What are the Grounds for Divorce in Arizona?

Arizona is a “no-fault divorce” jurisdiction and generally requires only that one spouse state that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage in order for the court to grant a divorce (technically called dissolution of marriage), according to Arizona Revised Statutes Chapter 25-316.

In other states which employ fault-based divorce, the filing party carries the burden of proving to the court that grounds for granting the divorce exist. Arizona and other no-fault states have no such requirement for most divorces.

Arizona is one of only three states which allow couples, before they marry, to choose which laws they want to apply to their marriage if it ends in divorce. Arizona couples-to-be can choose to enter into either a covenant marriage, where they agree to attend pre-marital counseling and limit the grounds for divorce, or a no-fault option.

The grounds for divorce in a covenant marriage differ from those for no-fault unions. A divorce may be granted in a covenant marriage on grounds of one spouse’s adultery, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, conviction of a felony crime resulting in a prison sentence or death penalty, if the spouses have lived continuously apart for two years (or one year following a legal separation), or if the husband and wife agree to dissolve the marriage, according to Arizona Revised Statutes 25-903.   

In Arizona, if spouses in a no-fault marriage agree that their union is irretrievably broken and a judge makes a finding that it is, generally the divorce will be granted after a mandatory minimum 60-day waiting period. However, if either spouse denies that the no-fault marriage is irretrievably broken, the court will conduct a hearing to consider whether reconciliation is possible.

If either party requests it or on its own motion, the court may also choose to order both spouses to attend a conciliation conference intended to determine if the parties can work out their differences and remain married.

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