Arizona Divorce Questions

Arizona men’s divorce attorneys provide answers to frequently asked questions with regards to divorce laws and the divorce process in Arizona.

What are the grounds for dissolution in Arizona?

If you are in a non-covenant marriage, you are only required to show the court that your marriage is “irretrievably broken” meaning there is no prospect for reconciliation.

If you are in a covenant marriage, you and your spouse must agree to dissolve your marriage. If you and your spouse do not agree, the court must find one of the following:

  1. The respondent spouse has committed adultery;
  2. The respondent spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment in any federal, state, county, or municipal correctional facility;
  3. The respondent spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for at least one year before the petitioner filed for dissolution and refused to return;
  4. The respondent spouse has physically or sexually abused the other, a child, a relative of either spouse permanently living in the marital home, or has committed domestic violence. See A.R.S. 25-903

What is a Dissolution of Marriage going to cost me?

It is very difficult to estimate the total cost for your particular dissolution. The cost of your dissolution will depend on the issues involved, ability to reach settlement on certain or all issues with your spouse, issues to be presented to the court at trial, etc.

In Arizona, you may choose to have an Arizona divorce attorney represent you on a limited appearance for particular issues.

For example, you may decide you only want an attorney to represent you for temporary orders, for an order of protection, at a settlement conference, at mediations, etc.

While it is encouraged that you have an attorney at all stages of your representation, you may choose to retain an attorney for a limited appearance.

Do I really need to hire a family law attorney?

Family law is not an exact science; the majority of the family issues cannot be resolved by a formula or calculation. Further, there are rules, laws, and guidelines that everyone is expected to follow, regardless of whether you are a licensed attorney.

Therefore, it is to your benefit to have an attorney who is familiar with the rules, laws, and guidelines to advocate on your behalf.

Does Arizona grant a Dissolution of Marriage based on marital fault?

Arizona is a no-fault state. This means that it does not consider fault when making decisions regarding your dissolution.

If you have a covenant marriage and your spouse does not agree to a dissolution, then the court must find one of the following:

  1. The respondent spouse has committed adultery;
  2. The respondent spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment in any federal, state, county or municipal correctional facility;
  3. The respondent spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for at least one year before the petitioner filed for dissolution and refused to return;
  4. The respondent spouse has physically or sexually abused the other, a child, a relative of either spouse permanently living in the marital home, or has committed domestic violence.

While the court must consider one of the factors above, it does not take these factors into consideration when deciding your dissolution unless a factor relates to the best interest of the children.

Can I get maintenance or will I have to provide maintenance to my spouse?

In Arizona, the court will first determine if spousal maintenance is permissible. An award of spousal maintenance is permissible if the court finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:

  1. Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs;
  2. Is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment;
  3. Is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home;
  4. Lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient;
  5. Contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse; or
  6. Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.

If the court determines that spousal maintenance is permissible, then it will determine the duration and amount of the spousal maintenance based on the following factors:

  1. The standard of living established during the marriage.
  2. The duration of the marriage.
  3. The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  4. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  5. The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
  6. The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
  7. The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
  8. The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
  9. The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to that spouse, and that spouse’s ability to meet that spouse’s own needs independently.
  10. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and whether such education or training is readily available.
  11. Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
  12. The cost for the spouse who is seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought if the spouse from whom maintenance is sought is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved.
  13. All actual damages and judgments from conduct that results in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or child was the victim.

The court should consider these factors without regard to marital misconduct. See A.R.S. 25-319

Can you change your name at the time of your Dissolution of Marriage?

Yes, a woman can ask to be restored to a maiden name at the time of divorce.

Can I get an annulment in Arizona?

You may get an annulment in Arizona if your marriage is considered to be void or voidable.

A marriage is void if it is not recognized under the law, such as:

  1. Marriage between parents and children, including grandparents and grandchildren of every degree, between brothers and sisters of the one-half as well as the whole blood, and between uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews and between first cousins;
  2. However, first cousins may marry if both are sixty-five years of age or older or if one or both first cousins are under sixty-five years of age, upon approval of any superior court judge in the state if proof has been presented to the judge that one of the cousins is unable to reproduce.
  3. Marriage between persons of the same sex.

See A.R.S 25-101.

A marriage is voidable when the cause alleged constitutes an impediment rendering the marriage void. See A.R.S. 25-301. Examples of causes that have constituted an impediment include but are not limited to:

  1. Undissolved prior marriage
  2. Underage
  3. Blood relationship
  4. Absence of mental capacity
  5. Intoxication
  6. Lack of contractual intent
  7. Absence of a valid license
  8. Duress
  9. Refusal of intercourse
  10. Fraud
  11. Misrepresentation of religion

When can I file for a Dissolution of Marriage in Arizona?

Once you have been a resident of the State of Arizona for 90 days you may file for a Dissolution of Marriage in the county in which you reside.

When is my case going to be over?

It is very difficult to determine when your particular case will be over. There are various factors that determine how long your case will take.

Some cases can be resolved within 90 days while others extend to 18 months and beyond.

Do I have to go to court?

Generally, yes you can anticipate going to court. Only in certain default cases can the court grant a divorce without you every having to appear. Therefore, you should anticipate appearing.

If attempts to serve my spouse do not work, what is my next step?

Work is not the only place you can serve your spouse. Your spouse may be served at home or at any location in which she can found. Your spouse can be served by one of the following methods:

If your spouse resides within the State of Arizona you may serve your spouse by one of the following methods:

  1. Process Server. You may use a private process server registered with the clerk of court or any other person appointed by the court to personally service your spouse.
  2. Sheriff Server. You may contact the Sheriff’s Office in the county where the other party lives to have a Sheriff Deputy serve your spouse.
  3. By Mail. You may serve your spouse by mail or national courier service so long as a signature confirmation is required.

If your spouse resides outside of Arizona you may serve your spouse by one of the following methods:

  1. Direct Service. Service may be made outside of the state but within the United States by a person authorized to serve process under the law of the state where such service is made.
  2. By Mail. When the location of our out of state spouse is known, you may serve your spouse by mail or national courier service so long as a signature confirmation is required.
  3. Publication. Service by publication may be used when the respondent is a nonresident or when the respondent’s residence is unknown. Publication of summons is made in a newspaper, published in the county where the action has been filed once a week for four successive weeks.

Your spouse may accept service by signing, before a notary, an Acceptance of Service Form and returning it to you.

Proof of service must be filed with the court.

At what point during the process can a spouse remarry or start dating?

You may not remarry until your divorce is finalized and your decree of dissolution has been filed.

Dating is not prohibited; however, it is important that you discuss this matter with your attorney for your particular case as dating may affect the dynamics of your case.

What if my spouse does not want the divorce?

If you have a covenant marriage and your spouse objects to having a divorce, you will have to prove one of the following:

  1. The respondent spouse has committed adultery;
  2. The respondent spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment in any federal, state, county or municipal correctional facility;
  3. The respondent spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for at least one year before the petitioner filed for dissolution and refused to return;
  4. The respondent spouse has physically or sexually abused the other, a child, a relative of either spouse permanently living in the marital home, or has committed domestic violence.

If you do not have a covenant marriage, then it is only required that the court find that your marriage is irretrievably broken such that reconciliation is not realistic.

After I file for divorce, do I have to continue to live in Arizona?

You are not required to remain in the state after you file for divorce, however, there will likely be a restriction on the children leaving the state during the dissolution without explicit consent from the court or agreement by your spouse.

Relocating out of state my affect the dynamics of your case, thus you should consult with an attorney prior to making a decision to relocate.

How and where is a petition for dissolution filed?

A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must be filed in the county to which you reside. You may use the self-service center on the Maricopa County Superior Court website to prepare your petition.

How do I serve the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage on my spouse?

The method to which you may serve your spouse with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage depends upon whether your spouse resides within the State of Arizona or outside of State of Arizona.

If your spouse resides within the State of Arizona you may serve your spouse by one of the following methods:

  1. Process Server. You may use a private process server registered with the clerk of court or any other person appointed by the court to personally service your spouse.
  2. Sheriff Server. You may contact the Sheriff’s Office in the county where the other party lives to have a Sheriff Deputy serve your spouse.
  3. By Mail. You may serve your spouse by mail or national courier service so long as a signature confirmation is required.

If your spouse resides outside of Arizona you may serve your spouse by one of the following methods:

  1. Direct Service. Service may be made outside of the state but within the United States by a person authorized to serve process under the law of the state where such service is made.
  2. By Mail. When the location of our out of state spouse is known, you may serve your spouse by mail or national courier service so long as a signature confirmation is required.
  3. Publication. Service by publication may be used when the respondent is a nonresident or when the respondent’s residence is unknown. Publication of summons is made in a newspaper, published in the county where the action has been filed once a week for four successive weeks.

Your spouse may accept service by signing, before a notary, an Acceptance of Service Form and returning it to you.

Proof of service must be filed with the court.

How long do I have to wait to receive my divorce?

After your Petition for Dissolution is filed you will have to wait at least 60 days before asking the court to grant your Petition for Dissolution. Generally, your dissolution will only be resolved within 60 days if you are seeking a default judgment.

The time for your actual case depends upon your assets, whether there are children of the marriage, issues for the court to resolve, willingness of your spouse to reach agreements, the court’s docket, etc. Cases are generally resolved between six to 18 months.

How do I prove fault for divorce?

You are not required to prove fault for a Dissolution of Marriage. If you have a covenant marriage and your spouse will not agree to a Dissolution of Marriage, you will have to prove one of the following:

  1. Your spouse has committed adultery;
  2. Your spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment in any federal, state, county or municipal correctional facility;
  3. Your spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for at least one year before the petitioner filed for dissolution and refused to return;
  4. Your spouse has physically or sexually abused the other, a child, a relative of either spouse permanently living in the marital home, or has committed domestic violence.

Evidence to proving the factors above may include, but are not limited to, police reports, testimony of eyewitnesses, documentation showing conviction, photographs, taking the deposition of your spouse, etc.

Can a couple become legally married by living together as man and wife under the state’s laws (common law marriage)?

No, Arizona does not recognize common law marriage.