Arizona State Divorce And Family Law Resources
U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the family law courts in Arizona have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.
Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage.
As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.
SAME-SEX DIVORCE – UPDATE:
On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. It follows, therefore, that the rights and obligations between same-sex divorcing parties are subject to the same dissolution laws of that state. Reference: US Supreme Court Opinion: Obergefell v. Hodges.
At least one party needs to be a resident of Arizona for a minimum of 90 days before filing for a dissolution of marriage. There is also a 60-day waiting period after the service of process.
HELPFUL SERVICES & RESOURCES
WHERE TO FILE:
Papers should be filed in the county where the person petitioning for the dissolution resides.
LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:
Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. However, if the marriage is a covenant marriage, the following may be considered grounds for dissolution:
* Commission of a felony and the resulting imprisonment
* Abandonment for at least one year
* Physical or sexual abuse
* Living separate and apart for at least two years
* Habitual drug or alcohol abuse
* The husband and wife both agree to the dissolution of the marriage.
NAME OF COURT IN WHICH TO FILE FOR DIVORCE:
The Superior Court in which the county that the action is filed.
LEGAL SEPARATION: Arizona divorce recognizes legal separation. At least one party must be a resident of the state and both parties must agree to the legal separation, otherwise the court shall direct that the pleadings be amended to seek a dissolution of the marriage.
MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:
At the request of either party or on its own motion, the court may order a conciliation conference for the purpose of reconciling the marriage (in the case of a covenant marriage), or to reach an amicable settlement so as to avoid further litigation over the issues involved.
Arizona is a community property state, with marital property and debt being divided equally, regardless of who’s name is on the title. The court shall assign each spouse’s sole and separate property to such spouse.
The court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse for any of the following reasons if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance in a proceeding for dissolution or legal separation:
* Lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her needs,
* Is unable to be self-sufficient or is caring for a child whose age or condition makes it unreasonable to seek outside employment,
* If one spouse contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse,
* If the marriage was long-term and the spouse’s age makes getting employment difficult.
The factors that are taken into consideration when determining maintenance are:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age and earning ability of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The ability of the spouse paying maintenance to meet his or her own needs.
- The comparative financial resources of both spouses.
- The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
- The ability of both spouses to contribute to the educational cost of their mutual children.
- The time necessary for the spouse seeking maintenance to receive training to become employable.
- The effect of health insurance costs due to the dissolution.
Upon request, the court shall order that party’s requested former name be restored any time prior to signing the dissolution decree.
The court may order sole custody or joint custody. The court shall determine custody, either originally or on petition for modification, in accordance with the best interests of the child, based on the following factors:
* The wishes of the child’s parent regarding custody.
* The wishes of the child.
* The interaction between the child and the parent, the child and the siblings or any other person who may significantly affect the best interest of the child.
* The child’s adjustment to home, school and community.
* The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
* Which parent will promote continued contact between the child and the other parent.
* Which parent has provided primary care for the child.
* Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect.
* Whether a parent was influenced or coerced into a custody decision.
In proceedings for a dissolution or legal separation, the court may order either or both parents to pay child support. The court may also order retroactive child support (if no child support was previously ordered) from the date of separation, but not more than three years before the date of the filing for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance or child support. The amount of child support order shall the based on the following factors:
* The financial needs of the child.
* The financial resources and needs of the custodial parent.
* The standard of living the child during the marriage.
* The physical and emotional condition of the child.
* The child’s educational needs.
* The financial resources of the non-custodial parent.
* The duration of parenting time and related expenses.
* Excessive expenditure, destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property.
Child support continues until the age of majority unless the child is still attending high school (but only until age 19), or if the child is severely mentally or physically disabled and cannot be self-supporting. Support payments shall be made to the support payment clearinghouse for remittance to the person entitled to receive the payments unless the parties agree otherwise. Child support may be modified upon showing substantial changes in circumstances or every three years if requested
A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. After marriage, a premarital agreement may be amended or revoked only by a written agreement signed by the parties. A premarital agreement is not enforceable if any of the following conditions apply:
* The party did not execute the agreement voluntarily.
* The party was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
* Did not voluntarily waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided.
* The party did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
ENFORCING CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS – FEDERAL OPTION
Learn about the Federal Office of Child Support and Enforcement:
Meditation & Wellbeing