How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Arizona?
Contested Divorce Can Take One to Two Years in Arizona
A contested divorce in Arizona can take between one to two years to complete. The first stage of a divorce is the filing of the initial divorce petition and your spouse’s written response to that divorce petition. This is completed within the first 30 days of when the divorce begins.
The next stage consists of the exchange of information and documentation to enable the attorneys to verify the number of assets and debts and the incomes of both parties.
It also allows you to obtain information and documentation that may affect child custody decisions. This part of the process referred to as the discovery and disclosure stage can take as little as 60 days and as much as one year.
The next thing that may slow down your contested divorce in Arizona is whether either side wants to retain expert witnesses to perform an evaluation of the family in order for the expert to make recommendations to the court regarding the best child custody arrangements for your children.
At other times, financial experts may need to do an evaluation to determine how much money a self-employed spouse may be earning and that value of his or her business.
If experts are necessary for your divorce, you can expect it will take them as much as 8 months to complete their evaluations.
Lastly, a contested divorce case in Arizona will need to be set for trial. Judges will not want to set your case for trial until discovery and disclosure have been completed and all experts have completed their evaluations, so you may be more than one year into your case before the judge schedules your case for trial.
Most judges have a busy schedule, so you may have to wait another 6 months or longer from the day your case is prepared for trial before that trial will occur.
How Long it Takes to Divorce in Arizona if the Case is Not Contested
Your judge cannot sign your Divorce Decree until at least sixty (60) days have passed since the original divorce papers were served upon your spouse. You can think of this sixty (60) day period as a necessary cooling off period during which either spouse may seek mandatory court ordered free marital counseling through the Conciliation Services division of the court.
The court may sign a divorce decree immediately after the expiration of this sixty (60) day period if you and your spouse reach an agreement regarding all of the issues in the divorce, such as agreements concerning child custody, child support, and division of assets and debts.
If you don’t reach an agreement regarding all of these issues, your case must be set for trial. The scheduling of that trial date will depend upon a variety of factors, including:
- The complexity of the issues in your case;
- The potential need for experts to evaluate certain aspects of your case;
- The availability time on your judge’s calendar;
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about how long a contested divorce take 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.