How to Get a Divorce in Arizona
We get a lot of questions about how to get a divorce in Arizona. If you’re facing divorce, you might think that your cousin who just went through the same thing can tell you all you need to know. But unless your cousin also happens to be a lawyer practicing in Arizona, this probably isn’t the case. Every marriage is unique, and the law is set up to address myriad circumstances. Divorce laws also differ considerably from state to state.
Filing for Divorce in Arizona
Arizona law requires that you live in the state, or be a service member stationed here, for 90 days before you can file for divorce. It’s a no-fault state for the most part. You can’t allege fault grounds in your petition for divorce, accusing your spouse of some wrongdoing such as adultery in Arizona. You’re limited to filing on grounds that your marriage is irretrievably broken, that it’s just not working anymore, but that’s nobody’s fault. Of course, your spouse might not agree that the marriage is over.
Arizona law allows you or your spouse to request a conciliation meeting with the court to postpone the proceedings for up to 60 days. But if you still want to move forward with your divorce after the meeting, you can.
Married With Children in Arizona
You and your spouse must attend a parent education program class if you have minor children. The program deals with how your divorce will affect your children. Not attending can affect the court’s decision regarding visitation and custody. Arizona courts decide custody based on the best interests of the children, a list of various factors the judge must consider. The court will typically look at which of you was the children’s primary caretaker when you were married, but many other factors contribute as well. If you anticipate a custody fight, seek the help of an attorney.
Arizona calculates child support according to the income shares model, calculations based on both parents’ incomes because both would have been available to the children if the marriage had remained intact. The equation can be somewhat complicated, but a lawyer can run the numbers for you and give you an idea of how much support you’re likely to pay if you’re not the custodial parent. Child support typically ends at age 18 unless your child is disabled and incapable of supporting herself. Support may continue to age 19, or until graduation if your child is still attending high school on her 18th birthday.
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Dividing Marital Property in Arizona
Arizona is a community-property state. Unless you and your spouse agree otherwise, the court will order a 50-50 division of all property acquired during your marriage, even if it was acquired in another state that is not a community-property state. The property you owned before you married is usually not considered community property, so your spouse would not be entitled to half its value. The same applies to gifts and inheritances made solely to you during the marriage.
Covenant Marriages in Arizona
Arizona recognizes covenant marriages and the rules for dissolving these unions are somewhat different. Unless both you and your spouse agree to end the marriage or have lived apart for two years, you must file a petition on fault grounds, alleging and proving marital misconduct such as adultery or abandonment. You can also dissolve your covenant marriage if the court has granted you a legal separation and you’ve been separated for one year or more. Speak with an attorney to get a firmer idea of what these rules mean to you if you’re contemplating divorce. Although Arizona law doesn’t require that you hire an attorney to end your marriage, the outcome is often far better when you seek professional help.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article to ensure everyone has access to information about family law in Arizona. Chris is a divorce and 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, quite frankly, actually caring about what his clients are going through in a divorce or family law case. In short, his practice is defined by the success of his clients. He also manages all of the other attorneys at his firm to make sure the outcomes in their clients’ cases are successful as well.