When a marriage is irretrievably broken, and the only recourse is a divorce, knowing the proper steps to take will support a smooth transition to a difficult life change. Arizona law addresses residency requirements, grounds for filing, parties, property distribution, child custody, child support, and mediation requirements.
Residency. In Arizona, one of the parties must have lived in the state at the time the court action began, and if a party to the divorce is a member of the military, they must have maintained military presence for ninety days domiciled in state prior to the petition for dissolution of the marriage.
Grounds for Filing. There are Fault and No-Fault grounds for filing a divorce, and both parties must agree to them. The marriage must be irretrievably broken. If the marriage is a Covenant marriage, the respondent party must have: 1) committed adultery; 2) committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or life imprisonment in a federal, state, county or municipal correctional facility; 3) abandoned the marital home for at least one year; 4) sexually or physically abused the spouse, a child or a relative living in the marital home; 5) been living separately and apart for two years; 6) been living separately and apart for one year following the legal separation agreement; 7) habitually abused drugs and/or alcohol; and 8) both parties are in agreement with the divorce.
Parties. The Petitioner is the person filing the divorce action, and the Respondent is the other spouse.
Property Distribution. Arizona is a community property state which means that property is divided equally between the two parties unless there is an agreement between the two that states otherwise. Community property includes homes, cars, furniture, wedding gifts, wages of one or both parties, depending on who is working, and any interest or ownership from business ventures or investments. The debts associated with the items owned by the couple is also divided equally. The court may assign certain debt responsibility to one or the other spouse. The contracts between the debtors and the parties to the divorce are between them, and ultimately parties are not bound by court to pay but by contracted debtors who can put a lien on physical property, and file court claims negatively affecting future credit. If one of the divorcing parties does not pay the debts assigned to them, the court may enter an order transferring property of value to the other party of the divorce to compensate them. The court may also impose sanctions if the party is in contempt of a court order directing them to pay certain debts. The enforceable action has a two-year statute of limitations regarding action to enforce the court’s order to pay debts.
Child Custody. When minor children are involved in the divorce process, action is required to establish who the child will live with, or if the child’s time will be shared among both parents. Schedules and rules will be outlined and agreed upon regarding the custody of the minor children to the marriage.
Child Support. Arizona child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. The monthly support amount determined by applying the guidelines is divided proportionally according to each parent’s income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child. All income is typically verified by examining past W-2’s. The amount of funding that is required to maintain a healthy standard of living for the minor children to the divorce action is the hopeful outcome to cover expenses incurred for raising a minor child to the age of majority. In special circumstances support will continue such as disability that was present before the divorce action. If the minor child will not graduate from high school during their 18th year of life, support will continue until they have completed high school and only until the child reaches their 19th birthday. Child support past the age of majority could continue per a separate agreement between parents but is not required by the state law.
Mediation Requirements. Counseling and mediation are remedies when one of the two parties deny that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or the courts find reason to believe that the marriage is not broken, and the reasons need to be reviewed.
Divorce actions are based on individual circumstances and require a legal professional who knows the state laws relevant to each important facet of the divorce process for a positive outcome addressing each one specific to your situation. Contact the Law Office of Schneider & Onofry, P.C. for an initial consultation to navigate your way through the divorce process.
Schneider & Onofry, P.C.
6024 E. 32nd Street
Yuma, Arizona 85365
Arizona Statutes – Title 12 – Chapters: 401 and Title 25 – Chapters: 312, 329