Arizona does not require you to be separated from your spouse before you can get divorced. You do, however, have to wait for a period of time before your divorce is finalized. Here is a basic timeline of how long it takes to get divorced in Arizona.
Residency Requirement – 90 Days
Before you can file for divorce, you or your spouse must have been an Arizona resident for at least 90 days. This involves more than just having a street address. You must show that either of you has made the state your “domicile” or legitimate primary residence. For example, you must have obtained an Arizona driver’s license or have registered to vote in the state.
If neither of you has been domiciled in Arizona for 90 days, you can opt to file for legal separation. This does not have a domicile requirement. Although legal separation officially separates your rights and responsibilities from those of your spouse, it does not legally end your marriage as divorce does. However, you can eventually convert your legal separation into a divorce as soon as you meet the 90-day residency requirement.
Minimum Waiting Period – 60 Days
After your divorce is filed and served on your spouse, the court will wait a minimum of 60 days before finalizing a divorce decree. Even if your divorce is uncontested, or even if you and your spouse are ready to submit your full agreement to the court, the 60-day stay is required by law. This period is intended to allow conciliation services, marital counseling, and reconsideration of your decisions.
If you and your spouse still agree on the divorce and all its provisions by the time the 60 days is up, you (as the petitioner) can then file a Consent Decree with the court, which the judge will sign. This means your Arizona divorce can be finalized in 60 days – the least time possible.
Contested Divorce Proceedings – 90 Days To Several Months
A 60-day divorce process rarely happens in reality. Most divorces have one or two issues that are contested, such as child custody, spousal maintenance (alimony), and property division. You and your spouse must reach an agreement on these issues or have the judge decide on them.
How long does it take to finalize a contested divorce in Arizona?
On average, an Arizona divorce may take between 90 and 120 days, but many cases stretch out for six months or longer. This largely depends on how quickly you can resolve your specific family matters.
For some couples, it may only take a few hours of discussion to iron out their issues. Many hire an independent mediator to help them arrive at an amicable settlement. If a couple can create a settlement agreement outside of court, they can then submit this to the judge for review and finalization.
In divorce cases where the couple cannot resolve their legal issues, the divorce will have to go to trial where the judge decides for them. A litigated divorce takes much longer, particularly because hearings and other court dates will have to fit in the court’s busy schedule. Other factors may also complicate the case, such as if the court needs a child psychologist to assess custody issues.
To learn more about how your divorce may proceed in Arizona, or how you can make it an efficient process, talk to us at Goldman Law by calling (602) 698-5520. We are highly experienced divorce attorneys who can detail the best steps to take based on your specific circumstances.