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How to Get a Divorce in Arizona

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If you are looking for information on how to get a divorce or how to file for divorce in Arizona, this information should help!

What is a divorce?

According to the State Bar of Arizona, A divorce is legally known as “dissolution of marriage”, is a court procedure that ends a marriage. The spouse who begins the divorce proceedings is recognized as the Petitioner, the other spouse being served is recognized as the Respondent.

What is A.R.F.L.P.?

A.R.F.L.P. means Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. These rules can be located at http://www.supreme.state.az.us/rules/ramd_pdf/R-05-0008.pdf or in any Arizona county law library.

What is A.R.S.?

A.R.S. means Arizona Revised Statutes. When accompanied by “§”and a number, it is in reference to a specific Arizona law. These statutes can be located at www.azleg.gov/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp as well as in any Arizona county law library.

When can a person file a petition for divorce?

According to  A.R.S. § 25-312  you or the other party had to have been a resident of Arizona for at least 90 days before you can petition for divorce.

What reasons must I give in order to get a divorce?

As Arizona is a no-fault state, meaning that neither spouse needs to give grounds for the divorce. Only one party needs to say that they consider that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” If they both agree to have a “covenant marriage” during their marriage or eventually convert their marriage to a covenant marriage, the party pursuing the divorce needs to prove grounds found in A.R.S. §25-903.

Do I need legal representation?

Everyone is allowed to represent themselves in a divorce case. Despite that, if you do represent yourself, the court will require you to follow the laws and the proper procedures that pertain to your case, even if you are not a lawyer. If you don’t follow the proper procedures, you could forfeit important rights and lose the ability to request particular benefits forever. Judges and Court staff are not permitted to provide you with legal advice. If you don’t know the laws or court procedures, you may consult with a lawyer for help If your case ends up going to trial and you don’t follow the proper procedures, the judge may not let you call witnesses for testimony or produce certain types of evidence..

A judge can also order your spouse to pay some or all of your attorney’s fees.

How does the divorce procedure work in Arizona?

In Arizona, Dissolution of Marriage is the legal name for divorce. The amount of time that it takes to get a dissolution or divorce can differ from case to case. State law requires you to wait 60 days from the date of service before continuing with a divorce. After the 60 day period from the date of service passes, the steps required to getting a divorce will considerably depend on your situation.

A divorce in which the parties have been married for a longer time, where there are minor child(ren), or if there is a  lot of assets or debt to be divided and if the parties can’t agree, can take extra time. A divorce in which the parties have been married for a rather short period, don’t have any children, and less assets or debt can be less complicated.

If each party can agree on every issue pertaining to the divorce, the case can move on by the parties filing a consent decree. If the Petition for Dissolution has been filed and served to the other party and a response hasn’t been filed in certain period the filing party can apply for a default.

Navigating the Divorce Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

The party filing for the divorce is known as the Petitioner. The person responding to the divorce is known as the Respondent. The instruction manual and forms can be broken down into 4 different steps:

  • Step 1 – Introduction and the first court papers
  • Step 2 – How to serve the first court papers
  • Step 3 – Responding to a divorce, set a default hearingpresent a consent decree, prepare for trial
  • Step 4 – How to finalize the divorce process, including the decree (the final papers)

You can also fill out the necessary forms online through ezCourtForms. This hands-on program will help you complete the required forms. You may use these forms or the forms from the Law Library Resource Center.

What if my spouse doesn’t agree to a divorce?

If your spouse doesn’t want to get a divorce, they can request that they go to a conciliation meeting within the court. The divorce will be delayed for up to 60 days while that meeting occurs. If the meeting doesn’t end in both parties agreeing to delay the divorce, the divorce will move forward.

Requesting a conciliation meeting is free.

What happens if my spouse and I don’t agree on something during the divorce proceedings?

If you and your spouse can’t agree on specific issues, like custody of the child(ren), alimony, or the division of assets, it could be necessary allow a judge to decide on these issues for you. You will need to petition a trial in order to finalize your divorce.

The divorce process for requesting a trial will differ from county to county. You should seek the guidance of a lawyer if you are unable to determine how to obtain a trial date. A lot of courts have information and forms readily available to the public either on their websites or their law libraries.

Some courts do provide free mediation services.

How long does it take to get a divorce in AZ?

After serving your spouse with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, there’s a mandatory 60-day ‘cooling off’ period before finalization. Even if both parties agree, a quicker divorce isn’t possible. If there are disagreements, a trial may be necessary. The duration of this process can range from 6 to 9 months, depending on the county, before the divorce is officially concluded.

What is covered in a decree of dissolution of marriage?

A Decree of Dissolution of Marriage will:

  1. Bring an end to the marriage.
  2. Establish parenting time, custody and child support of the minor children, if there are any.
  3. Establish alimony, if there is any.
  4. Divide property attained during the marriage, and declare any property owned prior to the marriage to the party who had ownership of it.
  5. Appoint responsibility for debts sustained during the marriage, and declare any debts, if there are any, owed prior to marriage to the party who owes for them.
  6. Establish financial obligation for attorney fees and costs, if any.
  7. Restoration of the requesting spouses last name (optional).

Can I get temporary orders while the case is pending?

At the same time your divorce is pending, you can apply for provisional orders in regard to custody, child(ren) support, parenting time, alimony, attorney fees, and other affairs.  The process to request a hearing for provisional matters will differ from county to county. You should seek the counsel of an attorney if you are unable to determine how to obtain a hearing for provisional orders.

What is a preliminary injunction?

A Preliminary Injunction, a form of restraining order, is issued at the beginning of each divorce case. It prohibits harassment, prevents the sale of community property, ensures the continuation of existing insurance, and restricts the removal of minor child(ren) from the state without the written consent of the other parent or court authorization.

What if my spouse has committed domestic violence or might become violent?

If the other party has committed domestic violence or might become violent during the proceedings, you can petition for an Order of Protection. Forms for an Order of Protection can be found for free at any City Court, Justice of the Peace Court, Superior Court. You will then meet with a judicial officer the same day that you filled out the Petition for Order of Protection. There is no fee to petition for an Order of Protection.

Be sure to always call 911 in an emergency.

Is there a mandatory parent education program?

If the parties have minor child(ren) together, both parties must appear at a court mandated education program about the effects divorce has on child(ren). Each party shouldn’t attend the same class at the same time. A.R.S. § 25-351Each party must attend, even if there is not a disagreement concerning custody and parenting time. If one party doesn’t attend, they may not be able to acquire custody and/or parenting time with the child(ren).

What if I can’t afford court fees or service of process?

You might be eligible to defer or waive filing and service of process fees based on your financial situation. Free forms to request fee deferral or waiver are available at each county’s Clerk of the Court office.

After completing the forms, a judge will decide whether to defer or drop your fees. If deferred, you must make payments as your case progresses. If dropped, you won’t be responsible for paying those fees.

Source:

  1. “Divorce Proceedings.” The Judicial Branch of Arizona Maricopa County, superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/family/divorce-proceedings/.
  2. “Arizona Divorce Self-Help Center.” DivorceWriter, http://www.divorcewriter.com/ArizonaHelpCenter.
  3. “Divorce in Arizona: Laws: How to File.” Canterbury Law Group, 30 Apr. 2019, canterburylawgroup.com/divorce-in-arizona/.
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