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If you’re considering filing for divorce online in Arizona, it’s important to understand the steps involved in the process. Divorce can be a difficult and emotionally charged experience, but knowing what to expect can help ease some of the stress. Arizona has specific legal requirements that must be followed, and not understanding them can lead to unwanted surprises and delays. Keep reading to learn about the steps for getting divorced in Arizona.

The first step in the divorce process is to meet Arizona’s residency requirements. To file for divorce in Arizona, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days before filing. If you don’t meet this requirement, you’ll have to wait until it’s satisfied before filing. Once you meet the residency requirements, you can file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The person who files for divorce is known as the petitioner, and the other spouse is the respondent. From this point on, the court will refer to you as the petitioner or the respondent.

Gathering Essential Information for Divorce in Arizona

If you are contemplating or initiating divorce proceedings in Arizona, it’s essential to gather all the necessary information beforehand. This will ensure that you are well-informed and have a solid foundation when making critical decisions.

1. Understand Arizona’s Residency Requirements

To file for a divorce in Arizona, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least 90 days before filing. If you meet this requirement, you can file for divorce in the county where either you or your spouse lives.

2. Identify the Type of Divorce You Want

Arizona offers two types of divorce: contested and uncontested. Uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses agree on key aspects like child custody, property division, and alimony, while contested divorce happens when the couple cannot agree on one or more issues.

3. Obtain Financial Information

One of the most crucial aspects of divorce is deciding how to divide property and assets. You’ll need to gather financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, retirement and investment account statements and more. These documents will provide a clear picture of your financial status, and help you negotiate a fair settlement.

4. Gather Information About Your Children

If you have minor children, you’ll need to gather essential information including their full names, dates of birth, schools they attend, medical records, and other pertinent personal data. This will help you make a case for custody, visitation, and child support.

5. Know What You Want to Achieve

Before entering into divorce proceedings, it’s essential to know what it is that you want to achieve. This will help you stay focused and achieve your goals. Whether it’s custody, property division, or other issues, define your objectives and have a solid plan to achieve them.

By following these steps, you can better arm yourself for the divorce process in Arizona. Making key decisions based on clear, factual information will help ensure a smoother process and more successful outcome.

Filing the Divorce Petition

The first step to initiate a divorce in Arizona is to file a divorce petition with the Superior Court in the county where either you or your spouse resides. The petitioner, or the person filing the petition, must provide the court with the reasons for seeking the divorce and what they are requesting in terms of spousal support, division of assets, custody of children, etc.

To file for divorce in Arizona, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least 90 days. Once the petition is filed, the petitioner must serve the petition to their spouse, along with a summons that orders them to respond to the petition within a specific period of time, usually 20 days.

If the respondent, or the spouse who is served with the petition, does not respond within 20 days, the petitioner may file for a default judgment, and the court will grant the divorce based on the petitioner’s requests.

It’s important to note that filing for divorce can be a complex and emotionally draining process, especially if there are disputes over child custody, spousal support, and property division. If you’re unsure of how to initiate the process or make sense of the legal requirements, it’s essential that you seek the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney.

To summarize, when filing for divorce in Arizona, the petitioner must file a divorce petition with the court, serve the respondent with the petition and a summons, and wait for a response. If the respondent doesn’t respond within the specified period, the petitioner may file for a default judgment. Make sure to consult with a qualified attorney to help you navigate through the process and achieve your desired outcome.

Serving the Petition

After filing the petition for divorce, the next important step is serving it to the other party. In Arizona, serving the petition is a legal requirement. This process informs the other party that you have filed for divorce and gives them the opportunity to respond. Here are the steps to serving the petition in Arizona:

  1. Choose an appropriate method of service: In Arizona, you can serve the divorce petition via certified mail, sheriff’s department, private process server, or by waiver of service. Each method has its own specific procedures, timeframes, and costs.
  2. Fill out the service forms: You need to fill out and file specific forms to officially serve the petition. The most commonly used form is the “Acceptance of Service” form, which is available online on the Arizona judicial branch website.
  3. Serve the petition: Once you have selected the appropriate method of service and filled out the necessary forms, you must properly serve the petition to the other party. This can be done by mail, in-person, or by a process server.
  4. File the proof of service: After serving the petition, you must complete and file the “Proof of Service” form with the court. This document verifies that the other party has been served and notifies the court that the defendant has the opportunity to respond within a specific timeframe.

It is essential to ensure that the petition is served correctly, as failure to do so can result in delays and even dismissal of the case. Furthermore, if the other party does not respond after being served, you may request a default judgment, which can expedite the divorce process.

Remember, if you have any questions or concerns about serving the petition, it is highly recommended to consult with a qualified divorce attorney. They can provide legal guidance and help you navigate the divorce process with confidence.

Responding to the Petition

After your spouse files for divorce, you will receive a copy of their Petition for Dissolution. This document outlines their requests for things like division of property, child custody, and spousal support. As the respondent, you have several options for how to proceed:

1. File a Response

To protect your interests and have a say in the outcome of the divorce, you should file a Response with the court within 20 days of being served with the Petition. This document allows you to admit or deny the allegations made by your spouse and assert your own requests. If you do not file a Response, the court may grant your spouse’s requests without considering your side of the story.

2. Reach an Agreement

It is possible to negotiate and agree on the terms of the divorce with your spouse without going to court. This can save time and money and result in a more amicable resolution. However, it’s important to have an experienced attorney review any agreements before they are finalized to ensure your rights are protected.

3. Do Nothing

If you don’t file a Response in time, your spouse may file a Request to Enter Default. This means they can ask the court to grant their requests without your input. In some cases, a judge may still consider your side of the story, but it’s risky to rely on this outcome.

It’s important to note that even if you don’t agree with your spouse’s requests in the Petition, you should still take it seriously and respond appropriately. Ignoring the Petition can lead to negative consequences and a less favorable outcome in the divorce proceedings.

Arizona Divorce Response Statistics

In 2019, the Family Court of Arizona recorded a total of 32,514 divorce cases filed. Of those cases, only 19,673 respondents filed a Response, while 3,975 cases resulted in a Request to Enter Default. The remaining cases either reached an agreement outside of court or were dismissed. This highlights the importance of taking action and filing a Response in a timely manner to protect your interests and rights in the divorce process.

Discovery and Disclosure

In Arizona divorce cases, both parties have the legal right to obtain information and evidence that may support their case. This process is known as discovery. There are several methods of discovery, including written discovery, depositions, and subpoenas.

Written discovery includes requests for documents and other information that each party must provide to the other. This can include requests for financial records, employment records, and other evidence that may be relevant to the divorce proceedings.

Depositions involve asking questions under oath, in person, and in the presence of a court reporter. This process is typically done in an attorney’s office and can take several hours to complete. Both parties have the right to attend the deposition and ask questions.

Subpoenas are legal orders to produce documents or other evidence. For example, if a spouse believes that the other spouse has hidden assets, they may request a subpoena to obtain banking records or other financial documents.

Once each party has obtained all necessary information through the discovery process, they are required to make a full and complete disclosure of all assets and debts. This is known as disclosure, and failure to make a full disclosure can result in severe consequences.

Disclosure in Arizona Divorce Cases

In Arizona, each party to a divorce case is required to make a full and complete disclosure of all assets, debts, and other relevant information. This requirement is set forth in the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure.

The disclosure process involves each party completing a financial affidavit that details all of their assets, debts, income, and expenses. This affidavit must be signed under penalty of perjury, meaning that any false statements can result in severe legal consequences.

In addition to the financial affidavit, each party must also provide copies of all bank statements, tax returns, and other relevant financial documents. Failure to provide a full and complete disclosure can result in severe consequences, including sanctions, fines, and even criminal charges.

Overall, the discovery and disclosure process is an essential part of the divorce process in Arizona. It ensures that each party has access to all relevant information and evidence, and that each party makes a full and complete disclosure of all assets, debts, and other relevant information.

Settlement Conference and Mediation

Consider Mediation

Depending on the complexity of your case, it may be advisable to consider mediation instead of or prior to scheduling a settlement conference. Mediation offers a more relaxed and informal setting and allows you and your spouse to negotiate a settlement with the help of a neutral third-party mediator. Mediation is often less expensive and less time-consuming than a trial, and the outcome is usually more satisfying for both parties.

What Happens at the Settlement Conference?

If you are unable to resolve all of your issues at your settlement conference, you may be required to attend a mediation or trial. However, if you are able to successfully settle your case, your divorce will be finalized by the court. The settlement conference is typically a more formal and structured event than mediation, and may take place in a conference room or judge’s chambers. Both parties, and their attorneys if they have them, will attend the conference.

Here is what typically happens at a settlement conference:

  • The parties will provide opening statements that summarize their position.
  • The parties will present evidence, including financial documents and other information that supports their position.
  • The parties will attempt to negotiate a resolution.
  • If an agreement is reached, the parties will sign a stipulation, outlining the terms of the agreement.
  • If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, they may proceed to trial.

What Happens if You Cannot Agree on All Issues?

If you are unable to resolve all of your issues through mediation or a settlement conference, the remaining issues must be resolved through trial. Each party will have the opportunity to present evidence and argue their case. The judge will then make a decision, and issue a final decree of divorce. It is important to note that once the court has made a decision, it is final and binding, and cannot be changed without a successful appeal.

Preparing for Trial

In Arizona, if you and your spouse are unable to reach a settlement agreement, you will likely need to go to trial. This can be a daunting prospect, but with proper preparation, you can put yourself in the best position to achieve a favorable outcome.

Here are some steps to help prepare for trial:

1. Review Your Case

Before trial, it is crucial to thoroughly review your case and gather all relevant information. This includes your court documents, financial information, and any evidence you plan to use to support your case. You should also be prepared to answer any questions your attorney may have about your case.

2. Consider Hiring an Expert Witness

In some cases, it may be beneficial to hire an expert witness. An expert can provide testimony on complex issues such as property valuation, child custody, or financial matters. However, keep in mind that hiring an expert can be costly, and you should discuss the potential benefits and drawbacks with your attorney.

3. Attend Any Necessary Hearings

Before trial, you may be required to attend pretrial hearings or conferences. Make sure to attend these hearings and be on time. This will show the judge that you are serious about your case and respectful of the court’s time.

4. Prepare Your Testimony

If you are going to testify at trial, it is important to prepare your testimony carefully. Be honest, concise, and stick to the facts. Avoid becoming emotional or using inflammatory language, as this can damage your credibility.

5. Dress Appropriately

Appearances matter in court, so be sure to dress appropriately for your trial. This means wearing conservative clothing that is clean, pressed, and professional. Avoid clothing with slogans or logos, and make sure your hair is neat and trimmed.

6. Be Mindful of Your Body Language

During the trial, the judge and jury will be observing your every move. Be mindful of your body language and avoid crossing your arms, rolling your eyes, or shaking your head. Instead, sit up straight, make eye contact with the judge and jurors, and remain calm and composed.

7. Follow Courtroom Rules

Finally, make sure you understand and follow all courtroom rules during your trial. This includes being respectful to the judge, not interrupting others while they are speaking, and avoiding any outbursts or displays of emotion.

By following these steps and working closely with your attorney, you can prepare for trial and put yourself in the best position to achieve a positive outcome.

Finalizing the Divorce

The final stage of the divorce process in Arizona involves the court’s decoupling of you and your spouse’s union. At this point, you should have already reached an agreement or had a judge decide on matters like child custody, property division, spousal maintenance, and child support.

To finalize the divorce, you will need to appear in court for a final hearing where your agreement or court order will be reviewed. After the judge approves of the terms, they will issue a divorce decree – the legal document that marks the end of your marriage.

Once you have the divorce decree, you’ll want to ensure that the terms of the agreement are carried out. Here are some steps to take in ensuring proper execution:

  1. Follow through with the terms set forth in the divorce decree. This includes making any payments, transferring titles, and adhering to custody and visitation schedules.
  2. Change your legal documents and notify relevant parties of the divorce. This includes changing your name, beneficiaries, power of attorney, and notifying banks, credit card companies, and utility companies of the divorce.
  3. Address any outstanding debts or liabilities. If there are still debts that were incurred during the marriage, make arrangements to pay them off or divide them according to the divorce agreement.
  4. Seek professional help. Transitioning back to being a single person can be difficult, and there are various resources available to help with the process. Speaking with a therapist or counselor can help you navigate your emotions and facilitate a smoother transition.

Overall, finalizing a divorce can be a complicated and emotional process. It’s essential to understand the steps involved and seek guidance, both legally and emotionally, to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Child Custody

When it comes to child custody and support in Arizona, the court’s primary concern is the best interests of the child. This means that both parents will be evaluated to determine who should be awarded custody, how much parenting time each parent will receive, and how much child support will be paid.

To begin the process, each parent will need to file a Parenting Plan, which outlines their proposed arrangements for custody and visitation. If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will intervene and make a decision based on the best interests of the child.

When determining custody, the court will consider factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, each parent’s willingness to co-parent, and the fitness of each parent to care for the child. In some cases, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem or a custody evaluator to provide additional information.

Child Support

Once custody has been determined, child support will be calculated based on the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. Factors that can affect the amount of child support include the income of each parent, the number of children, and the parenting time each parent receives.

It’s important to note that the court can order child support even if the parents were never married. The child has a right to financial support from both parents regardless of their relationship status.

If either parent’s circumstances change, such as a significant increase or decrease in income, a modification to the custody or child support order can be requested. However, both parents must agree to the changes or the court must approve them before they can be made.

Remember, the goal of the court is to make decisions that are in the best interests of the child. By working cooperatively with your co-parent, you can help ensure a smooth and positive outcome for your child custody and support case.


Divorce is never an easy process, but understanding the steps involved can help ease the stress and uncertainty that often accompany it. Now that you have a basic understanding of the divorce process in Arizona, you should feel more confident in your ability to navigate and progress through it.

Remember, it’s important to seek legal guidance throughout the process to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. By following the steps outlined in this article and working with a qualified divorce attorney, you can achieve a fair and satisfactory outcome and move forward with your life.

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