Going through a divorce is often one of the most difficult experiences in a person’s life. Not only does divorce generally mean the end of your primary relationship, it can also cause an upheaval in almost every other aspect of your life. In Arizona, divorce is legally referred to as “dissolution of marriage,” and people who wish to file for divorce in the state must have been a resident of Arizona for at least 90 days before filing. Arizona recognizes “no-fault” divorce, which means that either party to a marriage may seek a divorce if he or she believes that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If a party has entered into a covenant marriage or has converted their marriage into a covenant marriage, the party seeking the divorce must prove one of the fault ground for divorce set out by Arizona law. These grounds include the following:
- The commission of a serious crime
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Separation for at least two years
- Separation for at least one year after a legal separation
- Habitual use of drugs or alcohol
- The husband and wife agree to the divorce
How Does a Person File for Divorce in Arizona?
In order to initiate a divorce in Arizona, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and other related documents. Once it is filed, your spouse must be served with copies of all documents unless he or she has filed a waiver of service with the court. After being served, your spouse has 20 days to respond if the papers were served in Arizona or 30 days if they were served out of state. In the event that your spouse does not file a response within the allotted time frame, you may apply for a default, after which your spouse only has 10 days to respond without the divorce being granted on the terms requested in your initial petition.
What Happens if Your Spouse Does Not Agree to a Divorce?
In the event that your spouse does not want a divorce, he or she can ask that both parties attend a conciliation meeting. This can delay the divorce for up to 60 days. If however, the meeting occurs and you do not agree to postpone the divorce, the dissolution of marriage case will proceed.
What if Your Spouse Does not Agree with Certain Aspects of Your Divorce?
In many divorce cases, the parties are at odds about many important issues, including the division of property, spousal maintenance (alimony), child custody, or child support. When this occurs, it may become necessary to take your case to trial and have a judge decide these issues for you. Requesting and conducting a trial is a complicated process and different courts have varying procedures. For this reason, it is extremely important for people involved in a contested divorce to retain an attorney familiar with litigating divorce cases in your jurisdiction.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Arizona?
Arizona law imposes a 60-day cooling off period, so even if both parties agree to a divorce, at least 60 days must pass before a divorce is finalized. If there are contested issues, a trial will be set, and it could take 9 months or even more for a divorce to be final.
- Child Custody – Child custody decisions determine how much time a parent will spend with the children and who will be responsible for making important decisions regarding their upbringing.
- Property Division – Arizona is a community property state, which means any property acquired by the spouses during the marriage is owned equally between the two of them. Arizona law does not require that the property will be divided equally, however, and judges do have some discretion in determining how the property will be allocated.
- Child Support – Child support involves payment made from the noncustodial spouse to the custodial spouse in order to help with the costs associated with raising the children. These determinations can have a significant impact on both parties’ financial well-being.
- Spousal maintenance – Often referred to as “alimony,” spousal maintenance can be sought during a divorce, after a divorce, or both. It is a court-ordered payment from the spouse that earns more to the other spouse in order to pay for regular living expenses. Courts consider a variety of factors when deciding whether to award maintenance, including the standard of living established during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the age, physical and emotional condition, earning potential, and education of the parties, contributions made by one spouse to the other’s earning capacity, as well as others.