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Arizona Divorce Law

The emotions and stress from a divorce can often make sparring couples desperate and irrational in negotiating the terms of divorce. Allowing your emotions to hijack the divorce process can result in losing what you really need from your divorce.

LawInfo’s Arizona Divorce Law articles can help relieve some of the stress of the process. You’ll learn about the state’s divorce prerequisites, how property is divided and many other divorce topics. Whether you need assistance in Tucson, Mesa or Phoenix, LawInfo can help connect you with an Arizona divorce attorney.

Separation vs. Annulment in Arizona

Besides a divorce, a legal separation and an annulment are other legal methods of separating a married couple in Arizona. A divorce often carries a social or religious stigma that a couple can subvert with these two other separation methods while getting the distance they need.

A legal separation doesn’t end a marriage. Instead, it legally permits a married couple to live separately while keeping their marriage intact. A legal separation is often used as the first step in the divorce process. You can think of it as “divorce-light”—it allows couples the opportunity to work out a division of property and parental rights and the experience of living separately. Couples use a legal separation to work out marital issues if they can before deciding on divorce.

An annulment achieves the same results as a divorce but it also invalidates the marriage. Arizona has its own set of legal requirements each party must meet to qualify for marriage. These requirements are concerned with a spouse’s right to consent, age and familial relationship to the person they’re marrying. If any of these requirements weren’t met at the time of the marriage, either the party or their representative may seek to annul the marriage.

Arizona Community Property Laws

A sentiment that’s often heard in the movies and TV shows we watch is that “he/she took half of everything in the divorce!” While that’s not exactly how property distribution works in real-life divorce, it’s true for community property in Arizona.

According to state law, both spouses in a marriage have equal ownership rights to most assets and debts acquired during the marriage—also known as community property. Therefore, when you get divorced, you are entitled to half of the community property (or the value of the total).

Each party keeps their respective separate property, for the most part. Separate property includes assets and debts acquired and personally owned by the individual spouse prior to the marriage. It also includes property given to the spouse during the marriage from gifts, inheritance, insurance or some other device.

Arizona Divorce Timeline

The length of the divorce process is entirely dependent upon whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Prior to filing a petition for divorce, either you or your spouse must fulfill Arizona’s 90-day residency requirement. Once you file the petition with the court, the following timeline takes effect:

  • You have 120 days to serve a copy of the petition to your spouse.
  • Your spouse has 20 days to respond to the petition upon receiving it if they were served in Arizona or 30 days if served out of state.
  • Your divorce may not be finalized until 60 days after filing the petition with the court. If your spouse doesn’t respond within the time limit or agrees to the divorce terms (creating an uncontested divorce either way), your divorce could be finalized as soon as the 60-day “cooling off” period ends.
  • If your divorce is contested (meaning your spouse disagrees with the divorce petition or terms), they can request the divorce to be put on hold for 60 days for a conciliation meeting.

An uncontested divorce can be finalized as soon as 60 days from the initial petition. Otherwise, a contested divorce can take three or more months or sometimes years to finalize.