Filing for Divorce in Arizona
Divorce Law Cheat Sheet for the State of Arizona
1. What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Arizona?
To file for a divorce in Arizona, one of you must have lived in Arizona or been stationed with the military in Arizona for the 90 days prior to filing.
2. Does Arizona have a waiting period?
The court won’t hold a trial or hearing for at least 60 days after you file a petition for divorce.
3. Does the state have grounds for divorce?
No one needs to be found at fault if you file for divorce on the basis that your marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning there’s no reasonable hope of getting back together.
There are grounds for divorce if you have what is known as a covenant marriage in Arizona. They are:
1. You or your spouse has committed adultery — had an affair.
2. You or your spouse has committed a felony and is imprisoned or sentenced to death.
3. You or your spouse left your home at least a year ago and refuses to return.
4. You or your spouse has physically, emotionally or sexually abused the other and/or any children or relatives who live with you.
5. You and your spouse have lived separately for at least two years.
6. You and your spouse have lived separately for at least one year after your legal separation.
7. You or your spouse has habitually abused drugs or alcohol.
8. You both agree on a divorce.
4. How does Arizona determine the division of property?
You and your spouse may decide for yourselves how to divide your property. If the court agrees that your settlement is fair, the matter is closed. If the court finds the agreement unfair, it will ask you to resubmit an agreement, or it will divide your property for you. The court will make what it considers an equitable distribution of your community property, meaning it will divide things in the way it thinks is most fair.
All property acquired by either of you during your marriage is community property, except for property that was:
1. Acquired by gift or inheritance.
2. Acquired after you filed for divorce, legal separation or annulment if the petition actually results in a divorce, legal separation or annulment.
Any personal property you owned before marriage is your separate property. This includes any increase in value of that property or any profit from that property.
5. Does Arizona require mediation before a divorce is granted?
Arizona does not require mediation, but either of you can request it if you choose.
6. How does the state determine child custody?
Legal custody and physical custody are two different things. Legal custody outlines how involved each parent is in the major decisions of a child’s life — where a child goes to school, what faith he or she is raised in and other biggies.
Physical custody addresses where a child will live and with whom. Visitation is then negotiated based your physical custody arrangement. The court may order joint legal custody without ordering joint physical custody.
Before the court will award joint custody, you and your spouse have to submit a parenting plan. Your proposed parenting plan has to include:
- Each parent’s rights and responsibilities for your child’s personal care and for decisions in areas such as education, health care and religious training.
- A schedule of where your child will live and when, including holidays and school vacations.
- A procedure to resolve changes or disputes and to review the plan on a regular basis.
- A statement that each of you understands that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal parenting time.
If you and your spouse are unable to agree on any part of your parenting plan, the court will decide for you.
The court determines custody based on the best interest of the child. To figure out just what that is, the court takes into account:
- The wishes of you and your spouse.
- Your child’s wishes.
- Your child’s relationship with you and your spouse, your child’s siblings and anyone else who might affect your child’s best interest.
- Your child’s adjustment to home, school and community.
- The mental and physical health of everyone involved.
- Which of you is more likely to allow your child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent.
- Whether you or your spouse has ever been the primary caregiver for your child.
- Whether either of you pushed the other parent to accept a custody agreement.
- Whether you or your spouse took part in any state-required education on the effects of divorce on your family.
- Whether either of you was convicted of falsely reporting child abuse or neglect.
In a contested custody case, the court will consider:
- The agreement or lack of an agreement by you and your spouse regarding joint custody.
- Whether your lack of agreement is unreasonable or is influenced by an issue not related to the best interests of your child.
- The past, present and future abilities of each of you to cooperate in decision-making about your child.
- Whether the joint custody arrangement is logistically possible.
The court may choose to interview your child privately, too, as well as other medical or mental health professionals.
7. How does the state calculate child support
Either or both parents may be ordered to pay child support. The state supreme court has established guidelines that will determine the amount. They are based upon:
- The financial resources and needs of your child.
- The financial resources and needs of the custodial parent.
- The standard of living your child would have enjoyed had you not divorced.
- Your child’s physical and emotional condition and educational needs.
- The financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.
- Whether you or your spouse has caused any excessive expenses or tried to destroy, hide or otherwise get rid of your community property.
- Your visitation circumstances and related expenses.
Your child support order will address medical insurance and medical costs for your child.
8. How does the state determine and calculate alimony?
Alimony, also known as maintenance, may be awarded to either of you if requested. In considering maintenance, the court will consider whether:
- You lack sufficient property to meet your basic needs.
- You are unable to support yourself with a job or you are caring for a child whose age or condition makes working outside the home not an option.
- You contributed to your spouse’s educational opportunities.
- You were married a long time and now are at an age where you can’t find a job adequate to support yourself.
The amount and length of a maintenance order are determined by the court based on:
- Your standard of living during your marriage.
- The length of your marriage.
- The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her own needs and the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- Your financial resources and earning abilities.
- What contribution the spouse seeking maintenance made toward the earning ability of the other spouse.
- Whether the spouse seeking maintenance gave up income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
- The ability of each of you after your divorce to contribute to your child’s future educational costs.
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance and how well he or she can support him — or herself.
- How long it would take the spouse seeking maintenance to get the education or training necessary to find a job
- Whether there were any excessive or abnormal expenditures or one of you tried to destroy, hide or otherwise get rid of your community property.
- The cost of health insurance for the spouse seeking maintenance.
- Any damages and judgments from a criminal conviction of one spouse in which the other spouse or your child was the victim.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Learn more about child custody here.
For an online child support calculator online, see here.
Arizona divorce forms can be found online, here.
Please note: Local and state laws change constantly, therefore this information is for educational purposes only. We do our best to keep state-specific information up-to-date, but please contact us to discuss your unique situation.