Arizona Divorce Laws: What You Need to Know

Divorcing couples usually want to know as much about Arizona divorce laws as possible in order to make sure their rights are protected and to make sure that they emerge from this stressful time in the best financial and custodial shape possible.

How Does Spousal Maintenance Work in Arizona

Many divorcing couples are unaware that there is no set formula and no guidelines for spousal maintenance in Arizona. There is a vague statute, but it can be interpreted differently by different parties (and different judges), so we absolutely recommend talking to a qualified mediator, like Affordable Mediation, to ensure the best outcome for your unique situation.

Although the relevant Arizona laws provide that “community property” should be divided “equitably,” it still does not guarantee a 50/50 split. A judge can use his or her discretion to determine what is equitable and fair. That can feel like a big gamble to divorcing couples, and fighting it out with lawyers doesn’t guarantee any positive outcome to either party. For example, a judge can order property to be liquidated or sold and this may not always align with what the divorcing couple would choose.

Arizona Divorce Laws Regarding Alimony

Spousal maintenance is the correct terminology in Arizona for what is commonly called spousal support or alimony.

There are circumstances in which spousal maintenance might be assigned by a judge. Some potential situations could be:

  • The spouse asking for maintenance can’t provide for all reasonable needs or be self-sufficient with the divided property or through employment
  • One spouse is responsible for a child who’s age or status means the parent seeking support shouldn’t or cannot work
  • The spouse seeking maintenance has been married to the other spouse for a long time and is too old to regain adequate employment and become self-sufficient.
  • One spouse made a significant financial or other contribution to the other spouse’s education, skills, earning ability or career
  • One spouse significantly reduced his or her career or income opportunities for the benefit of the other

Spousal maintenance can be short term, until the spouse receiving maintenance can get on “his or her feet” and earn sufficient income to support themselves, called “rehabilitative maintenance”, or it can be for a longer period of time based on many subjective factors at the judge’s discretion.

Arizona Divorce Laws – Property Division

The division of property may be divided by liquidating assets and equalizing the proceeds or it may be a case where one spouse keeps ‘Item A’ and the other spouse receives a similar ‘Item B’.  It can also be another unique division or combination that works for both parties.

Arizona Divorce Laws – Child Custody

Although Arizona law requires “meaningful parenting time” with both parents, some judges interpret that as parents should share essentially 50/50 parenting time.  But the best interest of the child is of paramount importance, so arguments can be made to determine a different division of time-sharing.

Couples divorcing in Arizona can go through a mediator and establish whatever kind of arrangement is best for their children and decide on their own parenting plan that works for their family.  Alternatively, they could also each get lawyers and fight it out in front of the judge and let the family court judge set the arrangement.

How Long Do You Have To Be Separated Before A Divorce In Arizona?

There is no requirement to be separated before you can divorce in Arizona.  However, once you file for divorce or legal separation, there is a 60 waiting period from the date the other person is “served” or “accepts service” before you can finalize your divorce or legal separation.

Does It Matter Who Files For Divorce First In Arizona?

Who files first has no legal significance in Arizona, but often has personal significance. There is typically no legal advantage or disadvantage from filing first; however the first filer (Petitioner) does have a slightly higher filing fee than the second filer (Respondent).

Mediation and Arizona Divorce Laws

Mediation solves many of the most distressing issues in a divorce. The goal is to move forward through a calm, fair process that allows both parties to reach agreement with the expert guidance of a mediator who has experience and knowledge with a variety of unique family and financial situations.

This expertise is how Affordable Mediation helps to eliminate those “unknowns” and manage the unique situation of every one of our clients. We can control it and get creative to ensure the best solution. Call us right away at 602-714-7447 to discuss your situation and let’s see how we can help you.


DISCLAIMER: We work exclusively as mediators. The information you obtain in our blogs and on our website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us about mediation and welcome your calls, chats, and emails.