Arizona Divorce Guide

Do It Yourself Divorce

Arizona is a no-fault state, meaning the burden of DIY Divorceproving marital misconduct is not necessary to qualify for a divorce. Arizona calls your divorce a Dissolution of Marriage. You must satisfy residency requirements to file for dissolution. To get a dissolution, one of you must start a court case in the Superior Court in the county where you live. For the petition to be accepted, one of you must have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days or have been a member of the armed forces stationed in Arizona for at least 90 days. If your dissolution involves minor children, you must have lived here for 6 months (with the children).

Settlement Agreement

Dividing all assets and debt must be completed between you two, or the dissolution will not get finalized. You will accomplish this with a Settlement Agreement. Each of you are entitled to roughly one-half of the community property and obligated to pay one-half of the debts, regardless of who paid for the property or in whose name it is in (to even whose name is on the title or deed).

How much does it cost and where do I file divorce papers?

As of this writing (5/2014), the filing fee you must pay for a divorce or annulment is $223.00 . If you do the filing, your spouse will be required to respond, and that response costs $154.00. If your spouse does not respond, you will likely be granted a default judgement of divorce and be granted the requests in your filing if those requests are in the best interests of your children and are lawful.

Are these filings fees paid up front?

Yes, the fee(s) must be paid when you file the divorce papers. If you cannot afford the filing fee(s), you can defer the filing fee by including in your filing a Deferral or Waiver of the Fees/Costs form. On that form you will disclose your financial details that show your inability to pay the fee. A judge will rule on your fee-waiver request (often within a week) and you will be notified. You will file all of your documents with the Office of the Clerk of the Court, who will check your papers for completeness, assign a case number to your dissolution and file-stamp all of the documents.

What forms will you need?
  • Petition – Information about you, your spouse, your children, your property, your debts, and your need for spousal maintenance (alimony)
  • Summons – This informs your spouse that the case has been filed and advises action by the Respondent
  • Affidavit Regarding Minor Children – Details about your children, if any
  • Notice of Right to Convert Health Insurance – This informs your spouse that there are rights and responsibilities regarding any existing health care insurance policy
  • Joint Preliminary Injunction – informs your spouse that a court order has been established that automatically takes effect and prohibits both spouses from doing certain things involving money, property, children and insurance until the court can decide any issues involved or until you two have agreed on all issues
  • Creditor Notice – State law requires that each of you receive a notice advising about rights and responsibilities regarding debts acquired during the marriage.

Save yourself the hassle by downloading divorce forms here

Bring three signed copies (yes, 3 copies – no whining) with you when you file dissolution papers with the court. Pay attention to what forms need a notary signature and have that done prior to filing your divorce papers. There may be additional forms to be filled out with the Clerk (Civil Cover Sheet, Minor children, etc). The easiest way to get all this done is to download a packet of divorce forms that include instructions.

What are the steps?DIY Divorce

After the Clerk has checked over and accepted your divorce papers, you will need to have your spouse served. State law prohibits you from personally serving the papers. Ask the Clerk who they suggest you pay to serve the filing (Sheriff, professional server, etc). Prices for a process server can run $50-$100. The court will notify you as to what the next step will be once they receive your spouses’s response. Your spouse has 20 days to file the response if he or she was served in Arizona and 30 days if served outside Arizona. If your spouse does respond, additional fees will be due (from him or her), and a hearing date will be set. If no response is made, you will likely be eligible for a default divorce, the requests you made in your petition will, in all likelihood, be accepted, and you will be divorced fairly quickly (61-90 days). By not responding to your petition, your spouse, in effect, is not “contesting” the divorce itself or anything else you asked for in your divorce Petition.

Do you really want your Parenting Plan on paper?

You can keep your plan on paper or on your computer. The downside to keeping your own records is 1. if your computer crashes and you don’t have a back-up, the plan is gone, or 2. you have to shuttle the plan back and forth between you and the ex. The calendar included in the hard-copy or computer plan can be changed, but each time activities change, a new plan needs to be printed and sent to the other parent. The other parent tends to “lose” his or her copy and activities get missed or rescheduled. Arguments ensue when parents trade one block of time for another, and it isn’t detailed in writing in the plan. The list goes on. This split is going to be difficult enough. Don’t compound it with scheduling hassles. Get the online parenting plan.

If there is a chance your Ex will try to manipulate you or the kids with the visitation schedule, put an on-line Parenting Plan in place. Nothing stops the game-playing like a schedule in black and white. Simply tell your Ex that in order for the schedule to be changed, it must be discussed and agreed to; otherwise it is not changing.
On-line Parenting Plan

The Plan is kept on a third party server, eliminating worry about losing the data, and permits either parent to look at the calendar of visitation from any computer. Changing the on-line calendar is a snap. With some plans you can track expenses, and how much time each parent has spent with the children and compare that to how much time the divorce decree specifies. You can print it out to be used with the Divorce Settlement Agreement to complete your divorce, and you can have it available should there be any future requests for modifying child support, custody or visitation. Going to court with an accurate record of who did what can be a powerful tool in asserting your claims. One Mom told us that she and her Ex agreed that unless a change or addition to the kids schedule has been discussed AND agreed upon, it won’t appear on the calendar, and if it doesn’t appear on the calendar, it ain’t happening.

If you have agreed on everything and just want it done

If everything is buttoned up and in order, you will be asking the court for a Consent Decree. Once the waiting period has ended (60 days), the judge will sign the consent decree and you each will be single again.

A word on the Settlement Agreement – If there is a place where the process gets bogged down, it is resolving marriage settlement issues. They must be resolved and agreed upon to move your divorce filing to a successful conclusion (without legal fees). The issues are: Equitable Distribution of Assets Equitable Distribution of Liabilities A parenting or co-Parenting Plan What the Visitation Agreement will be Child Support Spousal Support (Alimony)

You will get ONE shot at winning custody – Learn How Here

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