A Guide to Filing for Divorce in Arizona
When you file for a divorce in Arizona, one of the best things you can do is to arm yourself with the information you’ll need to see you through the process from start to finish.
Divorce can be intimidating and disruptive on many levels, and the best way to minimize the impacts on your life is to do your homework so that you can best protect yourself as you try to move forward and start new life.
While there are many issues and circumstances that are unique to each divorce in Arizona, there are also many rules, procedures and processes that are common to all divorces in the state. Knowing what the basics are and what you will need to do as you take steps to complete your divorce will help you manage your emotions better along the way.
Let’s get started…
- Gathering your important information
- Decide what kind of divorce you want to pursue
- Necessary Forms
- Filing your divorce documents in Arizona
- Serving your spouse in an Arizona divorce
- FAQs about divorce in Arizona
Gathering your important information
No matter your circumstances, you will benefit from being organized at the outset when it comes to tracking down the financial documentation that you’ll need.
Many parts of divorce can be overwhelming, so any steps you can take to save time and reduce stress and anxiety should be a priority for you early in the process.
Decide how you proceed with your divorce
Once you (or your spouse) has made the decision to get a divorce, you need to decide how to get divorced. You have several options, driven in part by your relationship with your spouse and how well you can work together to reach a resolution.
Here are the most common types of divorce:
- Collaborative divorce
So, which option is right for you? To answer that, you really need to weigh the pros and cons and think about your goals for the process.
Determine the forms you’ll need to complete
To begin the actual process of a divorce in Arizona, one spouse, known as the petitioner, must complete several forms and file them with the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where they live. In uncontested divorces, both spouses may file a joint petition for a consent decree. The spouse who is not filing is known as the respondent.
The forms generally required to be filed initially include:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This includes all information about what the petitioner is asking for, including child custody, child support, alimony, and asset distribution.
- Summons. This explains to the respondent that a divorce case has been filed and that he or she must take some action within a certain time frame. Without a court clerk stamped summons, the divorce cannot go forward.
- A Notice of Right to Convert Health Insurance. Each spouse has the right to convert health insurance and this notice gives them information about the rights and responsibilities surrounding any existing health insurance coverage that the couple may have.
- Preliminary Injunction. This stops both spouses from making any major decisions or taking actions regarding things such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, property, children, health and life insurance until the court can review the divorce and resolve the issues. The injunction stays in effect until the divorce is finalized and if one spouse or the other violates the terms of the injunction, he or she can go to jail.
- Notice to Creditors. This advises each spouse about their rights and responsibilities regarding the debts acquired during the marriage.
Most counties also require the petitioner to complete and file a Domestic Relations or Family Court cover sheet. This gives information about both sides that will help to process the case.
The petitioner must create three copies of these forms. The original goes to the Clerk of the Superior Court. One copied is served to the other spouse and the final copy is kept for the petitioner’s records.
Filing fees vary from county to county, and to determine what fee one will pay at filing it is best to contact the County Superior Court.
All forms for all counties are available on the Arizona Judicial Branch Website.
Filing Your Divorce Documents in Arizona
If you work with a divorce attorney in Arizona, that person will make sure that you fill out the right forms and assist you in submitting them to the court.
However, if you are completing the forms on your own, you will need to file the paperwork with the Clerk of the Court at the courthouse. There are specific instructions you will need to follow when you do this. Check with the court clerk in your county to get specific instructions for where you are filing.
When you file your papers, you will also be required to pay a fee to file for your divorce unless you request that the fee should be waived.
Serving Your Spouse in an Arizona Divorce
After you file your divorce papers, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the documents. This is known as service of process. In Arizona, you have 120 to complete service of process after you file your papers with the court.
How you complete service of process will vary depending on the rules of the county where the divorce is filed. You cannot serve the papers yourself. You must have a deputy sheriff or a process server deliver them to your spouse. You can mail them the divorce papers by certified mail, return receipt requested in some cases.
If you don’t know where your spouse is, you may be able to complete service of process with service by publication. Using this way requires you to publish a summons in a certain type of periodical for a pre-defined number of times over several weeks.
After the service of process has been completed, then an Affidavit of Service or Proof of Service must be completed and filed with the clerk of the court. This basically confirms that the papers were served on the respondent.
Once the service is completed, the spouse has 20 days to file a response, or the petitioner can apply for a default divorce. If the spouse is outside of Arizona, then they have 30 days to respond instead. After a request for default is filed, the respondent has 10 days to file a response or they run the risk that a default divorce will be granted with all of the terms of the petitioning spouse.
Frequently Asked Questions About Filing for Divorce in Arizona
How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Arizona?
To initiate a divorce in Arizona, one spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and pay a filing fee. Filing fees vary by county but will generally run around $300. If the marriage is uncontested, then the other spouse must file a response in the form of a Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and pay an additional filing fee.
Can divorce filing fees be waived?
When you file your petition, you can also either request a deferral or a waiver of court fees. If your application is approved, you agree to pay any deferred fees at a later date, or your fees will be waived completely.
You can qualify for a deferral or waiver if you receive assistance from the state such as nutritional assistance or Supplemental Social Security income. The court will also consider whether or not you have enough income to meet your essential living needs.
You will have to list all of your resources on a financial questionnaire that will show the courts your income, savings and other assets, and you will also have to list out your monthly expenses as well. Waiver and deferral forms can be found here.
Can I file for a divorce online in Arizona?
Yes! As a matter of fact, filing for divorce online can be a great way to save time and money.
Online divorce isn’t right for everyone. It doesn’t work if you have a contested divorce (you can’t reach agreements with your spouse and need a judge to make decisions).
If you have a dispute over child custody or particularly complicated finances, you should consult with a lawyer. There’s simply too much on the line to cut corners.
But if you have an amicable divorce, you might be able to do it yourself.
I won’t sugarcoat it. The legal system is confusing. There’s a ton of paperwork and mistakes can be costly.
Fortunately, there are tools that can help. That’s where 3 Step Divorce comes in. 3 Step Divorce makes it easy to complete all your divorce papers and gives you clear step-by-step filing instructions. All you need to do is answer a series of questions, which shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Not all online divorce companies are created equal. In fact, most fail to deliver on their promises. Here’s how 3 Step Divorce stands out:
- A+ rating with the BBB
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- Established in 1997 with over 750,000 customers
- Private and secure
- $299 flat-fee with no hidden charges
- Flexible monthly payment options (get started for as little as $84)
- Unlimited live support by phone and email
- Print your completed forms immediately or have them mailed to you at no additional cost
- Excellent customer reviews (4.6 stars on Trustpilot)
One of the things that really stands out to me is that only 4% of all reviews are 1- or 2-stars. In other words, virtually everyone has a good experience with 3StepDivorce. While their site is a bit dated, it clearly isn’t hurting the customer experience.
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For a complete comparison, read our review of the best online divorce services.
What are the Arizona residency requirements to file for a divorce?
To file for a divorce in Arizona, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days prior to filing initial papers with the court. This also applies to members of the military who must have been stationed for at least 90 day in Arizona as well.
When children are involved, the minimum residency requirement increases to six months. You should file your petition in the county where you live at the time the divorce is filed.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Arizona?
After a spouse is served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, state law provides for a 60-day cooling off period to see if the couple may change their minds. Even if both spouses agree on all terms, a divorce cannot be granted before the cooling off period ends.
Most divorces experience delays of one kind or another, and each one can push back the final time frame. The biggest factor in determining how long a divorce in Arizona will take is generally determined by what kind of divorce you choose.
Uncontested divorces take the least amount of time and are the least expensive. Contested divorces where both sides want to argue or negotiate every last point could take as long as two years to complete and cost thousands of dollars along the way.
If children under 18 are involved, then it may take a lot of back and forth to work out a suitable parenting plan, as well as visitation and child support issues.
If you have a large amount of assets, you’ll probably need more time to figure out a fair and equitable solution. In cases like this, it is sometimes best to retain the services of a certified asset dissolution professional to assist you.
Can I file for divorce in Arizona without using a lawyer?
Yes. In an uncontested divorce in Arizona when you can agree on all the issues with your spouse, you should both be able to complete the required paperwork and go through the process without a trial. The judge will review the divorce for fairness before signing off on the final decree, but if there are no sticking points, this should be little more than a formality.
Are there any special considerations for filing for divorce in Arizona if one of the parties is pregnant?
If you or your spouse is pregnant, you can file for divorce in Arizona, but the divorce probably won’t be finalized until after the child is born. This is because the courts will not make a final decision of child custody and support until after the child is born. Proof of paternity and a Social Security number are required to settle most divorce cases.
How does divorce work in Arizona if I am an active member of the military?
Laws have been put in place to protect the rights of active military duty members who might be held in default by not responding to a divorce action. The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act ease legal and financial burdens of military personnel and their families who face the added challenges of active duty.
Under the protection of these laws, an active duty spouse must be served in person with a summons and a copy of the divorce action. If the divorce is uncontested, then the active duty spouse may not need to be served if he or she signs a waiver acknowledging the divorce action.
To file in Arizona, either the spouse or the servicemember must be stationed in Arizona. Grounds for the divorce are the same as they are for non-military divorces. Normal property and asset division laws apply, but federal laws state that retirement pensions will not be made to the spouse unless they have been married 10 years or longer to the active duty military member.
Per Arizona law, child and spousal support awards may not exceed 60% of a servicemember’s pay and allowances. The same guidelines and calculations that are used for non-military divorces are also used when a servicemember is involved.
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