Learn more about the different options for divorce for couples in Arizona.
Couples divorcing in Arizona have a few 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.
What Are Grounds for a Divorce?
Before a court grants your petition for divorce, you must have a legally acceptable reason for your request. Each state’s grounds will vary, but typically, if you and your spouse have tried to work things out without a positive result, sometimes it’s enough reason for a judge to agree to your divorce petition.
Courts consider this as a “no-fault” divorce, which just means that neither spouse is responsible for the collapse of their marriage. In Arizona, couples only need to appease to the court that their marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown” and the marriage is irreparable. One cannot force the other spouse to remain married.
The only stop to a dissolution of marriage petition is that the marriage is not irretrievably broken. Unless your spouse can persuade a judge that you both want to still be married, even though you filed for divorce, the judge will grant your petition for divorce.
Fault and No-Fault grounds for divorce in Arizona include:
- The marriage is irreconcilably broken (the No-Fault ground) or, if the marriage is a covenant marriage (Arizona identifies what is deemed a “higher” form of marriage called a “Covenant Marriage”) the probable grounds for a Covenant Marriage are as follows:
- Either partner committed adultery.
- Either spouse is lawfully imprisoned.
- Desertion or Abandonment.
- Physical and/or Sexual Abuse.
- The spouses have been living separate and apart continually without reconciliation for at least two years prior.
- The spouses have been living separate and apart continually without reconciliation for at least one year from the date the order of legal separation was entered.
- Alcohol or Drug Abuse.
- Both parties agree to a termination of the marriage.
Fault-Based Divorce in Arizona
In the past 50 years, nationally each state has adopted some type of no-fault divorce, but some states continue to let parties to allege particularized grounds as a reason for divorce. However, Arizona only authorizes fault-based divorce if the spouses have a legally binding “covenant” marriage.
Covenant marriages are uncommon, and only three states—Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana —allow this option. Unlike traditional unions, which will enable couples to marry and divorce with very few restrictions, couples who wish to enter a covenant marriage must:
- take part in premarital counseling
- when petitioning for a marriage license, decide how they will handle divorce, and
- agree to participate in pre-divorce counseling.
If the spouses demonstrate a valid covenant marriage to the court, a judge can only grant the divorce if the filing spouse confirms any of the subsequent grounds:
- the at-fault spouse cheated on the other during the marriage
- the at-fault spouse was involved in a felony, and the courts sentenced the spouse to imprisonment or death
- either spouse deserted the marital home for at least 1 year before the requesting spouse filed for divorce
- the at-fault spouse sexually or physically abused the petitioning spouse, a child, or relative of either spouse, or
- the at-fault spouse has chronically abused alcohol or drugs.
What if My Spouse and I Agree to a Divorce?
Divorce is sensitive and can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be. If you and your spouse can start the divorce process agreeing on the more significant legal issues, like child custody, alimony, and property disbursement, you can request the court grant you an uncontested divorce.
Uncontested divorces don’t require a trial, so it typically means less time and a lot less money, even if both spouses hire lawyers.
Before a court can agree to your petition, both spouses will need to agree that the marriage cannot be salvaged. Also, you will need to present a mutual settlement agreement to the court that clarifies how you will divide your marital assets and debt, and whether either spouse will support the other with alimony, also known as spousal maintenance.
If you have children, you will have to determine which spouse will care for the children, how you will divide visitation times, and who will pay the child support.
Uncontested divorces only work if both spouses agree on each and every issue, if you disagree on any issue during the process, the court will proceed as if it’s a contested divorce. Contested divorces usually require a drawn-out divorce trial where a judge will decide on the major issues. A divorce trial often results in increased legal fees and more time in court.
What Are the Requirements for a Divorce?
Like a lot of states, Arizona has a residency requirement that you must satisfy before you file for divorce. Couples must show that at least one of the spouses has lived in Arizona for a minimum of 90 consecutive days before petitioning for divorce. In addition, there is a waiting period of at least 60 days from the time you file to the time when a judge can approve your final divorce papers. These requirements help prevent spouses from shopping around for states or judges they think will award a more suitable custody arrangement or property arrangement. Learn more about divorce in Arizona.
What Happens After a Divorce?
After you (or a judge) determine the final terms of your divorce, the judge will provide a signed copy of the judgment of divorce via a signed Decree. This legal document ends your marriage permanently, and will address the following issues:
- parenting time, custody of the child and child support
- alimony (spousal maintenance) payments
- division of marital assets and debt
- each spouse’s obligation for their attorney’s fees, and
- any name change(s) (restoration of maiden name).
This final decree and judgment is a vital record, so keep it in a safe place and refer to it anytime you have any doubts about the details of your divorce. You may also need the Decree in the future when refinancing mortgages or purchasing other assets insofar as a lender may want proof of your dissolution status.
Speak With One Of Our Divorce Attorneys In Scottsdale
Canterbury Law Group’s divorce attorneys in Phoenix and Scottsdale will handle 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 custody, legal guardianship, paternity, prenuptial agreements, divorce mediation, collaborative divorce, and more.
We are experienced divorce attorneys and will fight for you to get you the best possible outcome. Our law firm will represent you fully in court, so you can get on with your life. Call us today for an initial consultation. 480-240-0040 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.