Arizona recognizes legal separation. At least one party must be a resident of the state and both parties must agree to the legal separation. If one party objects to a decree of legal separation, the court shall direct that the pleadings be amended to seek dissolution of the marriage.
Issues and Procedure in a Legal Separation
The issues in a legal separation are the same as in a dissolution of marriage ("divorce"): spousal maintenance, child support, legal decision making, parenting time, property, debt, and attorney's fees and costs. The procedure is also the same. The only practical difference between a legal separation and a dissolution of marriage is that the parties are still legally marriage and therefore cannot marry someone else.
“Regular” (Non-covenant) Marriage Legal Separation Grounds:
As in dissolution of marriage, for non-covenant marriages it is only necessary to determine that the marriage is irretrievably broken or one or both of the spouses want to live separate and apart, to file for a legal separation.
Covenant Marriage Legal Separation Grounds:
The grounds for obtaining a legal separation vary slightly from those for obtaining dissolution.
2.Commitment of a felony with a sentence of death or imprisonment;
3.Abandonment for a period of at least one year prior to filing, (if the spouse has not been away for one year upon filing, but is expected to be, the case will be put on hold until the one-year requirement is met. Temporary orders regarding child support, parenting time and spousal support may be granted and enforced);
4.Physical or sexual abuse by one spouse against the other spouse, a child or relative of either spouse who lives in the couple’s home, or domestic violence or emotional abuse;
5.The spouses have been living separate and apart for two consecutive years before filing, (if the spouses have not been separated for two years upon filing, but are expected to be, the case will be put on hold until the two-year requirement is met. Temporary orders regarding child support, parenting time and spousal support may be granted and enforced);
6.Regular alcohol abuse or ill treatment of one spouse by the other, which makes living together intolerable; or
7.Regular drug or alcohol abuse.