Legal separation of a couple is similar to divorce in almost every way. It represents a final disposition of marital assets and debts, a parenting plan for children, and setting a schedule for payment of spousal maintenance and child support, if any.
Legal separation is a formal, court-supervised process. Still, it’s different from divorce in several important ways. As with a divorce, the legal separation agreement signed by the parties is final, binding and enforceable. Yet, unlike a divorce, at any time in the future the parties may ask that the court dissolve an order of legal separation, if they want to remain married.
There are other potentially-significant differences between divorce and legal separation. For example, since the parties remain married, one party may continue as a beneficiary covered by the other’s healthcare insurance policy. This can be very helpful in situations where medical insurance coverage might be prohibitive for either spouse alone.
Another advantage of legal separation is the fact that parties may file tax returns jointly. When divorce may be a step too far for the parties, they can take a lesser step by legal separation. At any time after the court has granted a legal separation, either party may file a petition for divorce.
The legal issues already decided remain binding, and aren’t revisited. Obviously, neither party is allowed to remarry while they’re legally separated. Of course, at any point in the future the parties may request that the separation be dissolved.
Here in Arizona, legal separation is a first step that allows a couple to be legally separated and consider the possibility of divorce, while resolving tax and insurance issues. The attorneys at Copperstone P.C. can help resolve any issue regarding separation, divorce, or other family legal issues.
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Copperstone, P.C. is Pima County’s law firm. We can help provide you with the best outcome in any separation or divorce. Our attorneys are licensed only to practice in Arizona.