LEGAL SEPARATION IS A LOT LIKE DIVORCE
Legal separation is a family law term commonly misused and misunderstood. It does not mean that married spouses simply live apart. A legal separation is a formal legal proceeding that resolves many of the same issues as divorce.
FAST FACTS ABOUT LEGAL SEPARATION
Under Arizona law, a legal separation is nearly identical to a divorce. The critical difference is that couples who legally separate are, of course, still married. But just like divorce, it terminates the marital community, divides property, and resolves issues of child custody and spousal maintenance, if applicable.
Couples who choose to legally separate usually do so for its unique advantages. Separation may allow spouses to retain medical insurance, military benefits, social security benefits, or other perquisites only available to married couples. Other couples choose to legally separate rather than divorce because their religious beliefs discourage or prohibit divorce.
A legal separation may be obtained collaboratively, if both spouses agree to everything, or it may be contested and require litigation. However, if one spouse files for legal separation and the other files for divorce, the parties will proceed to divorce.