DIY Divorce in Arizona: The Pitfalls

DIY Divorce in Arizona: The PitfallsArizona allows you to file for divorce yourself and go through the process without a lawyer. On paper, this may seem straightforward, especially if you’ve seen those do-it-yourself forms online. However, a so-called DIY divorce has led to undesirable outcomes for spouses who did not anticipate complexities in the procedure. If you’re considering a DIY divorce in Arizona, be wary of these common mistakes that often happen in real-world situations.

Not Being Thorough with Your Documents

There is much information online about the basic steps and paperwork to accomplish for a DIY divorce. Unfortunately, these are often generic resources that don’t include the more intricate documents you must submit.

For instance, besides the basic court packet you have to fill out, you must also provide documentation of your assets and debts as part of the property division process. This alone will require you to dig through your bank statements, tax returns, and other financial records.

Failing to submit complete documents to the court will likely cause delays in your divorce. In certain aspects, it can even lead to unfavorable court decisions – for example, if you can’t sufficiently prove that you need spousal support or alimony.

In addition, besides the documentary requirements for divorce itself, you must consider other documents in your life that need to be updated after your divorce. These might include your property titles, insurance policies, retirement plans, and the like.

Not Following Court Procedures

While the Arizona divorce process has a general step-by-step outline that looks simple, in reality, each of these steps is a set of tasks that are subject to court rules. What’s more, they don’t always go smoothly.

An example is serving the divorce papers to your spouse. You must follow a court-approved process to do this, such as by using a registered process server or getting the help of the Sheriff’s Office. If your spouse cannot be located, the court requires that you serve the divorce papers by getting them published under a specific set of rules.

It’s also crucial to note that each county has its own set of divorce rules and procedures, which may differ from the generic guides on DIY divorce. If you fail to obey a rule in your county of jurisdiction, or if you make a misstep in the process, your divorce could get delayed or even dismissed.

Unknowingly Giving Up Your Entitlements

From property division to spousal support to child custody, there are many areas in divorce where your rights and interests are on the line. We’ve unfortunately seen many individuals unwittingly lose what they’re entitled to because they had no legal guidance. For instance, they did not realize what was rightfully theirs in the division of property, or they could not convince the court that they deserved more parenting time with their children.

In some cases, a dishonest spouse will try to conceal their assets or income to avoid spousal support or child support obligations. The other spouse could then be deprived of the financial support they need and deserve.

There are also cases where one ex-spouse belatedly realizes they got an unfair divorce outcome. This may prompt them to file for a modification of a court order, which means more costs and stress in the long run.

To protect your rights and interests from the start, it’s best to have a divorce attorney who is knowledgeable in the law and has an experienced eye in determining what you’re entitled to.

Not Considering Tax Implications

Divorce has numerous tax considerations. These include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Changing your tax filing and withholding status
  • Updating your tax bracket
  • Potential taxable income from your share of divided property
  • Taxable distributions after retirement accounts are split
  • Whether alimony or child support payments are tax deductible.

In a DIY divorce, you’ll need to do your own research on these tax implications and more. You may get advice from an accountant or tax professional, making sure you don’t miss a tax consideration that could expose you to losses or IRS violations down the road.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Arizona Divorce?

While you are not required to have a lawyer to divorce in Arizona, it’s important to at least consult a divorce attorney for sound legal advice on your specific situation. As we show above, a lawyer’s guidance can be crucial to ensure you accomplish all the paperwork, follow all court rules, and protect your rights and interests – even ones you may not have realized.

A do-it-yourself divorce may be more feasible if you and your spouse are amicable with each other and agree on all divorce matters. Note, however, that even the most cordial spouses can encounter specific issues they might disagree on, such as property division, alimony, child custody, or child support. If a dispute arises, you can best safeguard your interests by consulting an attorney early on.

Call an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Arizona 

With over 25 years of combined experience, the divorce attorneys at Goldman Law are ready to guide and assist you in your divorce. When you work with us, we’ll pour our legal skills and assertiveness to help you obtain the most favorable divorce outcome possible.

You can start simply by consulting with us. Call us at (602) 698-5520 to schedule your consultation with Goldman Law.