Filing for Divorce in Arizona

Q: What are the steps of an Arizona divorce?

When clients first come to a divorce attorney, they are often nervous, upset, or frightened about what the process of getting divorced in Phoenix entails. Whether they are the one seeking a divorce or they’ve been served with divorce papers by their spouse, divorce can be emotional and stressful. Even agreeable couples in an uncontested divorce may feel stress or disappointment upon the realization that their marriage failed.

In Arizona, couples can generally divorce by alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken rather than having to prove one of the spouses was “at fault”. 

There are generally four major issues in an Arizona divorce which need to be agreed-upon by the parties or settled by a judge. Those issues are: 

  • the division of property between the spouses; 
  • spousal support (also called maintenance/alimony); 
  • child support of any minor children; 
  • child custody and visitation (also known as legal decision making and parenting time) of any minor children.

Sometimes parties are able to resolve divorce conflicts outside of the courts through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative divorce, saving themselves both time and money. 

How does the contested divorce process in Arizona work? 

The step-by-step Arizona divorce process is generally as follows:

  • One spouse starts the court process by filing a petition for divorce with the court which states their intention to get divorced and outlines their requests regarding the above four issues.
  • Then the petition and summons get served on their spouse putting them on notice of the intention to get divorced and the terms of divorce being sought.
  • Then the other spouse gets 20 to 30 days to file an answer to the petition and summons for divorce. Delaying or ignoring them may result in a “default divorce” granting a divorce on the terms that the petitioner asked for.
  • Temporary orders may be issued by the court and at the request of the spouses that outline the rules the spouses must follow during the divorce process regarding such things as who is responsible for the bills and the children and who can live in the family home.
  • Discovery is the process where the parties collect and share information from and with each other through such methods as oral depositions, formal written questionnaires, and demands for the other side to produce certain information (like financial, business, or other records). 
  • Negotiations towards a settlement follow once all information has been exchanged. It is generally in both spouses’ best interests to come to a compromise on issues whenever possible to avoid not only the time and expense of a trial but the risk of having a judge– rather than the parties– decide these important issues of the divorce. 
  • Next is the divorce trial, complete with relevant witness testimony, if negotiations and settlement attempts fail.
  • The last step is the entry of the divorce judgment by the judge who makes their ruling on all the specific terms of the divorce. 

With so much on the line, it’s important to seek counsel from a caring and qualified family law attorney. 

If you need assistance with a divorce or have been served with divorce papers, the family law experts at Cohen Family Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our office in Phoenix, we’ve been totally focused on helping clients throughout Arizona navigate their family law issues with aggressive advocacy and a nonjudgmental, compassionate approach since 1982.