Divorce in AZ | Arizona Divorce Laws

Arizona Divorce Laws from Chris Hildebrand on Vimeo.

Divorce in AZ | Divorce in Arizona

If you are considering a divorce in Arizona, you should be familiar with the Arizona divorce laws and Arizona divorce processes you will need to navigate to effectively complete the divorce process in Arizona. We should first address the various issues you are likely to face in the divorce. We will then discuss the laws that apply to those issues. We will then follow up with an explanation of the divorce process in Arizona to provide you with a solid framework to deal with a divorce in AZ.

Divorce in AZ | Issues in a Divorce in Arizona

Each divorce case is unique. The issues you face in a divorce in Arizona may not be the same issues another family may face in a divorce in Arizona. Differences in having children in an Arizona divorce versus those families in which there are no children are handled differently because the former will not require you to address child custody or child support issues whereas the latter would include those issues.

Also, spousal maintenance, sometimes referred to as alimony, may or may not be an issue depending upon each spouse’s respective ability to support themselves.

Lastly, the court has the authority to issue an award of attorney fees to one spouse or the other. This may or may not be an issue in your case depending upon each spouse’s respective incomes and/or financial resources and their respective reasonable or unreasonable positions in the divorce case.

Divorce in AZ | Dissolution of Marriage

The dissolution of the marriage itself is the easiest issue to resolve. All the court needs to hear is the testimony of one spouse that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Arizona is what is referred to as a “no fault” state, which means neither spouse needs to actually explain why the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Divorce in AZ | Child Custody and Child Support

Child custody issues can be a very emotional issue for mother’s and father’s. Ultimately, the court will make a decision, if the parents cannot agree upon child custody arrangements, that are in the best interests of the children. The court is required to consider the factors set forth in Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-403 before deciding child custody issues in a Divorce in AZ.

Once the issue of custody, now referred to legal decision making and parenting time, is decided the court must decide which parent will pay child support to the other parent, as well as the amount of that child support. Child support in Arizona is governed by the Arizona Child Support Guidelines and is dependent upon the parents’ respective incomes, the cost of health insurance for the children, day care costs, if any, the parenting time schedule and a few other factors. The Guidelines change from time to time, so it is important to check to make sure you are using the current Guidelines when calculating child support in your case.

Divorce in AZ | Spousal Maintenance (“Alimony”)

A court has the authority to award spousal maintenance to a spouse in a divorce in Arizona. The court will only do so if the court finds the spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance. The court was granted this authority in Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-319. The amount and duration of a spousal maintenance award will vary depending upon the factors listed in the statute.

Divorce in AZ | Division of Property and Debt

The court is required to assign to each spouse their sole and separate property and to equitably divide the parties’ community property, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-318. You will need to identify which items of property were owned by either spouse prior to marriage,  or received as a gift or inheritance, to determine what property should be awarded to each spouse as their sole and separate property. You will then need to determine what other property was acquired during the marriage to determine what property is community property.

Once those items are determined, you will need to ascertain the current value of those items. It does not matter how much was paid for an item as its current value is the amount you would receive for the property if it was sold by a willing seller to a willing buyer.

Lastly, you will need to determine what items of community property will be awarded to each spouse in the divorce in Arizona. If the items are divided equally, you can resolve the division of property. If one spouse receives property at a higher value than the other spouse, you may have to agree upon a community property equalization payment from the spouse with more value to the spouse with less valuable property.

Divorce in AZ | Payment of Attorney Fees

The court has the authority to order one spouse to pay some or all of the other spouse’s attorneys fees, court costs, and expert witness fees pursuant to Arizona Review Statute 25-324. The court may do so if the court finds one of the spouse’s has significantly greater income and/or financial resources than the other spouse and/or if one spouse has been unreasonable during the divorce in Arizona.

Divorce in AZ | Arizona Divorce Process

You may either settle your divorce in Arizona or you can litigate the contested issues in your divorce before the court. If you settle your case, you never have to appear before a judge and, instead, simply submit your settlement agreement along with your proposed divorce decree to court. If you do not settle your case, you will have to appear before a judge for a trial.

Divorce in AZ | Filing for Divorce

The first step in getting a divorce in Arizona is to file your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with accompanying divorce forms. You will file that petition and related forms in the superior court in the county in which either you or your spouse resides. Either you or your spouse must have been a resident of Arizona for at least ninety days prior to filing the divorce petition.

Divorce in AZ | Discovery and Disclosure

Each party is required to disclose certain information and documentation to the other party, pursuant to Rule 49 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. The rules also provide for each party to take the deposition of the other party and to request additional information and documentation to either prepare a settlement offer or get the case ready for trial.

Divorce in AZ | Temporary Orders

If the parties do not agree on the issues in the Arizona divorce, either party may file a Motion for Temporary Orders to deal with issues pertaining to child custody, child support, alimony, the payment of attorney fees, the payment of community debts, and the use of community property by one spouse or the other during the pendency of the case.

Divorce in AZ | Resolution Management Conference

If either party files a Motion for Temporary Orders or requests the court set the case for trial, the court will likely schedule a Resolution Management Conference. This hearing is scheduled to allow the court to hear what issues have been settled and which issues have not been settled.

It is likely the court will schedule the parties to attend mandatory mediation after which time the court will schedule a trial to decide the contested issues.

Divorce in AZ | Divorce Trial in Arizona

If the court sets your case for a final trial, the court will schedule deadlines by which both spouses will be required to submit a Pretrial Statement outlining the issues in the case, the parties’ position on those issues, the witnesses that will be testifying and the exhibits that will be used at trial. The court will also set a deadline by which exhibits must be delivered to the court prior to the trial and deadlines for the completion of discovery and disclosure in the case.

If you have any questions about a divorce in AZ, call us at (480)305-8300 to speak to one of our experienced Arizona divorce lawyers.