Some FAQs in Family Law

Cindy Best

Are you considering getting a divorce and have a lot of questions? Well, you are certainly not alone! We have put together a short list of frequently asked questions in family law to help you get started.

 

How long does it take to get a divorce in Arizona?

According to Arizona Revised Statute, Section 25-329, and Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure 4.1(c), you can get a divorce decree in as little as 60 days. 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, or if the divorce involves children, it can stretch on for months or even years.

 

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. There may be a fee associated with reconciliation depending on the budget. During this “time out” for 60 days, there can be no discovery* taking place.

 

*Discovery is the term used to describe the process by which each party is allowed to examine all possible evidence that may support their claims. In Arizona, both spouses must disclose in writing all legal and factual grounds for their alleged defenses and claims.

 

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 one spouse to prove blame or responsibility in order to end the marriage. The law is objective and does not care about who did what to whom. Assets and debts must be divided equitably without regard to who caused the breakup of the marriage or how a spouse behaved during the marriage. However, in a 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 is a Covenant Marriage?

You will most likely know if you have a covenant marriage because 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 (E.g., adultery). The law regarding covenant marriages can be found in the Arizona Revised Statutes, Sections 25-901 through 25-906.

 

What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce in Arizona?

An Arizona legal separation and an Arizona divorce are almost identical. In fact, there are more similarities than differences. The process of filing for both legal separation and divorce are almost identical and take the same amount of time. In both cases, the court will issue final orders dividing the spouses’ debts and assets, enter decision-making and parenting time orders regarding the parties’ children and enter child support and spousal maintenance orders. Additionally, the community property rights and obligations previously existing between the spouses are terminated. The only significant difference between a divorce and legal separation in Arizona is that in a legal separation the parties are not legally restored to the status of single persons and may not remarry.

 

If you have any additional questions about the divorce process or family law in general, please check out our book: “The Divorce Coach: Your Guide to Arizona Divorce” – available on Amazon.

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