets and property – Who gets to stay in the house? Who gets the couch or the television or even the blender? If these are all items you own together, they are considered to be community property under Arizona law. The separation agreement should dictate how you will divide the property and assets that are community property.
- Child custody and support – When two parents live apart, they must determine when their children will live with each parent, as well as when each parent can make important decisions for the child. Parents will need to adhere to the custody arrangement set out in the separation agreement, along with the terms of their parenting plan. Depending on the income of each parent, the court may also order one parent to provide child support payments to the other during the separation.
- Alimony – If one spouse does not work or does not earn enough to support themselves right away, the court may order the other spouse to provide alimony payments for a period of time. Spouses should not have to remain living in an unhappy or unhealthy situation due to financial needs, so the law helps provide support until they can find adequate employment.
Couples can work to agree on all the relevant issues and submit them to the court to ratify in a separation order. If they cannot agree, the court may step in and dictate how these issues will be resolved. A skilled family law attorney can help you compromise and reach an agreement to minimize the time, cost, and stress of obtaining a legal separation.
Requirements for a Separation Order
Arizona law has specific requirements for legal separation. To petition the court for a legal separation, you must have been a resident of Arizona for at least 90 days. Your petition must provide a reason for the separation, including:
- Your marriage is irretrievably broken
- At least one spouse wants to live separate and apart and the other party doesn’t object to the separation
If one party does object to the separation, the court may direct the petitioner to seek a dissolution of marriage instead of a separation. If the court finds the reasons for the separation to be valid and approves how the spouses decided to resolve each issue, it can grant the legal separation. The separation agreement will then become a court order and both spouses will need to adhere to the terms of the order during the separation.
Is a Legal Separation Right for You?
Legal separations are temporary in most situations, and they are usually a placeholder for divorce or reconciliation. If you decide that reconciliation is not possible or if one spouse wants to remarry, it is common for legally separated spouses to request a divorce. If you already have a separation order in place that is working, it can make the divorce process simpler.
However, petitioning the court for a legal separation can still be a complex task, as you must follow the proper legal process and procedures. Before you begin, you should always discuss whether this is the best option for you with an experienced Phoenix divorce and separation attorney.
Many people have very personal reasons for seeking a legal separation, such as:
- A trial run to see if they want a divorce
- They don’t meet the residency requirements for divorce but do not want to live together
- They have social, religious, or financial reasons to not get divorced
- They hope that reconciliation is possible so they do not want to jump straight to a divorce
Contact an Experienced Separation Agreement Lawyer in Phoenix to Learn More
If you’re having difficulties but divorce is not appropriate at the moment, you may want to consider a legal separation. The law firm of DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC can guide you through the process and help you obtain an order with as little stress as possible. Our family lawyers work in and around Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Prescott, Arizona, so please call (800) 409-0262 or contact us online to set up an appointment today.