Married happily ever after doesn't happen as much as we'd like. Divorce rates have increased considerably over the last several decades. But once upon a time, you had to have a justification for a divorce, today, all you need in Arizona is the judge to find your marriage is irretrievably broken. In most cases, that's enough to get you a divorce, but it's not enough to make the process easy.
In fact, divorce is never easy. Not emotionally. Not financially. Not socially. Even when no children are involved, no assets are involved, and both parties mutually want the divorce. You have still invested a lot of time, love, and energy into this other person, so even if the divorce is a relief, it's still hard.
We at The Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp understand the complexities of divorce. We are here for you. We want to make the process go as smoothly as possible so that you can deal with it and move on in due time. Here, we provide an overview of divorce in Arizona, but if you have questions specific to your case or want to start your divorce now, contact us at (928) 753-6868to schedule a consultation.
Can I File for Divorce in Arizona?
To file for divorce in Arizona, you typically do not – as mentioned above – have to have specific grounds for divorce but residency requirements must be satisfied.
Grounds for Divorce
To obtain a divorce, you only need the judge to find that your marriage has been irretrievably broken. This is because Arizona is like most other states in the United States: it's a no-fault state. There is one exception, however, and that's if you entered into a covenant marriage. Covenant marriages make-up less than one percent of all marriages each year.
To note, a covenant marriage requires a special process to get married, including premarital counseling. The dissolution of a covenant marriage requires proof of one of the following:
- regular drug abuse;
- conviction of a serious crime and a sentence of death or imprisonment;
- one spouse absent from the home for one or more years;
- one spouse's commission of sexual, physical, emotional or domestic abuse/violence; or
- separate and living apart for two or more years without getting back together; or
- court-ordered legal separation and separate and apart living for at least one year; or
- a mutual agreement for a divorce.
Aside from not having to prove fault, you do, however, have to fulfill certain residency requirements. According to A.R.S. § 25-312, you or your spouse must have been an Arizona resident for at least 90 days before filing the divorce petition. If you are in the military and stationed in Arizona for a continuous period of 90 days, then you will also satisfy the residency requirement.
What is the Divorce Process in Arizona?
The divorce process is pretty straight forward. Basically, it involves the following steps.
- You must meet the residency requirements.
- You must state that your marriage is irretrievably broken (or prove one of the above-listed grounds for divorce if you have a covenant marriage).
- You must complete the petition for dissolution, file the petition, and provide a copy to your spouse.
- Your spouse must respond and either agree or contest the divorce. If your spouse contests the divorce, then there will be a series of court hearings to address the issues being challenged.
- You may have to attend mediation.
- The judge will review your case and enter a judgment.
What Family Law Issues Must Be Addressed During an Arizona Divorce?
Many times when a divorce is contested, it is because there are legal issues that are difficult to agree upon. These issues are usually one or more of the below:
- Legal Decision-Making Time (also more commonly known as child custody)
- Parenting Time or Visitation
- Parenting Plan
- Child Support
- Alimony or Spousal Maintenance
- Division of Assets
Mediation can be a useful tool to help both parties come to an agreement together. If that doesn't happen, the judge will have the final say. Sometimes that may be to your benefit while other times it may not.
Contact a Compassionate Divorce Attorney in Northern Arizona Today
A divorce is a serious event in anyone's life. Having a compassionate, resourceful family law attorney guiding you through the process can benefit you in so many ways. Make sure your interests and rights are upheld during a divorce and contact us at The Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp today. We represent community members throughout Northern Arizona, including Kingman, Flagstaff, Bullhead City, Prescott, and Lake Havasu.