The following is the first 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.
A legal separation is, essentially, a divorce without the divorce. The parties will have property divided, spousal support awarded, and child custody/support determined, but will still remain legally married. They are free to live apart, but cannot remarry. There are many reasons that people choose to obtain a legal separation instead of a divorce. Some do so because of religious beliefs; others do so to continue receiving certain benefits; while others obtain a separation while they are awaiting a divorce.
Any couple, who is legally married, can obtain a legal separation. Arizona is a no-fault state, which means that individuals do not have to prove fault on the part of the other spouse to obtain a separation or divorce. The spouses must simply state that they would like to live apart, that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and that they both agree to separate. In addition, one of the parties must live in Arizona for at least 90 days prior to filing for separation. However, in order to divide property or award spousal support, the court must be able to assert what’s called personal jurisdiction over the parties. If there are children involved, the children must reside in Arizona for at least six months prior to filing, in order to determine custody and child support. A legal separation is not available for individuals, who have entered into a covenant marriage.
After a legal separation has been granted, the parties have severed all legal ties to each other, besides the marriage. Therefore, any property acquired after separation will no longer be deemed marital and will remain separate. Also, neither party can bind the other in contracts.
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