Grounds for Divorce in Arizona
Are you looking to dissolve a marriage in Arizona? Our Arizona family law firm can help to guide you through what can be a confusing and tumultuous time in your life. In Arizona, you have a few options in dissolving your marriage. Here, we will discuss some of the legal grounds for divorce in the state of Arizona.
What Are Grounds for Divorce?
What is the meaning of “grounds for divorce?” In short, you must have legal reasons for the court to accept your petition requesting a divorce. Every state has different legal grounds for divorce. Arizona only requires couples to show the court that a marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown that cannot be fixed by either spouse. Unless a spouse can convince a judge that both parties want to remain married, a judge in Arizona will grant a request for divorce.
Fault Grounds for Divorce in Arizona
Only a few states still allow a “fault” divorce, i.e., a divorce in which one spouse can allege specific grounds as a reason for divorce. Arizona only allows fault-based divorce if a couple has a legally binding covenant marriage. Covenant marriages are only permitted in Arizona, Louisiana and Arkansas. In a covenant marriage, both spouses participate in premarital counseling, decide how they will deal with a divorce at the time of applying for marriage license, and agree to attend pre-divorce counseling.
If you can show a judge in Arizona that you have a valid covenant marriage, that judge will only grant a divorce if the spouse who files for divorce can prove one of these fault-based grounds for divorce:
- The spouse at fault committed adultery during the marriage
- The spouse at fault committed a felony and was sentenced to death or imprisonment
- Either spouse abandoned the marital home for at least a year before one spouse filed for divorce
- The spouse at fault physically or sexually abused the petitioning spouse, a child, or a relative
- The spouse at fault abused alcohol or drugs on a regular basis
If Both Spouses Agree to Divorce in Arizona
If both spouses agree that they want to divorce in Arizona, and agree on major legal issues, this is called an uncontested divorce. This type of divorce does not require a trial and saves everyone time and money. Both spouses must agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and must produce a mutual settlement agreement to the court explaining how marital property and debt will be divided. If the marriage has produced children, the court must also be presented with custody arrangements, visitation time, and child support conditions.
Both spouses must agree on every issue in an uncontested divorce. If one spouse disagrees on anything during this process, the court will change the uncontested divorce to a contested divorce, requiring a long divorce trial where the judge decides major issues. This will cost both sides more time and money.
How Long Must I Reside in Arizona to File for Divorce There?
At least one spouse must have lived in Arizona for a minimum of 90 days before filing for divorce, under Arizona’s residency requirement. There is also a 60-day waiting period from the time you file for divorce to the time when the judge approves the divorce.
What Happens Once a Divorce is Granted in Arizona?
After the judge confirms the final terms of a divorce, a signed Decree will be issued. The Decree will deal with child custody and support, alimony payments, division of marital debt and assets, each spouse’s responsibility for attorney’s fees, and any name changes. This document is important, as it must be produced when refinancing mortgages or purchasing other assets in the future.
Contact our Arizona Family Law Firm today if you are contemplating ending a marriage. We can help you to navigate the court system and receive the best outcome in your divorce case.