Arizona Legal Separation Paper Divorce Information and FAQ
At least one of the parties to the action for dissolution of marriage must have resided in the State of Arizona for at least ninety (90) days prior the filing of the action. ARS 25-312
Grounds The State of Arizona recognizes two distinct types of marriages within the state and each type has its own separate grounds for dissolution of marriage. A covenant marriage entered into in Arizona may only be dissolved for the following reasons:
1. The respondent spouse has committed adultery.
2. The respondent spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment.
3. The respondent spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for at least one year before the petitioner filed for dissolution of marriage.
4. The respondent spouse has physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking the dissolution of marriage, a child, a relative of either spouse permanently living in the matrimonial domicile or has committed acts of domestic violence or emotional abuse.
5. The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for at least two years before the petitioner filed for dissolution of marriage.
6. The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for at least one year from the date the decree of legal separation was entered.
7. The respondent spouse has habitually abused drugs or alcohol.
8. The husband and wife both agree to a dissolution of marriage.
The grounds for dissolution of a non-covenant marriage is an "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage." ARS 25-312, ARS 25-903 Waiting period The is a sixty day (60) day waiting period from the date the Respondent was served or accepted service of process before the court will grant a dissolution of marriage decree. ARS 25-329
Name of court and title of action/parties An action for dissolution of marriage is filed in the Superior Court. The title of the action initiating the dissolution of marriage is a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, while the title of the action granting the dissolution of marriage is a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. The party who files the action for dissolution of marriage is called the Petitioner, while the other party is referred to as the Respondent. ARS 25-381.10
Legal separation A decree of legal separation may be granted for a non-covenant marriage upon a finding that either party was domiciled in Arizona at the time the action was commenced and that either or both of the parties desire to live separate and apart or that the marriage is irretrievably broken. A decree of legal separation may be granted for a covenant marriage upon a finding that:
1. The respondent spouse has committed adultery;
2. The respondent spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment;
3. The respondent spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for at least one year before the petitioner filed for legal separation and refuses to return;
4. The respondent spouse has physically or sexually abused the petitioner, a child, a relative of either spouse permanently living in the matrimonial domicile or has committed domestic violence or emotional abuse;
5. The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for at least two years before the petitioner filed for legal separation;
6. The respondent spouse's habitual intemperance or ill treatment of the other spouse is of such a nature as to render their living together insupportable.
7. The respondent spouse has habitually abused drugs or alcohol. ARS 25-313, ARS 25-904
Mediation Prior to the filing of an action for annulment, dissolution or legal separation, either or both spouses may file a petition invoking the conciliation provisions of Arizona law for the purposes of preserving the marriage, or for an amicable settlement of the controversy between the spouses in order to avoid unnecessary litigation. ARS 25-381.09 Alimony Alimony may be granted to either spouse upon a finding by the court that the party seeking alimony:
1. Lacks sufficient property to provide for his/her reasonable needs;
2. Is unable to support himself/herself through appropriate employment or lacks earning ability in the market adequate to support himself or herself;
3. Is the caretaker of a child whose age or condition is such that it would be unreasonable to seek outside employment;
4. Contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse;
5. Had a marriage of long duration or is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining adequate employment.
Alimony may be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital fault, after consideration of the following factors:
1. The standard of living established during the marriage;
2. The duration of the marriage;
3. The age, employment history, earning capacity, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking alimony;
4. The ability of the payor spouse to meet his/her own needs while meeting the needs of the spouse seeking alimony;
5. The comparative financial resources of each spouse;
6. The contribution of the spouse seeking alimony to the earning capacity of the other spouse;
7. The extent to which the spouse seeking alimony has reduced his or her income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse;
8. The ability of each spouse to contribute to the educational needs of any children of the marriage after dissolution;
9. The time necessary for the spouse seeking alimony to acquire sufficient education or training to enable that spouse to find appropriate employment;
10. Any excessive or abnormal expenditures, or the destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community property. ARS 25-319
Distribution of property The courts in the State of Arizona will distribute the community property of the spouses as it deems equitable and just, without regard to marital fault, after setting aside to each spouse that spouse's separate property. ARS 25-318 Child custody The courts will determine custody in Arizona based upon the best interests of the child. The court may order sole or joint custody without regard to the sex of the parties. In determining the best interests of the child, the court will consider all relevant factors, including:
1. The wishes of the child and the child's parents; 2. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parents, siblings and any other person with a significant relationship with the child; 3. The child's adjustment to home, school and community; 4. The mental and physical health of all individuals concerned; 5. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent; 6. Which parent is or was the primary caregiver of the child; 7. Any other relevant factor. ARS 25-403
Visitation rights of grandparents Grandparents and great-grandparents of a child may be awarded visitation rights with the child upon a finding that such visitation would be in the best interests of the child and any of the following are true: 1. The parents have been divorced for at least three months; 2. A parent of the child has been deceased or missing for at least three months; 3. The child was born out of wedlock. ARS 25-409
Child support The court may order either or both parents of a child to pay an amount reasonable and necessary for the support of any minor child of the marriage, without regard to marital fault. Arizona has established child support guidelines which set the presumptive correct amount of support owed. Any deviation from the guidelines must include a written finding by the court that the application of the guidelines would be inappropriate or unjust. Factors the courts will consider in deviating from the guidelines include:
1. The financial resources and needs of the child; 2. The financial resources and needs of the custodial parent; 3. The financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent; 4. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved; 5. The physical and emotional condition of the child, and the child's educational needs; 6. Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community property; 7. The duration of visitation and related expenses.
An order of child support must also include the assignment of responsibility for providing medical insurance for the child and responsibility for payment of any non-covered medical expenses. ARS 25-320 Name change Upon request of a party at any time prior to the signing of the decree for dissolution of marriage, the court shall order the restoration of that party's former or maiden name. ARS 25-325