Divorce Laws in Arizona

By: Kevin JensenNovember 6, 2023 -
Divorce laws in Arizona

Divorce, often called the dissolution of marriage, is a legal process that ends a marriage. In Arizona, specific divorce laws guide the process to ensure fairness and clarity. Knowing these laws can help individuals navigate the process more confidently.

At Genesis Family Law and Divorce Lawyers, we understand Arizona law when it comes to divorce. Whether you are navigating an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce, you need an experienced Arizona divorce lawyer to guide you. Arizona's divorce laws surrounding grounds, marital property, and child custody issues can be confusing.

Before drawing up divorce papers, learn more below. Then, schedule a case consultation with our experienced divorce attorney.

Understanding Grounds for Divorce

In Arizona, the main reason given for divorce is an "irretrievable breakdown" of the marriage. This means that the relationship is so damaged it cannot be fixed. There's no need to prove wrongdoing, like adultery or cruelty. It's all about the fact that marriage isn't working anymore. Count on our family law attorney to help you.

Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage

When someone says the marriage is "irretrievably broken," they're saying it's broken beyond repair. There's no going back. No amount of counseling or time will mend the issues. For many, this is a hard reality to accept.

However, this ground simplifies the process. It doesn't focus on who did what to whom. Instead, the focus is on both parties agreeing the marriage won't work anymore. This makes the process less about blame and more about finding a solution.

Covenant Marriage and Divorce

Some couples in Arizona choose a "covenant marriage." This special type of marriage requires counseling before getting married and before getting a divorce. The justifications for divorce in a covenant marriage are different and a bit more strict.

For instance, you can file for divorce in a covenant marriage if there's adultery, abandonment, abuse, or the couple has been living apart for a specific time. It's designed to make couples think deeply before ending the marriage. But it also means there are more steps to take if you decide divorce is the right path.

Separation as a Ground for Divorce

In some cases, couples choose to live apart before deciding on divorce. In Arizona, if a couple lives separately without any intention of getting back together, it can be a ground for divorce. Living apart means both physically and emotionally distant.

After a set period of separation, either party can file for divorce, claiming the separation as the reason. It's a clear indication that the relationship has ended. This time apart gives both parties a chance to reflect on the marriage and make sure they're making the right decision.

Residency Requirements for Divorce in Arizona

Before filing for divorce in Arizona, at least one spouse must live in the state for 90 days. This means physically residing, not just owning property or having an address. This rule ensures that Arizona courts have the right to decide on the divorce.

If you've recently moved to Arizona, you might have to wait a bit before filing. It's a way to make sure that the state has a genuine connection to the couple. Once the 90 days are up, you can file for divorce, and the process begins.

The Process of Filing for Divorce

The process of filing for divorce

Starting the divorce process involves filing a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" with the court. This document asks the court to end the marriage. The other spouse then gets a chance to respond, sharing their views and any disagreements.

The process can vary in length. Some divorces wrap up quickly, while others take time, especially if there are disagreements. Key issues like property division, child custody, and support often need discussion and resolution. Having a good lawyer by your side is crucial, guiding you through each step.

Division of Property and Debts

Arizona follows the "community property" rule as a community property state. This means all assets and debts accumulated during the marriage belong to both spouses equally. When it comes to divorce, they need to be split 50-50.

Community Property vs. Separate Property

In Arizona, anything acquired during the marriage is "community property." Both spouses own it equally. This includes homes, cars, and even debts. However, "separate property" is different. It's what each person had before the marriage or got as a gift or inheritance.

It's crucial to identify what's community and what's separate. Only community property gets split in a divorce. The separate property stays with its original owner. But sometimes, it's not always clear-cut, and you might need legal help to figure things out.

Debt Distribution in Arizona Divorce

Debts, like assets, get divided in divorce. Any debt taken on during the marriage is the responsibility of both spouses. This encompasses mortgages, car loans, and credit card debts.

However, if one person racked up debt without the other's knowledge or for non-marital purposes, the court might assign that debt to them alone. It's essential to have a clear picture of all debts to ensure a fair split.

Factors Affecting Property Division

While the 50-50 rule is a starting point, the court looks at various factors. This can involve the length of the marriage, each spouse's financial condition, and the role each played in acquiring assets or debts. Sometimes, what seems fair isn't always equal.

For instance, if one spouse stayed home to raise kids while the other worked, the court might consider this when dividing property. It's about ensuring that both parties can move forward in a stable financial position.

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Spousal maintenance, often called alimony, is the financial assistance one spouse pays to the other after a divorce. Not every divorce includes alimony. It's decided based on factors like the receiving spouse's needs and the paying spouse's ability to pay.

The idea behind alimony is fairness. If one spouse depended on the other financially during the marriage, they might need help adjusting after the divorce. The amount and duration of alimony depend on factors like the length of the marriage and the recipient's age and health.

Child Custody and Visitation Rights

Child custody focuses on the well-being of the children. The court decides who the children live with and who makes decisions about their upbringing. It's all about what's best for the kids, not what the parents want.

Both parents usually have the right to spend time with their children. "Visitation" outlines how this happens. It can include weekends, holidays, and other special times. The main goal is to keep a strong bond between the child and both parents.

Child Support Calculation and Enforcement

Child support calculation and enforcement

Child support is a way to ensure kids have financial support from both parents. The court looks at both parents' incomes, the needs of the child, and other factors to set an amount. It's not about punishing one parent but about caring for the child.

Once set, child support is a legal obligation. If a parent doesn't pay, there are consequences. They could face legal actions, fines, or even jail time. It's a serious responsibility to ensure children get the support they deserve.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce

Legal separation is like a pause button. The couple stays legally married, but they do not live together. They can split property and decide on child custody but are still married on paper. Some choose this route for religious reasons or to keep certain benefits.

Divorce, on the other hand, is final. The marriage ends. Both parties are free to remarry. The decision between a legal separation and a divorce is personal and depends on what the couple feels is best for them.

The Role of Mediation in Arizona Divorce

The role of mediation in Arizona divorce

Mediation may resolve disputes surrounding a divorce without a long court battle. A neutral third party, the mediator, helps the couple find common ground. It's a more peaceful and often quicker way to settle disagreements.

Many couples find mediation less stressful than traditional court proceedings. It allows for more control over the outcome and can be more cost-effective. While not every issue can be resolved through mediation, it's an option worth considering.

The Impact of Adultery on Divorce Proceedings

While Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, adultery can still play a role, particularly when it comes to decisions about child custody or spousal support. If one spouse's actions negatively impacted the family, the court might consider this.

However, it's essential to know that adultery doesn't automatically mean one party gets more assets or custody. It's just one factor among many that the court considers in the overall picture of the divorce.

Post-Divorce Modifications and Enforcement

Life changes. Sometimes, after a divorce, circumstances shift, requiring changes to child custody or support agreements. Maybe one parent gets a job in a new city, or there's a significant change in income.

In these cases, either party can ask the court to modify the original agreement. It's a way to ensure that agreements stay fair and relevant. And if one party isn't holding up their end of the deal, the other can seek enforcement through the courts.

Contact Genesis Family Law and Divorce Lawyers for All of Your Divorce Needs

Contact Genesis Family Law and Divorce Lawyers

Divorce is complex, both emotionally and legally. Navigating it alone can be daunting. At Genesis Family Law and Divorce Lawyers, we're here to guide you every step of the way. Let us show you the process ahead. We can even handle divorces involving domestic violence or an out-of-court settlement.

Whether you're just considering divorce or need help with post-divorce modifications, we're here to help. With our expertise in Arizona divorce laws, you can move forward with confidence. Reach out today and ensure you have the best representation possible.