No Fault Divorce in AZ
Arizona is a No-Fault Divorce State
Unlike some states, Arizona is a no-fault divorce state. You do not have to prove grounds to file for divorce other than the marriage is irretrievably broken. In some states, you are required to prove your wife or husband did something to justify a divorce. Stated differently, your spouse would have had to be at fault as grounds to file divorce to end your marriage. He or she may have had an adulterous affair, have been abusive, or be incarcerated for committing a serious crime. These requirements made it more difficult to get a divorce and increased the cost of the divorce as you would have to prove your spouse committed an act that justified the divorce. Arizona, on the other hand, is a no-fault divorce state.
In Arizona, you do not need to prove the other spouse did anything to justify a divorce. All you have to establish as grounds to file for divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This is easily accomplished by one spouse testifying that he or she believes the marriage is irretrievably broken. This is true even if the other spouse testifies the marriage is not irretrievably broken. However, either spouse may request the court order the spouses to attend mandatory marriage counseling to attempt to save the marriage.
Although Arizona is a no-fault state when it comes having to prove grounds to file to dissolve a marriage that does not mean fault does not play a role in a divorce. There are many issues that are still relevant in an Arizona divorce case, particularly those involving children including:
- Infidelity and waste claims;
- Abuse of alcohol;
- Abuse of drugs;
- Mental health issues;
- Domestic violence;
- Child abuse;
The Affect of Infidelity and Waste Claims in an Arizona Divorce
If the divorce is being filed because one of the spouses was having an affair, grounds for a waste claim may exist in the divorce. Each spouse owes a duty to the other spouse to manage their income and assets in a manner that benefits the community. If a spouse is spending community money on an affair, those monies undoubtedly did not benefit the community and were, therefore, a waste of community funds. Your spouse may be ordered to reimburse the community for those funds spent on an affair.
The Affect of the Abuse of Alcohol in an Arizona Divorce
Both spouses are presumed by law to be fit parents. However, that presumption can be overcome if you can prove a spouse is an alcoholic or has an addiction to drugs even in a no-fault divorce state. Drinking alcohol to excess or being under the influence of illegal drugs can seriously impact a parent’s ability to properly care for a child. It could also constitute neglect by the other spouse if he or she were to knowingly allow someone who is intoxicated or high to care for his or her children.
A person who is an alcoholic or is addicted to drugs can be ordered to abstain from the consumption of alcohol and drugs during his or her visits with the children. That person could also be ordered to participate in random drug or alcohol testing and could, in certain situations, could be ordered to blow into a portable breath testing device at certain intervals of his or her parenting time; which readings are then uploaded to enable the other parent to monitor the situation. Of course, the best way to resolve the issue is for the other parent to abstain from drinking alcohol or illegal drugs altogether. In this case, the issue of the consumption of alcohol or abuse of drugs can be easily resolved.
The Affect of Mental Health Issues in an Arizona Divorce
Mental health issues are rampant in our society, but not all mental health issues materially affect a parent’s ability to care for his or her own children. Issues such as anxiety, mild depression, and even some personality disorders affect a parent, but not affect some parents to the extent that he or she is not capable of providing for the basic needs of his or her child. Despite that fact, it would certainly be an issue the court may consider when determining how much parenting time that parent will receive, as well as the court’s orders pertaining to legal decision making for the child.
The Affect of Domestic Violence in an Arizona Divorce
Domestic violence can have a major impact on a divorce in Arizona, even though Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, and, most likely, will be grounds for the abused parent receiving sole legal custody of a child. Children witnessing domestic violence are negatively affected in many ways, both short term and long term. Whenever a spouse abuses his or her spouse, there is also a concern that the children may be exposed to abuse when the protective parent is not around to ensure they are safe. A court should take the existence of domestic violence seriously to protect both the spouse and the innocent children safe. A spouse who is being abused should seriously consider obtaining an Order of Protection.
The Affect of Child Abuse in an Arizona Divorce
Child abuse and neglect can have a major impact on a divorce in Arizona. The Arizona Court of Appeals in a child abuse case stated that the court must place paramount importance on protecting children when deciding issues of child custody in an Arizona divorce case. A court is allowed to disallow parenting time to a person who has abused his or her children or order that his or her parenting time be supervised to protect the child. Often, counselors are involved who provide evidence to the court as to whether contact between the abusive parent and the child will be beneficial or harmful to the child.
Call the experienced Phoenix and Scottsdale Arizona divorce attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC if you have any questions about divorce in Arizona.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about a no-fault divorce 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.