The decision that leads a person to wanting a divorce is very personal, very stressful and very emotional. While technically, you do not need a lawyer to get divorced, in many situations, it may be preferred.
If you and your spouse agree with the divorce and are in agreement with everything outlined in the divorce petition, then chances are you can simply file the paperwork on your own without legal representation.
However, if you and your spouse do not agree with the terms for child custody and support, spousal support or division of assets and debts, then you may consider having an experienced divorce lawyer who can ensure your legal rights are protected.
A divorce lawyer in Scottsdale, AZ can also ensure that all the appropriate forms are filled out and served within Court-mandated time frames so as not to invalidate your divorce petition.
In addition, if your English is limited or feel more comfortable talking to an attorney in Spanish; you may consider hiring a bilingual divorce lawyer who can explain the legal process and the forms you are signing in the language you are most comfortable with.
Just as with any anything, it’s all a matter of preference. Some women prefer a female divorce attorney; while some men prefer a male family law attorney. Fortunately, there are many law firms and lawyers in Scottsdale to choose from. Some law firms provide translators and/or staff members that know Spanish.
Divorce Law actions are to be filed at the Superior Court in the county in which one of the spouses has resided for a minimum of 90 days. If the divorce action involves a child under the age of 18, then you must have lived in the state of Arizona for a minimum of 6 months prior to filing.
Here is the link to the Maricopa County Supreme Court: Maricopa County Court
Arizona is one of many states that adhere to a “no fault” divorce rule. No fault divorce simply means that the divorcing spouse does not have to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse. A person can simply say “the marriage is irretrievably broken” and the state will honor the divorce petition.
The state or Arizona requires a petitioner (one of the spouses) to file a “Petition for Divorce” with the Clerk of the Superior Court in their resident county. This petition basically asks the court to end the marriage and issues necessary orders to distribute marital property, child custody and support, spousal support (if applicable) and debts. It is also possible for spouses to file a joint petition for a “consent decree”.
A summons must be stamped by the Superior Court clerk and submitted to the respondent (non-filing spouse) to alert them a divorce has been filed and that they must respond or take some action within a specified amount of time.
Each spouse is entitled to converting any shared health insurance plan to their own health insurance coverage. This advisory notice explains their rights to coverage and conversion of existing plan.
A preliminary injunction is a court order that prevents both spouses from doing anything with bank accounts, property, insurance, investments and children without the written consent of the other spouse or a court resolution. Violating a preliminary injunction can lead to jail time.
This document advises each spouse about their responsibilities regarding the debts acquired during the marriage.
This is simply a cover sheet that gives basic information about both spouses to help process the case.
If applicable, an Affidavit Regarding Minor Children and an Order and Notice Regarding the Parent Information Program must also be filed.
Three copies of each of the forms are to be made by the petitioner; the original copies go to the Clerk of the Superior Court, one copy is for the petitioner and one copy goes to the respondent.
Filing fees vary from county to county, all necessary forms and respective filing fees, listed by county, can be found through the Arizona Judicial Branch Website.
According to Arizona’s Divorce Law, the complete divorce petition and accompanying forms must be served to the respondent (other spouse) within 120 days of filing.
The respondent must submit:
This is a written statement, to be filed with the Clerk of Superior Court, that acknowledges he or she was served the petition and forms.
For those couples wishing to expedite the divorce process, a respondent may also sign an Acceptance of Service that simply proves they accepted or waived the forms being served to them. It does not mean the respondent agrees to the demands of the petition, simply that they received the necessary forms.
The respondent must also file a written “response” stating what he or she agrees with or disagrees with in the served petition. A copy of this response must also be provided to the petitioner.
In Arizona, a “waiting period” of 60 days must pass after a petition for divorce has been filed. If both spouses agree to the terms of the petition, including division of property and child custody and support, then the final divorce can be granted. However, if spouses do not agree on the terms of the petition, then the case will go to court.
A Decree of Dissolution is the final order from the court, that the marriage is legally ended. Within this legal decree is the information that has been agreed upon by both partied, or that has been ordered by the court to follow, regarding: division or property, division of debts, child custody, child support, parenting time and spousal support, if applicable.
There are 3 ways in which a Decree of Dissolution is obtained:
is granted when both spouses agree to all the terms in the divorce petition prior to going to trial. The decree, filed jointly, outlines all agreed upon terms and shows both parties have met all conditions.
is granted by the court, when the respondent fails to file a response within the allotted time frame, usually 20 to 30 days. The court ends the marriage by default after the petitioner files a Notice of Default and the case enters the default stages. After 10 days, if the respondent still has not responded, then a final judgment is entered.
If one or both parties do not agree with the content of the divorce petition, whether division of property or child custody; the case then goes to trial and the presiding judge will determine the final details of the divorce.
Annulment is a legal process in which a marriage that should have never been allowed according to state guidelines, to be dissolved. While the filing process has some similarities to divorce, an annulment is quicker and less expensive.
It is important to note that you rights under an annulment are not as they would be after a divorce with regards to asset and property division and spousal support.
In October of 2014, a U.S. District Court Judge over-ruled Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage, stating it is unconstitutional. The State Attorney General instructed local County clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex applicants as this ruling would not be appealed.
Unfortunately, half of all marriages end in divorce – including those with same-sex partners. Fortunately, the process to dissolve a same-sex marriage is the same as a traditional marriage.
The laws that pertain to property division, assets and debt division, child support, and custody are the same. The only caveat is if the same-sex couples entered into a civil union prior to marriage laws being approved and accumulated assets and property. This can change the time frame for what’s considered “marital property”.
Arizona is 1 of 3 states that recognizes and allows Covenant Marriage. It is similar to a traditional marriage accept the marrying spouses must go through pre-marital counseling that emphasizes the “nature, purposes, and responsibilities of marriage" and are limited to very strict guidelines and grounds should they later seek divorce.
Covenant marriage supersedes Arizona’s current no-fault divorce laws, and a spouse in a covenant marriage desiring a divorce may first be required to attend marital counseling as well as prove that one of the following is true of the other spouse: