There are generally two types of divorces available in most states: contested and uncontested. A divorce is "contested" when the spouses don't agree on some or all aspects of the divorce—meaning that a judge will need to hold a trial and examine evidence to determine the outcome. The contested divorce process takes quite a while.
On the other hand, in an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on all of the issues required to end their marriage, so there's no need for a judge to hold a trial. Spouses have the option of getting professional help in an uncontested divorce, but can often use a DIY solution like an online divorce service instead to save money. Most of the time, an uncontested divorce is much faster and cheaper than traditional divorce.
In Arizona, divorces are known as "dissolutions of marriage." The first step in obtaining an uncontested divorce in Arizona is to file a petition for dissolution of marriage. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-311 (2021).) The Arizona Judicial Branch provides instructions and copies of dissolution of marriage forms on its website, or you can obtain forms from the clerk of the court where you will file your petition.
The spouse that files the petition is called the "petitioner," and the other spouse is called the "respondent." In the petition, you include basic information about yourself, your spouse, and your children, if any. You also include the terms of any agreements you and your spouse have come to regarding dividing your property and debts, alimony, child custody and visitation, and child support. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-314 (2021).)
When you file your petition for dissolution of marriage, you will need to pay a filing fee (you can find the filing fees for the petition and other domestic relations forms here). If you're not able to afford the filing fees, you can apply for a fee waiver or a fee deferral. If the court grants your request for a fee waiver, you will not have to pay any court fees unless your financial circumstances change during the case. If the court grants your request for a fee deferral, you can postpone payment of fees to a later date and possibly enter into a payment plan.
You must meet the following requirements to obtain an uncontested dissolution of marriage in Arizona:
If you and your spouse have children together under age 18, you and your spouse also have to agree on the following:
To file for divorce in Arizona, either you or your spouse must be a resident of Arizona for at least 90 days. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-312 (1) (2021).) If you have children with your spouse, at least one spouse must have lived in Arizona for at least the last six months and currently live in Arizona.
Once you pay the filing fees and submit your paperwork, there are two ways to proceed with an uncontested divorce in Arizona: by consent decree or by default.
To proceed with your divorce through a consent decree, after you've filed your petition, you must still serve your spouse with copies of the papers in the same manner described above: 60 days after serving your spouse, you and your spouse must then file a joint Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage that sets out the terms of your agreement regarding the division of property and debts, spousal maintenance, child custody, visitation and child support.
Both you and your spouse must sign the consent decree in front of a notary and file it at the court clerk's office. You can mail your consent decree, or you can request an "on-demand" hearing through the court's website. After reviewing the consent decree, the judge will sign it, and the Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage will become an order of the court.
If you have children together, both you and your spouse must attend and complete a parent education class before the judge will finalize the decree. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-351 (2021).)
After filing a petition for divorce, you must "serve" your spouse with copies of the papers—meaning you have to deliver the papers to your spouse. Once served, your spouse has 20 days (if served in Arizona) or 30 days (if served outside of Arizona) to respond to your petition. (Begin counting the day after your spouse was served, and include weekends and holidays in your count. If the last day in your count is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, don't count that day.) If your spouse doesn't file a response within the time limit, you can proceed with a default divorce.
Begin your default divorce by filing an Application and Affidavit for Default. Bring two copies with you to file—the court clerk keeps one, and you're required to mail the other to your spouse. Before you request a default hearing, it's essential that you've properly served your spouse with the paperwork. If you don't meet the service requirements, the court will deny your request for a default decree.
Ten court business days after you've filed the Application and Affidavit for Default, you can schedule your default hearing by calling the court. You'll want to fill out the Arizona court's Default Screening Checklist and have it handy when you schedule your hearing. A list of all the documents you need to bring to your default hearing is included in the Default Screening Checklist.
Since you and your spouse have already agreed to the terms of your divorce, which were included in your petition, your agreement should be ratified at the hearing. The judge will issue a divorce order after a 60-day waiting period. The court order granting the divorce by default is called a Default Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. You have to serve your spouse with the decree within three days of receipt.
The Arizona Judicial Branch's website offers downloadable versions of all the forms you need for an uncontested divorce. The court's Self-Service Center website also contains helpful information, resources, and answers to FAQs.