A full understanding of the divorce process is the best way to get a favorable outcome. There are many things to consider, from the grounds for the divorce itself to the division of property to your child custody rights. The states each set their own divorce laws, so you have to know exactly how they work in Arizona. Below are a few key facts to keep in mind.
Compared to some other states, the residency restrictions in Arizona are actually pretty short. You only need to have one spouse who has lived in the state for a minimum of 90 days – or three months – in order to be allowed to file for divorce. If you have just moved, you have to wait until the 90 days have passed or you may be allowed to file in your previous home state.
The grounds for a divorce have to be mutual, meaning that they cannot be set up to blame either party for the divorce. This is called a no-fault divorce, and you are allowed to say that you simply have irreconcilable difference as a couple that you cannot work through. Even if these differences were caused by something that your spouse did, you still cannot file a divorce with cause.
One possible exception that you can use is a prior separation. If you and your spouse have not lived together for the last 18 months – a year and a half – you can use the split as grounds for the divorce.
Though most states are not community property states, Arizona is actually one of the few that uses community property laws. These are geared around an equal distribution of assets. Any assets that you have accumulated while you were married – from income to physical property to real estate – will be split up in an equal fashion. No matter who bought them or earned the money, the assets are considered to belong in equal part to you and your spouse, allowing for a 50/50 split.
The amount that you will receive or pay in child support will be determined by the judge. Each case is handled on an individual basis, looking at things like what assets each parent has, what level of income both of you will enjoy, and things of this nature. The judge will figure out what percentage you both must provide to give the child the upbringing and support that would have been retained without the divorce. Therefore, the party who earns more also has to pay more, in most cases, since they would have contributed at a higher level.
You can meet with your spouse, decide how you want to handle child custody, and turn in the plan to the judge so that it can be approved. This may be hard to do, though, and so the judge could be asked to make a ruling. If possible, both you and your spouse are going to be given joint custody so that you both can make decisions for the child (legal custody) and provide a home for the child (physical custody). Naturally, the child is going to live with one parent more often, as this helps with things like attending school. If you think this arrangement is not going to work and you want sole custody, you need to show the court that the best interests of the child would be served better by a sole custody agreement than joint custody.
While divorce may be common, when you go through it yourself, you still deserve dedicated, personal focus on your rights and unique situation. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you figure out the best way forward, explain the law, and represent you in court if it is ever necessary. Take the first step now and contact a local divorce attorney to discuss your divorce.