Family law courts are courts of equity. This means that the judges are asked to make decisions based on fairness. Arizona family law courts are governed by Arizona statutes (in Section 25, Marriage and Domestic Relations), by the Family Law Rules of Procedure and by the case law that has interpreted these statutes and rules. (Case law is what a court of appeals or the Arizona Supreme Court has determined is the actual meaning of the rules or statutes).
Sometimes, you will read a statute and think you know exactly what it means, but a court has decided another interpretation. Luckily, most cases and most divorces are not that complicated, and the parties do not need an in-depth legal analysis. If you find your case in a grey area and you do not know the answer, that is the time to consider consulting with an experienced attorney. If your question is straightforward, remember that hourly consultations are much cheaper than advance (retainer) fees.
Because family law courts are courts of equity, there are no juries. Although you may find a jury box in your family law courtroom, the judge alone will make all decisions in your case if there are disputed issues that must be litigated (brought to trial). However, there are ways to handle your entire divorce without ever having to set foot into a courtroom. You and your spouse can make all the decisions instead of a judge. That brings up our next point.
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