What Is A Legal Separation?
A legal separation in Arizona is a court action filed when a married person wants to remain married, but does not want to live with his/her spouse. The action is just like a divorce, except, at the end, the parties are still legally married. The Decree of Legal Separation will divide the parties’ property and debts. If they have children, the issues of custody, parental access and child support must be addressed. If one party is entitled to spousal maintenance or an award of attorney’s fees, those issues will be resolved as well.
Why Would Someone Want A Legal Separation?
People have different motivations for deciding to get a legal separation. Generally, the reasoning falls into one of three categories:
- Some people are not sure they want a divorce, and they want to live separately before deciding. While living separately, they want to ensure that their finances and children’s needs are addressed.
- Other people choose legal separation because they do not want to be with their spouse, but their religion prohibits or frowns upon divorce.
- In these days of astronomical health care costs, some people stay together because one party would lose his/her insurance obtained through his/her spouse if they got a divorce.
How Do I Get A Legal Separation?
Just like with divorce, parties can choose to get a legal process through going to court and having a trial or through more cooperative and peaceful means.
- Litigation. The legal procedure for a legal separation action is the same as a divorce proceeding. One party files a Petition for Legal Separation in the Superior Court, and the other party files a Response. Either party can convert the action to a divorce action. Parties can get attorneys, and the legal battles can be just has complex, expensive, stressful and risky as those in divorce cases. Ultimately, absent an agreement, a Judge decides all issues.
- Mediation. Both parties can choose to resolve their disputes through mediation. Mediation is a process where one neutral party (the mediator) helps the parties work together to reach compromises and resolve all issues. A trained mediator can generally draft and submit all of the paperwork for the parties, so they never have to go to Court. Mediation is much less expensive, time consuming, and stressful than litigation. Further, the parties, rather than the court, are in charge of the outcome, so no one risks an unfavorable outcome at trial. Mediation is successful at resolving family law actions close to 90 percent of the time. For those people trying to preserve their relationship, or those just looking for a quick and easy way to get a legal separation, mediation is the right choice.
Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona. She offers Free 30 Minute Consultations during which one can learn about options when considering a legal separation, a divorce or other family law matters. If you have questions about mediation or family law, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about mediation and Ms. Gottfried, go to: http://azmediator.com.
Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
This is a general interest website only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.