Like all states, Arizona has its own specific laws and legal details that you will need to work out before any major change. A divorce is one of these changes, and knowing what you will need to do ahead of time can really smooth out the process in the long term.
Understanding Arizona’s Divorce Laws
In Arizona, there are multiple ways that you can ‘divorce,’ but only one of them is legally an actual divorce. In other cases, it is generally a legal separation, something that is functionally similar but carries a lot less weight behind it. It also provides more opportunities for counseling or rethinking the process.
Divorce in Arizona only happens under one set of grounds: irretrievably broken or irreconcilable differences. This refers to any situation where the split is completely unsalvageable, such as the couple being violently hateful towards one another on a personal level.
Divorces and legal separations do not require one person to be at fault. This is portrayed a lot on television, but couples can split for any reason as long as the relationship cannot be saved.
Handling a Legal Separation/Divorce
Before anything starts, you will want a divorce lawyer, ideally one who is familiar with Arizona law specifically. They can lead you through the process, explaining exactly what needs to be done at each step and how to proceed through the legal paperwork or requirements.
For more complex parts of the process, like dealing with child custody or working out how certain assets are going to be shared between each side of the divorce, a lawyer can be almost necessary. These require not only agreements between the divorcing couple but often need written consent and authorization, as well as a log of the exact terms being agreed to.
A lawyer is also a mediator for couples that hate one another, working as a middleman to try and get the best outcome for both while still respecting their individual wishes.
Temporary Orders and Preliminary Injunctions
When a divorce is in progress, the court will usually issue temporary orders that lay ground rules for how that divorce works. For example, temporary orders may decide who lives in the original residence, whether or not alimony is required, who pays bills, and so on. These are only temporary, but they can be upgraded to permanent orders if both sides agree.
A preliminary injunction order is always the first one an Arizona court will issue and places the foundations for both sides of the divorce needing consent to change things. For example, this would stop one parent from taking away a child before any official decisions are made and aims to stop harassment that delays the process.
If either of these orders is unfair, then a divorce lawyer can help try to rectify them, especially if one partner is forcing unfair restrictions onto another.
The Divorce Process
The law has multiple steps for a divorce, similar to many legal proceedings. Understanding this can help you get an idea of what you will have to manage and the kind of detail you may have to provide.
There are hundreds of different ways that a divorce can pan out, so it would be impossible to list every niche situation, but here are three worth keeping in mind.
Summons is more or less a call for both sides of the divorce to agree on whatever petitions have been filed with the court, which usually means agreeing on things like the dissolution of assets (and how possessions/finances are split). If neither side contests it, then default judgment is passed, and the divorce goes ahead.
If one party is asking for something outside of the ordinary, such as very specific control of a child’s custody, then discovery is necessary. This involves gathering evidence to support different claims, which can be anything from tax records to saved communication transcripts and recordings.
If one side of the divorce thinks that the marriage might actually be salvageable, they can petition to delay the dissolution (and entire divorce process) by up to 120 days, during which mandatory marriage counseling will be arranged. This is usually a last-ditch effort to try and save the relationship, and if it fails, the process goes ahead as normal.