The following is the final part of a three-part series on legal separation in Arizona. This three-part series includes all of the requirements, rights, and responsibilities of a legal separation, as well as the various ways to segue from a legal separation to a divorce.  Finally, this series will address some of the various nuances of the legal separation.

Part III

A legal separation in Arizona has a number of implications for the participating spouses.  The spouses sever all legal ties, but still remain married.  This can benefit a couple, who rely on their marital status to receive benefits or couples who oppose divorce.

Just like divorce, there are a few nuances that affect a couple’s ability to legally separate, as well as their status after the separation.  Below are some of the various issues that a separating couple may need to address.

Covenant Marriage – a covenant marriage is an agreement between two people to limit the grounds for their divorce (i.e. adultery, a spouse is sentenced to death or imprisonment, abandonment for at least a year, physical/sexual abuse, etc.).  In other words, the parties contract to make divorce more difficult.  In order to enter into a covenant marriage, the couple must sign a contract, attend marriage counseling, and sign an affidavit.

Mediation – mediation is an alternative to resolving disputes in a courtroom.  Mediation utilizes a neutral third-party, who sits down with a couple to assist them in creative problem-solving to resolve any differences.  Mediation is especially powerful in a legal separation.  Because both parties have already agreed to legally separate, there is a presumption that the separation is amicable.  Mediation can help to decrease the time and money spent in settling any outstanding issues.

Community Property – Arizona is one of nine community property states.  When a couple divorces or legally separates in Arizona, their property will be divided according to community property laws.  Any property that was acquired before the marriage and any property that was received by one spouse as a gift or inheritance will be considered separate property.  Any property acquired during the marriage is considered marital/community property and will be divided equally between the spouses.

A legal separation will work for some couples, but not everyone.  To discuss the best option for your situation, contact a Phoenix family law attorney at 480-779-7972.