People don't get married with divorce in mind, unfortunately however, it is becoming more common today that Arizona residents are seeking the expertise of a Tucson divorce lawyer. For all kinds of reasons a couple may decide that separation is the best option. Ideally, a couple would be able to work things out in mutually beneficial terms, deciding what is best for them and their families. However, in reality, divorces can be hotly contested and lead to disputes over children, pets, property and money. Working with one of our experienced Tucson divorce lawyers can help to simplify your divorce and ensure that your assets are protected.

Tucson Divorce FAQs

How do I file for divorce in Arizona?

You can file a petition for dissolution with the Superior Court in your county (Pinal County if in Tucson) or the county where your spouse or children reside.

What is dissolution?

Dissolution is just a fancy word for divorce.

What should the petition for dissolution say?

The petition is a very basic document that says to the court, "This is who I am, this is who my spouse is, these are our children if we have any, we have been in Arizona for at least 90 days, this is when and where we were married, this is what I think legal decision-making and parenting time for our kids should look like and I would like the court's help to divide our community assets and debts.

What other documents do I have to file with the court?

At the same time that the petition is filed with the court, you also have to file:

  1. A cover sheet
  2. An affidavit of minor children — which tells the court where your kids have been living and whether any other court might have jurisdiction over them
  3. A financial affidavit
  4. A preliminary injunction to prevent spouses from doing anything that might financially damage the other party
  5. An order to complete the domestic relations class for parents
  6. A sensitive information sheet
  7. A notice regarding health insurance
  8. A notice to creditors
  9. A filing fee. If you have kids this will include the cost of the domestic relations class

How can I make sure I get child support or spousal support soon?

When you file the other paperwork you may want to file a petition for an order to show cause to set up a hearing for temporary orders so that you can see a judge to set up interim child support or spousal support.

What does it mean when the court tells me I have to serve my spouse?

After the petition and other papers have been filed, you have to serve copies of those papers on the other person. You can serve a person by giving them the papers and having them sign a waiver of service form and having it notarized, by mailing it to them as certified mail and having them sign the card they receive from the post office, or by using a process server.

How long does my spouse have to respond to my petition?

Your spouse has 20 days from the day he or she was served to file an answer, unless he or she lives outside of Arizona. If that is the case they have 30 days. If she doesn't file an answer or ask for more time, she will be in default and you can ask for the court to find her in default and grant you what you would like in a divorce decree. If she does respond, this starts the litigation process.

Do I have to attend any classes to get a divorce?

If you have kids who are under 18 years old, you must attend the domestic relations education class that you paid for when you filed for divorce.

What does discovery mean?

The discovery process in a divorce ensures that both parties have all the information they need to have to know what the community assets and debts are, and what both parties' incomes are.

Is there any help so that we can come to an agreement about our kids?

If you have kids, you must attend mediation through the conciliation court to work on a parenting plan that will include any agreements you have on legal decision-making authority and parenting time. Usually mediation is ordered either at a temporary orders hearing or because one of the parties has requested it. In Pima County you will not be given a divorce if you have kids unless you have attended mediation or have come up with a parenting plan on your own.

How do I get the process to end?

You file a motion to set and certificate of readiness. This lets the court know that you are satisfied that you have all the information you need and are ready to complete the process.

What happens after I file a motion to set?

You will receive a calendaring order from the court. This sets a due date for a pretrial statement to be filed, a date for a settlement conference, and a date for either a pretrial hearing or a trial.

How do I file a pretrial statement?

The pretrial statement lets the world know what your positions are on legal decision-making authority, parenting time, the division of assets and debts, child support and spousal support and what evidence and witnesses you have to support your positions. Along with it you also need to file an inventory of property and debt and a financial affidavit.

What happens at a settlement conference?

Approximately 90 percent to 95 percent of cases settle at a settlement conference. This is a chance for you to sit down with your spouse, your lawyers and a judge pro tem to see if you can agree on the final outcomes of your divorce. You can come to a complete settlement or partial settlement.

What happens at a pretrial conference?

If you haven't settled all the issues in your case, you will have to attend a PTC in front of your judge, who will want to know what issues are remaining and how long trial might be. If a trial hasn't already be set, the judge will set a trial at that point.

What happens at a divorce trial?

If you are among the rare folks who end up having a trial, you will appear before the judge and present your evidence and witnesses for why the judge should grant what you are asking for.

Is there an easier way to get divorced?

A consent decree could be considered the easier way to divorce. You and your spouse get to a consent decree by working together, either on your own or in mediation to come to agreements about legal decision-making authority and parenting time (if you have kids), the division of your assets and debts, child support and spousal support. While it's possible to work toward a consent decree after someone has filed for divorce, I find that it works best when the parties work together before running to the courthouse.

How do you mediate a consent decree?

The couple works out together, either using a mediator or lawyers who are familiar with a collaborative approach, to create a contract — the consent decree.

What is a consent decree?

The consent decree includes all the details of the divorce: what will happen for the kids, how the assets and debts will be divided, what child support will be and whether there is any spousal support to be paid. Both parties sign and notarize the consent decree, promising that they are not entering into the agreement under duress and with enough information to make good decisions.

What happens after you work out a consent decree?

One of the parties files a petition for dissolution and pays the filing fees. At the same time the other party pays the response fee. Then everyone waits for 60 days, the shortest amount of time it takes to get a divorce. At the end of the 60-day waiting period, the parties send the signed consent decree to the assigned judge. The judge signs the decree, and the divorce is complete.

What is collaborative law?

Divorce proceedings do not always need to be handled in court. If a couple can agree on enough issues, they may be able to work out an agreeable arrangement outside of the courtroom with negotiation, mediation, arbitration and collaborative law.

Collaborative law is a unique process, with its own rules, conventions and methodologies designed to create a safe and unpressured environment to explore settlement options in a manner not available in adversarial negotiations. The collaborative process begins with a commitment to not litigate, ends with a resolution that is lasting and respectful of the values of the parties, and follows a "team" approach to dispute resolution which can significantly reduce the stress, anxiety and expense of litigation.

A combination of negotiation, mediation, arbitration and collaborative law may be used as alternative dispute resolutions for divorce and domestic disputes.

Is there such a thing as a low-cost divorce?

There are many ways to accomplish a successful divorce from the helpful advice of trusted lawyer to searching Google for answers. A true low-cost divorce is something that should be evaluated based upon your unique financial, emotional and mental state before a decision is made.

Some of the important topics divorcing couples need to evaluate:

  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Visitation rights
  • Vacation schedules
  • Schooling and education
  • Child's medical care
  • Pet custody
  • Residency
  • Homeownership
  • Other real property
  • Spousal support
  • Bank accounts
  • Automobiles
  • Business assets
  • Debts
  • Tax filing

No-Fault Divorce

Arizona is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. This means that either party or both individuals can seek a divorce without specifying a reason. Only one party needs to state that they believe the marriage is "irretrievably broken."

However, in some cases, couples in Arizona may have entered into a covenant marriage. Arizona is one of only three states that recognizes covenant marriage, which generally involves the couple agreeing to more limited grounds for seeking a divorce. In order to dissolve a covenant marriage, the respondent spouse has to have committed adultery; committed a felony; abandoned the marital domicile for at least a year and refuses to return; committed physical or sexual abuse of the spouse, a child, or other relative; habitually used drugs or alcohol; been living apart without reconciliation; or if both spouses agree.

Dissolution Of Marriage

In Arizona, a divorce is known officially as a "dissolution of marriage." Getting a divorce involves going through the legal process with the local county Superior Court. The person seeking the divorce is known as the "petitioner," and the other party is the "respondent." In order to file for divorce in Arizona, one of the individuals has to have been a resident of Arizona for at least 90 days.

The court will enter a decree of dissolution of marriage after the court has "considered, approved and made provision for child custody, the support of any natural or adopted child common to the parties of the marriage entitled to support, the maintenance of either spouse and the disposition of property." A.R.S. § 25-312.

In most cases, the people getting divorced will have to make some major decisions on dividing assets and property, in addition to dividing duties and responsibilities for any children involved. Most property acquired during a marriage becomes the community property of both spouses. It can come as a surprise to people seeking a divorce just how much they have amassed over their marriage, including property that both individuals believe they have a right to keep. Even in cases of an amicable divorce, these topics can cause tension.

An uncontested divorce can be a relatively simple and painless process. Without disputes regarding children and property, it may involve filling out the proper paperwork, and filing the documents with the court. Unfortunately, most divorces are not quite as simple. It may require a judge to make the decisions involving disputed custody, visitation and property division.

After hearing testimony from both parties and looking at any other relevant information, a judge will divide up disputed property and provide a plan for child custody based on the best interests of the child. Coming to a mutually acceptable agreement before going to court can help to avoid a third party making the decisions of who gets what. An experienced divorce lawyer can represent you during the divorce, to reduce conflict and prioritize your rights, including parenting rights, and protecting your money and property.

Parenting Time And Decision-Making

The court may determine the extent to which each parent has legal decision-making authority, and how parenting time is divided between parents, based on what would be in the best interests of the child. In some cases, the court may even appoint an attorney to represent the interests of a minor child, in the court's determination of child support, parenting time and custody.

There are a number of factors the court considers in making these determinations, including:

  • Relationships between the parent and child;
  • Interactions and relationships between the child, parents and siblings;
  • Adjustments to home, school and community;
  • The wishes of the child; and
  • Mental and physical health of all individuals.

If the parents cannot agree on a legal decision-making and parenting time plan, then each parent will submit a proposed parenting plan to the court. The court may then adopt a parenting plan that provides joint decision-making and maximizes parenting time, in the best interests of the child.

The court can award one parent sole legal decision-making authority, or give both parents joint legal decision-making powers. Sole legal decision-making does not allow that parent to unilaterally make parenting time decisions. The parent without legal decision-making is still entitled to reasonable parenting time. Orders for decision-making and parenting time may be modified by the court based on the best interests of the child.

Spousal Maintenance And Child Support

The court can grant a maintenance order for either spouse. This generally applies to a spouse who does not have enough property or financial resources to provide for their reasonable needs; is unable to be self-sufficient; contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse; or is old enough that they may be precluded from the possibility of gainful employment. A maintenance order will specify an amount and time period the court deems appropriate. Factors influencing the spousal maintenance may include the standard of living during the marriage, duration of the marriage, comparative financial resources of both spouses and earning ability.

The court may also order one or both parents to provide an amount reasonable and necessary for the support of a couple's child or children. The relevant factors in determining the amount of child support may include the financial resources and needs of the child and custodial parent, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed, the physical, emotional and medical condition of the child, and the financial resources of the noncustodial parent.

Trusted Tucson Divorce Lawyers

At West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman P.L.L.C., our divorce attorneys are here to help individuals and families throughout Tucson. We will work with you and advise you on your options for a divorce, including issues of custody, parenting time, and distribution of assets. Our team of lawyers is committed to addressing the individual needs of each of our clients and can assist you with all aspects of divorce.

Call us at 520-518-3781 or contact us online.