Scottsdale Divorce Attorneys

What You Need to Know About Divorce and the Divorce Process in Phoenix & Scottsdale, AZ

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Divorce is one of the toughest events you will ever experience. You need to know what you are getting into and be involved in the process. There are decisions to make for yourself and for your children. We urge you to become educated about this process, so you can make good decisions. Most likely, you have heard all sorts of wrong information about divorce, custody, property division and spousal maintenance. You need to know what attorneys and the courts know.

Divorce is a big decision; it should be taken seriously and thought through very carefully. Remember to keep the ‘Big Picture’ in mind as you go through this process and focus on your goals.

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Before You Begin

Our experienced team at Best Law Firm has helped thousands of clients. We listen and we thrive on finding
effective resolutions to help your family.

5 Facts about Divorce in Arizona

  1. Dissolution
  2. Property
  3. Property Examples
  4. Spousal Maintenance
  5. Reaching Agreements

How to File For Divorce in Arizona.

What you need to know.

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Responding to a Petition for Divorce

What you need to know.

What Happens After You File for Divorce in Arizona

RMC

The court typically starts by scheduling a Resolution Management Conference (RMC) where the parties and their attorneys, if they are represented, go before the court for the first time. At the RMC, the court will attempt to determine if the parties have reached any agreements.

RULE 69 AGREEMENT

If there are agreements, the court may have them recorded as a formal and binding agreement. The court will also determine what, if any, services and/or orders the parties need to help conclude the matter. Those services and/or orders could include drug testing of one or both parents, mental health evaluations, vocational evaluations and business evaluations.

SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE

Next, the Court will generally schedule a settlement conference with the court’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services. A settlement conference involves the help of a neutral mediator who attempts to help the parties resolve the remaining issues without going to trial.

TRIAL

Last, the court will set a trial date to hear any disputed issues; if the parties are able to settle all issues before the trial date, they can notify the Court to cancel or “vacate” the trial. If the matter does proceed to trial, the court will issue a divorce decree within 60 days of the trial.

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

How long will it take to get a divorce?

According to Arizona Revised Statute, section 25-329 and Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure 4.1(c), you must wait at least 60 days from the date your spouse was served before going to Court and having the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage entered. This assumes you and your spouse have agreed on the terms or your spouse is in default. When the spouses cannot agree on how to settle issues such as assets and debts, the length of time to get divorced can be longer. If you litigate the issues, it can take a year or longer.

Where do I file for my divorce?

There are currently four courthouse locations in Maricopa County, which are located Downtown, Northeast, Northwest and Southeast (see resource guide for other county courthouses).

What if my spouse filed and I do not want to get divorced?

You cannot stop your spouse from divorcing you but you can file a request with the court to order a one hour conciliation meeting to try and reconcile. These rules change, depending on the budget, there may be a fee associated with reconciliation. During this “time out” for 60 days, there can be no “discovery” (see glossary) taking place.

What is a Covenant Marriage?

You will most likely know if you have one of these; it is an optional type of marriage created by the state legislature that requires partners to complete marital counseling prior to marrying and to sign a special declaration to obtain a marriage license. In a covenant marriage, a legal separation or divorce may be granted only for certain reasons listed in state law. The law regarding covenant marriages can be found in Sections 25-901 through 25-906 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.

What is a divorce "Decree?"

A Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is the final order of the Court which makes each party a single person again, and includes separate orders concerning child custody and visitation, child support, division of property and debts, spousal maintenance and any other appropriate orders. The Decree is the final order of the court legally ending the marriage. Spouses are not “divorced” until the court grants the divorce and the Decree is signed by the judge. A Decree of Dissolution is a court order and can be enforced just as any other order of the Court.

What if I do not have money to pay the filing or fee?

You may request that the Court waive or postpone payment of the filing or response fees. Forms must be completed and signed by you and submitted to the Court. The forms are free of charge and are available in the office of the Clerk of Superior Court.

How much does it cost to file for divorce in Maricopa County?

The Petitioner (initiator of the divorce) must pay Maricopa County $349.00 as of March, 2010 and the Respondent pays $274.00 for filing an answer.

Can my spouse and I file for divorce together?

No, Arizona does not have a provision for any type of joint filing.

Do I need an attorney for my divorce?

Arizona law allows you to do this yourself. You are considered pro se or pro per; you must follow all the same rules as parties with attorneys. You may have to go into a courtroom but you are held to the standard of an attorney.

Is it possible to represent myself in court?

Yes, as it is not a requirement that you have an attorney to represent you in divorce proceedings. However, the same rules and procedures apply whether you have an attorney or not, which means all papers must be correctly completed and filed on time.

When is my dissolution final?

A dissolution of marriage is final after the judge or commissioner takes testimony, signs the Decree and files it with the Clerk of the Court.

I cannot afford health insurance. If I file for divorce, can my husband stop paying for it while we are in the divorce proceedings?

No. After one spouse is served with the dissolution or legal separation documents, no insurance of any kind can be canceled or modified to the detriment of the other spouse.

Who actually divorces me?

The divorce decree will be from the Judge or Commissioner assigned to your case who works for the Superior Court of Maricopa County, which is a state court.

Am I considered the "bad guy" if I file first?

Someone has to be the Petitioner and someone has to be the Respondent. There is no advantage or disadvantage to either (other than perhaps assignment of the courthouse nearest to the Petitioner).

Does it matter if my spouse was having an affair?

No, Arizona is a “no-fault state,” which means that the court does not require that one spouse prove blame or responsibility in order to end the marriage. However, in Covenant Marriage (see below), a court will not enter a decree of dissolution of marriage unless certain criteria are met. (See Arizona Revised Statute, Section 25-903 for the specific requirements).

What if I change my mind after starting a divorce?

If you and your spouse decide to stay married, the divorce case can be canceled or “dismissed” by filing a request with the Clerk of Superior Court and signed by both parties.

Who can start a divorce case?

In Arizona, either spouse can ask the court for a divorce. A divorce is not awarded to either spouse; rather, it simply changes the status of the marriage relationship.

Will I have a jury if my divorce proceeds to trial?

No, if your case is litigated, you will not have a jury. One judge will make all the decisions that the parties cannot agree on.

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