Written by Canterbury Law Group

Divorce in Arizona | Laws | How to File


If you are looking for information on divorce in Arizona, divorce laws in Arizona, or How To file for divorce in Arizona, this post should help!

What Is A Divorce?

Known legally as “dissolution of marriage,” and colloquially as divorce, it is a court procedure to terminate a marriage. The party who initiates the divorce is known legally as the petitioner and the responding party is known as the Respondent.

What Is A.R.S.?

A.R.S is an acronym of Arizona Revised Statutes. It refers to a specific Arizona law when it is followed by “§”and a number. They can be found in any county law library and at www.azleg.gov/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp

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

A.R.F.L.P is an acronym for Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. Any county law library has these rules and they can be found at: http://www.supreme.state.az.us/rules/ramd_pdf/R-05-0008.pdf

Grounds For Divorce In Arizona

Couples divorcing in Arizona have a few a couple of different options if they would like to end their marriage. If you are facing this sensitive legal process, continue reading to learn more about the different legal approaches that may be available to you. Learn more about the grounds for divorce in Arizona.

When Can A Petition For Divorce Be Filed?

As per A.R.S. § 25-312. your spouse or you can file for a divorce once either you or your spouse you have continuously resided in the state of Arizona for a minimum of 90 consecutive days.

To Get A Divorce What Reasons Must I Give?

You do not need a reason. Arizona is what is known as a “no-fault state”. This means neither spouse has to proffer an explanation for the divorce. Merely, one party has to assert the marriage is broken irretrievably and file the case. Should the parties have chosen what is known as a “covenant marriage” when they tied the knot or latterly converted their marriage to a covenant marriage, A.R.S. §25-903. states the party seeking divorce must prove the grounds contained in the statute.

Do I Need A Divorce Lawyer To Represent Me?

Everyone has the individual right to represent themselves in a divorce court. But understand, the court will expect you to follow the correct procedures and applicable laws to your case without allowances for your choice not to engage the services of an attorney. If correct procedures are not followed you run the risk of permanently losing certain rights as the case progresses. If the case has to go to trial and you do not follow the correct procedures, the judge may prevent you from calling witnesses or presenting certain evidence. Judges and court personnel are unable to supply you with legal advice. If you do not understand court laws, it is probably wise to contact an attorney for further assistance. There may be situations where a judge orders your spouse to pay a portion of the total of the fees for your attorney.

What is the Divorce Procedure In AZ?

  • One party files a petition for a dissolution of the marriage (a divorce) and also files initial related documents.  There are a total of 7 different legal pleadings which are mandatory when commencing an action for divorce.
  • Once this is filed, copies of everything are then served upon your spouse, unless the service is waived in writing and then such a waiver is then filed with the court. Once served with the initial legal papers, the responding spouse has 20 days (if served in Arizona or 30 days (if served outside the state of Arizona) to respond to the divorce petition.
  • If after 20 days the spouse has failed to file a response, the other spouse may apply for a default. Once the request for default has been filed, the other spouse has only 10 days to file a response or the divorce may be granted entirely on the terms laid out by the petitioning spouse.
  • At the end of a 60 day “cooling off” period, if no response has been filed, the petitioner can then obtain a “Default Decree of Dissolution of Marriage”
  • Should a response be filed and both parties come to an agreement regarding all outstanding issues, they can jointly submit what is known as a “Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.” This document presents the complete terms of the agreement for the judge to sign as per A.R.F.L.P. Rule 45(B).What If My Spouse Does Not Agree To A Divorce?

What Happens if We Cannot Agree To A Divorce?

In the case where one spouse does not want a divorce, they may request the parties attend a meeting of conciliation with the court. The divorce will be held up for a period of up to 60 days while the mandator conciliation session takes place. If following the conciliatin meeting, no agreement has been reached to postpone or abandon the divorce, it will proceed. There are no additional charges to request an initial  meeting of conciliation.  The Court will assign an officer of the Court to referee your conciliation session.

What Happens if My Spouse And I Disagree During The Divorce Proceedings?

It may be that a judge will have to decide upon any issues your spouse and you cannot come to an agreement on, for example, spousal maintenance, division of property and child custody. In this case, you must request an actual evidentiary trial so your divorce can then be finalized.

Individual counties have different procedures for trials. it is worth checking with an attorney if you are not sure of how you can obtain a trial date. Many courts have forms and information either on their websites or in local law libraries.  Some courts also offer mediation services that are free.

How Long Does It Take To Obtain A Divorce in Arizona?

Following a 60 day “cooling off” period once your spouse has been served with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the divorce may then be finalized and signed off by a judge. It cannot be finalized any sooner than this even if both parties are in total agreement. A trial date will be set if parties cannot come to a final agreement. The waiting time for this to take place will depend on the county, it can take as long as six to nine months before a divorce is finalized.  A trial can often require a year or more before conducting and attending the trial.

What’s Covered In A Decree of Dissolution Of Marriage?

  • Termination of the marriage.
  • Restoration of one’s prior maiden name (if wanted).
  • A determination of parenting, time, support and custody of minor children (if applicable.)
  • Spousal maintenance determination (if applicable.)
  • Responsibility assigned for debts incurred in the duration of the marriage and the affirmation of debts owed before marriage and who is responsible for them.
  • The division of property establishing property obtained during the course of the marriage and what was owned or owed prior to the marriage and by who.
  • A determination of the attorney’s fees and costs (if applicable.)

Can I Obtain Temporary Orders When The Case Is Still Pending?

In a pending divorce, you can apply for temporary orders for interim issues such as parenting time, child custody, spousal maintenance, child support, attorney’s fees, and costs as well as other matters. The procedures to do this are individual to the county where the action has been filed. Again, you will need to seek advice from an attorney if you are unsure of how to obtain hearings for your temporary order requests.

What’s A Preliminary Injunction?

This is a type of restraining order issued at the outset of every divorce proceeding. The preliminary injunction as it is known is issued against both parties and requires that neither party harasses the other, that community property is not sold or encumbered while the case is pending, that the minor children not be removed from the state without the other parents’ written permission or with consent from the court and it orders that all existing insurance policies are maintained (e.g. home, life, auto, healthcare coverages).

What If My Spouse May Become Violent or Has Committed Domestic Violence?

If violence from a spouse is a risk or if they have already become violent you can separately apply for an Order Of Protection. The forms to do this are free of charge and available at any Superior Court, City Court or from a Justice of The peace court. On the day you submit the Petition For Order Of protection Form, you will see a judicial officer. There is no charge to apply for an Order Of Protection. In an violent emergency call 911!

Is There a Court Mandatory Parent Education Program?

Yes, if the parties have a minor child or children together there is a court-mandated compulsory education program instructing on the impact divorce has on children. You may be eligible to have your service of process fees and court filing fees deferred or waived are available at no charge at the Clerk Of The Court office for each county.

Once you have filled out the forms, a judge will make a determination if fees will be deferred or waived. If fees are deferred you must make payments towards those fees as your case proceeds. If your fees are waived, you are not responsible for the payment of those fees.

Speak With One Of Our Divorce Attorneys In Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group’s divorce attorneys in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions. Our family lawyers can also help with divorce litigation, child custodylegal guardianshippaternityprenuptial agreements, divorce mediationcollaborative divorce, and more.

We are experienced divorce attorneys and will fight for you to get you the best possible outcome for your situation. Our firm will represent you fully, so you can get on with your life. Call us today for an initial consultation! 480-744-7711 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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