If you and your partner are thinking about separating in the state of Arizona, you may wish to consider outlining a separation agreement for the purposes of clarifying key issues during this period. Those individuals who wish to remain married and yet live separately can develop and enjoy the benefits of a legal separation agreement. This will protect them if one spouse fails to live up to the agreed terms.

What’s Inside a Legal Separation Agreement?

A Legal Separation Agreement can provide for the payment of spousal support, or the continuation of certain benefits such as inclusion under a health care policy (refer to your healthcare plan to be sure about the definition of a spouse or dependent in such circumstances). Should the agreement become incorporated into a Decree of Legal Separation through the Court, spousal support can be a tax deduction to the payor (and taxable income to the payee). If you wish to detail payments made related to home in a legal separation agreement, you may wish to provide details associated with utilities, the mortgage or other associated bills. Spelling these out as clearly as possible can help to prevent confusion down the line. If there are any joint financial accounts at the time that you and your partner legally separate, the agreement can specify degree of access. One of the primary purposes of putting together a legal separation agreement is that it helps to minimize issues in an already difficult emotional time.

Benefits of an Agreement

When you and your partner are clear on how things are to be handled during the time of your separation, it can be much easier to avoid legal confrontation or making a difficult situation even worse. Contacting an Arizona family law attorney who has experience in legal separations as well as divorce can give you an overview of what to expect during the separation period and what it means if you decide to move forward with filing a divorce. While many partners might use the opportunity of a legal separation to think about their future together, you may ultimately decide to file for divorce and having an experienced attorney in your corner already can be especially helpful during this time.

Separation vs. Divorce

Although you may be contemplating divorce in the long run, it is not always the right path for an individual. Separation can give you time to think about the marriage and to give a trial run to being apart. For some individuals, this makes more sense as they are not ready to commit to a divorce just yet. You should, of course, always discuss your options with your Arizona family law attorney, but the separation can give you a chance to have some breathing room and determine if you want a divorce.

If you determine that a separation is the best move for you at this time, having things outlined in a clear agreement can give you the space and structure you need to contemplate your future. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you’ll be fine without an agreement or attempt to write one yourself. Meeting with your Arizona family lawyer can open your eyes to what is necessary and give you the perspective you need to craft a meaningful separation agreement.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding The Financial Benefits of a Legal Separation Agreement, or other family law issues,  please feel free to contact our Family Law Section at  480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.