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Divorce & Legal Separation

Divorce

If you’re looking for an Arizona divorce lawyer, then you’re likely going through one of the most emotional and stressful times in your life. The decision to file for divorce is a difficult one, and you may be required to make painful legal and financial decisions that will impact your financial security, your children’s lives, your income and other aspects of your lifestyle. It is extremely important to know what you can expect before you begin initiating divorce proceedings.

What is a Divorce?

Simply put, a divorce refers to the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court procedure, while factoring in child support and custody, division of community property and debt, and if applicable, determination of spousal maintenance or alimony. In Arizona, a court will accept a divorce case only if one of the residents has been a domiciled resident of Arizona for at least 90 days before filing the petition for divorce, or was stationed in Arizona while in military service, for a minimum of 90 days before filing the divorce petition.

Grounds for Filing a Divorce in Arizona

With the exception of a covenant marriage, Arizona is considered a “no fault” state. A party to a marriage may simply allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken and move forward toward a divorce.

On rare occasions, the parties may belong to a covenant marriage. Under this circumstance, the grounds for divorce are dictated by Arizona Revised Statue §25-903.

Legal Separation

A legal separation is very similar to a dissolution of marriage or divorce, except that the partners cannot marry again. Every other aspect of a legal separation may be very similar to a divorce in terms of child support and custody, spousal maintenance, and the disposition of the property.
A court may agree to a legal separation if:

  • Residency requirements are met. One of the parties must have either lived in Arizona, or been stationed here as a member of the military for a period of ninety days before filing the petition for divorce;
  • Conciliation provisions laid out in Arizona Revised Statutes are not met or don’t apply;
  • The marriage is irretrievably broken, or both parties express a desire to live separately;
  • Both parties agree to a legal separation.

Spousal Maintenance/Alimony

In a marriage, one spouse frequently makes sacrifices for the benefit of the marriage that can have an adverse impact on that spouse’s ability to support him or herself. There may be other facts that might make it difficult for a spouse to support him or herself in the case of divorce. Under such circumstances, an award of spousal maintenance, or alimony might be awarded to that spouse. These circumstances and factors are outlined in Arizona Revised Statute §25-319.

Spousal maintenance may be granted to a spouse if he/she:

  • Lacks sufficient property to provide for reasonable needs;
  • Lacks sufficient means of employment to take care of reasonable needs;
  • Partners have been married for many years;
  • The partner, who is petitioning for maintenance, paid for the educational expenses of spouse.

The amount of spousal maintenance can depend on:

  • The kind of lifestyle established during the marriage;
  • Duration of the marriage;
  • Age, earning capacity, employment history and physical and mental condition of spouse seeking alimony;
  • Whether the spouse being petitioned can meet both spousal maintenance, as well as their own personal financial needs;
  • Whether the spouse seeking maintenance contributed to the earning capacity of the other
  • Whether the career or income opportunities of the spouse seeking maintenance were reduced for the benefit of the other;
  • Ability of both parties to contribute to their children’s future educational needs;
  • Any excessive expenditure on part of one partner;
  • Whether one of the parties concealed community property.

Arizona Divorce and Legal Separation Resources

Pamphlet by Family Court Department of the Superior Court of Arizona giving an overview of Family Court and the services provided.

The Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County Family Court web site

The Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County Self-Service Center

AZLawhelp

Social Security Benefits for Divorced Spouses

Family Lawyer’s Assistance Project (FLAP)

201 W. Jefferson, 6th Fl.
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Phone: (602) 506-7948

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