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Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Legal Separation vs Divorce in Arizona

Legal Separation vs Divorce in Arizona

What is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

While a legal separation is uncommon, it is still used by some couples in lieu of divorces. There are several reasons why people choose legal separation instead of a divorce. In some cases, it may make more sense for a couple to become legally separated while in others, it may be better to file for divorce. Before deciding which you want to choose, it is important that you understand the differences between legal separation and divorce and the potential benefits and drawbacks of each.

Legal separation has some similarities to divorce but has some key differences. When a couple gets divorced, it terminates their marriage. Their property, assets, and debts are divided between them, and the court issues orders regarding child custody, child support, and possibly, spousal maintenance. When a couple chooses legal separation instead of divorce, it is a formal process through which a couple separates without getting divorced. The court will issue orders about the division of the property and debts, child custody and support, and possibly, spousal maintenance. However, the couple will still be married.

People who are legally separated still must answer that they are married on their tax forms and on other forms. They also are not free to marry other people since they are married. While many couples who get legal separations will eventually divorce, some choose to remain legally separated instead of getting divorced for a variety of reasons. If a legally separated couple does choose to eventually divorce, the orders from their legal separation will be incorporated into their divorce decree.

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Impact of Changes in Tax Law on Spousal Maintenance in Arizona

For people that signed a prenuptial agreement before getting married believing that there may be a chance that they and their spouse may divorce in the future, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed into law on December 22, 2017 can potentially seriously affect the agreement that was reached. A major change occurred with the passage of the law stating that spousal maintenance or alimony is no longer be tax deductible after 2018 to the spouse who is paying it and will no longer need to be claimed as income by the person receiving it.

A separation agreement or a judgment of divorce must be signed within the calendar year of 2018 directing that spousal maintenance will be considered tax deductible in future years according to the new law. Prenuptial agreements can address spousal maintenance in a few different ways, some of which are:

Spousal Maintenance is Waived by Both Parties

In some prenuptial agreements both parties may conesnt to waive spousal maintenance altogether. If this describes your prenup, then the new law will not have an impact on you.

Spousal Maintenance is Waived Unless a specific Event Occurs

Some prenuptial agreements state that the lower earning spouse will be entitled to maintenance if there are children or if some other event happens during the course of your marriage such as a certain discrepancy in income between both spouses this new law may have an impact on you.

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