An Overview Of The Arizona Divorce Process

Once you have decided to take the steps to begin the divorce process in Arizona, it is important to understand what that involves.  While getting a divorce in Arizona is fairly similar to getting a divorce in other states, there are some things that make it unique and could impact the outcome of your divorce.  The divorce process can feel overwhelming for many people because, not only is it emotionally difficult, but it is costly and time-consuming.  There are a variety of ways to dissolve your marriage and what the process looks like will depend on the unique method of divorce you have chosen.

How Does the Arizona Divorce Process Begin?

To file for divorce in Arizona, either you or your spouse must have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days.  Any divorce in Arizona begins with filing the necessary paperwork for “dissolution of marriage.”  The dissolution of marriage petition is filed with the Superior Court, along with other required documents which protect spouses during the process.  These documents usually protect both spouses’ health insurance, property and assets, finances, etc. during the process of divorce.  This paperwork can be filed by you, your attorney, or your divorce mediator.  After that, the spouse that was served or has voluntarily accepted service has a pre-determined amount of time to respond to the petition (20 days in Arizona).

What are Major Arizona Divorce Laws That May Impact the Process?

Arizona is a “no-fault divorce” state which means that nobody has to be “at-fault” to get a divorce – you can get divorced for any reason.  The next notable law is that Arizona is a “covenant marriage” state.  As an Arizona resident getting married you had the option to choose a ‘fault-based marriage’ meaning that there must be pre-determined ‘proper grounds’ in order to get divorced.

What If My Spouse Does Not Want to Get Divorced?

There are occasions when one spouse wants a divorce but the other does not.  When this happens, it can make the divorce process slower.  The State Bar of Arizona explains what happens in this case, “If your spouse does not want the divorce, he or she may request that the parties attend a conciliation meeting with the court. The divorce will be put on hold for up to 60 days while that meeting takes place. If the meeting does not result in the parties agreeing to postpone the divorce, the divorce will go forward.

How Long Does a Divorce in Arizona Take?

At a minimum, a dissolution of marriage will not be granted until 60 days after the divorce Petition was served or voluntarily accepted by the non-filing spouse.  This is what is known as a “cooling off” period.  Regardless of what you and your spouse want, a divorce will not be granted any sooner than that.  However, a divorce typically takes much longer because of court availability, attorney availability, etc. Just how long will depend on how amicable the divorce is, the complexity of assets and debt that must be divided, whether or not children were involved and, if so, what custody arrangements will be determined, determining alimony, etc.  Of course, this time period is typically much shorter when the parties engage in mediation. Once all parties have agreed and all decisions have been made, both spouses will sign a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage to finalize their divorce.

Does Using a Divorce Mediator Expedite the Divorce Process in Arizona?

Working with a divorce mediator can significantly streamline the divorce process which often leads to a quicker and less expensive process.  Divorce mediators are trained in both the legal aspects of an Arizona divorce as well as mediation. They can help ensure both spouses are fairly and equally heard throughout the entire process, and help both parties work towards the most mutually-favorable settlement possible.

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