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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    8

    Default Is a Legal Separation Agreement Still Binding if You Reconcile Before You Divorce

    My question involves a marriage in the state of: Arizona

    After about twenty years of marriage, my wife and I got legally separated for just over a year. The legal separation included division of assets, including retirement. We then had the legal separation dismissed and have been living happily ever after as a normal married couple. Ok,not so happily, as we are considering divorce.

    My question is this... I think in AZ property gets separated in a legal separation the same way it does in a divorce. If that is correct, how would retirement get divided in our situation?

    Would the split go back to the original day of marriage?

    Or would it go back only to the date of the separation being dismissed?

    Would the decision in the legal separation be considered at all in a future judge's decision?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    928

    Default Re: Retirement Funds After Legal Separation then Remarried then Divorce

    what happened to the original legal separation especially when it was dismissed? Was there ever a QDRO that actual split retirement assets and set up account(s) in the other person's name at the time of the separation??

    If the split already happened from marriage to legal separation and that money was never combined back, then I would suspect the new divorce would only look at legal separation dismissal time to divorce time. If that money was comingled, that becomes much more complicated. I suggest you both have separate lawyers review what happened overall.

    But yes, I suspect the legal separation will be considered if money was split at that time. (It would almost be as if you had two marriages to two different spouses). But this is not a DIY especially if there are multiple retirement accounts and calculations involved

    eta: if you didn't split retirement assets at the separation time, you would need to ask counsel if that time period would be considered or not ..but AZ is not my state....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    14,106

    Default Re: Retirement Funds After Legal Separation then Remarried then Divorce

    I am going to say that if they never actually separated the assets that its going to go back to day one.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    5,541

    Default Re: Retirement Funds After Legal Separation then Remarried then Divorce

    A legal separation only freezes the debts and assets in time. It does not divide them. It freezes them in the sense that each would own their own debt and assets going forward and would be finalized in the judgment of divorce. Since they never got divorced, I agree with llworking.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    928

    Default Re: Retirement Funds After Legal Separation then Remarried then Divorce

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    A legal separation only freezes the debts and assets in time. It does not divide them. It freezes them in the sense that each would own their own debt and assets going forward and would be finalized in the judgment of divorce. Since they never got divorced, I agree with llworking.
    I'd agree except the OP stated "The legal separation included division of assets, including retirement" and never stated what happened to the assets once dismissed.

    I do agree most qualified employer retirement plans would require a final QDRO to split assets....just confused on exacty what happened when.... If nothing was actually separated/divided then I 100% agree that it would go back to day one.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2006
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    Default Re: Retirement Funds After Legal Separation then Remarried then Divorce

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    A legal separation only freezes the debts and assets in time. It does not divide them. It freezes them in the sense that each would own their own debt and assets going forward and would be finalized in the judgment of divorce. Since they never got divorced, I agree with llworking.
    Some people actually manage to get assets divided in a legal separation. The ability to do so probably varies from state to state.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    8

    Default Re: Retirement Funds After Legal Separation then Remarried then Divorce

    Hi everyone and thanks for the feedback....

    In the legal separation paperwork I have, there is Exhibit A at the back. The heading of this is Properties and Debts.

    When it comes to retirement, there is a check box next to the following:

    "Each party waives and gives up his or her interest in any retirement benefits, pension plans, or other deferred compensation of the other party."

  8. #8
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    Oct 2006
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    14,106

    Default Re: Retirement Funds After Legal Separation then Remarried then Divorce

    Quote Quoting user1996
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    Hi everyone and thanks for the feedback....

    In the legal separation paperwork I have, there is Exhibit A at the back. The heading of this is Properties and Debts.

    When it comes to retirement, there is a check box next to the following:

    "Each party waives and gives up his or her interest in any retirement benefits, pension plans, or other deferred compensation of the other party."
    Since you had the separation dismissed, that is also going to dismiss the property settlement part. If you divorce now its going to be a do-over since it appears that you never divided any assets or debts.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    8

    Default Re: Retirement Funds After Legal Separation then Remarried then Divorce

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    Since you had the separation dismissed, that is also going to dismiss the property settlement part. If you divorce now its going to be a do-over since it appears that you never divided any assets or debts.
    That is a good point about the dismissal. So if I understand what you are saying, the property and assets had been divided, but upon dismissal, that all goes out the window and any future action looks at the marraige as one from the original date as if the separation never happened?

    I kind of assume the answer is yes to that, as it makes logical sense. I just want to make sure I am understanding things correctly.

    Thanks again.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Retirement Funds After Legal Separation then Remarried then Divorce

    Since you have reconciled the legal separation documentation stands null and void. You might have to go all over again if ever you decide to separate in future.

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