ARIZONA DIVORCE LAW
Separations and divorces are common in every state, but the manner in which each state’s legal system treats the separation or divorce process can vary widely. When contemplating a divorce or “dissolution of marriage,” it is important to understand that if you obtain a divorce in Arizona, your marriage will legally end and you and your ex-spouse will be considered single and may re-marry. Divorce can be an emotional and complicated process, so it is important to contact an Arizona divorce attorney for advice.
Arizona Legal Separation
A legal separation is different than a divorce in that you and your spouse will still be married after the court approves the separation. You and your spouse will not be able to re-marry. Legal separations are allowed in Arizona and are granted in circumstances where the court finds that conditions in or circumstances of the marriage make it intolerable for both parties to live together, but that the marriage should be maintained. For an Arizona court to grant a legal separation at least one party must be a resident of Arizona, the marriage must be irretrievably broken or one or both of the parties must desire to live separate and apart, and the other party must not object to a decree of legal separation. However, if a party does object to the decree of legal separation, the court will direct the parties to file for a divorce or “dissolution of the marriage.” If the parties do agree on legal separation they may still file for divorce later if they wish.
Another term that is similar to legal separation is a “separation agreement.” A “separation agreement” in Arizona is used in dissolution of marriage or legal separation. The parties to the divorce or separation may enter into a written separation agreement containing provisions for disposition of any property owned by either spouse, maintenance of either spouse, and support, custody and parenting time of their children. The terms of the “separation agreement,” except those providing for the support, custody and parenting time of children, are binding on the court and in a later divorce / legal separation unless, the court finds, after considering the economic circumstances of the parties and any other relevant evidence produced by the parties, that the separation agreement is unfair. These matters may become complicated and it is important to discuss these matters with an Arizona divorce attorney.
Arizona Grounds For Divorce
Arizona has both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. For no-fault divorces, “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” is the basic standard used as grounds for divorce. Fault-based grounds for divorce are much more specific,and include: adultery, a felony conviction, abandonment for more than one year, habitual drug or alcohol abuse, and/or agreement of both spouses to the dissolution of the marriage. Cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt and willful desertion or abandonment are also grounds for a fault-based divorce, but only when at least one year has passed from the date of the act itself. You should consult with a licensed Arizona divorce attorney when contemplating a divorce.
Arizona Divorce Residency Requirements
Before you can successfully file for divorce, the filing party must be a resident of Arizona for at least 90 days. The petition should be filed in the Superior Court of the county where the filer resides. After service of process, there is a mandatory 60 day waiting period.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
In Arizona, separation agreements (in which the parties voluntarily come to a preliminary agreement on certain terms before their divorce is finalized, making the decision of their property for themselves rather than letting the judge make it for them) are explicitly encouraged. Service waivers are accepted as well, and under certain circumstances, a court commissioner will hear marriage dissolution cases, rather than a judge, which saves all parties time and money. See an Arizona divorce attorney for details.
An annulment is when a court declares your marriage legally void or voidable. In other words, rather than ending a marriage by divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid in the first place. A marriage can be annulled because one of the parties is underage (not legally old enough to marry at the time), has committed bigamy, mental incapacity, force, or if the marriage was never consummated. Annulment can be an unusual and complicated matter; you should contact an Arizona divorce attorney for assistance.
Arizona Property Division
Arizona is a “community property” state, meaning that all property that was acquired during the marriage is considered community property and is divided equally (50-50), unless, the court determines otherwise or the parties are able to come to their own agreement separately. When the court must decide how to divide marital property, it considers, among other things: (1) the nature of the community property; separate property; (2) the length of the marriage; and (3) the economic circumstances of the spouses. Property division can be a lengthy and complicated process. It is important to discuss these issues with an Arizona divorce attorney.
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