Discover what steps you need to take, and what to think about throughout divorce proceedings in Arizona.
Choosing to end your marriage is not easy. When you’re contemplating about divorce, you will need to choose what you want in provisions of child custody, alimony, and division of assets.
You will also need to decide if you want to hire an attorney or manage your divorce on by yourself.
This post offers a summary of the divorce procedure in Arizona. When following you reading this post and you have questions, you need to get a hold of a localized Arizona family law attorney for counsel.
Getting a Divorce Initiated in Arizona
Either spouse is able to file for divorce (known as a “dissolution of marriage”) in the state of Arizona. Your dissolution starts once the dissolution documentation gets filed with the court.
The primary dissolution documentation comprises of a Summons and a Petition. The dissolution petition clarifies to the court and your spouse what you’re pursuing in the divorce. For instance, the dissolution petition is going to include any petitions for alimony (also known as “spousal maintenance”), division of marital property, child custody and/or support, and attorney’s fees and expenses. The spouse filing for divorce needs of serve the dissolution petition to the other spouse using a process server or LEO.
Filing a Response
The spouse that was served with the dissolution petition (known as the “respondent”) may either agree to all conditions in the petition or file opposite documentation. There are severe deadlines for filing a response to the petition in Arizona. In a lot of cases, the respondent has twenty days to file a response following them being served; thirty days when the respondent doesn’t live in Arizona. When you’re not sure about these deadlines, get a hold of a local family attorney for counsel.
If one spouse declines in filing a response to a dissolution petition, the court is able to enter a default judgment towards the non responsive spouse. The “default judgment” will mean that the court progresses forward with the case devoid of hearing from the non responsive spouse and awards all of the filing spouse’s demands from the petition.
Establishing Brief Orders
A judge could enter brief orders (also known as “pendente lite orders” in Arizona) in divorce cases where children are involved or in which one spouse has unfulfilled financial needs. Brief orders could resolve custody, child support, spousal support, and support matters such as who gets the marital house and who is responsible for paying the mortgage during the time when your divorce is unresolved.
Spouses can come to their own agreements on brief orders or leave issues up to a judge to make a decision on. Their orders will last until they get modified, or the divorce becomes finalized. See Arizona Revised Statutes § 25-315 (2020).
Custody Issues in Arizona
When parents get divorced, they’ll have to determine how to handle parenting time (also known as “physical custody” and “visitation”) and parental obligations (also known as “legal custody”). When parents can’t come to an agreement on legal and physical custody, a judge is going to make a custody decision based on the best interests of the child.
Final Steps in the Divorce Process in Arizona
After you have filed and had your divorce papers served, held brief orders (or prior to a 2nd brief orders hearing), you’ll need to collect evidence to show your case at trial or resolve things through mediation.
This process of collecting evidence is known as “discovery.” Throughout discovery you are able to request your soon to be ex to answer written-down questions and to hand over particular documents. Subject to the complexity of your divorce and your assets, discovery may be a short or a drawn-out process.
When you hire an lawyer, your attorneys, are going to submit and receive information for you throughout discovery, but are going to need your feedback along the way. Your attorney might use the following kinds of discovery:
- Inquires (written questions in lists)
- petitions for production (petitions to hand-over copies of associated documents such as mortgages or credit card statements), and
- depositions (your attorney is going to ask your soon to be ex questions in person while under oath whereas a court reporter takes down the deposition).
After you’ve collected evidence for your case, you might believe you are ready for trial. A lot of judges are not going schedule a divorce trial until the parties have attempted mediation. At mediation the parties attempt to settle their case with the help of an unbiased, 3rd party mediator. Mediators could be attorneys, but a mediator is unable to give you legal advice. It’s up to you should you settle through mediation. Nevertheless, spouses that come to their own agreements have more control over their case than when a judge determines everything at trial.
When you both can’t settle your case, you’ll have to head to trial. Trial is your opportunity to disclose your story to a judge. You will disclose your story through your testimony, the testimonies of other witnesses, and paperwork known as “exhibits.” In a lot of cases, trial can be expensive and displeasing.
It’s difficult for lawyers to foresee the outcome of a trial since every case differs. A trial judge – that is a stranger and that may have an outlook, a disposition, and ethnics very different from yours – is going to split your income and assets and determine when each of you are able to see your children. A judge is going to enter a final order that both of you need to follow.
Occasionally, a trial doesn’t conclude your divorce case. When either spouse is dissatisfied with the trial’s outcome, they may appeal the ruling in a higher-court. An appeal will add more time and cost to the divorce process and is difficult to win.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Arizona?
The cost of your divorce is going to be subject to the intricacies of your case and your family’s distinct circumstances. Particularly, cases in which there are no children involved and few assets are less costly than cases in which a couple are business owners, have multiple homes, and can’t come to an agreement on child custody.
Couples that manage their divorces on their own (without lawyers) and can settle fast can get divorced somewhat cheap. When you hire an attorney, the attorney’s fees are going to add additional costs to your divorce. Additionally, when your case is extremely convoluted, you may have professional costs for custody assessors, forensic comptrollers, and/or business evaluators.
Otterstrom, K. (2020, December 04). The divorce process in Arizona. Retrieved June 08, 2021, from https://www.divorcenet.com/states/arizona/az-art06
Speak with our Divorce Attorney in Phoenix & Scottsdale, AZ
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