Arizona Divorce Laws and Procedure

arizona divorce lawGenerally, most people never want to have to interact with the justice and court system. This is never truer than in divorce proceedings.  This blogpost will provide an overview of Arizona of divorce and the different legal procedures.

Legally, divorce is called a dissolution of marriage. The person who starts the divorce, or files the proceeding, is called the petitioner and the other party is called the respondent.

A.R.S. 25-312 sets out the requirements for divorce. One of the parties at the time of the filing of the petition must be a resident of Arizona and have maintained residency for a period of 90 days prior to the filing,

Arizona is a no-fault state.  This means that neither spouse has to give a reason for the divorce.  In other states, or fault states, one party must describe why the marriage should end, dependent on different legal factors.

In Arizona, only one party needs to claim that he or she believes the marriage is “irretrievably broken”.

What is a Covenant Marriage?

Arizona is one of three states, along with Arkansas and Louisiana, which recognizes covenant marriages.  A covenant marriage is an option for couples who want to marry in Arizona.  It differs from a regular marriage in that before the marriage there are requirements and there are factors necessary for there to be a divorce.  A covenant marriage, the couple must have premarital counselling from a member of a clergy or marriage counselor.  When applying for the marriage license, both parties must agree to the covenant by signing a declaration.

To enter into a dissolution of a covenant marriage, Arizona requires the court to find a specific reason for the divorce.  Arizona will allow a covenant marriage to end for eight reasons:

  1. One of the parties committed adultery
  2. The spouse against whom the divorce case is filed has committed a serious crime and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment
  3. For at least one year before the filing, the spouse whom against the divorce case is filed has “abandoned” the home and refuses to return.
  4. The spouses against whom the divorce case is filed either has physically or sexually abused the other spouse, a child, or a relative of either spouse who lives in the couple’s home or committed domestic violence or emotional abuse
  5. The spouses have been living separate and apart without getting back together for at least two years before the divorce
  6. The spouses having already been granted a legal separation by the court and have been living separate and apart without getting aback together for at least one year
  7. The spouse against whom the divorce is filed has regularly abused drugs or alcohol
  8. The spouse both agree to a divorce

What is Legal Separation?

Legal separation is another term that is typically used in divorce law.  Divorce and legal separation are two different procedures.  They are similar in many aspects.  First, legal separation allows the same orders for spousal assets and debt, legal decision-making and parenting/visitation time determinations, and child support. The marriage relationship is both severed in both proceedings.

The main difference between divorce and legal separation is that legal separation does not restore the right of either spouse to remarry.  In divorce, each party walks away as a person free to marry again.

Legal separation is an option for couples who may not actually want to sever the relationship completely.  Many times this is an option for a couple who wants to have a break but sees the ability to reconcile.

The terminology of divorce is important to understand your obligations before you entering into a marriage and during a divorce or legal separation proceeding.

Click here to find out how can legal separation be reversed in Arizona.

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