Divorce Law in Arizona

Divorce Law refers to the legal termination of a marriage and often involves working through several complicated issues. Are you facing a costly divorce in Arizona? Does your estranged spouse have an attorney? Usually, couples going through a divorce are unable to compromise on most items and reach an agreement on their own. Thus, many couples go through mediation or the court system to resolve their case.

Issues Involved in Arizona Divorce Law

There are many complicated issues that you need to settle during the divorce process. Many of these elicit strong emotions from one party or the other, resulting in volatility.

Dividing Property 

One of the most challenging issues in the divorce law process is dividing property, debts and assets. In many states, like Arizona, anything you and your spouse purchased over your marriage is subject to division. This includes things such as real estate, bank accounts, cars, stocks, etc. Some states split marital property evenly, while others go along an equitable split. In the latter, the judge weighs the contribution each spouse made to the marriage and uses that information to decide the disposition property, which may not equate to a perfect 50/50 division of your property, debt, and  other assets. 

Child Support 

Both parents are responsible for paying for the care of their children. There is a child support guideline that helps determine how much each parent should contribute based on their income and the amount of time they spend with the children. Child support pays for things such as healthcare, food, clothing and other basic needs.

The Arizona Child Support Guidelines consider the income of both parents. Under the model, each parent contributes their proportionate share of the total child support amount. The child support calculator is an interactive program that will estimate a child support amount based on the Guidelines. Child Support must be paid through the Arizona Support Payment Clearinghouse. According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, ignoring a child support obligation can land you on the Child Support Evaders list. Additionally, you could receive fines, wage and tax garnishments, driver’s license suspension, criminal charges and jail time.

Alimony 

Alimony, or spousal support, can vary dramatically depending on the marriage, and Arizona divorce law court looks at multiple factors when determining the amount and length of alimony, including:

  • A spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity and level of education
  • The division of property
  • Parental responsibility of the children
  • Sole investments and assets of either spouse

Arizona Statute allows for rehabilitative spousal maintenance, compensatory spousal maintenance, and permanent spousal maintenance. Rehabilitative maintenance is limited in duration and provides for job training or school. Compensatory maintenance can be awarded when the lower earning spouse has contributed to the earning power of the other spouse. Permanent maintenance can be awarded when one spouse cannot support themselves.

Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody is perhaps the most emotional issue during a divorce that involves children. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the court bases all decisions on what is in the best interest of the child. Keeping this in mind may help navigate the rough waters of custody.

Under Arizona Statute, the court determines parenting time in accordance with the best interests of the child. Factors considered include the child’s wishes, the ongoing relationship between the parents and the child, and the child’s adjustment to home, school and community. Additionally, the court will consider any history of domestic violence, and whether a parent used coercion to obtain an agreement from the other parent.

Generally, Arizona courts award joint legal custody giving both parents the legal right to make decisions for the children, such as education, medical care and religious practices. Legal custody has nothing to do with physical custody or visitation. Joint custody does not mean both parents split time with the child evenly, just as sole legal custody does not bar the non-custodial parent from visiting the child.

The Process of Going Through Divorce Law in Arizona

Are you leaning towards getting a divorce from your partner? If so, it is important to understand the necessary steps of the Arizona divorce law process.

Step 1: File the Divorce Law Petition

The divorce law process begins when one spouse files a legal petition to terminate the marriage. The petition must include:

  • A legal reason for divorce (grounds for divorce)
  • A statement that shows at least one spouse meets the state’s residency requirements for divorce
  • Other statutory information your state requires

Most states offer the option for filing a no-fault divorce, which does not require a legal reason for the divorce. 

Arizona will accept a no-fault divorce, except in the case of a covenant marriage which requires a fault, such as adultery, for termination.

Step 2: Request Temporary Orders

The divorce law process in Arizona can take several months, and in some cases, spouses cannot wait that long for judgments, but temporary orders can be requested and approved for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Property restraining orders
  • Status quo orders

Request temporary orders as quickly as possible so you are not absent the resources or protection that you need.

Step 3: Serve Your Spouse and Wait for Their Response

If you are the one who files a petition for divorce, you must have your spouse served with their divorce law papers and then file a proof of service with the courts. If your spouse accepts service, then they need to fill out an affidavit to that effect. However, in many cases, the petitioner must hire a process server or sheriff to formally serve the petition on the other spouse. It is this third-party who then records the proof of service.

Step 4: Try To Come to an Agreement

The best outcome for anyone going through this process is to have an uncontested divorce, meaning both spouses agree on all issues.

This can be reached between both partners or with the help of a mediator. Not only will this save each spouse money, but there will typically be a lot less animosity.

Step 5: Go To Court

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, then the case continues before an Arizona judge. While there is some benefit to having a judge hand down orders, it may also be a detriment as there is little to no control of the agreement by the parties. The Arizona Superior Court has jurisdiction over family law including divorce, legal separation, annulment and paternity. The Superior Court  is considered one court with locations in each of the 15 counties in the state.

Step 6: Receive the Judgement of Divorce

The divorce law trial will end with the official judgment of divorce, ending the marriage. This final dissolution of marriage sets out the details about property and debt division, child custody and all relevant issues between the couple.

Work With an Experienced Arizona Divorce Law Attorney

If you are going through a divorce and are unable to reach an agreement with your partner, you should hire an experienced Arizona divorce law attorney. A lawyer will fight for you and make sure you get what is yours. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Arizona state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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