Divorce is one of the most devastating and life-changing 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 your children. We urge you to become educated about this process, so you can make wise decisions. You most likely are reading this in an effort to save money, but even if you choose to retain an attorney, the Divorce Coach will empower you by providing the information necessary to help yourself. You most likely have heard all kinds of wrong information about divorce, custody, child support and alimony. You need to have the playbook, so you know what attorneys and the courts know. The differences between law and equity are both important concepts to understand. It is helpful to understand the decisions that you must make along the way and the possible outcomes. Once you see the full game plan, you might want to avoid this scenario entirely.

Before you decide about the ?big game? (your divorce), you have to ask yourself if you are ready and whether you really want to be in the game. Divorce is a big decision; it should be taken seriously and thought through very carefully. We hope that you think carefully through each step of this process, keeping an open mind as you go. You do not want to end up at halftime or when the final whistle blows wishing you had never driven to the stadium. There is quite a bit of work involved in a divorce, but be aware that even though you may be exploring this option for your life, you can decide to stop at any time. It is not like jumping off a cliff; you can take baby steps until you know it is right for you. The beginning of a divorce is a reversible course. If you discover along the way that you would like to reconcile with your spouse, you should feel free to do so. You can actually quit anytime before the court signs the decree.

By reading this book, you are already way ahead of the game. You want to know the rules, the plays, the strategy and what the outcome of divorce will look like for your family. This book will assist you in figuring out what options you have and what decisions you need to make. Some people start and finish this process without any help from an attorney. That might work fine for some people; for others, not so well. Some people begin and then start feeling overwhelmed. This book will take the mystery out of the process. You want to do this right the first time: there are at least an equal number of post-divorce modifications filed in Arizona as there are first-time divorces. (Modifications are changes that are filed to change the original paperwork; often, these modifications are necessitated by mistakes made in the original divorce).

This introductory chapter outlines various aspects of the divorce process that are dealt with in more detail in succeeding chapters. A glossary of family law terms appears at the back of the book, as well as some useful Arizona statutes (laws) and a resource guide for online assistance in Arizona.

In Arizona, how is spousal support paid?

Here in Arizona there are several options. It can be paid directly from one spouse to the other. Both parties should keep very accurate records of the payments. The court may order the payments to be made through the clearinghouse, administered by the state of Arizona. They keep track of payments for you. Failure to pay is more easily handled in the court if the payments go through the clearinghouse. Be aware that there is a lag time between the time the payment is made and the time it is received if you go through the state.

What is alimony?

Here in Arizona, spousal maintenance (formerly known as alimony) is a monthly payment from one spouse to another, which is designed to allow for the spouse who earns less income to establish a home and living environment on his/her own. Spousal maintenance is used for an easier transition to becoming a single person in certain circumstances. Spousal maintenance will not last forever; it is designed to help a person get on his/her feet.

How is Child Support Paid?

Child support must be paid in money–not in clothing or gifts. It must be paid through the clearinghouse in the state of Arizona if there is a court order for support. In Arizona, most child support payments are made through the “clearinghouse” and, if possible, through wage assignment. If a parent is ordered to make child support payments through the clearinghouse, that parent shall send the payment to the clearinghouse directly, not to the other parent. The clearinghouse keeps track of all payments. If you have been ordered to make payments through the clearinghouse and you make payments directly to the other parent, those direct payments may be considered as gifts to the other parent. If that is the case, you will not be given credit that you paid child support that month and may be required to pay again to the clearinghouse.

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