Divorce can be characterized as both the end of one life event and the beginning of a new stage. When anyone experiences such a significant change in their life, they want guidance from others who have experience guiding them through this process.
Even in the most amicable of divorces, you need to make sure that you have full and accurate information to make crucial decisions throughout the process, whether you are settling the case or going to trial. At the Law Offices of Vescio & Seifert, P.C., we are dedicated to providing our clients with the information they need to make decisions that will help them navigate this process and move forward in their lives after divorce. If you live in Glendale or Tucson, Arizona, or anywhere throughout the State and you are considering divorce, legal separation, annulment, or have been served with divorce papers, let us help you through this process.
There is a 90-day residency requirement to file for divorce in the state of Arizona. Eligibility requirements state that you or your spouse must have lived in the state, or been stationed here in the military, for at least 90 days prior to filing a petition for dissolution of marriage.
If you and your spouse have minor children together by birth or adoption, the Arizona courts will also make decisions regarding Parenting Time, Legal Decision-Making Authority (formerly “custody”), and child support. This usually requires that the children have lived in Arizona for at least six months, but there are exceptions.
Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that in most cases the only reason you need to be granted a divorce is that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Neither spouse needs to prove the other’s fault for the ending of the marriage. This also means that one spouse cannot prevent the other from obtaining a divorce.
If you have a Covenant Marriage, however, you need to meet certain requirements to obtain a divorce.
If a spouse disagrees with the other spouse’s filing of the petition for dissolution, that spouse may contest the divorce. The spouse will file a response to the petition which states their opposition to the allegations in the divorce petition. You and your spouse can still agree to terms subsequent to the filing of the petition and response, you can reach an agreement during mediation, or you can let a judge decide the contested issues.
If the non-petitioning spouse chooses to not file a response to the petition for dissolution, the court could enter a default judgment, allowing the terms of the divorce to be dictated by the spouse who filed the petition.
Spouses may also choose to file a joint petition for the dissolution of the marriage. They will then need to reach an agreement regarding the terms of the divorce, including issues such as property division, child custody, child support, and alimony. The Court will then grant a divorce in 60 days if neither party objects during that time.
There is no guaranteed length of time it will take to obtain a dissolution of marriage in Arizona. However, a contested divorce will more than likely take longer than an uncontested one. The time necessary depends on the spouses’ ability to reach an agreement on issues or present their cases in court.
In all divorces, it will take at least 60 days before the decree will be issued.
A contested divorce can take months — or even years — depending on the level of contention. A contested divorce requires a trial, which includes a process referred to as “discovery.” Discovery involves a formal process of exchanging certain required documents, an option for asking for responses to additional questions and answers or providing additional documents, obtaining information from third parties (such as schools), and can involve depositions under oath.
The parties also have the option to participate in mediation in an attempt to resolve the case without a trial. Mediation is a confidential process in which a neutral party works with the spouses to try to reach agreements on some or all of the issues. The mediator, however, cannot make decisions and cannot be called to testify, so the parties still have the right to a trial if they cannot reach full agreements.
Arizona is a community property state, so marital/community property is divided equitably between the spouses, which often but not always means equally. Assets and debts the spouses acquired during the marriage are generally owned equally between them (unless there is a valid pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement) and will usually be divided equally between them in the divorce.
Assets and debts each spouse acquired prior to the marriage, as well as inheritances and gifts received during the marriage, are separate property and not subject to division. There can be some gray areas between separate and marital property. Property one spouse had before the marriage but intermingled during the marriage may be totally or partially subject to division in the divorce.
Property division can be extremely contentious in even the most amicable of divorces. To protect yourself, you should rely on experienced family law attorneys to represent you in your divorce. It could make a tremendous difference in how you are able to move your life forward after the marriage ends.