Many couples I meet are very confused about how the divorce process works in Arizona. If you’re thinking about divorcing in Arizona, learn more about the litigated Arizona divorce process and how, as an alternative, we walk you through the steps of a peaceful divorce through mediation.
The Legal Divorce Process In Arizona
The typical litigated Divorce is a lengthy and complicated legal process. Here’s a general, simplified breakdown of the Arizona litigated divorce process (your case may vary).
- One spouse files a Petition for Dissolution (Divorce) asking the court to dissolve their marriage and outlines requests for spousal maintenance (alimony), child support, division of assets and debts, legal decision-making (custody) and parenting time, among other things.
- The filer’s attorney hires a process server to “serve” the dissolution paperwork to the other spouse.
- The other spouse has 20 days to file a Response objecting to the requests in the Petition and making their own requests. Then, you will be scheduled for your 1st court hearing.
- In the interim, your attorney may file for a temporary orders hearing where requests for temporary child support, spousal maintenance, living and payment arrangements will be made and the Judge will issue a temporary ruling.
- Attorneys begin gathering evidence through motions and requests for discovery.
- Expert witnesses may be hired at significant expense regarding anything from career earning potential career to business valuations to forensic investigations of financials.
- After enough evidence has been gathered and hearing(s) attended, a settlement may try to be reached.
- If a settlement is not reached the attorneys will prepare for a trial before a Judge.
- Should one spouse be unhappy with the decision of the court, they cannot just appeal the decision. Appeals must show there was some procedural (technical) error in the case.
- Appeals can extend the divorce process for another lengthy time period.
Is Arizona A 50/50 divorce state? Not exactly.
That is a common misconception. Arizona is a community property state. First a determination must be made as to what qualifies as community property and what qualifies as separate property. This can be highly litigated. Assets and debts that are determined to be community, will be ordered to be split “equitably.” Often, this ends up being 50/50 but not always. Judges have substantial discretion when deciding how to split up property.
Is There a Waiting Period for Divorce in Arizona?
In Arizona, there is a 60 day cooling off period during which you cannot finalize your divorce. The 60 days is triggered by the Service Date; that is the date that the Respondent is “served” with the Petition by the Petitioner, through a process server.
How Long Will it Take to Get Divorced in Arizona?
A Litigated Divorce typically takes 1-3 years. Our mediated divorces typically take 3-4 months.
Mediation as an Alternative
Mediation is a fantastic alternative to a litigated divorce for couples who are prepared to work collaboratively together to agree on the best outcome for their family as they move forward. There are many advantages to using mediation over litigation when ending your marriage. Most notably, mediation is quicker, less expensive, and more peaceful than litigation.
At Affordable Mediation AZ, we work with couples to guide them through our 5-step mediation process.
- Sign up and access our new Client Portal. It includes paperwork and organizational tools to help you prepare for the mediation process.
- Attend your first mediation session. During this two-hour session, a mediator will meet with you and your spouse to discuss your available options. Most couples reach an agreement in 1 to 4 or 5 mediation sessions. You may also have coaching mediation sessions with a divorce or co-parenting Coach to assist with emotions and support during and after the process.
- We file the first set of court documents. You can completely avoid going to court to get a divorce. We file your initial dissolution paperwork for you. We do this at any time you both are ready, even before you make any decisions, to kickstart the 60-day waiting period.
- Make your final division and parenting plan. Your mediator will help you get a complete picture of your financial estate and guide you through decisions surrounding debts, division of assets, and parenting plan provisions among other things.
- Finalize your divorce. We will prepare your final divorce documents, including your Consent Decree of Dissolution (divorce) and associated documents and exhibits. We will also provide a virtual experience for notarizing your final divorce Decree documents and we will file them at the court for you.
Download our Divorce Mediation Preparation Checklist
At Affordable Mediation, Owner Mediator Mara Linder has over 15 years of mediation experience (and has been an Arizona licensed attorney for more than 30 years) helping Arizona families through divorce and separation. You can start step one of our Five-Step Mediation Process today by downloading our Divorce Mediation Preparation Checklist or calling our office to learn more about how to have a more peaceful, sophisticated divorce.