In order to fulfill the residency requirements either spouse must have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days, or have been a member of the armed forces stationed in Arizona for at least 90 days.
Fill Out your Forms
In order to begin a divorce in the state of Arizona, one of the spouses (the petitioner) must file a petition with the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county of residence of either spouse. The petition asks the court to legally end the marriage and to issue the orders that are necessary to deal with the spouses' property, debts, child support, custody and alimony. Generally, the court will not give a spouse anything that isn't requested in the petition. Also, both spouses may file a joint petition for a consent decree.
When the petitioner files the petition he or she must also file:
- Summons — This explains to the non-filing spouse (the respondent) that a divorce case has been filed and that he or she must take some action within a certain time frame. Without a Super Court Clerk stamped summons, the divorce cannot go forward.
- A Notice of Right to Convert Health Insurance — Each spouse deserves the right to convert health insurance, and must receive an advisory notice about the rights and responsibilities that surround any existing health insurance policy that the couple may share.
- Preliminary Injunction — This stops both spouses from doing things with money, property, children and insurance until the court can resolve the issues, or both parties create a written agreement. It is a court order that stays in effect until the divorce ends. If a spouse violates the preliminary injunction he or she can be sent to jail.
- Notice to Creditors — This is a document that advises each spouse about the rights and responsibilities each of them has regarding the debts that were acquired during the marriage.
In addition to filing these forms, most counties require the petitioner complete a Domestic Relations or Family court cover sheet. The sheet gives information about both parties that will help in processing the case. If there are children involved, an Affidavit Regarding Minor Children and an Order and Notice Regarding the Parent Information Program must be filed. The petitioner must create three copies of the aforementioned forms. The original must go to the Clerk of the Superior Court, the next to his or her spouse, and the final copies are for the petitioner's records. Finally, filing fees vary from county to county, and in order to determine what fee one will pay at filing it is best to contact the County Superior Court.
All forms, as listed by county, can be found through the Arizona Judicial Branch Website.
In order to let your spouse know that you are filing for divorce, copies of the above forms (the summons, the petition etc.) must be served within 120 days of the filing of the petition. How service occurs depends upon the rules laid out by the county in which the divorce is filed.
The respondent must then complete an Affidavit of Service or Proof of service. This must be filed with the Clerk of super court, and it is a written statement explaining that the respondent was served the forms. In the state of Arizona, the respondent may sign an Acceptance of Service form that gives them the ability to simply accept the service of the copies of the required papers. This form does not mean that the respondent agrees to the petitioner's demands, it means only that the respondent accepts or waives the service. This eliminates the cost of paying a process server or the sheriff and allows the case to proceed faster. This option works particularly well for those couples that wish to expedite the divorce process.
The respondent must also file a Response. This Response is a written document that explains what the respondent agrees or disagrees with the petitioner about. The Response must then be served to the petitioner by mail.
The 60 Day Waiting Period
After the Petitioner has served their spouse with the correct forms to file for divorce, a 60 day waiting period begins. In the state of Arizona, a divorce cannot be granted until at least 60 days have passed since the petitioner served his or her spouse. Once this waiting period is over, if both couples agree on the terms of the divorce (which include everything from child support to property debts) then the divorce can be finalized rather quickly. However if the couple cannot agree on the terms than the case will go to court and a judge will settle the terms.
The Decree of Dissolution
The Decree of Dissolution is the final court order that legally ends the marriage. Within the decree there is information regarding the separation of property and debt. There is also information about child custody, parenting time, child support and spousal support. The decree can be obtained in one of three ways: default, agreement of the parties (consent decree) or trial procedure.
A Default Decree is granted by default when the respondent fails to file a response. If within 20 to 30 days the respondent fails to file a response, then the court ends the marriage by issuing a Default Decree. Before a Default Decree can be issued, the petitioner must file an application or Notice of Default, with the court. Once filed the court flags the file as a respondent default case, and the case enters into the default stages. Before the proceeding can begin a copy of the Notice of Default is served by first class mail to the respondent. And if after 10 days the respondent fails to reply again then the judgment by default is entered. From this point the process for a default case varies county to county.
An Agreement of the parties or a consent decree is granted if the spouses reach an agreement before the trial is held. If an agreement is reached, the spouses may avoid the trial by asking the court to grant them a Consent decree. The decree (which should be filed jointly) should state and explain the terms of the agreement, and the final judgment will determine whether the parties have met all the requirements for the decree. If a couple cannot agree, their divorce case goes to trial.
If the parties have reached an agreement and they do not desire to proceed with a lengthy trial they can use Rocket Lawyer's easy interview process to complete a Divorce Settlement Agreement outlining all the details the division of property, assets, debts and liabilities and settles matters of child support, custody and visitation.
A Note about Covenant Marriages
If you are in a covenant marriage in the state of Arizona and you wish to get divorced, the state law cannot grant you a divorce without reason. In order to receive a divorce in a covenant marriage, adultery, abandonment, physical abuse or regular substance abuse must be proven. If none of the above occurs, then there are no grounds for divorce, and a couple may not get divorced.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.