Divorce in Arizona: A Short Guide

Divorce, often referred to as dissolution of marriage in legal terms, can be a complex and emotionally taxing process. This guide aims to shed light on the legal intricacies involved in a divorce proceeding in Arizona, from the initial filing to the final decree.

Primer on Divorce

Divorce denotes the legal termination of a marriage contract by court order. The process can be straightforward or complicated depending on the circumstances surrounding the couple’s situation. Factors like the length of the marriage, the presence of minor children, and the amount of property or debt to be divided can significantly affect the divorce proceedings. Additionally, look up how to change your last name in Arizona, after your divorce has been finalized.

Grounds for Divorce in Arizona

In Arizona, the legal ground for divorce is an “irretrievably broken” marriage, meaning there is no hope for reconciliation. The petitioner merely needs to state that they believe the marriage cannot be repaired. The respondent then has the option to agree or contest this claim. If contested, a hearing will be held to determine the likelihood of reconciliation.

Types of Divorce: Contested vs. Uncontested

In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on all terms of the divorce, including property division, child custody, and spousal support. They would typically create a divorce agreement, which the judge would need to approve before issuing a divorce decree.

On the other hand, a contested divorce arises when the parties cannot agree on one or more issues, necessitating court intervention to settle the disputed matters.

Arizona’s Unique Divorce Laws

Two key regulations can influence how divorce proceeds in Arizona: the community property and no-fault laws.

Community Property Law

Arizona, as a community property state, dictates that any property or debt accumulated during the marriage is jointly owned by both spouses. Separate property, such as assets owned before the marriage, legal settlements, gifts, and inheritances, are not subject to division during the divorce.

No-Fault Divorce Law

Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, meaning a spouse does not need to prove the other party was at fault for ending the marriage. The petitioner simply needs to state that they believe the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Divorce Process in Arizona

The process of divorce in Arizona can vary depending on factors like the type of marriage, presence of children, and amount of property or debt involved.

Filing for Divorce

The divorce process commences with the filing of a “Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage” in the superior court of the petitioner’s residence. The respondent is then served with the divorce petition and has 20 days (or 30 days if they reside outside of Arizona) to respond.

Discovery Process

The discovery process involves both spouses providing information about their financial standing, child obligations, employment history, assets, debts, and more. This information is crucial in creating a fair divorce agreement.

Trials and Finalizing Divorce

If the spouses cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, the case will proceed to trial. The court will then issue a final decree of divorce, which legally ends the marriage and specifies the terms of property division, child custody, and spousal support.

Child-Related Issues in Divorce

When minor children are involved, the divorce proceedings will also address child custody, visitation, and support.

Child Custody

In Arizona, child custody is divided into legal custody (decision-making abilities) and physical custody (parenting time). The judge will approve only arrangements that best suit the needs of the child.

Child Support

Child support payments are made by non-custodial parents to custodial parents to supplement the cost of raising their shared child. The amount of child support is calculated based on various factors, including the financial situation of both parents and the child’s needs.

Child Visitation

Joint custody arrangements often include a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. The visitation agreement should address related issues like travel restrictions and must be approved by the judge.

Length of Divorce Proceedings in Arizona

The duration of divorce proceedings can differ significantly based on the complexity of the case, the willingness of the spouses to negotiate, and the court’s schedule.


Divorce proceedings can be intricate and challenging. However, understanding Arizona’s divorce laws and processes can make the path clearer and less daunting. When in doubt, it is always beneficial to consult with a skilled family law attorney to ensure that your interests are adequately represented and protected.



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