Just as no two marriages are alike, every couple’s divorce is unlike anyone else’s. There are several types of divorce in Arizona that are based on the level of agreement between the spouses as well as the nature of their marital estate and the issues to be decided. No matter how simple or complex your divorce is, you can benefit from the dedicated legal counsel of Cohen Family Law. We’ve handled numerous types of divorces and understand the legal and personal challenges involved with each one.
Arizona is a No-Fault Divorce State
As a basic matter, Arizona is considered a no-fault divorce state. What this means is that the spouses do not have to allege fault (e.g. adultery) in order to secure a divorce in Arizona. Assuming you meet the jurisdictional requirement of having at least one spouse who has resided in the state for a minimum of 90 days, you can ask the court for a divorce on the basis of your marriage being “irretrievably broken.”
There is an exception to this for the rare marriages known as covenant marriages, which are discussed below.
Contested and Uncontested Divorces
There are two broad categories that apply to all divorces in the state: contested and uncontested.
As the name suggests, a contested divorce is one in which the spouses have some kind of disagreement over what the terms and conditions of the divorce should look like. For instance, they may disagree on property division or how parenting time should be shared. The spouses may disagree on nearly everything or have a single major sticking point they cannot get past.
Mediation is one way that spouses may be able to resolve their issues. It is a process in which a neutral third party known as a mediator helps the spouses productively discuss and settle their differences, typically saving them time, expense, and stress. If mediation does not work, then court appearances and potentially extensive litigation will be in their near future.
An uncontested divorce is one in which the spouses agree on all terms and conditions of their divorce. Generally, that means coming to an agreement on such matters as:
- Property and debt division
- Parenting time and legal custody (child custody)
- Child support
- Spousal maintenance (alimony)
Many uncontested divorces are the products of successful mediation or agreement between the parties that took place before or soon after the filing of divorce papers. If you agree on most issues with your husband or wife, or you simply have a few details you need to iron out first, mediation is a good option to help lead you to an uncontested divorce.
This is a relatively new type of divorce in which the spouses collaborate (work together) amicably to end their marriage on mutually agreeable terms. Because the spouses are agreeing to work together instead of against each other, each side usually has a team of professionals – including lawyers, financial experts, and child specialists – to assist them along the way.
Collaborative divorce is often cheaper, less stressful, and less time-consuming than traditional divorce, and allows the spouses to agree to their own terms. It shares some similarities with mediation, with one key difference being the work of the outside professionals who help the spouses reach terms that are truly in each other’s interests.
The parties and lawyers involved in the collaborative divorce agree ahead of time to not litigate, which means the court will play a minimal role in the proceedings. If the process breaks down and litigation becomes necessary, the lawyers will resign and both spouses must hire new attorneys.
Divorces Specific to the Facts of Your Marriage
Finally, there are several types of divorce that are unique to the life circumstances of the spouses and the nature of their marriage. Here are a few of them:
High net-worth divorce. In general, this is a divorce concerning spouses who have in excess of $1 million in marital assets. These divorces often involve complex types of property (such as family businesses and art collections) and may require extensive procedures to uncover hidden assets.
“Gray divorce” and divorce near retirement. Aging spouses who divorce will face different life situations than young couples. With retirement on the horizon (or already present), as well as factors like health and ability to work, these divorces can be particularly challenging.
Military divorce. If you or your spouse are active service members, there are some special circumstances that could complicate your divorce, such as:
- Where the divorce petition needs to be filed (since a spouse may be stationed in a state other than that of his or her legal residency)
- Notice rules under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act which can postpone a divorce if one spouse is on active duty
- Special military rules and requirements concerning spousal support, child custody, and child support
Covenant marriage divorces. A covenant marriage is a distinct type of marriage in which the spouses agree to participate in counseling first. Only two other states (Arkansas and Louisiana) recognize covenant marriages. Under the covenant marriage laws of Arizona, if the parties want to divorce then one of them must allege fault, such as:
- A felony conviction resulting in imprisonment or capital punishment;
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Separation for at least two years (or one year following a decree of legal separation)
- Drug or alcohol abuse
LGBTQ+ divorce. With same-sex marriage now the law of the land, LGBTQ+ couples have the same marriage and divorce rights as straight couples. But some matters are unique to these divorces, including paternity and parental rights. For instance, the conception of the couple’s child may have been in an unconventional manner, like by means of a surrogate mother.
Regardless of the Nature of Your Divorce, We Have You Covered
Cohen Family Law has represented spouses in these and other types of divorces. We recognize the significance of this life event and that your children, your property, and your future are on the line. When we represent divorcing spouses, we look at the specific circumstances involved and then develop a customized strategy that protects our clients’ rights and interests. Contact us today to get started.