What is a divorce?
A divorce, legally called a "dissolution
of marriage," is a court procedure to end a marriage. The party who starts
the divorce is known as the Petitioner. The other party is known as the
What is A.R.S.?
A.R.S. stands for Arizona
Revised Statutes. When followed by "§"and a number, it refers to a
particular Arizona law. These statutes may be found at www.azleg.gov/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.aspas well
as in any county law library.
What is A.R.F.L.P.?
A.R.F.L.P. stands for Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure.
These rules may be found at http://www.supreme.state.az.us/rules/ramd_pdf/R-05-0008.pdf or in
any county law library.
When can I file a petition for divorce?
You or your spouse must have been a resident of Arizona for at
least 90 days before you can file for a divorce. A.R.S. § 25-312.
What reasons must I give in order to get a divorce?
Arizona is a no-fault state, which means that neither spouse
needs to give a reason for the divorce. Only one party needs to assert that he
or she believes the marriage is "irretrievably broken." If the
parties choose to have a "covenant marriage" at the time of their
marriage or later convert their marriage to a covenant marriage, the party
seeking the divorce must prove grounds found in A.R.S. §25-903.
Do I need a lawyer to represent me?
Everyone is entitled to represent himself or herself in a divorce. However, if you represent yourself, the court will
expect you to follow all laws and the correct procedures that apply to your
case, even if you are not an attorney. If you do not follow the correct
procedures, you could lose important rights and the ability to request certain
benefits forever. If your case goes to trial and you do not follow the correct
procedures, the judge may not allow you to present certain evidence or call
witnesses. Court personnel and judges are not allowed to give you legal advice.
If you do not understand the laws or court procedures, you may contact an
attorney for assistance.
In certain circumstances, a judge may order your spouse to pay
all or a portion of your attorney's fees.
How does the divorce procedure work?
One spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and
related initial documents.
After the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed, copies
of all of the papers must be served on your spouse unless service is waived in
writing and filed with the court. Your spouse has 20 days (if served in
Arizona) or 30 days (if served outside of Arizona) to respond to the Petition
for Dissolution of Marriage.
If your spouse fails to file a Response within those 20 days,
the other spouse can apply for a default. After a request for default is filed,
your spouse only has 10 days to file a Response or risk the divorce being
granted on all of the terms of the petitioning spouse.
If no Response is filed, at the end of the "cooling
off" period of 60 days after the Respondent is served with the divorce
papers, the Petitioner may obtain a Default Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
If a Response is filed but both parties reach an agreement as to
all issues, they can submit a Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage that
sets forth all of their agreements for the judge to sign. A.R.F.L.P. Rule
What if my spouse does not agree to a divorce?
If your spouse does not want the divorce, he or she may request
that the parties attend a conciliation meeting with the court. The divorce will
be put on hold for up to 60 days while that meeting takes place. If the meeting
does not result in the parties agreeing to postpone the divorce, the divorce
will go forward.
There is no charge to request a conciliation meeting.
What happens if my spouse and I do not agree on something during
the divorce proceedings?
If you and your spouse do not agree on a particular issue, such
as custody of children, spousal maintenance, or division of property, it may be
necessary to have a judge decide these issues for you. You must then request a
trial in order to finalize your divorce.
The procedure for requesting a trial varies from county to
county. You should seek the advice of an attorney if you are not able to
determine how to obtain a trial date. Many courts have information and forms
available to the public either in their law libraries or their websites.
Some courts offer free mediation services.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
After your spouse is served with the Petition for Dissolution of
Marriage, a 60-day "cooling off" period must transpire before
the divorce may be finalized. It is not possible to be divorced any sooner even
if both parties agree. If the parties do not agree on the terms of the divorce,
a trial will be set. Depending on the county, these proceedings could
take as long as six to nine months before a divorce would become final.
What is covered in a decree of dissolution of marriage?
A Decree of Dissolution of Marriage will:
1. Terminate the marriage.
2. Determine custody, parenting time and support of the minor
children, if any.
3. Determine spousal maintenance (alimony), if any.
4. Divide property acquired during the marriage, and affirm
property owned prior to the marriage (if any) to the party who owned it.
5. Assign responsibility for debts incurred during the marriage,
and affirm debts owned prior to marriage (if any) to the party who owed them.
6. Determine responsibility for attorney fees and costs, if any.
7. Restore the last name of a requesting spouse (optional).
Can I get temporary orders while the case is pending?
While your divorce is pending, you may apply for temporary
orders regarding custody, parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance,
attorney fees, and other matters. The procedure to request a hearing for
temporary matters varies from county to county. You should seek the advice of
an attorney if you are not able to determine how to obtain a hearing for
What is a preliminary injunction?
A Preliminary Injunction is a form of restraining order which is issued at the beginning of every divorce
case. The Preliminary Injunction is issued tobothparties and requires that neither party harass the other, that no community property is
sold, that existing insurance is maintained and that minor children not be
removed from the state without court permission or the other parent's written
What if my spouse has commited domestic violence or may become violent?
If your spouse has committed domestic violence or may become
violent during the dissolution proceedings, you may apply for an Order of
Protection. The forms for an Order of Protection are available for free at any
Superior Court, Justice of the Peace Court or City Court. You will see a
judicial officer on the same day that you fill out the Petition for Order of
Protection. There is no charge to apply for an Order of Protection.
Always call 911 in an emergency.
Is there a mandatory parent education program?
If the parties have a minor child or children together, both
parties must attend a court- mandated education program about the impact of
divorce on children. Both parents must attend, even if there is no disagreement
regarding custody and parenting time. If one party does not attend, he or she
may not be able to obtain custody and/or parenting time with the child(ren). The parties may not
attend the same class at the same time. A.R.S. § 25-351