How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Arizona?
One of your goals in an Arizona divorce should be to get through the process as quickly as possible without sacrificing what is important to you, your children, and your financial future.
The reason we tell our clients our goal is to get them through the process as quickly as possible is that we understand we gain a competitive advantage against other attorneys if we can accumulate, analyze, and are prepared to present all of the evidence in support of our clients’ position much faster than opposing counsel. The other reason is that we want to save our clients the expense of prolonged litigation.
Three factors play a significant role in how long it takes to get a divorce in Arizona. Specifically, the attorney you choose to represent you, the complexity of the case, and whether expert witnesses are used in the case. Each of these factors plays a pivotal role in how long it will take to get a divorce in Arizona.
Choose Your Attorney Wisely and Shorten the Time it Takes to Get a Divorce in Arizona
We decided to begin with the “Choose Your Attorney Wisely” as the first factor because it is the most important factor in determining how long it will take you to complete a divorce in Arizona. Your attorney has several things he or she must do before asking the judge to set your case for mediation or trial.
Specifically, your attorney is required to disclose certain financial and other documentation and information to the opposing attorney. The opposing attorney, likewise, has the same obligation. The problem is that many lawyers do not prioritize gathering all of the required documentation and information that is required to be disclosed and, as a result, can delay the scheduling of mediation or trial for many months.
Meanwhile, daily issues arise during those months that necessitate communications with their clients and opposing counsel. That costs money.
The attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC use this tendency to our advantage. We have a comprehensive meeting covering every issue in the case within days of being retained to identify all of the information and documentation needed to present a compelling case for our clients and then immediately begin accumulating and documenting all of the information for disclosure and use at mediation or trial.
We then notify the court we have disclosed everything needed to participate in mediation or to set the case for trial. The quicker that initial discovery and disclosure occur the faster, your case will be set for mediation and trial saving your time, money, and the emotional impact a draw out divorce can cause.
The Complexity of Your Case Impacts the Divorce
The next most important factor in determining how long it takes to get a divorce in Arizona is the complexity of your case. A case involving a short-term marriage, a few assets, and a few debts takes much less time than a case involving a long-term marriage, contested issues concerning custody and parenting time, and complicated community property issues, such as the valuation of a business.
The reason the complexity of the case is a factor in the length of time it takes to get a divorce in Arizona is that more complex cases typically require the accumulation, disclosure, and use of much more evidence than a simple case.
For example, a complex case may require a full day of mediation or trial whereas a straightforward case may only require a few hours of mediation or trial. All judge’s calendars are very full. They may have room on their calendar for a two-hour hearing very soon but may have to schedule a whole day trial six months down the road.
Does Your Divorce Require Expert Witnesses
Many types of expert witnesses may be needed in a divorce. For example, a business appraisal may be necessary to value a business or a community lien on a sole and separate business. An accountant may need to be employed if there is a concern a spouse has been secreting money into unknown accounts to audit all of the parties financial accounts.
A vocational evaluator and a financial planning expert may need to be employed if alimony is an issue, a psychologist may need to be involved in conducting a child custody evaluation.
If one or more experts are needed in your Arizona divorce case, they are unlikely to begin their work on your case until all of the relevant information and documentation is accumulated and disclosed by your attorney. The court is also highly unlikely to schedule your case for trial until these experts have informed the court how long it will take them to complete their work and submit written reports to the parties and the court.
The court must then leave sufficient time between the date those reports are issued and the case is scheduled for trial to provide the attorneys adequate time to conduct depositions of those experts, if necessary, before trial.
It is not unusual for these experts to need up to six months or even longer to conduct their investigations and issue their reports, which lengthens the time it takes to get a divorce in Arizona.
The Short Answer to How Long it Takes to Get Divorced
I want to leave you with some information about how long it takes to get a divorce in Arizona. If you can settle your case, you are permitted to file your settlement paperwork to the Court and obtain a divorce in as little as sixty days.
If you have a very complex case involving multiple experts and your case is forced to go to trial because a reasonable settlement could not be reached, you are likely looking at a process that can last up to eighteen months.
On average, cases that are not settled typically take between nine months to a year to go to trial. If the case is contested, but the parties can resolve their issues in mediation, you are likely looking at completing the Arizona divorce process in four to six months.
I hope this information is helpful to you and I want to emphasize that the attorney you choose has a strong influence on how long it takes to get a divorce in Arizona, as well as how much your divorce will cost. We have all heard the adage “time is money” and nothing could be truer in a divorce case. The longer your case takes to resolve the more money you will spend.
Efficiency and speed are built into all of our detailed processes and procedures every divorce attorney and paralegal employ in all of our clients’ cases. These principles are ingrained in the way we practice family law to the extent that it is an automatic response by our entire law firm immediately upon being retained in an Arizona divorce case.
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Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about how long a divorce takes in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about divorce laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.