Going through a divorce can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. Making the decision to dissolve your marriage can be emotionally taxing, especially if there are children involved. The end of a marriage can also be a confusing situation. Your divorce can include asset protection, child custody and support issues, spousal maintenance, domestic violence, or drug use/abuse. The attorneys at Gary J. Frank P.C. can make it easier for you and your children to go through the process of divorce in Arizona. We represent clients in both contested and uncontested divorce, with children or without children.
How to File for Divorce in Arizona
In order for a person to file for divorce in Arizona, one or both spouses must have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days. This includes spouses that are members of the Armed Forces and have been stationed in Arizona for at least 90 days.
1. Fill out your forms
In order to initiate your divorce in Arizona, the spouse filing for divorce (the petitioner) will need to file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” with the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where the party resides. The Petition is part of a “packet” that includes the Petition, Summons, Preliminary Injunction, and other related documents.
The Petition asks the court to grant the parties’ divorce, while also entering other orders such as the separation of community property, the identification of sole and separate property, and if there are children involved, legal decision making and parenting time orders. This is only the start of the divorce process, and the requests in your petition are usually not considered until evidence and testimony are presented at a trial or evidentiary hearing.
2. Service of Process
Once you file your Petition for Dissolution, you will need to serve the other party (your spouse) with a copy of your documents, which include the Petition, the Summons, and the Preliminary Injunction. There are several methods of service, but the most common are arranging service with the local Sherriff’s office or hiring a private process server.
Once the Petition is filed, you have 120 days from the date of filing to legally serve the other party before your case is dismissed. Once your spouse is served, he/she will have 20 days to file their Response to your Petition. If your spouse is served and fails to file a Response within the 20-day time period, then you can apply for a “default judgement.”
3. 60-Day waiting period
If you settle your case, meaning if you and your spouse agree to the terms of your divorce, then the parties will have to wait until 60-days before the Court will sign a final order dissolving the marriage. This is otherwise known as the “cooling-off” period. This cooling-off period begins when your spouse is served with the Petition. For example, if the parties submit a Consent Decree two weeks after the Petition is filed, the Court will still wait until the 60 day “cooling off” period has expired before signing your Consent Decree.
4. Decree of Dissolution
Whether the parties agree to the terms of their divorce, or their divorce was litigated and went to trial, the order that finalizes the divorce is called a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. This will outline all of the terms of the divorce and state that each party will be returned to single status.
The end of a marriage can be a confusing situation. With various legal issues to be addressed, compounded with the emotional complexities of ending the relationship, the assistance of an experienced lawyer can be vital in helping you create a positive future for yourself and your children.
Covenant vs. Non-covenant
Arizona is a “no-fault” state, meaning that neither party needs to show blame or responsibility for the marriage ending. This is referred to as a “Non-Covenant” Marriage. It is considered a non-covenant marriage unless the parties specify that they are entering into a “Covenant Marriage.” The only question that needs to be answered in a divorce of a Non-Covenant Marriage is whether the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that there is no chance of the parties reconciling.
A Covenant Marriage is different in that the parties must have the intent to enter into this type of marriage, which should be declared on their application for a marriage license. A Covenant Marriage is also different than a Non-Covenant Marriage because in order for the parties to divorce, someone must be at “fault.” This is important because in a Covenant Marriage, a state court cannot grant your divorce without a reason. This can include adultery, felony, habitual drug or alcohol use, or if both parties agree to a divorce.
We are able to address all divorce-related issues, including:
- Division of marital property and debt
- Child custody and parenting time issues
- Child support and spousal support (alimony)
- Legal separation
To better serve you and your best interests, we regularly work with property division and child support professionals, including CPAs, financial planners and appraisers to determine asset values and fair division agreements.
Contact a Phoenix Divorce Attorney
At the office of Gary J. Frank, P.C., we take the time to understand your specific divorce needs and offer the advice you need to make decisions on how to address your issues. Whether you can come to amicable terms with your former spouse or need the assistance of a family law court to find resolutions, our staff is with you every step of the way.