Gay couple sitting apart from each other

The LGBTQIA+ Divorce Process in Arizona

The process of divorce can be complex and emotionally challenging for anyone, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community in Arizona face their own unique set of considerations. With the legal landscape for LGBTQIA+ marriages having evolved significantly in recent years, it’s crucial to be aware of how these changes affect divorce proceedings. From property division and spousal support to child custody issues, understanding the nuances of Arizona’s laws is essential for anyone in the community considering or going through a divorce.

Understanding Your Rights

In Arizona, the legal framework surrounding divorce applies to all couples, including those in the LGBTQIA+ community. This means that when it comes to ending a marriage, you’re entitled to the same considerations for property division, spousal support, and, if applicable, child custody. However, there can be specific challenges, especially regarding non-biological parental rights or recognition of marriages performed before certain legal milestones. It’s important to be aware of how these factors can influence your rights and the outcome of your divorce. 

The Divorce Process in Arizona

The divorce process in Arizona starts with one partner filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the county where either spouse resides. For LGBTQIA+ couples, the process mirrors that of heterosexual couples, requiring at least one partner to have lived in Arizona for 90 days before filing. Grounds for divorce in Arizona are no-fault, meaning that the filing party doesn’t need to prove wrongdoing by the other spouse—simply stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken suffices.

After filing, the petition must be served to the other spouse, giving them the opportunity to respond. This step sets the stage for how the proceedings will unfold, including negotiations over assets, debts, and if applicable, custody arrangements. The court then oversees the equitable division of property, decides on child custody, and determines any spousal support to be awarded.

Custody and Parenting Time

Custody and parenting time decisions in Arizona are made with the child’s best interests as the primary concern, regardless of the parents’ gender or sexual orientation. For LGBTQIA+ families, especially those with non-biological children, establishing legal parentage may be an additional step required to assert custody rights. The court considers factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, each parent’s role in the child’s life up to that point, and the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community. Crafting a parenting plan that reflects both parents’ commitment to their child’s well-being is essential. Such plans detail custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and how decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare will be made, aiming for stability and continuity in the child’s life.

Division of Assets and Debts

In the context of an LGBTQIA+ divorce in Arizona, the division of assets and debts is governed by the state’s community property laws. This means that any assets acquired or debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage are considered joint property and must be divided equitably upon divorce. This includes everything from real estate and retirement accounts to credit card debt and loans. However, assets owned by either spouse before the marriage, as well as gifts or inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage, are generally considered separate property and not subject to division. 

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Spousal maintenance, commonly known as alimony, is not automatically granted in Arizona divorces but is based on specific criteria. The court examines factors such as the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s financial resources, their standard of living during the marriage, and the age and health of both parties. For LGBTQIA+ divorces, these considerations are applied equally, to provide support to a spouse who may need financial assistance post-divorce. The goal is to allow for a fair adjustment to life after divorce, ensuring that both individuals can move forward independently.

Let Us Help with Your  LGBTQIA+ Divorce

Cohen Family Law is dedicated to guiding you through the complexities of divorce with compassion and understanding. Our experienced team is here to protect your rights and advocate for your best interests. Reach out to us for personalized legal support tailored to your unique situation.