People don't get married with divorce in mind, unfortunately however, it 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.
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 recognize 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.
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.
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.
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.
At West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman, 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 are committed to addressing the individual needs of each of our clients and can assist you with all aspects of divorce.
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 are 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.