Divorce in AZ – Arizona Divorce Guide / FAQ

az-divorce-guide-faqThe decision to end a marriage can be difficult for everyone involved. 

Between property division, child custody, and spousal maintenance, there are plenty of decisions to make. 

If you’re getting a divorce, it’s important to arm yourself with the right information. Below, you’ll find some of the frequently asked questions and answers about Arizona divorce laws and processes.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Divorced?

Arizona law allows any party filing for divorce to represent themselves in court. However, they are required to follow the same rules as parties who are represented by lawyers. 

Because you’ll be held to the same standard as a lawyer, it’s a good idea to just have a lawyer by your side who can review your case and make sure that you’re not making any costly mistakes.

A respected Phoenix divorce attorney will help you to understand what needs to happen and prepare for this challenging time.

What do I Need to Prepare?

Once you decide to file for divorce, you’ll need to submit the required divorce documents in court. 

The divorce petition should contain the following information:

  • The date and location of the marriage, and whether it’s a covenant marriage
  • The occupation, address, and birthdate of each party
  • Details about any agreement made by the parties in terms of child custody, child support, parenting time, and alimony
  • The names, addresses, and birth dates of all living children—both natural and adopted—that the two parties have
  • Whether the wife is pregnant

The filing fee for a divorce petition is $349.00.

Does Arizona Have Residency Requirements for Divorce?

Yes. Before you can file for divorce in Arizona, you or your spouse should be a resident for at least 90 days prior to the date of filing. 

Should I Notify My Spouse that I Filed for Divorce?

Yes. Once you’ve filed the petition in court, you’ll need to notify your spouse. There are different ways to serve the divorce papers, including the following:

  • Use a process server. Many of them charge less than $100 to serve divorce papers.
  • Use the Sheriff’s Office.
  • Some police officers may also agree to serve divorce papers.
  • If the spouse cannot be located, you’ll need to look into alternative methods of service. In a certain case, the petitioner was allowed to serve the papers via email.
  • Generally, the petitioner will not be allowed to just hand the divorce papers to their spouse. However, this may be permitted if their spouse agrees to sign an Acceptance of Service before a notary.

What if My Spouse Refuses to Get a Divorce?

Although this will delay the process, ultimately, they can’t stop you from filing for divorce.

Read more about serving divorce papers in Arizona

How Long Will It Take to Finalize the Divorce?

This varies on a case-to-case basis. Some divorces are uncontested and relatively simple, thus, taking as little as 60 days to complete. Others may be high-conflict or too complicated, and take up to 2 years to finalize.

What is a Contested Divorce?

When both parties agree on the terms of the divorce, including on crucial issues such as child support or property division, the divorce proceedings can proceed either by default or through consent. 

Keep in mind, however, that an uncontested divorce does not require that both parties completely agree on all issues. It simply means that they’ve chosen mediation or other out-of-court methods to resolve the issues they don’t agree on.

If one of the parties disagrees with anything listed in the divorce papers, they’ll be given the opportunity to argue their side. The court will schedule a series of appearances to sort things out.

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Arizona?

Like many states, Arizona allows people to end their marriage without alleging or proving fault. However, for couples who have a covenant marriage, the court will not issue a decree of dissolution unless certain reasons are provided and proved. 

The court can grant a divorce from a covenant marriage if:

  • Your spouse is convicted of a felony and is sentenced to imprisonment or death
  • Your spouse physically or sexually abuses you, your child, or another relative living in the marital residence
  • Your spouse commits emotional abuse or domestic violence
  • Your spouse has a drug or alcohol addiction
  • Your spouse has abandoned the marital home and refuses to return for a period of at least 1 year
  • You and your spouse have been living separately for a period of at least 1 year
  • Your spouse commits adultery
  • You and your spouse both agree to end the marriage

Will I Get Alimony?

The court may grant you alimony or spousal maintenance if:

  • The marriage lasted for so many years and you won’t be able to find adequate employment because of your age
  • You missed career opportunities or significantly reduced your income for your spouse’s benefit
  • You contributed financially to your spouse’s training, education, career, vocation, or earning capacity
  • You are the primary caretaker for your child, so you can’t find work outside your home
  • You can’t support yourself through 
  • You don’t own sufficient property that can support your needs

How Much Alimony Can I Get?

The amount of alimony awarded by the court will depend on the following factors:

  • The cost of securing a health insurance plan if you get dropped from your spouse’s plan
  • The cost of your spouse’s unusual or excessive spending or concealment, destruction, or unlawful disposition of marital property
  • The time you’ll need to get trained or educated so you can find suitable employment
  • Your financial resources and ability to fulfill your daily needs without your spouse’s assistance
  • The future education costs of your children
  • The cost of reducing your career opportunities or income for your spouse’s benefit
  • Your contributions to your spouse’s earning capacity
  • Your and your spouse’s financial resources and earning capacity
  • The length of your marriage
  • The standard of living you were accustomed to
  • Your age, physical and emotional state, and employment history

It’s also important to note that the court will not consider the misconduct of either spouse when deciding the amount of alimony to be granted.

How will the Property be Divided?

You and your spouse can set the terms for the division. However, keep in mind that Arizona is a community property state. This means that all property acquired during the marriage through the efforts of either party will be divided equally between them. Generally, this means that either party is entitled to 50% of the marital property. 

Debt, on the other hand, is usually divided equitably. The court will take into consideration each spouse’s financial resources, ability to repay the debt, and any other significant factors when assigning each spouse’s share.

What is Considered Community Property?

Generally, any property that either spouse obtains or accumulates during the marriage is considered community property. This includes real estate, vehicles, investment and retirement accounts, and others. There are, however, exceptions to this general rule such as the following:

  • Gifts
  • Properties acquired through an inheritance or a will

Separate property consists of assets that are owned by either party before the marriage or those mentioned in the list above. It is also possible for a spouse to turn their separate property into community property by gifting or titling it as such.

How is the Amount of Child Support Determined?

Under the law, every parent has a duty to support their children financially. In Arizona, child support is calculated according to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines use several factors in determining child support including the parents’ income, daycare costs, health insurance costs, and how much time each parent spends with the child.

How is Child Support Paid?

Child support is generally paid through the Arizona Support Payment Clearinghouse. It can also be done by wage assignment. Just remember that money paid directly to the custodial parent may not be credited towards the amount of child support owed, and may instead be considered as gifts.

How is Child Custody Determined?

Legal decision-making or child custody allows parents to decide on issues such as the child’s safety, health, religion, and education. It also covers how much time the child will spend with each parent. Child custody can be determined by the parents themselves through the divorce agreement. However, if they cannot agree, the court will decide based on the following factors:

  • The wishes of each parent and the child
  • Whether either parent commits domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect
  • Whether either parent falsely reports domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect
  • Whether one parent coerces or threatens the other to obtain a custodial agreement
  • The physical and mental health of each parent and the child
  • The child’s adjustment to their school, home, and community
  • The interaction of the child with their parents, siblings, and any other person who may considerably impact their best interests

How Soon Can I Remarry After a Divorce?

You can get married again as soon as your divorce is finalized. 

Find an Experienced AZ Divorce Attorney Now

An experienced and capable AZ divorce attorney can help you make the right choices for yourself and your family. They’ll protect your rights and interests and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

If you have any questions about your Arizona divorce, call (602) 698-5520 or email us to schedule a consultation.