Marriage is a physical, spiritual, and emotional union of husband and wife. It is considered as a lifelong exclusive commitment with the person you chose to marry. It is a legal and sacred union of two people bound by love and respect. Marriage does not just happen in a blink of an eye. It is not always a bed of roses. It requires strong dedication, marital commitment, and endless efforts to make it work. Some marriages tend to fail due to factors such as irreconcilable differences, adultery, cruelty, domestic violence, desertion, and abandonment. If your marriage is not going well, there are options of marital separation to choose from based on the particular circumstance. You might need to file for divorce or legal separation.


Divorce is known as the legal process of terminating a marriage. You need to know the different grounds for divorce before deciding to choose this option. Once you have decided to file a divorce petition, there will be no more chances of turning back. Filing for a divorce involves the dissolution of the bonds of matrimony including all the obligations and responsibilities of each spouse. This type of marital settlement agreement should be supported by complete divorce documents. Divorced couples are allowed to remarry. Divorce laws differ from one country to another. Some countries do not legally allow their citizens to get a divorce. You may consult our experienced Surprise, AZ divorce attorneys for more information.

Legal Separation

On the other hand, legal separation involves the “physical separation” of the couple without dissolution of marriage. There are specific states such as Hawaii, Delaware, Iowa, Rhode Island, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and Texas that do not honor legal separation. The separation laws will vary depending on the state of residency. In general, most of the couples who want to keep their family together prefer this option.

Legal separation is acknowledged by the law as a relationship status of a legally married couple who decided to go separate ways. This separation means that you are living apart from your spouse but you still stay legally married to each other. It is similar to “putting your marriage on hold”. This setup allows the couple to work on their marriage. This decision is often preferred by couples who cannot continue to live together but do not want to end their marriage legally. There is a possibility of reconciliation between the two parties.

Certain factors are affecting the couple’s decision in choosing legal separation over legal divorce. These factors include the couple’s religious, cultural, and personal beliefs. Some religions do not tolerate divorce cases; therefore, the option of legal separation is often preferred by couples.

Furthermore, legal separation comes with financial benefits for the couple despite living apart from one another. Under legal separation, the spouse is qualified to receive military or Social Security benefits of the other spouse, as long as their marriage has lasted not less than ten years. Depending on the state and the spouse’s employer, the other spouse including their children is still covered under the health insurance. Both legally separated spouses will still benefit from one’s income tax incentives.

Legal separation carries specific legal rights and responsibilities of both parties involved. These obligations must be supported by a legal separation contract from the court and must be agreed to by both husband and wife.

In this agreement, it should clearly state the important identification details of both spouses including the official marriage date and separation date. It should also include statements from the couple proving that the decision of legal separation is mutual and that the marriage is already considered irretrievably broken. Both the husband and the wife should sign this agreement jointly and have it notarized in front of a witness or a family law attorney. Once both parties have agreed to the terms and conditions of this binding contract, the court will proceed to the approval of the petition for legal separation in compliance with the legal separation decree.

When you write a legal separation agreement, the couple’s minor children should be taken into consideration. The state court will allow the mother and the father to create their parenting plan for their living arrangements, child custody, child visitation schedule, and child support.

In terms of the child support order, it is required to be made by parents in strict compliance with the child support guidelines in the state where you reside. The financial support to be given by a parent may exceed the ideal amount, but should not be less than the standard amount of child financial support stated in the guidelines. The parental duties of both parties must be fulfilled despite the separation.

Another important part of the legal separation agreements is the court-approved decision of the couple in dividing their assets, liabilities, and debts. The division of property, (including personal property and marital property), and other assets will depend on the financial capacity and needs of both spouses after their separation. There must be an equitable distribution for both husband and wife. There will also be an agreement for spousal support or commonly known as alimony. The terms of this agreement should be chosen carefully by both parties to meet their financial needs since it is difficult to make amendments once it is already approved. If you have questions on how to file for legal separation, it is best to talk with Arizona Attorneys that specialize in family law.

From Legal Separation to Divorce

Legal separation can be turned into divorce filing, while divorce cannot be undone anymore. States such as North Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware, require the filing of legal separation first before filing for divorce. A strategically planned separation will make the transition to divorce petition easier and less complicated. The legal separation agreement will be restructured by the divorce court into a divorce case. It will be reorganized as a divorce settlement agreement that includes all rules and regulations for the dissolution of marriage.

All the terms and conditions of your legal separation papers are considered final and irretrievable. Proper negotiation of both parties is required to finalize a settlement agreement. Both husband and wife need to agree with all the guidelines. If there will be any aspect that you would like to modify, you might go through a costly and complicated court proceeding. To avoid unnecessary hassles like this, it is highly recommended to ask for legal advice in filling out and preparing your paperwork for legal separation. For legal help, do not hesitate to consult with our experienced family law attorneys at Dodds Law Firm. Our lawyers are ready to assist you on how to file a legal separation.