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Why do some people legally separate instead of divorce?

Marital dissolution is a major life event affecting millions of Americans. While common, divorce is not the only option for people who wish to end a relationship. In Arizona, spouses may legally separate instead for several reasons.

  • Health or financial reasons - Some people want to end their physical and emotional relationship but retain some of the financial benefits of a marriage. For instance, actor Michael Fishman recently shared that he and his estranged wife will legally separate instead of divorce so she can stay covered by his health insurance.
  • Religious or cultural reasons - There are cultural and religious beliefs that do not support divorce. In such cases, the stigma of divorce can be exceedingly painful. It is also possible that a divorce could lead to family estrangement or other penalties that a person would avoid by seeking a legal separation instead of a divorce.
  • Personal reasons - Legal separation can be preferable when people want time to resolve complex marital issues, or think maybe a reconciliation is still possible. Some also feel a separation can be better for their children.

How legal separation and divorce differ

In both divorces and legal separations, parties end the "marital community." They resolve property issues. They will also come to agreements or be subject to court orders regarding child custody and visitation as well as spousal support. Parties will also live separately in both cases.

However, people who legally separate are still married. This means they cannot remarry unless they divorce.

Finding the right solution for your case

Determining whether legal separation or divorce is best can be difficult. However, discussing the pros and cons with an attorney can help you make informed decisions.

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