Some parties choose to have a legal separation instead of a divorce. Legal Separation will divide all of the assets and debts, and award legal decision-making (custody), parenting time, child support and/or spousal maintenance. The parties remain married but once the Court orders a Decree of Legal Separation, the parties are legally separated.
Just because you are separated and living in different places, you are not legally separated until a Court has ordered it. If one party objects to the legal separation, the Court will convert it to a Divorce.
Once a Petition for Legal Separation action is filed, the opposing party is served the Petition and accompanying documents and required to respond within twenty (20) days unless they reside outside the State of Arizona. In that case, their response would be due in thirty (30) days. There are also other requirements in the documents served including a Preliminary Injunction and in cases with children, a requirement that you both attend a court-approved parenting program class among other documents.
A majority of legal separation cases can be completed where neither party is required to appear in Court.
There are often times a disagreement in legal decision-making (custody), child support and/or spousal maintenance making it contested and perhaps both parties agree on legal separation but not on all of the terms.
The most common reasons for a legal separation include religious restrictions or continuation of health insurance.
Brittany Labadie is the Managing Partner at Lewis Labadie. She has been working with Lewis Labadie since it opened. Her current focus is with adoption cases, including juvenile adoptions, adult adoptions, foster care adoptions, same-sex adoption, surrogacy adoptions, and when necessary termination of parental rights. She works throughout the State of Arizona.