Guide to 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.
Our divorce lawyers understand the divorce process can be an overwhelming and emotional one. At Hildebrand Law, PC, we have provided countless clients with assistance in divorces and other family law matters.
Even the friendliest of divorces can quickly turn into one contentious battle as spouses attempt to work through important issues such as child custody and division of assets. Many decisions need to be made during a divorce, and it is not uncommon for couples to completely disagree on what those final decisions should be.
You also need to understand the divorce process in Arizona. What often starts out as a straightforward and uncomplicated divorce can quickly escalate into an antagonistic one. If this happens, you want to make sure you have an experienced attorney representing you. Our seasoned attorneys are skilled negotiators and litigators and will help get you what you deserve.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce
If you are planning to get divorced, you are probably wondering how long the entire process will take. The amount of time it takes to get divorced in Arizona depends on many different factors, including:
- Separation Requirements: Some states require spouses to live apart for a certain amount of time before they can get divorced. This could take up to a year. In Arizona, there is no time period required for separation in order to file for divorce.
- Waiting Periods: Some states make it mandatory to wait a certain length of time between filing for a divorce and entering a final judgment. In Arizona, you have to wait 60 days before the court can enter a Divorce Decree.
- No-Fault or Fault-Based: The length of time it takes to get a divorce may also depend on whether your divorce is no-fault or fault-based. A fault-based divorce takes longer to resolve because you have to prove a ground for the divorce in court. However, Arizona is a no-fault state.
- Serving Divorce Papers: We have seen divorces take longer when spouses try to avoid getting served divorce papers. Sometimes spouses become angry and upset and do everything they can to prolong the divorce.
- The complexity of a Divorce: The more complicated the issues are in a divorce, the longer it will take. For example, if you and your spouse have a lot of property, it may take longer for the divorce to settle.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in a Divorce
Going through a divorce can be quite stressful and cause some people to make harsh decisions. Here are some common mistakes we have seen individuals make:
- Hiding Assets: In a divorce, it is important to disclose all of your assets. If you try to hide assets, even a seemingly small asset, the judge will frown upon that.
- Talking Badly about Your Spouse in Front of Your Kids: We have also seen individuals bad mouth their spouses in front of their kids. No matter how angry you are with your spouse, it is not appropriate to talk poorly about him or her while your kids are around. Doing so may make your kids feel uncomfortable and make the entire situation worse.
- Settling Too Soon: It is understandable to want a divorce to be over as soon as possible. However, that does not mean you should accept an unfair settlement offer. It is important to be patient and allow your divorce lawyer to negotiate a better settlement.
- Becoming Overly Emotional: A divorce can be overwhelming, but it is still important to keep your emotions in check. If you allow yourself to get overly emotional, you are more likely to make bad decisions. For example, you could lash out at your spouse and say hurtful things that you may regret later on. If you feel yourself getting very angry or upset, you should take a few deep breaths until you calm down.
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.
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.
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.
How We Can Help
If you are considering ending your marriage, our divorce lawyers can discuss your legal options with you. No matter where you are in the divorce process, whether just considering your options or ready to file, our counsel could prove to be an invaluable asset. Our attorneys can assist in child custody and child support issues, as well as property and asset division.
If you and your spouse own a business together, that business becomes part of the marital estate. Our attorneys are well-versed in the intricate process this entails. We can also help you determine if spousal support may be awarded. For spouses who are not sure if they want a divorce, but do need legal issues addressed, a legal separation may the best choice, and our divorce lawyers can assist with that process, as well.
And as we mentioned, although many divorces can be contentious ones, there are still many couples who can work together and negotiate a divorce settlement they can both agree on, avoiding the litigation path. For those couples, our firm offers divorce mediation.
It is important to note that when it comes to dissolving a marriage, there is no one size fits all. For example, when it comes to the division of assets, there are many factors to consider than just the current financial value of assets. There may be long-term financial or tax implications involved in any divorce settlement that may need to be considered.
Our skilled divorce lawyers at Hildebrand Law, PC will be happy to discuss your case in detail during a case evaluation. To schedule an appointment with one of the trusted Phoenix and Scottsdale Arizona divorce lawyers, contact us today at (480)305-8300 or fill out a contact form from our website.
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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.