Divorces in Court

Wedding rings on a legal gavel.

In Arizona, divorces operate under a “no-fault” system, allowing couples to part ways without assigning blame. Are you contemplating ending your marriage and wondering about the next steps? Arizona law mandates certain residency requirements and financial disclosures, framing the legal landscape for anyone looking to dissolve their union.

Understanding Arizona Divorce Law

In Arizona, the law treats divorce as a no-fault process, meaning that the court doesn’t require either spouse to prove wrongdoing by the other to dissolve the marriage. Instead, one must simply state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” However, before filing, at least one spouse must have lived in Arizona for 90 days. The state upholds the principle of equitable distribution, aiming for fair but not necessarily equal division of assets and debts. Moreover, if children are involved, their well-being is prioritized, with decisions around custody and support made in their best interests. Understanding these laws is important for anyone considering divorce in Arizona, as they set the framework for what one can expect from the process and the final settlement.

Preparing for Your Divorce Proceedings

Preparing for your divorce proceedings in Arizona demands careful planning and organization. First, gather all necessary financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, and asset valuations. This information is necessary for determining asset division and potential spousal or child support. Additionally, consider your living arrangements and how they might change post-divorce.

It’s also important to think about your goals for custody arrangements if children are involved. Documenting your children’s daily routines, expenses, and needs can support your case. Reflect on what you envision for your post-divorce life, including financial security and personal well-being.

Seeking legal counsel early can provide clarity and direction. A knowledgeable attorney can help you understand your rights, prepare your case effectively, and represent your interests throughout the proceedings. Cohen Family Law can guide you through each step, ensuring that you are fully prepared for what lies ahead in the divorce process.

The Divorce Process in Arizona Courts

  • Filing the Petition: One spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, starting the divorce process. The petitioner must serve these documents to the other spouse, known as the respondent.
  • Response Time: The respondent has 20 days (if served in Arizona) or 30 days (if served outside Arizona) to respond. Failure to respond can lead to a default judgment against them.
  • Temporary Orders: Either party can request temporary orders for child support, spousal support, or custody to provide stability during the divorce process.
  • Disclosure and Discovery: Both parties exchange financial information and any relevant documents, aiding in the fair division of assets and debts.
  • Mediation and Negotiation: Spouses may attend mediation to resolve disputes amicably. If they reach an agreement, they can avoid a trial.
  • Trial: If mediation fails, the case goes to trial, where a judge makes the final decisions on unresolved issues.
  • Final Decree: Once all issues are resolved, the court issues a Decree of Dissolution, officially ending the marriage. This document outlines all terms of the divorce, including asset division, custody, and support.

Child Custody and Support Issues

In Arizona, child custody and support decisions prioritize the best interests of the child. Custody, now referred to as legal decision-making and parenting time, focuses on ensuring the child maintains a stable and healthy relationship with both parents. Courts consider factors like the parents’ relationships with the child, the child’s adjustment to home and school, and the mental and physical health of all parties. Child support calculations follow state guidelines, considering both parents’ incomes, the child’s needs, and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. These decisions are made to ensure that children receive consistent care and support, maintaining their standard of living as much as possible post-divorce.

Property Division in Arizona Divorces

In Arizona divorces, property division adheres to community property laws, meaning all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are typically divided equally between the spouses. This includes earnings, property bought with those earnings, and debts incurred. However, each spouse retains their separate property, which consists of assets acquired before the marriage, after the legal separation, or by gift or inheritance. The court aims for a fair distribution, considering factors like the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation, and contributions to marital assets. It’s a detailed process that requires thorough documentation and often negotiation to reach an equitable agreement.

What to Expect in Court

When appearing in court for a divorce, expect a formal atmosphere where protocol and decorum are essential. You will present your case, including arguments for property division, custody, and support, before a judge. The process may include testimony from both spouses, witnesses, and the presentation of evidence. It’s important to be prepared, dressed appropriately, and ready to speak clearly and respectfully. The judge will make decisions based on the law and the evidence presented. Understanding the legal procedures and what is expected of you can reduce anxiety and help you present your case more effectively. 

How Cohen Family Law Can Help

At Cohen Family Law, we offer compassionate and dedicated legal support for your divorce proceedings. We are committed to guiding you through every step, ensuring your rights are protected. Reach out to us today for personalized advice and to start navigating your new beginning with confidence.