Divorce, though a difficult chapter in many people’s lives, happens. Divorce comes with both financial and emotional burdens for everyone involved.
In order to file for divorce in Arizona, one of the parties must reside in Arizona for 90 days. In Maricopa County the court currently applies a $338 filing fee for a petition for dissolution of a marriage. The court charges a $269 filing fee for the response or answer to the petition for dissolution of marriage. Fee waivers are an option for individuals who cannot afford court fees.
Arizona is a no-fault state, meaning the court may dissolve a marriage if the marriage is irretrievably broken. The defense to such a claim would be that the marriage is not irretrievably broken down.
The petition must include a plethora of information from birth dates to addresses to occupations to relief sought to the details of any agreements between the parties involving support, custody and parenting time of the children, and maintenance of a spouse. The divorce process can be completed in as little as 60 days, but that will depend on a number of circumstances.
There are two basic types of divorce: contested and noncontested. Noncontested divorce is by far the easiest, quickest and least expensive method of divorce. Essentially, both parties sign a consent decree which details how the parties intend to handle issues of child custody and parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, distribution of community property and other domestic relations issues. The consent decree is formulated by both parties and both parties must agree to the terms. Once a Judge signs the consent decree, the decree becomes the divorce decree and both parties must abide by its terms.
If both parties are unable to agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken or the parties disagree on the handling of child custody and parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, distribution of community property, or other domestic relations issues, the divorce is a contested divorce. A contested divorce is a lawsuit that is conducted in court and a judge determines the contested issues. Contested divorces are often lengthy, costly and emotionally tiring for all involved. If the parties have any mutual understandings or agreements, the best course of action is to inform the court of these agreements and to attempt to come to these agreements before filing (if the situation allows).
For those unsure of what their options are, the 56th FW Legal Office recommends seeking legal advice which will help guide individuals through this often daunting process.
For more information, walk-in legal assistance is available on 3:30 to 4 p.m. Thursdays. Same-day appointments can be scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday by calling 623-856-6901 from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. Active-duty service members take precedence over retirees and dependents.
For dissolution of marriage forms, Maricopa County has a self-help website at: http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/.