At Monahan Law Firm, our Glendale divorce lawyers understand that this can be a difficult situation for you and your family. We seek to develop personal relationships with our clients so that we may support them and help them achieve a favorable outcome in a short amount of time.
Just as the beginning of a marriage is usually a loving, hopeful, and pleasant experience, the dissolution of a marriage can be a stressful situation full of animosity, despair, and bitterness.
Even if you and your spouse are amicable and in agreement about the experience you want to have, you should prepare for high emotions and a potential battle.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Arizona?
In many states, a person must allege and prove some fault on part of the other spouse in order to divorce. However, Arizona is a no-fault state, meaning that irretrievably broken or irreconcilable differences are the only reasons needed to file for a divorce.
This means just one person in the marriage can choose to initiate the divorce without a reason or proof. No-fault does not guarantee simplicity in your proceedings.
How to File for Divorce in Arizona
There are two main types of divorce, uncontested and contested. Uncontested is when both parties agree on each issue in the divorce and can come to an agreement early on in the process. A contested divorce is when the parties dispute at least one issue in the dissolution. The steps to file could be different depending on which situation you find yourself.
If both spouses can agree to all of the marital issues prior to trial then a common procedure to finalize the divorce is to jointly prepare and file a consent decree.
In the case of a contested divorce, the person filing (the petitioner) would begin by filing a petition for dissolution, then serve the papers to the other party (the respondent). The respondent has a set amount of time to respond to the petition. They are given an opportunity to argue their point of view in a default hearing.
After these initial filings, the process becomes a bit more complicated. As you are required to create a mandatory settlement agreement that clearly states the distribution of assets between you and your spouse.
In the state of Arizona, you may also do all the paperwork filings on your own or online. You are not required to have legal representation in an uncontested divorce. However, it is highly recommended so that you may save time and stress in the event that the process becomes convoluted.
A family law lawyer can answer any questions you may have about the multiple steps and paperwork of the divorce process.
Factors That Affect How Long a Divorce Takes
You are probably ready to move on and begin the next chapter of your life. However, the time it takes to finalize a divorce depends on many factors and decisions that must be made. Firstly, you are required to wait 60 days after the initial petition has been served. The remaining factors that can affect the length of time include:
Length of the Marriage
Typically the longer the marriage, the longer the divorce. If you and your spouse were married for a brief period of time, it can be easier to separate your lives. If you were married for many decades, the complexities of your relationship can create a lengthy process.
If there are no children involved, this cuts out a significant amount of time in the divorce process. Whether you have one or more children, child custody plans must be settled. This includes legal and physical custody, parenting time, and child support. Child custody can be a difficult process as it completely changes family dynamics.
If one spouse will be significantly financially harmed by the divorce, spousal support may be required. The details of the amount, length, and type of spousal support must be agreed upon before proceeding. This process can be lengthy even if both parties are in agreement.
Uncontested and Contested
As mentioned before, if you and your spouse are in agreement (uncontested divorce) about the aspects of the separation your process will move much more quickly. If you two cannot see eye to eye on legal matter (contested divorce), you should seek legal guidance and divorce mediation so a compromise can be reached quickly.
During the mediation process, each partner must provide statements and documents showing their financial standings. 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.
If you have accrued few marital assets, the division of this part can move quickly. However, if you have real estate, personal property, or businesses, the division of assets can become extremely complicated. It is always recommended you seek an experienced divorce attorney to assist you in this process. It's important to have every bit accounted for in order to have your divorce accepted by the court.
Hearings and Court Appearances
There are both mandatory and requested hearings and court appearances depending on the parties' willingness to cooperate with each other to procure a dissolution of marriage.
A divorce lawyer can help you navigate this entire process and represent you with a mediator and in front of a judge. An experienced lawyer will work hard to help your proceedings move quickly and fairly.
Will You Have to Go to Court For a Divorce?
In the best cases, no. Many divorces can be settled out of court even if both partners are in disagreement. Through the use of mediation and a legal team, a compromise can be met.
In the cases where either party refuses to come to an agreement, you will have to go to trial and have the details decided in a court-ordered judgment. No one wants to go that far, however, you should be prepared with the best legal representation on your side.
Benefits of Hiring a Divorce Attorney
A divorce attorney will significantly simplify any family law issues you are facing. They know the laws, the requirements, the courts, and the system. They will also care about you, your wants, your needs, and your rights during these difficult times.