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Arizona Divorce Process Timeline & Steps


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Disclaimer: Please note that this article is not intended to be legal advice. You should always talk to an attorney who is skilled at family law about your unique situation.

Divorce is a legal procedure that terminates a marriage. Legally, the term for divorce in Arizona is “marriage dissolution.” Throughout the divorce process you will need to make decisions about child custody and support, visitation, alimony, the division debt and property, and any attorney’s costs and fees. You can have the court make these choices for you by trial, or you and your spouse can make an agreement concerning these matters (typically with the assistance of a lawyer).

Divorce Process in Arizona

Here are the steps and things you’ll need to think about when getting a divorce in Arizona. When working with a lawyer, the lawyer creates and files a lot of the paperwork for you. But your lawyer will require your insight as to what needs to be included in the documents.

  1. The Petition

A divorce starts with the Petition. This document informs the court and your spouse, when served, that you wish for the court to terminate the marriage. It also includes what you want, like child custody and support, child visitation, alimony, the division of property, and attorney’s costs and fees.

  1. The Response

Following a Petition being served, the other (the Respondent) is allowed to file opposition papers. In Arizona, when you are served with a Petition, you need file the opposition papers as the Respondent within 20 days if you reside in-state or 30 days if you reside out of state, or you could lose your right to give your side to the court, and the court may give your spouse everything they wanted in the Petition. When the courts award a dissolution of marriage after hearing only one spouse’s side, it’s known as a default divorce.

  1. Temporary Orders

Temporary orders, also known as pendente lite orders, set the rules while the case is pending. Either spouse can petition the court to make temporary orders declaring, for instance, who will stay in the home, who will take care of the children, who are responsible for the bills and staying calm and collected. It’s in each of the spouses’ best interest to consent to reasonable arrangements as the case is pending instead of incurring more legal fees and add to emotions by needing to go to court for temporary orders. In the state of Arizona, when there are children involved, the court automatically produces temporary orders for child support as the other spouse is served, or a divorce case is filed. Nevertheless, this process may take a number of months to be finalized. To have these matters settled more quickly, the spouses may make a temporary order on their own and file it through the court.

  1. Discovery

Both spouses are entitled to details from the other concerning the case. The legal process for acquiring that information is called discovery. Discovery can be a simple, speedy procedure or one taking up a huge amount of time, energy and money. Usually, the depth of discovery will depend on the value and size of the estate and the duration of the marriage.

There are a number of various discovery processes, typically referred to as discovery devices. Your attorney will usually submit and receive details on your behalf throughout discovery, but they’ll need your insight during the process.

  • Interrogatories. You may utilize an interrogatory to send off a list of questions to your spouse. Your spouse is required to respond with official written answers.
  • Deposition. You may utilize a deposition — occasionally called an examination prior to a trial – to ask a spouse or other individuals questions face to face and under oath. This typically takes place inside an attorney’s office. During which a court reporter logs what is said and then devises a transcript. The spouses don’t ask the questions, the lawyers do, and if your deposition is to be cited, you will have notice in advance, so you have time to get prepared with your attorney.
  • Request for production. You may utilize a request for production to petition your spouse for certain documents.

Your attorneys might also be able to perform discovery informally, instead of using the formal processes detailed above. Informal discovery is usually always more efficient and as a result, less costly than formal discovery.

  1. Negotiated Settlement

A lot of lawyers and judges agree it is easier to settle a case by agreement than to have it go to trial in which a judge determines its final result. If spouses devise their divorce agreement on their own, it’s known as a negotiated settlement. Negotiated settlements offer a lot more privacy and control than a trial. Additionally, ex-spouses are more likely to follow their own agreements, instead of orders imposed on them by a judge. Deliberate compliance is vital since enforcement procedures from the court are typically costly and many times unsatisfactory. Because of this, negotiating an agreement is usually beneficial to both parties.

In the state of Arizona, mediation might be ordered by the judge attempting to settle a lot, if not all the concerns related to the divorce.

Even though your attorney might suggest that you accept or reject a certain settlement proposal, the choice to settle or not is up to you. Your lawyer can’t and is prohibited to make that decision for you.

If a case is resolved by the agreement at the beginning of the process, you may never see a courthouse. However, you and your lawyer are still required to follow added legal procedures, in order to turn your agreement into judgment and to end the marriage.

  1. Trial

Your case will go to trial if you both can’t settle. At trial, each of you will tell your story to a judge. It is detailed through your testimony, other witnesses’ testimony and documents know as exhibits.

Trial is probably going to be expensive and displeasing. Despite that, it may be the only option to relentless irrational settlement demands. Nevertheless, trials are chancy. No lawyer can foresee a trial’s outcome since each case is different. In a trial, a judge – is an unbiased stranger that may have a viewpoint, a disposition, and values that differ from yours — tells each of you how to rearrange your lives, separates your assets and income, and decides when each of you can visit your children.

Occasionally, a trial doesn’t end the case. When one of the spouses is not happy with the outcome of the trial, they can appeal the outcome in a higher court. An appeal adds additional time and costs to the divorce process and is difficult to win.


  1. Nolo. “The Divorce Process in Arizona.”, Nolo, 8 July 2013,
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