Deciding to end your marriage is not a choice most people make lightly. You’ve likely spent some time considering your options, and may have been dealing with a lot of stress and emotional turmoil in the process. The last thing you want is more complications. When you decide to get divorced, you probably want to move forward as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
Fortunately, if you and your spouse are in agreement on the need for divorce, how your property will be divided up and how your children will be cared for – if you have any – then you have the option of seeking an uncontested divorce. Arizona makes getting an uncontested divorce straightforward. As long as you fill out the proper Arizona divorce papers accurately and completely, you should be able to get a divorce without too much trouble.
Of course, not everyone has the option of seeking an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse are not in agreement about any of these issues, the court will require you to come to terms with one another – either on your own, with the assistance of a mediator, or in a hearing with a judge. Divorce mediation in Arizona is the least expensive option, where you and your spouse meet with a professional mediator who can help you work out your differences. In this case, you may want to seek legal representation.
All of this is important to keep in mind as you move forward. The more you and your spouse can agree on, the easier, faster and cheaper your divorce will be. The following information will help you understand the divorce process in Arizona, and how to it yourself.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the divorce rate in Arizona in 2011 was 3.9 out of every 1,000 residents. This places Arizona's divorce rate in the middle range among other US states.
Arizona is a no-fault divorce state. In a no-fault divorce, the court will accept “irreconcilable differences” as a reason for divorce. You do not need to place blame on your spouse for the end of the marriage to have it dissolved by the court. If issues like adultery or abuse were a problem in the marriage, they can still be presented to the court, and can have a bearing on decisions about child custody and spousal support.
Either you or your spouse must be a resident of Arizona for 90 days before you can file for divorce. The state requires that you file for divorce in the county where you or your spouse lives. The Arizona Courts website provides a court locator for you to find the right court.
The specific papers you fill out for your divorce will vary based on your individual circumstances and possibly the county where you reside. You can find many of the divorce forms online, but it is advisable to contact your county clerk to verify that you are filling out all of the correct documents. You can also obtain divorce paperwork in person at your local county court.
The Superior Court of Arizona provides an online booklet – a Self-Serivce Guide For Divorce Cases – that explains the divorce process in Arizona. The 60-page booklet can be a bit intimidating when you first glance through it, but it is worthwhile for you to review it. The more informed you are about the divorce process, the better you can look after your interests when dissolving your marriage.
Many people find the variety of divorce papers and legal requirements overwhelming, which is understandable. There are many different options, and by completing the forms incorrectly, submitting the wrong forms or failing to submit required forms can all lead to delays in the divorce. CompleteCase.com offers you a way to find exactly what Arizona online divorce documents you need for your specific circumstances, and helps you ensure that they are filled out correctly the first time.
Arizona also requires you and your spouse to complete an “Affidavit of Financial Information”. On this form you will list your financial information. You may have to include things like pay stubs and tax returns to verify the information. This form will be filed along with your other divorce documents.
When you have completed your divorce paperwork you will submit it to your local county clerk. You will want to make several copies of the divorce papers, including one for your records and one to serve to your spouse. You will also need to bring an accepted form of payment to the court to pay the state filing fee. It is possible to have the fee waived if you fill out an “Application for Deferral of Filing Fee”.
Arizona requires you to serve copies of the divorce paperwork to your spouse as soon as you have filed with the court. You have up to 120 days to serve the papers, but it is advisable to begin the service process as soon as you can, especially if you want to move the divorce along quickly.
Arizona does not allow you to serve your spouse directly or through the mail. You have to hire either a private process server or a deputy sheriff to serve the papers. Each will charge a fee. The sheriff's fee tends to be lower, but it may take longer for the papers to be served.
When your spouse has been served the divorce papers, you will need to wait 60 days before the marriage will be finalized by the court. This is the case if everything is uncontested. If you need to go to trial, you can expect the divorce to take anywhere from six months to a year or more.