ARIZONA DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
|This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in Arizona. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the Arizona divorce information you need before, during and after.|
- Time Frame: After service of process, there is also a 60-day waiting period before a judgment is handed down.
- Where to File: In the Superior Court of the county in which the petitioner lives.
- State Statutes: Arizona Revised Statutes, Chapter 25.
- Name of Action: Dissolution of Marriage.
- Name of Parties: The spouse seeking a divorce is called the petitioner; the other spouse is the respondent.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Both no-fault and fault are permitted.
- Primary Documents Filed: Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Judgment of Dissolution.
- Physical Separation Required: No.
- Separation Time to File: None.
- Legal Separation Permitted: Yes, irretrievable breakdown of the desire of one spouse to live separate and apart are grounds.
- Grounds: Irretrievable breakdown, which is the no-fault ground, or, if the marriage is a covenant marriage, which the state says is a "higher" order, the possible grounds for a traditional fault plus "the spouses have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for at least two years before" or they "both agree to a dissolution of marriage."
- Residency requirement: One of the parties must live in Arizona at least 90 days before filing the dissolution. The petitioner files in the county in which he or she lives.
- Mediation Required: Either party, before filing for dissolution, may petition the court for an order of mediation for reconciliation or to obtain a settlement without further litigation.
- Counseling Required: If one spouse claims the marriage is not irretrievably broken, the court may delay the case for up to 60 days, so the parties may attend a conciliation conference.
- Parenting Classes Required: Unless the court grants a waiver, both parents must complete a mandatory parenting class before granting a divorce. This requirement is designed to help parents and children deal with the trauma of divorce and separation.
Arizona’s mandatory Parent Education Program is a 4-6 hour class that helps parents and children deal with challenges of parenting during and after divorce or separation. The court may grant a waiver to one or both parents, but otherwise both parents must complete this requirement and submit a certificate of completion to the Clerk of the Superior Court. A parent can fulfill this mandatory class requirement conveniently online (several options) at a very reasonable cost or by taking it in a classroom at the courthouse. Arizona State law permits the court or program to charge a class fee of not more than $50.00 for attending. Parents of limited financial means may file an application with the Clerk of Superior Court requesting the fee not be charged or that it is paid in installments. Application forms for fee waiver (forgiveness) or deferral (postponement) are available at the office of the Clerk of Superior Court in each county. The requirements of the course are set forth in Arizona 25-351.
- Filing Fee: $223. (See AZ Filing Fee Waiver Form)
- Where to File for Child Support: The Arizona Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) provides services to any parent or person trying to obtain child support.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: Income Shares Model.
In ordering support, the Arizona court considers a number of factors, including financial resources, standards of living, and the physical and emotional condition of the child. The court may order either parent to pay child support, but prefer the parents come to an agreement based on the support guidelines or an amount the court recognizes as reasonable. Child support is based on gross income, which means it includes all income – “salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, severance, retirement funds, pensions, gifts, and disability payment, benefits and expenses reimbursement.” Arizona child support allows for extraordinary expenses and or deductions that are either mandatory or permissive as well as deviations from the support guidelines. Child support terminates at 18, or when the child graduates from high school. The court may not order the parents to pay for a child’s college education, but the parents may agree to do so. Child support is described in the Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 25, Chapters 320, 322, and 500)
Arizona Child Support Guidelines and Worksheets:
- Property Division: Arizona is a community property state.
- Appreciation of Separate Property: Separate property remains the property of the party who owned it before the marriage.
- Attendance at Hearing: In order to receive a default decree, the petitioner must attend the divorce hearing when there are minor children in the marriage. Uncontested divorces where both parties participate typically do not require a hearing.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: Marital misconduct is not considered in property division; however, the court does consider economic misconduct.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: A sheriff, a sheriff's deputy, may make service of process or a private process server registered with the clerk of the court.
- Arizona is one of three jurisdictions to recognize what is termed a covenant marriage, which is a higher standard of marriage. Unlike no-fault, where the grounds for the dissolution of the marriage are irretrievable breakdown, covenant marriages may be ended on traditional fault grounds.
- Divorce Records: The Arizona Department of Health Services
If you are looking for divorce records in Arizona, the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where the divorce took place keep the records including copies of a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. The Arizona Department of Health Services, Bureau of Vital Records does not keep any divorce records.