Navigating the Divorce Process in Arizona: Requirements, Options, and Child Custody Considerations

Tucson, Arizona – If you’re considering filing for divorce in Arizona, there are several important factors to keep in mind. First and foremost, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days. While physical separation is not necessary, your marriage must be irretrievably broken with no chance of reconciliation. To kick off the divorce process, you will need to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the county where you or your spouse reside, along with the required fee, at the office of the Clerk of the Court. It is then essential to serve your spouse with the divorce papers.

In Arizona, couples have three options to end their marriage: divorce, annulment, or legal separation. Divorce is the most common route and is granted when one spouse declares that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Annulment, on the other hand, declares the marriage legally invalid, as if it never existed. Annulments are only granted under specific circumstances, such as fraud or bigamy. Legal separation differs from divorce in that it acts as a trial period, offering couples the opportunity to divide income, assets, debts, and determine child custody arrangements.

In the realm of divorce, Arizona follows a “no-fault” system. This means that individuals requesting a divorce do not need to prove wrongdoing or fault as a reason for the marriage ending. Simply stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken is sufficient grounds for divorce. However, it is important to note that covenant marriages, which are less common, require showing fault-based reasons for divorce, such as adultery, abandonment, or substance abuse.

For couples going through a divorce in Tucson, child custody, support, and visitation may be key concerns. Arizona law does not favor one type of child custody over the other and encourages both parents to maintain meaningful contact with their child, as long as it is in the child’s best interests. In cases where the parents cannot agree on visitation matters, a court will make the necessary decisions. Child support varies based on factors such as the non-custodial parent’s income, the number of children involved, and expenses required. Spousal support or alimony is ordered when one spouse cannot meet their financial needs after the division of marital assets. The duration and amount of alimony depend on factors like the length of the marriage and the standard of living during the marriage.

In terms of property division, Arizona follows the community property rule. This means that all assets acquired during the marriage are typically distributed equally between the spouses. Assets held before the marriage, as well as gifts and inheritances received during the marriage, are usually considered separate property. However, a court may consider additional factors when dividing marital property, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contribution to the assets, and their individual financial circumstances.

To officially file for divorce in Arizona, the necessary paperwork can be found on the Arizona Judicial Branch website. One crucial document is the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, which should be completed and filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court in Tucson. Serving the divorce papers to your spouse is the next step, and there are various methods available, including acceptance of service, mail with certified receipt, or through the local sheriff’s office.

Once the paperwork has been filed and your spouse has been served, there is a 60-day waiting period before the divorce can be finalized. If both parties agree on all issues, a consent decree can be filed to complete the divorce process. However, the timeframe for finalizing a divorce can vary depending on factors such as child custody agreements, property division complexity, and support needs. If there are unresolved matters, a divorce hearing may be required before a final divorce decree is issued. Seeking legal assistance can help navigate the process more effectively.