How to File Divorce in Arizona

How to File Divorce in Arizona

Arizona is a beautiful state with 22 national parks and monuments, 31 state parks and natural areas, two of the world’s greatest waterfalls (Grand Falls and Havasu Falls), and of course the Grand Canyon.  Its divorce rate falls right around the average for the country, though.  If you are about to file for divorce in Arizona, here are some things you should know.  

Basic findings needed for dissolution

Arizona law uses the term “dissolution” to mean what most people would think of as divorce.  To issue a dissolution order or file a divorce in Arizona, the court only needs to make four findings.  

First, you must establish that either one spouse or the other was domiciled in the state.  That just means living in Arizona with an intent to remain there. Being stationed in the state works as well.  You must have been present in the state for 90 days prior to filing for the dissolution.

Second, a court must find that the “conciliation” provisions have not been met.  During the divorce process, Arizona has a special rule for conciliation counseling.  

Either spouse may ask the court to slow down the divorce case by filing a petition for conciliation.  

The court can then give the couple time to go through counseling in an attempt to save the marriage.  A judge can also order educational services or mediation.

Conciliation court is not only about saving a marriage.  It also works to resolve disputes as painlessly as possible.  It can work with couples to resolve custody issues and parenting time using mediators and social workers instead of expensive lawyers.  

Educational services can be ordered to help a splitting couple learn how to care for a child after their split.  

In short, the conciliation court seeks to save marriages when possible but also works to salvage parent-child relationships when a marriage is a lost cause.  

Basic findings needed for dissolution

Third, the court issuing a dissolution order must find that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”  This is the no-fault ground for divorce Arizona.  Both spouses can just state their marriage is broken.  If one says the marriage is not broken, the court can delay the hearing for 60 days to give the couple a chance to reconcile.  Courts will rarely force a couple to stay married, though. It basically boils down to if one spouse wants out of the marriage the court will let them out.  

Arizona also has a concept called the “covenant marriage,” that has other grounds for divorce.    You can think of a covenant marriage as an extra-strong marriage commitment. A covenant marriage can only be broken for “fault” grounds, such as adultery, abuse, or living separately for two years.  That said, both spouses can end a covenant marriage by agreement.

Fourth and finally, before ordering a divorce, a court must address child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division.  

Waiting period

After you file your petition for divorce in Arizona, you have to “serve” it on your other spouse.  This just means conforming to the court that your spouse received the paperwork. Once that is done, there will be a 60-day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized.  

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