Arizona Divorce Basics

This article explains the laws and rules about getting divorced in Arizona.

The basic rules of divorce in Airzona.

Grounds for Divorce

In Arizona, either spouse may file for divorce if the marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning that there is no possibility of reconciliation. This is considered a no-fault divorce and you do not need any other grounds to file for divorce. Alternatively, if the marriage is a covenant marriage, the court must finds grounds for divorce including adultery, habitual drug or alcohol abuse, abandonment, or an agreement between the parties to dissolve their marriage. A complete list of the grounds for a covenant divorce in Arizona may be found at Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-903.

Residency Requirement and Waiting Period

At least one spouse must be an Arizona resident for 90 days prior to filing a petition for dissolution. You must then wait at least 60 days after serving the petition before the court can grant a judgment for divorce. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-312, 329.

Property Division in Arizona

Arizona is a community property state. This means that all property acquired during the marriage will be divided equally between the parties. Property acquired before marriage or after separation is considered the separate property of the person who acquired it. "Property" includes personal possessions, real property (home), and income. When dividing community property, the court will also assign all of the community debts and obligations equally to the spouses. The court won’t consider marital misconduct in making the distribution.

Alimony

Arizona courts may grant a maintenance order, otherwise known as "alimony" or "spousal support," to either spouse if it finds one of the following: the spouse seeking the order cannot provide for his or her own needs, is unable to be self-sufficient, or is caring for a child whose age or condition makes it unreasonable to seek employment; if one spouse contributed to the education of the other spouse; or if the marriage was long-term (more than ten years). The court will take many factors into consideration when determining the maintenance amount, including the standard of living established during the marriage, the financial resources of both spouses, and the time necessary for the spouse seeking maintenance to receive training to become employable. For a complete list of factors, see Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-319

Child Support

Arizona has established guidelines to determine the amount of child support to be paid by one parent to the other. These guidelines include factors such as the financial situation of both parents, the standard of living of the child during the marriage, and the amount of time spent with each parent. Find a complete list of factors here. Often the court will order child support to be withheld directly from your paycheck, but it can also be paid through the support payment clearinghouse or by check directly to the other parent. The court may also order retroactive support if appropriate. A child support order will continue until the child reaches age 18 unless the child is still in high school or is severely mentally or physically disabled and unable to become self-supporting. To modify a child support order, a party must show a substantial change in circumstances or wait three years from the date of the original order to make the request. Child support orders in Arizona are enforced by the Child Support Enforcement Agency.

Child Custody

Child custody in Arizona is determined based on the best interests of the child. The court may order legal and physical custody to one parent (sole custody) or both parents (joint custody) and will base its decision on various factors such as the wishes of the parents and child, the child's adjustment to home, school, and community, which parent provides primary care for the child, and which parent will allow frequent and meaningful contact between the child and the other parent. Before a joint custody order is issued, the parents must submit a proposed parenting plan to the court. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-403, 403.02.

Under Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-411, either parent may request that the court modify the custody order if there has been a significant change in circumstances. The court will also determine whether the modification will be in the best interest of the child.

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