Does Arizona Automatically Turn a Separation Into a Divorce?

By Wayne Thomas

Getting a divorce is a last resort for married couples. In some cases, spouses may wish to pursue legal separation as a trial run for a divorce or because they do not meet Arizona residency requirements. Although a divorce may occur after legal separation for some couples, a divorce requires a separate action and never occurs automatically. Understanding the similarities and differences between divorce and separation in Arizona, as well as what information the court requires, will assist you and your spouse in making decisions regarding the future of your marriage.

Residency

To begin a divorce in Arizona, at least one spouse must meet the Arizona residency requirement. The law requires that one spouse has lived in the state for a minimum of 90 days before filing the divorce petition. On the other hand, for separation, even though one spouse must reside in the state to obtain a separation, there is no time period requirement. This provides an alternative to divorce if a couple has not lived in Arizona long enough to get a divorce.

Grounds

In Arizona, the grounds for legal separation and divorce are that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The law provides that spouses may also obtain a legal separation if they desire to live separately. However, a court will never order legal separation unless both spouses agree. This differs from a divorce in that if one spouse can prove the marriage is broken, the court will grant the divorce, even over the other spouse's objection. Special rules apply if seeking a divorce or separation in a "covenant marriage," which is a religious designation.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Filing

While an Arizona divorce begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, a couple seeking a legal separation would instead file a Petition for Legal Separation. Both petitions request basic information about the parties and when they were married, as well as more detailed information regarding property, finances and any minor children. Spouses have the option of drafting a separation agreement in which they outline how child custody and support, spousal support and property division will be handled during the separation. A judge will review the document and if the agreement is found to be fair to both parties, the court will render the agreement legally binding with it defining the couple's legal obligations during the separation.

Divorce After Separation

An order of legal separation made by an Arizona court stays in effect as long as a couple desires. Either party may file for divorce at any time, provided that the residency requirement is met. Because the same issues regarding property, support and custody that are decided in an action for separation also need to be decided in a divorce, the separation agreement can form the basis for orders accompanying the final divorce decree.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How Long Do You Have to Wait After Legal Separation to Finalize a Divorce in Colorado?
 

References

Related articles

Does Separation Time Count in Divorce

The length of time you and your spouse are separated can play a part in your divorce proceedings under some circumstances, but in other cases, it doesn't matter at all. It depends entirely on where you live, and if you want to – or even can – file for divorce on fault grounds.

How Many Days Apart Equals a Legal Separation?

Legal separation is not typically defined by the amount of time you and your spouse live apart. In many cases, it depends on whether an agreement or a court order is in place that governs the terms of your separation. State laws vary, and you may be legally separated when an agreement or court order exists, even if neither of you has moved out of the marital home yet.

How to File for Divorce in the State of Arkansas

In Arkansas, the requirements for divorce vary depending on how you were married. The state recognizes both standard marriages and what are known as covenant marriages. In a covenant marriage a couple takes an oath of understanding that marriage is a lifelong commitment. Nonetheless, a divorce may still be granted for covenant marriages after completion of counseling and a court-ordered separation. Understanding the requirements for filing a divorce for regular and covenant marriages in Arkansas will help ensure that you avoid unnecessary delays in the divorce process.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Procedures for an Amicable Divorce in Maryland

Maryland offers an amicable divorce process for couples who can agree on all the terms of their divorce. This is known ...

How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the uncontested divorce process provides couples with the option of avoiding some of the ...

Getting a Legal Separation in Arkansas

Arkansas is a little different from most states when it comes to marriage and divorce. There are two types of marriage ...

Indiana Laws for Separation Before Divorce

Indiana law provides couples with two options if they want to end or change their marital relationship: dissolution of ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED