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What’s the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce in Arizona?

Arizona allows married couples to seek either a legal separation or a divorce. Individuals facing relationship difficulties should explore both of these options to make the best decision for their needs.

Defining Separation and Divorce

With a legal separation, the couple remains married, but each spouse retains separate housing. If they decide to reconcile, they can simply move back into a shared home. Divorce is the permanent legal end to a marriage. A couple cannot reverse their divorce unless they get legally remarried again.


Deciding on Separation or Divorce

A married couple may choose legal separation instead of divorce if:

  • They want to retain eligibility for shared benefits such as healthcare or Social Security.
  • They are unsure if they want to permanently end the relationship.
  • They do not yet meet the residency requirements to file for divorce in Arizona.
  • They disagree with divorce on moral or religious grounds.
  • Remaining married carries tax advantages.
  • Divorce makes more sense when the couple does not plan to reconcile. For example, after legal separation, one or both spouses may enter other relationships and decide to move forward with a divorce.

Reviewing the Process

Couples can file for either legal separation or divorce in Arizona if one or both spouses have lived in the state for at least 90 days. The person requesting the legal separation or divorce must file a petition in the county where they live. Both separation and divorce petitions require the requestor to state the reason for the filing. He or she must also indicate the couple’s arrangement for property division, child custody, spousal support, and child support.


Pintel Law Firm PLLC provides free consultations to Phoenix couples considering legal separation or divorce to answer their questions and help guide them through the next steps. Call (480) 771-4154 or complete our online form to request an appointment today.



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