The following is the second 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 II

A legal separation is much like a divorce in its legal implications.  The only difference is that, at the end of the legal separation, the parties are still married.  This option may be attractive to couples, who have religious reservations about divorce or need to receive benefits.  In addition, a legal separation can also act as a limbo between marriage and divorce where a couple can determine whether they are truly ready to end the marriage.

If you are positive that the marriage is irretrievably broken and you are ready for a divorce, a legal separation is not necessary prior to filing for a divorce.  The Arizona courts allow divorcing couples to request a Temporary Orders Hearing.  This hearing can help to establish child custody, visitation, allocation of bills, and any necessary restraining orders on persons or property prior to divorce.  These orders are specifically tailored to ensure the harmony of the household and last only until the final divorce.

If, however, a couple has obtained a legal separation, it is fairly easy to obtain a divorce later.  The legal separation document will be the starting point for the court and can be converted into a divorce settlement agreement.  A couple is always encouraged to resolve as many disputes, without court interference, as they possibly can.  Therefore, the legal separation will be given great weight because it is something the parties have already agreed to and followed.

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