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Arizona Divorce Law

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State divorce laws cover all aspect of divorce. Arizona divorce laws are complex so speak to a local Arizona divorce lawyer to get advice on how these laws may affect you and your family when filing for divorce.

For your convenience, the chart below summarizes a few of the key concepts of Arizona's divorce laws:

Arizona State Laws

  • Fault/No-Fault: No Fault
  • Property Distribution: Community
  • ADR Available: Yes
  • Parenting Plan Required: Yes

Arizona Grounds for Divorce

Arizona divorce courts accept no fault grounds when filing for divorce. The divorce will be granted on the ground that the marriage is irretrievably broken; however, this doesn't apply if the couple was married under the covenant marriage law.

Covenant marriage is an additional marriage option for couples who wish to marry, but the marriage has different requirements to get married and different grounds for granting a legal separation or divorce in Arizona divorce court.

Legal separation or divorce in a covenant marriage may be granted by the Arizona divorce court for the following reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Committed a felony and imprisonment in any federal, state, county or municipal correctional facility
  • Abandonment for one year
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Habitual drug or alcohol abuse
  • Spouses have been living separate continuously without reconciliation for two years before the petitioner filed for divorce
  • Spouses have been living separate continuously without reconciliation for at least one year from the date the decree of legal separation was entered
  • Mutual consent to dissolution of the marriage

Arizona Residency Requirements

Under Arizona divorce laws, at least one of the spouses must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days before filing for divorce. The divorce petition must be filed in the county where the petitioner lives.

To be considered a resident of the state, you might need to meet certain state requirements. Speak with a local Arizona divorce lawyer to make sure you meet the residency requirement when filing for divorce.

An Arizona divorce attorney can also go over the Arizona divorce waiting periods you may be required to recognize when filing divorce and the Arizona grounds for divorce= you may have to file the divorce petition under.

Arizona Divorce Waiting Periods

Most states require the couple to recognize divorce waiting periods when filing divorce to ensure that reconciliation isn't possible. The periods of time designated by state divorce laws may happen before or after filing for divorce. There may also be a remarriage waiting period once the divorce is finalized.

Arizona divorce law doesn't require the couple wait before filing for divorce. As long as one of the spouses meets the Arizona residency requirement, the couple can file for divorce at any time.

Once the divorce petition is filed in court, there is a 60 day waiting period before the divorce proceedings can be finalized. Arizona divorce law doesn't require that either spouse wait to remarry after a final divorce decree is entered.

Arizona Alternatives to Divorce

Annulment

If a marriage wasn't legal under state law, it is possible in most states for a couple to have an annulment. When a marriage is annulled, it's as if it never existed. Under Arizona divorce law, any marriage is void, meaning it may be annulled, if it's:

  • Between relatives related within a certain degree
  • Between members of the same sex
  • May be void for other reasons

A local Arizona divorce lawyer will be able to go over other circumstances in which a marriage may be annulled.

Legal Separation

To file for legal separation in Arizona, the couple must be domiciled in the state or stationed there while in the armed services. Legal separation will be granted if the marriage is irretrievably broken by one or both of the spouses and there is a desire to live separate and apart. If one of the parties objects to the separation, the Arizona divorce court will amend the pleadings to seek a divorce.

If the couple was married under covenant marriage law, the legal separation grounds are similar to the Arizona grounds for divorce in a covenant marriage. The grounds for legal separation include:

  • Adultery
  • Committed a felony and imprisonment in any federal, state, county or municipal correctional facility
  • Abandonment for one year
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Spouses have been living separate continuously without reconciliation for at least two years before the petitioner filed for legal separation
  • Habitual intemperance or mistreatment by one spouse such that living together would be insupportable
  • Habitual drug or alcohol abuse

The couple can create a separation agreement with workable terms regarding Arizona property division, child support, child custody and other matters. The Arizona divorce court will enforce the agreement if it seems reasonable and fair.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arizona divorce law provides for court of conciliation, allowing couples to reconcile or come to a settlement in domestic relations disputes. The Arizona divorce court may provide divorce mediation, conciliation counseling or other methods of dispute resolution.

Couples considering divorce or who are filing for divorce may use conciliation counseling to help make decisions for the future. A petition for conciliation counseling can put the divorce process on hold for up to 60 days.

Arizona Property Division

Under state divorce laws, the state is a community property state when it comes to property division. This means that each spouse will keep his or her separate property and marital property acquired during the marriage will be divided equitably when filing divorce.

It may be possible for the couple to create a separation agreement that outlines how the couple will handle property division, as well as Arizona alimony, child custody, child support and other relevant issues that may come up when filing for divorce.

The Arizona divorce court will approve the agreement if it is considered reasonable and fair. Any other agreements, such as a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, may be recognized by the divorce court too.

Arizona Alimony

The Arizona divorce court may choose to award alimony, which may also be referred to as spousal support or maintenance. One way the Arizona divorce courts may award alimony is through a separation agreement the couple makes when filing divorce.

A separation agreement can include issues about Arizona property division, maintenance, child custody, parenting matters and other issues and will be approved by the court if the separation agreement is reasonable and fair.

The divorce court can award alimony to either spouse if the person seeking maintenance:

  • Lacks sufficient property to provide for reasonable needs
  • Is unable to be self-sufficient through employment or is unable to seek employment outside of the home because he or she is the custodial parent of child who needs constant care
  • Contributed to the education of the other spouse
  • Had a marriage that lasted long enough and is of the age when it may be less probable to gain adequate employment

When the Arizona divorce court is awarding alimony, it will consider:

  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional health of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • Ability of the spouse from whom the maintenance is sought to provide for the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • Financial resources of each spouse
  • Ability of both spouses to contribute to the educational needs of their children
  • Other relevant factors

It is possible to modify Arizona maintenance orders if there is a substantial and continuing change of circumstances.

Arizona Child Custody

Most state divorce courts want to assign joint child custody so the child can grow up having a relationship with both parents after filing for divorce, but in some cases, joint custody isn't always possible. The key standard divorce courts consider when determining child custody is what's in the best interest of the child.

If the couple chooses to make a separation agreement, Arizona child custody can be arranged in the agreement along with Arizona alimony, child support and parenting. If the agreement is fair and reasonable, the Arizona divorce court will approve the terms.

When child custody is left up to the Arizona divorce court to determine, the court will consider the best interest of the child as well as several relevant factors:

  • Wishes of the child's parents regarding child custody
  • Child's wishes on custody
  • Interaction and interrelationship of the child with each parent, siblings and other members of the families who may significantly affect the best interests of the child
  • Child's ability to adjust to home, school and community
  • Mental and physical health of everyone involved
  • If the parents will allow frequent and meaningful contact between the child and other parent
  • If one parent, both or neither has provided primary care for the child
  • Nature and extent of coercion or duress used by the parent to get a parenting plan
  • If the parent have taken the education program regarding children and divorce required by Arizona divorce law

Arizona Grandparent Visitation

Most states don't grant automatic visitation rights for grandparents in the divorce laws. In Arizona, like many other states, it is possible for grandparents to petition the divorce court for child visitation rights.

Arizona divorce courts may give grandparents visitation if it's found that it would be in the best interest of the child and any of the following is true:

  • The parents have been divorce for three months
  • A child's parents is dead or has been missing for three months
  • The child was born out of wedlock

Arizona has grandparent visitation and custody guidelines to help determine what's in the best interest of the child, which include:

  • The relationship between the grandparent and grandchild
  • Motivation of the grandparent
  • Motivation of the parent or guardian denying visitation rights
  • Visitation time requested and potential negative impact the visitation will have on the child's activities
  • If one or both parents are dead, the benefit in keeping an extended family relationship

Arizona Child Support

Under state divorce laws, child support can be decided through either a separation agreement by the couple or the Arizona divorce court.

A separation agreement can include a way for the couple to deal with Arizona property division, alimony, child custody, child support and other issues that may come up during the divorce process. The Arizona divorce court will then approve and enforce the agreement if it's reasonable and fair.

If a separation agreement is not created and approved when filing divorce, the Arizona divorce court will use the Income Shares Model to make a child support order. Arizona child support is calculated by estimating the amount of support the child would have received if the family had remained together.

The amount is then divided proportionally between the parents, according to each parent's income. Either parent can be ordered to pay child support, and the divorce court doesn't consider marital misconduct.

Some factors when determining child support for couples filing divorce include:

  • Financial resources of the child
  • Standard of living for the child during the marriage
  • Child's physical and emotional needs
  • Both parent's financial resources and obligations
  • Any destruction, concealment, fraudulent disposition or excessive expenditure of shared property
  • Needs of the child
  • Length of the parenting time and related expenses

If there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances since the original Arizona child support order was made, it may be possible to modify child support. An Arizona divorce attorney in your area can work with you to figure out how the circumstances of your divorce will affect child support payments and when you can petition to modify child support.

Arizona Child Support Enforcement

Arizona child support helps the custodial parent provide for children when parent are filing for divorce. Unfortunately, many custodial parents are faced with trying to collect unpaid child support to protect the child's financial future. State divorce laws have established penalties to help with child support enforcement.

When parents fail to pay child support, he or she may have a driver's, professional or occupation license suspended. An arrest warrant may also be issued for his or her arrest.

Arizona divorce laws outline child support guidelines when filing for divorce and establishes child support enforcement agencies to help collect unpaid child support. Find out how much child support you can expect to receive from your spouse by speaking with an Arizona divorce lawyer.

You can also learn about how to modify child support if you feel your payments are too much.

Please understand that this information is provided for illustration purposes only and is not legal advice. A local Arizona divorce lawyer can explain how divorce laws in your state may affect you when filing divorce. Get legal advice from a divorce lawyer today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out an Arizona divorce case review form.

The above synopsis of Arizona divorce laws is by no means all-inclusive and has been adapted from applicable state laws. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local Arizona divorce lawyer in your area.

This "Arizona Divorce Laws" page was last updated May 2009.

Note: Keep in mind that all divorce laws are complex. If you need legal divorce advice or want to fully understand how these laws affect you, please speak with a local divorce attorney.