Dissolution of marriage is the Arizona legal term for divorce. A marriage can be dissolved by either party claiming that the marriage is irretrievably broken with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Arizona is a no-fault divorce state meaning that the reasons for the break-up of the relationship are not relevant to the court in relation to granting the divorce, though the reasons may be relevant to other issues like children or property division.
Divorce Attorneys in Phoenix
The dissolution (divorce) process begins by a party filing a Petition for Dissolution. There is a sixty (60) day “waiting period” once a case is filed. A divorce typically takes between eight (8) to twelve (12) months to complete, during which time issues related to division of assets and debts, financial support (both spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support), and child-related issues of legal decision-making (custody) and parenting time (visitation) are evaluated and negotiated.
Arizona is a community property state which means assets and debts acquired during the marriage (except for gifts and inheritance) are typically equally divided between the parties.
Parties are encouraged to attend mediation in an attempt to settle some, if not all issues, in the case without trial. Any issues that the parties are unable to resolve through mediation must then be presented in a trial to the assigned judge for final determination.
The most common methods of service are acceptance of service and personal service. Acceptance of service involves having the opposing party or his/her lawyer sign a document before a notary public acknowledging receipt of the legal documents. The document the party or lawyer signs is called an “Acceptance of Service.” The date of service is the date the Acceptance of Service was signed before the notary public. Personal service occurs when a licensed process server delivers the papers to the other spouse in perosn. With persoanl service, the spouse being served is not required to sign anything. Instead, the process server files an affidavit with the court confirming delivery of the documents on the person who was served.
By law, within 20 days of being served (30 days if served out of state), you must file a response to the divorce petition. Your Response must be filed in the Superior Court with a copy sent to your spouse or his/her lawyer. If you do not file your response within this time, the other side can file an “Application for Default” which is sent to you by mail. The Application for Default is your final notice to file a response within 10 days of the date the Application for Default is filed. The Application for Default is mailed to you so even though you may receive it several days after it is filed, the 10-day period begins to run on the date the Application for Default is filed. If you still fail to file your response after the Application for Default is filed, your spouse may seek a divorce decree from the court without you having an opportunity to defend yourself.
The amount of time it takes to resolve any case depends upon the complexities and number of issues involved. In Arizona, there is a mandatory 60 day waiting period from the time a divorce petition is served on the other party until the divorce can granted by the court. However, on average, a divorce takes between six (6) to twelve (12) months to complete. In complex cases, there may be other professionals whose expertise is required, such as custody evaluators, property or business appraisers, and/or vocational experts. The more professionals involved, the longer it typically takes. If your case is complicated, or if you and your spouse cannot reach agreements, the case will take longer to complete.