What is a Legal Separation Action in Arizona?

A legal separation action in Arizona is an action where the parties want to remain married, but do not want to live together.   During the action, the parties will divide their assets, and arrange for child support, custody and spousal maintenance, where appropriate.
People who choose a legal separation instead of a divorce usually base their decisions on one of the following factors:
•    The parties want to live separately for a while before deciding if they want a divorce, and they want their assets divided and rights determined in the interim.

•    The parties do not wish to remain together, but divorce violates their religious convictions.

•    The parties do not wish to remain together, but one spouse cannot qualify for affordable medical insurance if he/she loses his/her spouse’s medical insurance.
The legal procedure for a legal separation action is the same as a dissolution procedure.  One party files a Petition for Legal Separation, the other party files a Response.  If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, they proceed to a trial.  A Judge then determines all applicable issues.
However, as with dissolution proceedings, parties can choose to use mediation instead of litigation.  Mediation is the amicable, cost-effective and confidential way to resolve conflicts.  Best of all is the fact that mediation is successful most of the time.  The parties would jointly select a mediator.  A mediator is a neutral party who is trained in resolving conflict.  Through one or several mediation sessions, the parties, with the mediator’s assistance, will work to reach agreements that will be submitted to the Court for approval.  With an agreement, the parties do not have to actually go to the Court of a legal proceeding.  For those people trying to preserve their relationship, or those just looking for a quick and easy way to get a legal separation, mediation is the right choice.

Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona.  If you have questions about mediation or family law, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or alona@sglawaz.com.  This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice.  See a legal professional before making legal decisions.

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