The Legal Separation process in Arizona is similar to the Divorce legal process. The resulting outcome is slightly different.
The basic requirements for starting a legal separation case in Arizona are as follows:
- 90 day residency requirement for one of the parties (or stationed in AZ for 90 days).
- The marriage is irretrievably broken or the parties desire to live apart.
- The conciliation provisions have been met or do not apply (The court offers conciliation services; provided either party applies for conciliation services, it places the divorce or legal separation on hold for 60 days.)
Just like in a divorce case, an order or decree will be issued dividing the parties’ asset and debts, and other relevant matters will be decided, such as financial support or child custody and child support.
The parties can choose to mediate or litigate their legal separation. Similar to a divorce or other family law case, unless the parties can reach an amicable agreement, they will have to attend a trial in family court.
So, what are the advantages of Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Arizona?
- Health Insurance
- Beneficiary Designation
- Social Security
There are personal reasons or financial advantages as to why a couple chooses a legal separation over a divorce. Religious considerations are one of the prevalent personal reasons a couple chooses legal separation.
If you are insured under your spouse’s health insurance plan, losing your health coverage after your divorce can have serious financial implications. Although COBRA is available for divorced spouses, the costs are significant. Many couples choose to stay married and file for legal separation instead to maintain health coverage benefits under their spouse’s plan.
Health plan regulations and restrictions should be carefully reviewed to ensure a legally separated spouse can maintain the same coverage for the same premium. The insured may not remove a spouse from health insurance coverage without the spouse’s permission, except in the case of a qualifying event, such as divorce. Legally separated spouses should not fall in the divorce category, but different plans can have different restrictions.
Often, tax or retirement considerations prompts a couple to file for legal separation instead of divorce. Your accountant or tax specialist can be a further resource to determine tax savings and cost advantages of filing your federal and state tax returns as married or single.
For marriages nearing the ten year mark, it may be advantageous to stay married to apply for you spouse’s social security benefits at retirement age. A person who has been married a minimum of 10 years is entitled to an amount equal to 50% of the other spouse’s retired benefit.
A Legal Separation Agreement can be drafted to memorialize the arrangement between the parties concerning the maintenance of their assets, payments of debts, control of bank accounts, support and other related financial or child related provisions.
For more questions or to schedule a free consultation for mediation services, please visit practicallydivorced.com or you can reach us at (480) 977-6873 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We make sure you move on with moving on!