Divorce in Arizona differs from other states and there are many differences in important martial ownership rights, child support rights and spousal maintenance rights. That makes this challenging event in your life even more challenging and lay friends and family members often think they know your rights and they are actually uninformed on Arizona family law. If you’re contemplating or going through a divorce in Arizona, it’s crucial to understand the unique legal aspects and guidelines specific to the state. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with valuable insights into divorce in Arizona, covering key considerations, legal procedures, child custody, property division, and more. Let’s dive in and explore what you need to know to navigate your divorce journey successfully.
Understanding Divorce Laws in Arizona:
When embarking on the divorce process in Arizona, familiarizing yourself with the state’s laws and regulations is essential. Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that neither spouse needs to prove fault or misconduct to obtain a divorce. Instead, the grounds for divorce are irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, and the only requirement is that one party believes the marital relationship is irreparable (see A.R.S. § 25-314).
Before filing for divorce in Arizona, you must meet the state’s residency requirements. Either you or your spouse must have been a resident of Arizona for at least 90 days before filing for divorce. It’s crucial to ensure you meet this requirement to proceed with the legal process smoothly.
To initiate the divorce process, one spouse must file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the appropriate court. The filing party is known as the “petitioner,” while the other spouse is the “respondent.” The petitioner is responsible for serving the respondent with the divorce papers. If your spouse resides in Arizona, they must reply to your petition within 20 days from the date of being served. However, if your spouse resides outside of the state, they will be granted 30 days to submit their response.
Child Custody and Support:
Child custody can be a complex and emotionally charged aspect of divorce. In Arizona, the court focuses on the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. Parents must agree on a parenting plan that includes legal decision-making authority and parenting time or else the court will decide for you. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will make a decision based on various factors, including the child’s relationship with each parent, their preferences (if they are mature enough), and the parents’ ability to provide a stable environment. The term “custody” was changed to parenting time and legal decision making more than a decade ago and it is important to understand their meaning and how those terms apply to you and your family.
When it comes to child support, Arizona follows specific guidelines to ensure fair and adequate support for the child (see A.R.S. § 25-501). The court considers factors such as each parent’s income, the child’s needs, and the number of children involved.
Arizona follows the principle of “community property” when dividing marital assets and debts. This means that any property acquired during the marriage is generally considered jointly owned and is subject to equal division between the spouses. However, the court may consider various factors, such as each spouse’s financial situation and contribution to the acquisition of assets, when making property division decisions.
Seeking Legal Counsel:
While it is possible to navigate the divorce process in Arizona without legal representation, it is highly advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney. A skilled attorney will help you understand your rights, guide you through the legal procedures, and ensure that your interests are protected.
Divorce is a challenging event in everyone’s life and a solid understanding of the divorce laws and procedures in Arizona will stand you in better stead. Got to a professional who will give solid Arizona legal advice and don’t rely on your family and friends for advice, only for referrals. The court has developed a self-help website with self-help forms if you decide not to use a professional, a lawyer, however keep in mind how clogged up the courts are with people who do not have legal counsel and the it takes to do over your divorce forms if mistakes are found by the court. Remember, seeking legal counsel and support from professionals who specialize in family law is crucial to ensure a fair and satisfactory outcome. By prioritizing your well-being and staying informed, you can move forward with confidence during this difficult time.
McMurdie Law & Mediation can help you navigate the process of divorce and ensure your rights are protected. Schedule a no-obligation, no-cost initial consultation and case evaluation today. Call us at 480-777-5500.