Is It Beneficial To Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce?

Couples who are having problems with their marriage may want to take a break from each other, but don’t feel ready to permanently end their union. In these cases, they may consider getting legally separated. If you find yourself in the same situation, you might want to speak to a divorce attorney to determine if it is beneficial to choose a legal separation over divorce.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce

In Arizona, a legal separation is much like a divorce. The two both address:

  • Division of community property;
  • Child support;
  • Legal decision-making and parenting time for children; and
  • Spousal maintenance.

Because a legal separation decree can cost as much as a divorce, and may require time in court, many couples do not opt for this choice. A couple may separate informally, only asking for help from the court if they intend to move forward with a divorce. This is especially true if both spouses don’t agree with a separation: while a divorce may be filed by one party, a legal separation may only be considered if both parties agree that the matter proceed as only a legal separation, rather than a divorce.

Why Choose A Legal Separation?

Although it is not a common choice, there are still couples who prefer a separation over divorce. It’s a favorable option when:

  • You have an ill spouse. If your spouse is chronically ill and you don’t want their insurance to be affected, you may opt for legal separation. That way, you two are free to live apart and your spouse’s insurance will likely not be terminated. Keep in mind that the coverage eligibility for your spouse will need to be confirmed as some plans will exclude legally separated spouses as dependents.
  • You need to be separated from your spouse right away. In Arizona, couples are able to legally separate as long as one of them is domiciled in the state. You don’t have to be a resident for a requisite amount of days, like you would if filing a divorce or dissolution. You can file for a legal separation right away, and later on, you can convert the separation to a divorce by filing an amended pleading with the court.
  • You truly aren’t ready to be divorced yet. Grounds for a legal separation simply state that a marriage is not irretrievably broken. If you and your spouse feel your problems are fixable, but you just need some space, you may decide a legal separation is right for you. Couples who decide to get back together can terminate their separation decree with the court.

Call a Divorce Attorney for Help

Speaking to a divorce attorney can be helpful if you’re trying to determine how beneficial a legal separation would be for your marriage. The attorneys at Udall Shumway, PLC are available to discuss your case and help you figure out the best path to take.

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 Legal Separation Over Divorce, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Lindsay A.M. Olivarez at 480.461.5300, log on to, 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.