When a marriage has run its course, you may decide to get a divorce. Although there are similarities among the states, each jurisdiction has different laws, terminology, and procedures that comprise the divorce process.
For instance, some states refer to "divorce" and "dissolution" as two separate processes. But in most states, including Arizona, the terms "divorce" and "dissolution" are used interchangeably.
Arizona is a no-fault state, which means that you don't have to provide a reason for the breakdown of the marriage; the only criteria is that the marriage must be "irretrievably broken," or beyond saving. However, the no-fault law doesn't apply to a covenant marriage because covenant marriages require a greater marital commitment.
Grounds for Dissolution of a Covenant Marriage
If your marriage is a covenant marriage, (either through the initial marriage or conversion of a standard marriage), then you must show specific information about your spouse before you can get a divorce/dissolution. Grounds for a covenant marriage dissolution include the following:
- Major abuse of drugs or alcohol;
- A sentence of death or imprisonment for a felony;
- Abandonment for at least 1 year before filing for dissolution of marriage and your spouse refuses to return;
- Physical or sexual abuse; or
- Agreement to divorce.
Arizona Divorce Process Overview
While it's recommended that you consult with an attorney for complex cases, a guide to the law written in easy to understand terms can provide a useful introduction to the relevant statutes. See the chart below for an overview of the divorce process in Arizona.
Arizona Revised Statutes:
The Arizona divorce process begins with the filing of the Petition for Dissolution. Either party may begin the process, but the party that initiates the proceedings is the petitioner. At least one of the parties must be an Arizona resident for at least 90 days.
The filing of the petition may also include the following:
- An Order and Notice to Attend Parent Information Program Classes
- Temporary Orders
- Preliminary Injunction
"Order and Notice to Attend Parent Information Program Classes" refers to requirements to complete classes before the divorce is finalized.
"Temporary Orders" are issued by the court to make temporary decisions, including the following:
- Who will live in the primary residence;
- Where the child will live;
- Whether spousal maintenance applies.
"Preliminary Injunctions" prevent spouses from the following:
- Selling/giving away community property;
- Taking children without the prior written consent of the spouse; and
- Harassing or disturbing the peace of the other spouse.
After the petition is filed, there is a 60-day waiting period after
the respondent spouse is served with the documents before a divorce becomes final.
This process is where the spouses must disclose (in writing) all grounds for any defenses and/or claims, including names of witnesses, and any relevant documents.
After all information is gathered and "discovery" is finalized, then negotiations will begin to reach a settlement.
If a settlement can't be reached, then the case will get a trial date.
The trial will typically take at least a few days, but more time is needed for cases involving child custody and/or considerable assets.
After hearing information presented from both sides, the judge issues a "Final Judgment" or a "Decree of Dissolution."
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Arizona Divorce Process: Related Resources
Talk to an Attorney About Arizona's Divorce Process
If you're married and want to get a divorce, you should consider discussing your situation with a skilled legal professional. Whether you have a standard marriage or a covenant marriage, a local family law attorney can help you navigate Arizona's divorce process.