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Grounds For Divorce In Arizona


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Grounds for Divorce? Couples divorcing in Arizona have a couple of different options if they would like to dissolve their marriage. If you are currently facing this delicate legal process, keep reading to learn more about different legal options that may be available to you.

What Are Grounds For A Divorce?

Before a court accepts your petition for divorce, you must have legal grounds for your request. Each state’s grounds are different, if you and your spouse have tried to work things out together but can’t come to a resolution, it’s typically enough reason for a judge to agree to sign your divorce petition. Courts refer to it as a “no-fault” divorce, which means that neither party responsible for their marriage failing. In Arizona, couples only need to establish to the court that their marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown” and that neither spouse can fix the damage. The only defense to a dissolution of marriage petition is by proving the marriage is not irretrievably broken, but, unless your spouse can convince a judge that you both want to stay married, even though you filed for divorce, a judge will grant your request for a divorce.

Fault & No-Fault Grounds For Divorce In Arizona

Fault and No-Fault Grounds for a Divorce in Arizona include:

  1. The marriage is irreversibly broken (which falls under the No-Fault ground) or, if the marriage is considered a covenant marriage (Arizona recognizes “Covenant Marriage”) the possible grounds for a divorce in a Covenant Marriage are as follows:
  2. Either partner engaged in adultery.
  3. Either spouse is lawfully imprisoned.
  4. Either spouse abandons the other.
  5. Physical or sexual abuse.
  6. The spouses have lived apart and separately continuously without reconciling the relationship for at least two years prior.
  7. The spouses have lived apart and separate continuously without reconciling the relationship for at least one year after the date the decree of legal separation was filed.
  8. Alcohol or Drug Abuse.
  9. Both spouses agree to the termination of the marriage.

Fault-Based Divorce In Arizona

In the past 50 years, each state has adopted some kind of no-fault divorce, but some states maintain to let parties declare circumstantial grounds as a reason for divorce. But, only Arizona authorizes fault-based divorce if the couple has a legally binding “covenant” marriage. Covenant marriages are unconventional, and only three states—Arizona, Louisiana, and Arkansas —allow this alternative. In contrast, traditional unions, which allow couples to marry and divorce with little restrictions, a couple who wishes to enter a covenant marriage are required to:

  • go to premarital counseling
  • when requesting a marriage license, decide how they will manage divorce, and
  • agree to take part in pre-divorce counseling

If the spouses demonstrate a valid covenant marriage to the court, a judge can only grant a divorce if the filing spouse can prove any of the following grounds:

  • the at-fault spouse has committed adulty during the marriage
  • the at-fault spouse has committed a crime and was sentenced to imprisonment or the death penalty.
  • either spouse has deserted the marital home for at least 1 year prior to the petitioning spouse filed for divorce
  • the at-fault spouse physically or sexually abused the petitioning spouse, a spouse’s relative, or a child, or
  • the at-fault spouse habitually abused alcohol or drugs

What If We Both Agree To A Divorce?

Divorce, often emotional and complicated, can be simplified if spouses agree on major legal issues like child custody, alimony, and asset distribution. Opting for an uncontested divorce, without the need for a trial, can save time and money, even if both parties hire lawyers. To proceed with an uncontested divorce, both spouses must acknowledge the irreparable state of the marriage. They need to submit a comprehensive settlement agreement to the court, outlining the division of marital assets, debts, and alimony support if applicable. For cases involving children, decisions on custody, visitation schedules, and child support must be agreed upon. If any disagreement arises during the process, the court may treat it as contested, leading to prolonged trials and increased legal expenses.

What Is Required For A Divorce?

Like a lot of states, Arizona has a residency requirement that you must fulfill before you can file for divorce. Couples must validate that at least one spouse has lived in Arizona at a minimum of 90 continuous days before petitioning for divorce. Furthermore, there is a waiting period of a minimum of 60 days from the time you file to the time a judge can authorize your final divorce papers. These prerequisites help stop spouses from looking around for states or judges they think will grant a more suitable custody settlement or property settlement.

What Happens After A Divorce?

After you (or a judge) confirm the final terms of your divorce, the judge will supply a signed copy of the judgment of divorce per a signed Decree. This legal document ends your marriage indefinitely, and will deal with the following issues:

  • visitation time, custody of the child and child support
  • alimony (spousal maintenance) payments
  • division of marital assets and debt
  • each spouse’s responsibility for their attorney’s fees, and
  • any name change(s) (reinstatement of maiden name).

This final decree and judgment is a very important record, it needs to be kept in a safe place and referred to it anytime you have doubts about the specifics of your divorce. You may also require the Decree in the future when you are refinancing mortgages or purchasing other assets as a lender may want proof of your termination status.

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