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Scottsdale Divorce Lawyer

Nobody gets married with the intent to divorce, but even with the best of intentions divorce can happen.  When the unfortunate prospect of divorce arises, it is important to know your rights, understand the law and the marriage dissolution process in Arizona. As experienced Scottsdale divorce attorneys, we help make this process as quick and painless as possible.  There are three major issues that need to be resolved in a typical Arizona divorce matter;

  1. the dissolution of the marriage,
  2. child custodychild support issues and
  3. division of the community property and debt.

Perhaps the easiest of these issues to resolve is the dissolution of the marriage itself.  Unlike many states, Arizona does not require a specific reason for divorce.  Arizona judges do not need to make a finding as to why one or both parties want to be divorced.  It’s enough for one party to indicate their desire to be divorced and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.  Under Scottsdale Arizona law, the reason for divorce is irrelevant.

Even though a specific reason for divorce is not mandatory, there are some specific requirements that must be met before a judge can grant a divorce.  See A.R.S 25-312.

These requirements include the following:

  • At least one of the parties must have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days prior to the date the divorce action is commenced.  Military personnel who are stationed in Arizona can commence a dissolution matter after they have been stationed in the state for at least 90 days.
  • The parties must be made aware of Conciliation Services; a free service offered through the courts to try to help parties reconcile their marriage.  The court must further find that the parties do not believe such services would help save the marriage.
  • That the marriage is irretrievably broken
  • The court must consider any custody, child support and spousal maintenance issues that may be present in the case.

If the court does not find that each of these requirements has been met, the court cannot take jurisdiction over the matter and the divorce cannot be granted.

Divorce proceedings are understandably emotional and painful for both parties and their children.  If you find yourself facing divorce, it’s important that you understand your legal rights and the divorce process.  As divorce and family law attorneys, we have more than a decade of experience handling divorce matters in Arizona.  We will protect your rights and give you the peace of mind you need.  Call us today and schedule your complimentary consultation.

No-Fault Divorce

Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state.   This simply means that the person initiating the divorce does not have to give a reason or prove the other party at fault.  However, don’t assume that no-fault divorce is a simple divorce. There will still be assets and debts to divide, and if you have children you will need to negotiate child custody and child support.  One way to simplify the process is to hire a lawyer who works with a mediator. They can help negotiate a settlement which will save you both time, stress and money.

60 Day Waiting Period

The shortest amount of time a divorce in Arizona can take is 60 days, but some divorces can take years to settle.   There are different factors that can affect how long your divorce will take.  If you and your spouse have children together, own substantial assets together or have a contested divorce, the process can take longer.  Working with an experienced family law attorney will ensure the divorce process is as quick and efficient as possible.

Divorce Initiation

In Arizona, every divorce begins with one spouse filing a petition for dissolution of marriage in family court. The petition must then be served on the opposing party, along with a summons and other accompanying documents. The petition may be served to the opposing party in one of the following ways:

  • by personal delivery,
  • by alternative service, or
  • by mail and signed acknowledgment

The opposing party then has 20 days to file a response, if they reside in the State of Arizona.  If they reside outside of Arizona, they have 30 days to respond.

Temporary Orders

Once the petition for dissolution of marriage has been filed and the other party has responded, either party has the option of requesting a temporary orders hearing.  In this hearing, the court will issue temporary orders regarding child support, custody of minor children, spousal support, a division of debts, who will reside in the primary residence, etc.  These orders are called temporary orders because they will only be in place until the divorce and permanent orders are finalized.

Contested Divorce

When a divorcing couple is unable or unwilling to agree on important decisions such as child custody, child support or spousal support, this is considered a contested divorce. Contested divorces are those that most individuals wish to avoid. Why?  Contested divorces tend to cause more conflict between the divorcing spouses, take more time to resolve and are therefore more expensive.

Choosing the right divorce attorney will make a significant impact on the results of your case. No matter what stage of the divorce process you are in, we can assist you in navigating your divorce and protecting your rights. We have experience and skills that can be used on your behalf to protect you. Contact us today to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.

Uncontested Divorce

Not all divorces end in long court battles.  In fact, most divorces in Arizona are uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one that is resolved outside of the courtroom, such as through mediation or another out-of-court agreement. The result is no less binding than a contested divorce in court, but the process is more constructive overall.

In an uncontested divorce, the spouses have a greater opportunity to negotiate decisions together, rather than abiding by a court-ordered judgment that may not be the most advantageous for everyone involved.

Discussing your case with an experienced divorce attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make when considering divorce. Even if you and your spouse agree on all or almost all of the terms of your divorce, it will be helpful to have the insight of a legal professional to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

Consent Decree

When both spouses agree on all the terms of their divorce, they can choose to file a Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.  The Consent Decree will set out everything the spouses have agreed upon, either together or through mediation. If the couple has children, each spouse must attend a parent education class before the decree can be entered.   It will cover child custody, child support, visitation, spousal maintenance, a division of debts and assets, etc.  All terms listed therein must be agreed upon and both spouses must sign and file the decree at the clerk’s office.  The judge will then sign the Consent Decree and it will become an order of the court.  This process usually takes between 60 and 90 days.

Division of Community Assets, Debts, and Property

A difficult aspect of going through a divorce is deciding how to split up the assets, debts, and property you and your spouse have acquired during your marriage.

Since Arizona is a community property state, all assets, property or debts that you and your spouse acquire during your marriage are considered community property.  Each spouse has a one-half interest in any assets or property acquired during the marriage.  This includes an interest in any real property, personal property (home furnishings, tools, etc.), money, bank accounts, stock, retirement accounts, pensions, etc. Likewise, each spouse has a one-half responsibility for any debt accumulated during the marriage.

Exceptions to this would be any property that one spouse owned prior to the marriage or any property given as a gift or inherited by one spouse during the marriage. In these situations, the other spouse is not entitled to a one-half interest of that property.  A party claiming that some specific property is his or her separate property must provide proof that the property was something he or she owned prior to the marriage, was acquired by gift or was property that was received through inheritance.

Several issues can arise when dividing property during a divorce.  These issues can include the co-mingling of separate property with community property, hiding assets, or even disagreements over the value of property.  Property and debts should be divided in such a way that each party receives an equitable distribution of the property.  These issues often require a trial judge to review evidence relating to property and to divide the property in the most equitable way possible.  Sometimes this means that both parties will not receive exactly 50% of the community property.

The legal team at Jensen Family Law is experienced with the complex issues related to the division of assets and debts at the time of divorce.  It is always preferable for the parties to try to come to an agreement as to how their property and debts should be divided. However, sometimes it is necessary to litigate, especially when one spouse may be hiding assets. At Jensen Family Law, we will protect your property division rights through knowledgeable and compassionate legal expertise.

Annulment vs Divorce

Divorce and annulment are both means of ending a marriage.  A divorce is a dissolution of marriage that recognizes the legality of the marriage, splits assets and debts accumulated during the marriage, and assigns custody, visitation, and child support of the couple’s children.  An annulment is different in that once it is granted, the marriage never legally existed.  In Arizona, a petition for divorce can be filed without fault from either spouse, since it is a no-fault state.  An annulment, however, will only be granted if certain criteria are met that refute the legality of the marriage in the first place, such as intoxication at the time of the marriage, a prior marriage where divorce has not been finalized, fraud or other grounds.

Residency

In order to file for dissolution of marriage (divorce) in Arizona, either spouse must reside in Arizona for at least 90 continuous days or be stationed there as a member of the armed services for 90 days.

Protective Orders

It is an unfortunate reality that domestic violence and abuse abound in our society today.  It can be difficult to recognize signs of abuse and even more difficult for victims to speak out about what is happening to them.  At the Tiffany Fina Law Firm, we believe it is important for victims of abuse to understand their legal options for protection so that they can better protect themselves and their families.

Although orders of protection do not directly affect your divorce, their purpose is to protect you and/or your children from harassment, coercion or abuse.  You may apply for an order of protection if you meet the following criteria: the defendant is your spouse or former spouse, the father or mother of your child(ren) or unborn child or a person who you are currently or previously romantically or sexually involved with AND the defendant committed or is about to commit  any dangerous crime such as:

  • threatens, intimidates, harasses or interferes with the custody of your children;
  • assaults or harms;
  • kidnaps restrain or unlawfully imprisons;
  • criminally trespasses or damages your property.

To obtain a protective order in your divorce case, you must file one with the Superior Court.  This can be done with your initial pleadings when you file your divorce or at another time.  If the Judge is satisfied that you have sufficient evidence to support the issuance of an order of protection, he/she will sign it.  It will then be filed with the court and registered with law enforcement.  You will receive a copy of the order; it is important that you always keep it with you for your protection.  The protective order is not valid until it is served against the other person.

Tax Considerations

An important thing to consider and plan for is how divorce will affect your taxes.  Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are contemplating divorce or are already in the divorce process.

The division of assets and property will affect your taxes.  Oftentimes, the only way divorcing spouses can both receive an equitable amount of the marital assets is if they sell their primary residence and/or other properties.  This will affect the taxes each spouse may have to pay, so consult your tax professional.

In previous years, spousal maintenance (sometimes called alimony or spousal support) was tax deductible by the payer and taxable to the recipient.  Beginning in 2019, this is no longer the case.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminates tax deductions on spousal maintenance payments.  Recipients of spousal maintenance no longer claim the amount in their taxable income.

Another way divorce will have an impact on your taxes is in deductions.  Exemptions for dependent children will most likely go to the spouse with primary custody of the children, but this is an area that can be negotiated in your parenting plan.

There are other ways that divorce can have an impact on your taxes, so consult your family law attorney and your tax professional for strategies and information for your individual circumstances.

Military Divorce Attorney

If you or your spouse are active duty service members, the divorce process can be even more complicated.  The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects the rights of active duty service members who are unable to participate completely in divorce proceedings because of their assignments.  The act will also protect service members from receiving a default judgment and allows the service members up to 90 days after leaving active service to respond and defend themselves in divorce proceedings.

For an Arizona court to have jurisdiction over an active military member, the member or spouse must have lived in Arizona for 90 days prior to filing for divorce and the member must be personally served with a summons and a copy of the divorce action (unless the divorce is uncontested, and he/she waives this right by signing a waiver affidavit)

Divorce FAQ’s – Answers

  1. Can I represent myself in my Arizona divorce?
    Yes. Arizona does not require a person to hire an attorney to represent them in their divorce. However, keep in mind that Arizona law holds a person representing themselves to the same standards, rules and procedures as a licensed attorney. Therefore, it is HIGHLY recommended that you hire an attorney to assist you in this legal process.
  2. How do I begin the divorce process in Arizona?
    The first step in obtaining a divorce in Arizona is filing for a petition of dissolution of marriage, along with the required documents. The person filing for the petition is called the “Petitioner.” Once these documents are filed with the court, a private process server will “serve” them to the other spouse. The receiving spouse is called the “Respondent.” The Respondent then has 20 days (or 30 days if they do not reside in Arizona) to respond.
  3. Can I file for divorce in Arizona if I was married in another state?
    Yes. If you have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days, you can file for divorce in Arizona.
  4. What are the grounds for divorce in Arizona?
    Arizona is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you only need to prove to the court that your marriage is irretrievably broken.
  5. How long does it take to get a divorce in Arizona?
    If you and your spouse agree on all issues of your divorce, the Consent Decree for Dissolution of Marriage can be submitted to the court 60 days after the Petition for Dissolution is served to the Respondent.
  6. Are assets divided 50/50 in an Arizona divorce?
    Arizona is a community property state. This means that assets, property, and debt are generally divided by the court in an equitable manner.
  7. What does it cost to get a divorce in Arizona?
    It’s difficult to give an estimate because there are many factors that contribute to the cost of divorce. Some factors to consider when determining the cost of your divorce are:

    1. The filing fees for the county you are filing in
    2. Whether or not you have children
    3. What assets and/or debts you and your spouse have
    4. Whether or not your case will need special mediation
    5. Whether or not your divorce is complicated and/or contentious

These are just some of the factors and not a complete list. Speak with your attorney to get a better understanding of what costs you can expect with your divorce.

  1. Are there ways to reduce the cost of my divorce?
    Yes. Some individuals choose to handle their divorce on their own to save money. While some divorce cases may be very simple and may not need the assistance of an attorney, this is not usually the case. It’s important that you educate yourself on the issues pertaining to your divorce. This way you will have a better understanding of what you will need to do if you choose to handle your divorce yourself or what you will need from an attorney if you choose to seek their assistance. Keep in mind that with most divorces, there are many variables. It is highly recommended that you consult an attorney to ensure your rights and assets are protected.
  2. Will I have to go to court?
    Not always. If you and your spouse agree on all terms of your divorce and both sign a Consent Decree, you may be available to avoid going to court. There may be other instances where you may be able to avoid appearing in court. Speak to your attorney to learn more.
  3. What issues must be resolved in my divorce?
    Each divorce is different. Some common issues that will need to be resolved in the divorce process are:

    1. Spousal support
    2. Child custody
    3. Child support
    4. Division of assets and debts
  1. Can my spouse and I hire the same attorney?
    No. Even if you and your spouse agree on all the terms of your divorce, it would be unethical for an attorney to represent both parties.
  2. What if I am served with a petition for dissolution and I do not respond?
    If you do not respond to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (Arizona’s legal term for divorce), your spouse may be able to proceed with the divorce process without any input from you. This is referred to as a default divorce and puts the default party at substantial risk. Contact your attorney for assistance and questions about responding to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
  3. Is Arizona a no-fault divorce state?
    Yes. This means that you do not have to allege fault or wrongdoing to get a divorce in Arizona.
  4. Can you contest a divorce in Arizona?
    Yes. Although you cannot contest the actual divorce, you can contest the terms of the divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, etc.
  5. Is an Annulment the same thing as divorce?
    Although an annulment and a divorce both legally dissolve the marriage, an annulment means that legally the marriage never existed.
  6. Can I make my spouse pay for my divorce attorney?
    In some cases, the court may award attorney fees to one spouse if there is a financial disparity between the two parties.
  7. Are my divorce attorney fees tax deductible?
    Typically, the answer is no. However, according to the IRS, “in some circumstances taxpayers are permitted to deduct fees associated with the collection of alimony payments.” There are limitations to this, so speak with your tax professional to learn me.
  8. Is medication available to assist us in resolving issues in our divorce?
    Yes. You can either motion for court Conciliation Services to help mediate disputes or you can utilize a private mediator for resolution.
  9. How soon can I remarry after my divorce?
    Once your divorce is final, you may remarry immediately, there is no waiting period.
  10. Hire a divorce attorney with experience in family law. A personal injury attorney may be a skilled attorney in his/her field, but you want an attorney with experience in family law to protect you.
  11. How can I protect my credit rating during divorce?
    Here are a few general guidelines to follow to protect your credit rating during your divorce:

    1. Close any joint accounts
    2. Notify your creditors about your divorce
    3. Ensure you’re receiving financial correspondence by keeping your address up to date
    4. Check your credit reports regularly

 

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