Updated: May 21, 2022
The journey of divorce can be an emotional and difficult process. Attempting to navigate legal matters while also navigating lifestyle changes can be overwhelming. Here we will outline some basic legal requirements and steps of divorce proceedings.
The legal guidance of an experienced family law attorney can simplify the process. At Monahan Law Firm, we pride ourselves on building personal relationships with our clients. Our dedicated team of divorce attorneys will take the time to understand your unique case and support you through the divorce process.
Make Sure You Meet Arizona's Residency Requirements for Divorce
In the state of Arizona, divorce laws require that you or your spouse must have continuously resided in the state for 90 days prior to filing. If minor children are involved in your divorce case, the child must have had a legal residence for the six months previous to your initial petition for the dissolution of marriage. For children less than six months old, they must have had residency since their birth. There are complicated exceptions that can be made in certain circumstances when it comes to minor children. Contact an experienced divorce lawyer to learn if you qualify.
If these basic residency requirements are met, you may proceed with official court filings.
The state of Arizona, is also a no-fault state, meaning the only grounds for divorce required is irreconcilable differences or that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Forms You Must Complete When Filing For Divorce
Unfortunately, the divorce process has many regulations that can be hard to organize during such a difficult time. In order to file for the dissolution of marriage, a number of forms must be completed and submitted. In some instances, like uncontested divorce and mutual agreements, you can file through an online divorce service that compiles all of the correct divorce documents necessary for you.
The types of forms required vary from county to county in Arizona. All of these forms are available online here.
The type of divorce petition needed also depends on the type of divorce. In some cases, the two parties may choose to file a joint petition and a divorce by consent decree. If you are dealing with a contested divorce, the types of forms for each spouse can be different.
In a contested divorce, one party (the petitioner) files a petition for the dissolution of marriage to the court and then must serve papers to the other party (the respondent). The respondent has an allotted period of time to fill out and submit their portion of the paperwork. After this process, you will both attend a court hearing where you will enter a decree of dissolution of marriage.
After the initial filing, a mandatory marriage agreement must be created and filed. This document can be created independently (either on paper or online), with a lawyer through mediation, or can be a court-ordered judgment if no agreement can be met. The divorce settlement covers the following:
Child Custody Plan
A child custody plan will list whether the parents have legal custody or physical custody. It will detail parenting time and legal decision-making responsibilities between each spouse. It names potential providers if something happens to one or both parents. Child support arrangements are also a part of a parenting plan.
If one spouse will have a significant financial loss or change in lifestyle due to the divorce, spousal support may be required. There are a few types of alimony payments. Namely spousal maintenance (permanent support), temporary spousal support, or lump sum.
Discovery of each party's money holdings must be reviewed and divided. This includes bank accounts, stocks, retirement accounts, pensions, and debts. An agreement on the division of financials must be made before continuing with divorce proceedings.
Division of Assets
If you have accrued few marital assets, the division of property can move quickly. Property division includes real property, personal property, business property, intellectual property, and so on. If you and your spouse have a lot of marital property, it is always recommended you seek legal advice from an experienced divorce attorney to assist you in this process.
If you and your spouse are not in a good relationship and cannot come to a compromise for your separation agreement, you should seek divorce mediation. The mediation process will enlist the services of a third party to help you reach an understanding and avoid a costly divorce trial.
How to File the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Serve Your Spouse
The process of serving your spouse with divorce papers is known as "service of process." This system ensures that both parties are aware of the divorce. It gives the petitioner the opportunity to notify the respondent and allows the respondent to agree to move forward or dispute the divorce.
If you and your spouse are acting cooperatively and civilly, you can choose to deliver the papers to them in person or through mail. The respondent will then have to sign an Acceptance of Service form with a notary.
If you and your spouse are not in good relations, you can choose to have the papers delivered by a deputy sheriff, through your lawyer's office, or through an authorized process server delivery. You may also choose to have them delivered through a courier service that requires a signature upon receipt. If you do not know the location of your spouse, they are incarcerated, or out of the country, you may speak to your county clerk or to your family law attorney about how to proceed.
If proof of the service process is not provided to the court within 120 days after filing the divorce petition, the court will dismiss your case. The respondent has 20 days to file a response if they reside in the state of Arizona, and 30 days if they are a resident of a different state. If they do not respond, the petition may be granted a default divorce decree.
Not all counties in Arizona require a response in the uncontested divorce process.
If no agreement can be reached between the two parties, you may be subject to divorce litigation. This is also the case for conflict divorce. For instance, situations that involve domestic violence, criminal conviction, financial issues, substance abuse, sexual abuse, or allegations of child abuse. In these instances, it may be beneficial to go to trial.
As you can see, this legal process can be very complicated. It is only complicated further if children are involved, if the marriage lasted for many years, or if there are many marital assets to be divided. To save time, stress, and money, seek legal representation. An experienced divorce attorney can guide you through the entire process.
Benefits of Having Legal Representation When Filing For Divorce
The dissolution of a marriage is a huge step and can be a scary time for all involved. A family law attorney will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive a favorable outcome in the dissolution of your marital relationship. A family law attorney can help reduce the time frame of the process, protect your assets, alleviate stress, and reduce the cost of litigation. Contact our Monahan Law Firm to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer.