Divorce doesn't have to be a bitter, drawn-out, and expensive legal battle. If you and your spouse can communicate, negotiate, and come to an agreement on all the issues involved in ending your marriage, you can get an uncontested divorce with Arizona's "summary consent decree" process. Learn how to qualify, how the process works, and how long it takes.
If you want to avoid the expense, stress, and time it takes to get through a contested divorce, you can use Arizona's streamlined summary consent decree process to get an uncontested divorce. But you'll need to meet three basic requirements: agreement on the legal issues involved in ending your marriage, agreement on the legal reasons for your divorce, and state residence.
Before you start the process of filing for a summary consent, you and your spouse must reach a comprehensive divorce settlement agreement that covers all of the issues in your divorce, including:
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 25-314.01, 25-317 (2023).)
If you're having trouble agreeing with your spouse about everything, divorce mediation can help you work through your differences and negotiate a settlement.
Arizona is a purely "no-fault divorce" state. That means that whenever you file for divorce (or "dissolution of marriage"), you'll simply claim that your marriage is "irretrievably broken" (unless you have a covenant marriage, mentioned above). Basically, this means there's no reasonable prospect of saving your marriage.
When you're using the state's summary consent decree process, both you and your spouse will have to agree that:
In order to get any kind of divorce in Arizona, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state (or be stationed there in the military) for at least 90 days just before you file your initial divorce papers. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-312(A)(1) (2023).)
Also, if you have any minor children with your spouse, your divorce generally may not address custody issues unless the children have lived with a parent in Arizona for six months before the filing date (or since birth if they're younger than six months old). There are exceptions to this six-month rule, but they might be difficult to prove. So you should speak to a family law attorney if your children haven't been in the state that long. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 25-1002, 25-1031 (2023).)
Once you've qualified for Arizona's summary consent decree process, you'll be able to file the divorce papers jointly with your spouse and skip many of the steps required to get a regular divorce. You'll also be able to save on costs.
You can download the forms for a summary consent decree divorce, along with instructions, from the Arizona Courts' Self-Service Center. However, you should know that some county courts have their own preferred forms, so you may want to check with the court clerk's office in the county where you'll be filing your paperwork (more on that below).
The main forms that you'll need are:
If you have children, you'll also need to complete at least the following:
Instead of going through the process of downloading and completing the forms, you can file for divorce online by using a service that will provide you with the completed forms (based on your answers to a questionnaire) and basically walk you through the process. Some of these services will also handle the actual filing process, for an additional fee.
Once you've completed all of the paperwork, make at least three copies and bring them, along with the originals, to the court clerk's office in the county where you live. Some counties allow you to file by mail. You can search for your local Arizona Superior Court to find the address and contact information.
You'll need to either pay the court's filing fees or—if you can't afford to pay—submit an application for have the fees deferred or waived. Under state law, the filing fee for a summary consent decree is 50% of the combined filing fees for a divorce petition and response. Those fees vary from county to county in Arizona, because many courts tack on additional fees beyond the statewide one. The fee in Maricopa County for a summary consent decree is $426.50 (as of 2023, but always subject to change). You should be able to find the fees for other counties on their court's website or by calling the clerk's office.
When you're using Arizona's summary consent decree process, there's no need to formally serve your spouse with the divorce papers. Just make sure you both have copies of all the documents. Also, your spouse won't need to file a separate response, since the two of you completed and filed a combined petition and response. You need only a few more steps to complete your divorce.
You probably don't need a lawyer to get a divorce in Arizona using the summary consent decree process. You should be able to handle all the paperwork and filing yourself, or you can use an online divorce service to make things easier.
Still, you might want to speak with a qualified family law attorney if: