Arizona is a no-fault state, which means that neither spouse needs to provide a legal reason for ending the marriage. To begin the process, one spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and claim that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” After the other spouse is served with notice of the petition, he or she will have 20-30 days to respond (depending if they are served in the state). Even if the other spouse does not contest the divorce, the Arizona court imposes a minimum 60-day “cooling off period” before the divorce can be finalized.

What is the Difference Between Divorce and Separation in Arizona?

A legal separation agreement tends to function a lot like a divorce but it does not end the marriage. Similar to a divorce, a separation agreement can be used to resolve issues such as dividing property, child custody, child support, and alimony. If accepted by the judge, a separation agreement is legally binding and can be enforced in court. Generally, a judge will accept a separation agreement if it is agreed to in writing by both spouses and the agreement appears to be fair.

What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?

To start the process for a divorce, a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in a proper Arizona local court.  All required forms for divorce can be found on the self-service form section of your local court website. A full listing of the self-service pages is available on the Arizona Court website. 

Community Property vs. Separate Property

Arizona is an “Equitable Distribution” state, which means that all marital property is divided fairly according to the court unless the spouses make their own agreement. Marital property, also known as community property, consists of most of the assets and debts that a couple acquires during the marriage and is subject to division during the divorce. Separate property, is the property that a spouse owned before the marriage or received during the marriage as a gift or inheritance. This distinction is important because separate property is usually not subject to division in divorce. It is important to know that separate property can become community property through actions like placing your spouse on the title of the property.

What Should You Do if There are Children Involved?

As part of the divorce the judge will issue a child custody order and parenting plan that will detail the parental rights and obligations over the marital children. Since child custody disputes can have complicated legal issues and are extremely stressful for both parents and children, if you have concerns about child custody it is important to talk to an experienced family law lawyer.  

Regardless of who retains custody after a divorce or separation, both parents are responsible for supporting the children of the marriage. But both parents are responsible for either providing health insurance for their children or sharing the cost of healthcare.  

Do You Need to Pay Spousal Maintenance?

When the judge orders a divorce, it is possible that he will order one of the spouses to make temporary spousal maintenance payments or alimony payments. A judge may impose spousal support if he finds that it is fair based on a number of factors including the length of the marriage, the income of the individual spouses, who has custody of the children, etc. Spousal maintenance payments will end if the spouse receiving payments remarries or moves in with another partner.

Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally charged experience and involves complicated legal issues related to property division, child custody, child support, spousal support, etc. If you are looking for an attorney to aid you navigate this process, then contact a local Arizona divorce lawyer today to get the help you need.