Mesa Divorce Lawyers
Navigating Divorces in the East Valley
In Arizona, a divorce is known as “dissolution of marriage,” and it is a court process designed to end a marriage legally. Besides terminating the union, an Arizona court has the authority to divide certain debts and property of the spouses. In some instances, one spouse may be required to pay spousal maintenance (formerly alimony/spousal support) to the other. The court may also decide on issues such as custody, child support, and parenting time if children are involved.
If you are preparing to file for divorce, retain the Mesa divorce lawyers at Edwards & Petersen | PLC. We can help you navigate the long and complicated road ahead, working tirelessly to ease your burden and help you find positive solutions to any problems that arise along the way.
Divorce Laws in Arizona
In Arizona, you can only file for divorce if you or your spouse has been a resident of the state or stationed there as a member of the armed forces for at least 90 days prior to the date of filing.
When it comes to issues such as child support and custody, Arizona follows a very specific set of rules on when and where a court can decide child support and parenting time issues. Any children involved must have lived in Arizona for at least six months before filing. Additionally, the state must be the primary residence of your children.
Grounds for Divorce
Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means neither you nor your spouse is legally required to provide a reason for the separation; as long as one party claims that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” the proceedings can commence.
However, Arizona is one of the few states that recognize “covenant marriage” as a higher form of marriage.
In this case, the person seeking the divorce (the petitioner) must have one of these grounds:
- The other party has committed adultery.
- The other party has abandoned the marital home for at least 12 months prior to the petitioner filing for divorce and will not return.
- The other party has been found guilty of a crime and received a death penalty in a municipal, county, state, or federal facility.
- The other party has abused the petitioner, a child, or a relative of either spouse living in the marital home, or he/she has committed an act of domestic violence.
- The other party regularly abuses drugs or alcohol.
- The spouses have been living apart for at least two years prior to the filing.
- The spouses have been living apart for a minimum of 12 months prior to the entry date of the decree of legal separation.
- Both spouses agree to the dissolution of marriage.
Although you have the option to represent yourself, the court expects you to follow all the usual procedures and laws. Failure to do so could result in you losing important rights and the ability to request certain benefits. In the event your case goes to trial, you may not be able to call witnesses or produce certain evidence if you do not follow court procedures. Additionally, neither the judge nor court personnel can provide you with legal advice, so hiring an experienced divorce attorney in Mesa is in your best interest.
How to File for Divorce in Arizona
The petitioner files for dissolution of marriage along with related documents. Required forms and fees vary depending on the county you live in. Upon filing the petition, your spouse must be served with copies of the papers, unless service is waived in writing and filed with the court. If the petition is served in Arizona, your spouse has 20 days to respond; this increases to 30 days if it is served outside the state.
If your spouse does not file a response within the appropriate time frame, you have the right to apply for a “default.” Once you do this, your spouse has 10 days to respond or the divorce could be granted on all your terms. If no response is filed, you can obtain a default Decree of Dissolution of Marriage at the end of a 60-day cooling off period that begins on the day the respondent was initially served with divorce papers.
In the event that a response is filed but you and your spouse agree on all issues, you can place all your agreements on a Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and have it signed by a judge.
Overcoming Obstacles During Your Divorce
If you file for divorce but your spouse does not agree to the proceeding, he/she has the right to request a reconciliation meeting with the court. The divorce is held up for a maximum of 60 days while this meeting takes place. If both parties fail to reconcile and refuse to postpone proceedings, the divorce proceeds.
Issues such as child custody, parenting time, and spousal maintenance are often sticking points during a divorce procedure, so you may need the input of a judge on these matters, which means requesting a trial to finalize the divorce. You should hire an attorney to help you obtain a trial date and venue.
Arizona Divorce Timeline
Once the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has been served, the divorce cannot be finalized until the 60-day cooling off period elapses. If both parties fail to agree, a trial is set – and it may take several months for it to become final.
A Decree for Dissolution of Marriage will:
- End the marriage
- Determine spousal maintenance, child custody, and parenting time and support (if applicable)
- Divide any property acquired during the marriage and affirm ownership of property acquired before the marriage to the party that owns it
- Determine who is responsible for any debts accrued during the marriage and affirm any debts owed before the marriage to the appropriate spouse
- Decide who is responsible for any legal fees
- Restore the last name of a spouse if he/she requests it
Call Edwards & Petersen | PLC
Many divorces are complicated, but even the most straightforward divorce proceedings need the helping hand of an attorney experienced in this area of law. At Edwards & Petersen | PLC, we have the know-how to help you through the process and find positive resolutions to every aspect of your separation.
I couldn't have made it through the most difficult time in my families' lives if it weren't for the support I received from Brian Petersen and Josh Edwards.
-Michelle (Former Client)
We know that when you need legal help it is a scary time in your life. That is why at Edwards & Petersen | PLC we'll be with you day and night to help you every step of the way.
A Team Effort
When you hire Edwards & Petersen | PLC, you're getting the whole team. Working as a team helps us to be able to come up with creative solutions to get our clients the best outcome.
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You are not simply a file number to Edwards & Petersen | PLC. We treat and fight for our clients like they are family.