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How to File for Divorce in Arizona

How to File for Divorce in Arizona



How to File for Divorce in Arizona

No one enters a marriage with the belief that it will be temporary. Sadly, some marriages cannot be salvaged for one reason or another, hence why it’s important to know how to file for divorce.

Having that important bit of insight can save you from additional grief while you’re going through a difficult time. Knowing about the process of divorce also allows for an amicable split. On top of that, you can ensure that you’re not treated unfairly by knowing about divorce proceedings beforehand.

Divorce is not fun, but it becomes a necessity for certain couples. Hopefully, going through the process correctly will at least help minimize some of the difficulties associated with it.

How Divorce Is Different in the State of Arizona

The process of a divorce in Arizona is not completely similar to other states across the country. Arizona legally refers to the process of divorce as the dissolution of marriage.

While that is a notable distinction, it’s one that does not have much of an impact on actual cases. The restrictions placed on how long individuals must wait before they can push forward with a divorce are more impactful.

According to the Judicial Branch of Arizona, residents must wait for at least 60 days from the date of their marriage before they can go ahead with the dissolution of marriage. That’s not the only time-related requirement residents have to meet if they want to get divorced.

There is also a time requirement on being domiciled that residents must abide by. This particular requirement dictates that the parties pursuing the dissolution of their marriage must be domiciled in the state for at least 90 days prior to filing.

Being domiciled means that the involved parties have treated Arizona as their primary state of residence. The parties involved can demonstrate that they do indeed regard Arizona as the state where they live in. Registering to vote in the state is only one of those actions.

If you and your spouse have met those requirements for dissolution, either one of you can push ahead with the divorce proceedings.

The Important Matters to Discuss Prior to Divorce Proceedings

How quickly you finalize the divorce will depend on a variety of factors. Assuming that you and your soon-to-be-ex are at least on speaking terms, it’s worth discussing the following matters to speed up the dissolution process.

Custody of the Minor Children

One of the primary concerns for many parents and the law during divorce proceedings is the matter of custody. In situations where minor children are involved, the parents and perhaps the courts will have to decide the custody between the two parties.

Being on good terms with your partner will be helpful here. Together with your attorneys, the two of you can discuss a variety of topics related to your children.

You and your co-parent can discuss how you will divide parenting time. Do the two of you want to have rotating schedules, or would you prefer splitting the weekends and weekdays?

Aside from the issue of parenting time, you and your co-partner must also agree on how you make decisions related to your children. Will the parent who is currently watching over the child have the right to make all decisions during that time, or will consultations be necessary?

Discussing how to handle custody would be best for all parties involved. That way, both sides will be content with the arrangement, and the young children involved will not be subjected to conflict needlessly.

If you and your co-parent cannot agree regarding custody, the judge does that for you.

Child Support

You cannot discuss matters related to custody without also talking about child support. Child support refers to the financial obligations that parents have to their children.

It doesn’t matter whether you are the parent awarded with primary custody or the non-custodial parent, supporting your child remains your responsibility all the same. There is no set amount for how much child support you must pay, but it has to be a reasonable amount.

Co-parents can discuss exactly how much child support they will both cover ahead of the divorce proceedings. You can discuss the payments during that time. If the two of you cannot reach an agreement, the courts may step in and establish the child support terms themselves.

Maintenance or Alimony

Arizona legally refers to alimony as maintenance. Since we touched on the issue of child support above, you may be wondering why we’re bringing up alimony now.

After all, they’re both referring to the same payments, right? Well, not exactly.

Unlike child support, maintenance is not about meeting the financial needs of your child. When we’re talking about maintenance, the focus is more on maintaining a certain standard of living for your ex-partner. That’s because maintenance is supposed to cover for the unequal division of assets.

Also, in stark contrast to child support, you can spend maintenance payments however you deem appropriate. It’s also worth pointing out that alimony can take forms other than monetary payments. One partner may also provide certain goods and/or services to the other in lieu of financial support.

Maintenance is another topic you will want to discuss at length with your former spouse. Failing to reach a compromise will again lead to the courts getting involved.

Division of Assets

Last but not least, asset division is another matter you should talk to your ex-partner about. Generally speaking, the courts will seek to equally divide all the assets that the two parties acquired throughout the marriage.

The reason why it’s worth taking the time to talk to your ex-spouse first is to clarify which of your assets were obtained prior to getting married. Doing so can lead to a less contentious dissolution and greater clarity when it comes to maintenance.

divorce paperwork

The Divorce Proceedings

Whether or not the discussions with your soon-to-be ex-spouse were productive or not, you can still start the divorce proceedings. We’ll discuss how to file for divorce in this section of the article.

Step 1: Obtain and Accomplish the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

The divorce process starts when you get your hands on a petition for dissolution of marriage. This is the document that the court will repeatedly reference throughout the divorce proceedings.

Fill the petition out carefully and make sure that you provide all the requested details. It’s also a good idea to fill out the form under the supervision of an attorney to avoid making any costly mistakes.

Step 2: Complete Other Relevant Documents

The petition for dissolution of marriage may be the most important document for completing divorce proceedings, but it’s not the only one you’ll need. In addition to that petition, you’ll also need to fill out the preliminary injunction, the summons, the sensitive datasheet, and several other documents. Once again, you should strongly consider completing those documents while in the company of an attorney to avoid errors.

Step 3: File the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Other Documents with the Court

After completing all the necessary documents, you can now move ahead to filing. Head over to the courthouse covering your area and look for the clerk of court. That’s the person who will accept your filing.

Note that there are also rules you need to follow when filing, so take care to abide by those. You will also pay a fee upon filing.

Once you file, you will have a case number. Remember that case number so that you can complete future proceedings to your divorce faster in the future.

Step 4: Serve the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Other Documents to the Other Party

With the documents completed and filed, you can now proceed to the next part of the divorce process. Service is that next part of the process, and it can be quite complex.

The purpose of serving the other party the paperwork is to give them legal notice of what you intend to do. You can go about serving the documents in one of two ways.

The first method involves enlisting the help of an unrelated party in delivery. Approach a registered process server or a law enforcement officer tasked with serving papers to make the delivery to the other party.

The other method involves having the other party sign an Acceptance of Service prior to serving the documents. To be considered valid, the signing must take place in front of a notary or a clerk of the superior court. It’s also worth pointing out here that you cannot deliver the documents yourself unless the other party signs that Acceptance of Service.

Now that you’ve served the other party with the relevant documents, you can return to the clerk of court and file the proof of service.

Also, you must serve the documents to the other party within 120 days after your initial filing.

Step 5: Wait for the Response of the Other Party

You’ve been doing all the work up to this point. Now that you’ve served the papers and filed the proof of service, you can sit back and wait for the response of the other party.

The respondent (person you served with the documents) will now be given up to 20 days to file a response to your petition if they also live in Arizona. If the person you served doesn’t live in Arizona, they will be given up to 30 days to respond following the filing.

In cases where the respondent was made aware of the petition via publication, they will have more time to respond. To be more specific, they will be given up to 60 days to respond from the day of the notice’s initial publication.

Don’t worry if the other party does not respond within the allotted period of time. The case can proceed by default if they fail to respond promptly.

Step 6: File a Consent Decree if the Two Parties Agree to the Dissolution of Their Marriage

If your ex-spouse agrees to the terms of the divorce and indicates as such in their response, you can expect smooth sailing from here. The next step will involve the two of you filing consent decrees.

Those consent decrees will detail the terms of your divorce. File those consent decrees with the court and wait for further instructions. You may need to make an additional appearance in court, but that may be to finalize the divorce.

Step 6A: Attend a Default Hearing

Let’s say that your ex-partner did not respond to the petition. In that case, they may set a default hearing to push forward with the proceedings. This hearing will allow you to get divorced by default.

You will need to file an application and affidavit of default to get divorced and send a copy of that to the other party. If the other party still fails to respond after 10 days, your divorce will push through.

Step 6B: Go to an Early Resolution Management Conference

Now, if your ex-spouse does respond and indicate that they do not agree with the terms set, the court may order the both of you to attend an Early Resolution Management Conference. That conference is supposed to help the two of you agree to the terms of your divorce.

Coming to a compromise during that conference will help speed up the divorce proceedings.

Step 6C: Take Part in a Trial

If you and your partner are still far apart on the terms, a trial may go to court. Trials can be costly and time-consuming, which is why we recommend that you speak with the other party before you start the divorce proceedings.

Step 7: The Dissolution of Marriage Is Finalized

Whether you went through a relatively civil divorce or had to go through a contentious trial, you will still finalize the divorce. The courts will also hand down the decree of dissolution of marriage at this point.

Divorces can be messy, tiring, and costly, but they may also be ultimately necessary. Make sure that the final terms of the divorce are fair to you by working with an experienced and highly skilled attorney. Contact us at the Schill Law Group and allow us to help you navigate the trying time that is your divorce.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Arizona

Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Arizona

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Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Arizona

Some couples in Arizona are not sure that they want to go through with a divorce while others want to remain married but be separated for a variety of reasons. Legal separation is an alternative to divorce for some people. People sometimes decide to seek a legal separation rather than a divorce because of finances, religious concerns, health insurance coverage, or the potential to reconcile at a later time.

If you are thinking about getting a legal separation from your spouse, the family law attorneys at the Schill Law Group can help you to determine whether a separation might be a good choice for you instead of a divorce.

What is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

A legal separation has many similarities to divorce in Arizona. In both types of cases, the spouses will have separated their finances and community property and will live apart. Issues of child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal maintenance might also be decided.

However, the main difference between a legal separation and a divorce in Arizona is that people who are legally separated are still married. By contrast, a divorce terminates the marriage.

To get a legal separation, both parties must agree to pursue it. Under A.R.S. § 25-313, if one spouse objects to the legal separation, the court will order the pleadings to be amended to seek a dissolution instead of separation. By contrast, only one spouse has to agree for a divorce case to proceed under A.R.S. § 25-312 as long as the court finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Since Arizona is a no-fault state for regular divorces, this means that a divorce can be granted even if only one party wants it.

The legal procedure that is required to get a legal separation or a divorce is very similar. Both will require the filing of a petition. The petitioner will then need to serve the documents on the other party. The respondent will be able to respond to the petition. As long as both parties agree to the legal separation, they will negotiate with each other to try to reach a settlement agreement for the division of property, child custody and visitation, spousal maintenance, and child support.

If there are outstanding legal issues in dispute, they can be litigated in court. Eventually, a decree of legal separation can be issued. Legal separation and divorce cases also have identical residency requirements.

When a couple receives their decree of separation or dissolution, they will no longer have a community property relationship with each other. There will be both financial and physical separation. A legally separated couple will still be married and unable to marry other people, however.

Why Choose Legal Separation Instead of Divorce?

Couples choose legal separation instead of divorce for several reasons. While legal separation will end the financial relationship between the spouses, and they will live apart, they will still be married. Some spouses choose to do this because of health insurance reasons. For example, the spouses might agree to a legal separation when one spouse is on the other’s health insurance policy and is unable to get a separate policy.

Some people choose legal separation because of their religious beliefs. Others might choose legal separation as a trial to see if they truly want to divorce or if reconciliation might instead be possible.

How Long does it Take to Become Legally Separated in Arizona?

Under A.R.S. § 25-329, the waiting period for a legal separation or divorce is 60 days after the petition has been served by the petitioner on the respondent. This is how long it can take if both parties agree to everything, take their required parenting classes, and file all of their documents early.

If a case goes through litigation, however, it can take one year or longer. Cases that are resolved through mediation might take up to four months.

6 Things to Consider When Deciding Between Legal Separation or Divorce.

There are several factors that you should consider when you are trying to decide between legal separation or divorce. Thinking through each of them might help you to determine which process might be a better choice.

1. Your ability to remarry

If you and your spouse agree to a legal separation, you will still be legally married. This means that neither one of you will be able to marry someone else. If you choose to get divorced, either one of you will be legally allowed to get married again. While it might be hard to think about getting married again, you might feel very differently later.

2. Potential for reconciliation

Some couples choose legal separation because they think that it might be possible for them to reconcile later. If you and your spouse are going through difficulties and feel like time apart might be beneficial, a legal separation might be a good option. However, reconciliation will likely take some work and a willingness of both spouses to go to therapy.

If you are both willing to do this, getting a legal separation while you try to work things out can help to resolve some issues during the time that you live apart.

3. Not being emotionally ready for divorce

Some couples need to use legal separation as a step on the way to divorce. For these couples, a legal separation might allow them to work through their emotions until they are prepared for the permanent nature of getting divorced. If you are not emotionally prepared for divorce but know it is something that you will need to face in the future, you might prefer to get legally separated until you are ready.

4. Religious considerations

One of the primary reasons that couples choose to get legally separated instead of divorced is religion. If your religious beliefs do not allow you to go through with a divorce, a legal separation might be an option. However, your spouse will need to agree to a separation.

5. Health insurance

Some couples choose to get a legal separation because one spouse might not have access to insurance on his or her own. For example, if your spouse relies on your health insurance and has medical issues, you might decide to pursue a legal separation so that he or she can maintain his or her health coverage.

If you choose to divorce instead, your spouse will need to find health insurance on his or her own. In some cases, COBRA might allow a spouse to have some time to look for coverage. COBRA coverage can be very expensive, however.

6. Children and legal separation vs. a divorce

Children might find their parents’ legal separation to be just as difficult as if they got divorced. Whether you choose to pursue a legal separation or a divorce, you should expect it to be hard on your children. You and your spouse should keep the best interests of your children in mind in all of your decisions. Never say negative things about each other to your children or in front of them.

If you and your spouse believe that you will be able to reconcile, you can tell your children that you need to live in different places for a while. Your children should be told that the decisions that you make are not their fault and that you and your spouse still love them. If your marriage ultimately fails, your children will have time to get used to the new circumstances and potentially more able to handle your divorce. If reconciliation is not likely, you should be honest with your children. You do not want them to have false hopes that you will reconcile.

Deciding to Move Forward with Divorce, Schill Divorce Attorneys can Help.

Deciding to divorce or separate can be difficult. While you or your spouse might be against the idea of legally separating or getting divorced, it is important to understand that if either of you want to get divorced, it will move forward. Talking to an experienced family law attorney at the Schill Law Group might help you to sort through your thoughts and determine which process might be better for your situation and your family.

If you and your spouse opt for a legal separation, you can always convert it to divorce later.

The decision of whether to pursue a divorce or a legal separation is personal. Seeking the advice of a family law attorney is advisable in either case. To learn more about these different processes, contact the Schill Law Group today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 480.525.8900.