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The difference between a Legal Separation and a Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) in the state of Arizona is that once you finalize your Legal Separation, you are not divorced.  If you want to get a Divorce later, you have to start all over again. The time frame is the same (60 waiting period from the day of service) the paperwork is the same, this office's fees are the same, the filing fees are the same. To convert a Legal Separation to a Dissolution of Marriage, you would be required to do all the paperwork again, pay the fees again, and wait the time again. Technically, you cannot change your mind in the middle.

A Legal Separation DOES NOT have to be completed before a Divorce can be completed.

A Legal Separation can sever the community property and debts, order child legal decision making, parenting time and child support, but keep in mind that you are still married until you are divorced so neither party may re-marry until there is a Divorce.

Reasons to get a Legal Separation over a Divorce: 1) religious or moral convictions; 2) frame of mind (not sure the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation; or 3) a spouse may remain on the other's health insurance policy with a Legal Separation whereas they probably would not be able to if there is a Divorce.

It is believed at this point that whether a Legal Separation or a Divorce is final by the last day of the year, the parties would be required to file separate tax returns. (Please check with a tax professional regarding the validity of this information before making any decision.)

Also, it may be possible that if the parties continue to live together, the legal separation may become invalid as it states in the legal separation documents that the parties desire to live separate and apart from each other.

As was stated earlier, the process for a Legal Separation is the same as a Divorce. Click for DIVORCE INFORMATION