Arizona Uncontested Divorce – Frequently Asked Questions

Arizona Uncontested Divorce Frequently Asked QuestionsNot all divorce cases are a costly legal battle. Some couples manage to dissolve their marriage faster and more easily through an uncontested divorce. What is it, and is it right for you? Here are answers to some common questions. Don’t hesitate to consult our experienced Arizona divorce attorneys for legal advice specific to your case.

What is an uncontested divorce in Arizona?

An uncontested divorce is one where both spouses agree on all divorce issues such as property division, debt division, spousal support (alimony), child custody, and child support. In Arizona, there are two ways a divorce can be uncontested:

  • Divorce by consent decree. A “Consent Decree for Divorce” is a document signed by both spouses letting the court know that they agree on all legal matters in the divorce. The judge will review this document, and once it’s signed, it becomes the final divorce order.
  • Divorce by default. If one spouse has filed a divorce petition in Arizona, the other spouse must file a reply within 20 days (or 30, if they are out of state). If the responding spouse fails to submit their reply on time, the petitioning spouse may ask the court for a default divorce. The judge may then grant the divorce in favor of the petitioner.

Arizona counties have their respective rules on how an uncontested divorce can occur. For instance, Maricopa County allows divorce by consent decree or by default, while in Pima County, an uncontested divorce is done only through the default divorce process.

What are the benefits of getting an uncontested divorce in Arizona?

An uncontested divorce is faster, less expensive, and less stressful than a contested divorce. The spouses don’t have to undergo dispute resolution or go through lengthy divorce litigation. They don’t have to wait for the court to set hearing dates. They may still hire lawyers, but attorney fees will be much lower since they’re not going to trial.

For couples who have children, an uncontested divorce is also less distressing for the little ones as there won’t be antagonistic courtroom battles between their parents. In addition, the parents themselves are in control of child-rearing arrangements after the divorce. By contrast, in a contested divorce trial, it will be up to the judge to make child custody decisions.

How long does an uncontested divorce take in Arizona?

An uncontested divorce in Arizona takes a minimum of 61 days. The mandatory 60-day wait is meant to allow the spouses to attend free marital counseling and potentially save their marriage.

Most divorces, even uncontested ones, take longer than 61 days and even  between three-six months in some cases. Couples usually take time to complete standard divorce forms such as their Separation Agreement, Parenting Plan, and Child Support Worksheet. It’s not uncommon for an Arizona divorce to take three to six months from initial filing to final decree.

How much does an uncontested divorce cost in Arizona?

The cost of filing a divorce petition in Arizona depends on the county. In Maricopa County, for example, the filing fee for the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is $349 and the filing fee for the Response is $274.

Other expenses in an uncontested divorce include court filing fees (of other required documents) and attorney fees. All in all, an uncontested divorce in Arizona may cost several hundred to a few thousand dollars. Nationally, one survey found that the average total cost of an uncontested divorce with lawyers is $4,100.

Do I qualify for an uncontested divorce in Arizona?

To qualify for an uncontested divorce in Arizona, you need to meet these eligibility requirements:

  • You or your spouse must have resided in Arizona for at least 90 days.
  • Both you and your spouse agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
  • You and your spouse have an agreement on how marital property will be divided.
  • If you and your spouse have a minor child together, you both must have an agreement on child custody, child support, and visitation.

How do I file for uncontested divorce in Arizona? How does an uncontested divorce work in Arizona?

The Arizona divorce process may vary by county. In Maricopa County, here are the basic steps to file for uncontested divorce by consent decree:

  1. Go to your county’s Clerk of Court and ask to file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.”
  2. Have the initial court documents served to your spouse within 120 days. Service of documents must follow the court’s prescribed process.
  3. Your spouse must then respond within 20 days (or 30, if they are out of state). Their response must state that they agree to all the provisions in your divorce petition.
  4. You and your spouse will then create and sign a Consent Decree, and have it notarized. You’ll need to submit it to court alongside your Separation Agreement.
  5. The court will schedule a hearing to review the Consent Decree. If the judge approves it, they will sign it into a final divorce decree.

And here are the basic steps for a default divorce in Maricopa County:

  1. Go to your county’s Clerk of Court and ask to file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.”
  2. Have the initial court documents served to your spouse within 120 days. Service of documents must follow the court’s prescribed process.
  3. Your spouse has 20 days to file their Response (or 30 if they are out of state). Once this time has elapsed, you can go to the Clerk of Court and fill out the “Application and Affidavit of Default.” Give a copy of the completed forms to your spouse.
  4. Your spouse now has 10 more court days to reply to your default application. If they still do not file a response, you can call the court to schedule a default hearing.
  5. At the default hearing, the judge may ask you some questions, especially if you and your spouse have minor children together. Once the judge determines your petition is complete and legally sound, they will enter your final divorce paper called Decree of Dissolution.

How do I resolve a disagreement that’s holding up an uncontested divorce in Arizona?

It may still be possible to get an uncontested divorce even if you and your spouse have a few disagreements. What many couples do is go through a dispute resolution process called mediation. In this out-of-court process, an independent third-party called a mediator facilitates communication between you and your spouse. The mediator does not make decisions for you but only helps both parties find common ground and mutually favorable solutions.

Do I have to go to court for uncontested divorce in Arizona?

If you and your spouse can make a mutual consent decree, you don’t have to go to court to finalize an uncontested divorce in Arizona. Your attorney can file all the paperwork on your behalf. If you are divorcing by default, the court will set one hearing to review your default application. The judge or commissioner will especially want to hear the case if there are minor children involved.

Can you get a divorce without your spouse’s signature in Arizona?

Yes, you can get divorced in Arizona even if your spouse refuses to sign papers or attend hearings. If they don’t respond to your initial divorce filing, you’ll be able to apply for a “default divorce” where the judge will likely grant your divorce petition.

If your spouse is participative at first but then refuses to cooperate in finalizing the divorce, the judge may make a decision in your favor as well. Your spouse’s signature is not necessary once the judge enters a final divorce decree.

Do I really need a lawyer for my uncontested divorce in Arizona?

Arizona does not require spouses to get a lawyer for divorce, but having an attorney has proven indispensable for many divorcing individuals. Even if you and your spouse agree on all matters, you may find that a lawyer provides significant help in various areas:

  • Crafting a legally sound and equitable Separation Agreement (a crucial document needed for consent divorce)
  • Drafting an effective Parenting Plan that prioritizes the child’s best interests but remains fair to both parents
  • Protecting your rights and entitlements during negotiations
  • Preparing complete and accurate paperwork, and filing them on your behalf.

Hiring a lawyer for an uncontested divorce doesn’t mean you’re antagonizing your spouse. On the contrary, your attorney can help ensure the divorce process goes smoothly and equitably for all involved.

Call an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Arizona

If you’re aiming for an efficient and fair divorce in AZ, let Goldman Law help you accomplish it. Our divorce lawyers have over 25 years of experience and have earned a solid reputation in Arizona Family Law. Clients trust us because our legal service is strategic: we safeguard their best interests while keeping the process as agreeable as possible. 

See what we can do for you in your uncontested divorce. Call Goldman Law today at (602) 698-5520.