What Are the Differences Between Divorce, Legal Separation, and Annulment?
In Arizona, when a spouse decides their marriage need to come to an end, they have three options: dissolution of marriage (divorce), legal separation, or annulment.
Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)
In Arizona, divorce is legally referred to as a “dissolution of marriage.” An individual must petition the court for a dissolution of marriage. Described in A.R.S. 25-312, a court can enter a decree for a dissolution of marriage is the marriage is found to be irretrievably broken and at least one spouse was a resident of the state of Arizona at the time of filing.
Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, so it is not necessary to prove that one spouse committed a specific wrongdoing. Rideout Law Group provides a comprehensive overview of divorce here which includes common divorce aspects such as spousal maintenance, child support, parenting time, and division of debt and property.
Governed by A.R.S. 25-313, a legal separation may be granted after a petition is filed with the court if at least one spouse is a resident of Arizona and if both spouses agree to the separation. If one spouse objects, then a dissolution of marriage must be filed instead.
Once a court has granted a legal separation, it can later be converted to a dissolution of marriage or it can be terminated.
While a legal separation shares many aspects of divorce, including child custody and visitation, property division, and alimony, it is not quite the same. While legally separated, the spouses involved remain legally married. This means that it is not possible to get remarried to a new partner. It also means that you retain the benefits of being married, such as continuing to share if insurance benefits.
Some couples choose this route if they want to separate but do not intend to remarry and would like to continue benefiting from their spouse’s health insurance or other benefits. In other instances, couples opt for this route to give themselves a period of reflection before deciding whether or not they would like to proceed with a dissolution of marriage. It is also an option for couples who oppose divorce on religious or moral grounds but no longer want to be together.
In Arizona, annulments are governed by A.R.S. 25-301 and A.R.S 25-302. Annulments make a marriage null and void, as though it had never taken place, and require the court to show that the marriage was invalid from the start. Once a spouse files for an annulment, only a superior court can grant it.
Appropriate grounds for annulment can include bigamy, insanity, inability for one partner to consent, inability to consummate, incest, and marriage under duress.
Rideout Law Group handles cases throughout the entire state of Arizona, with offices located in Scottsdale and Lake Havasu City. Our attorneys are experienced in handling divorce, legal separation, and annulment cases. For a free consultation, call 480-584-3328.