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Divorce Law in Arizona

How to Find an Arizona Divorce Attorney

Harry Truman once said, “I always remember an epitaph which is in the cemetery at Tombstone, Arizona. It says: “Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damnedest.” I think that is the greatest epitaph a man can have.”

We would have to agree with President Truman. If you are considering divorce and searching for a qualified Arizona divorce attorney, it may feel like you’re not doing anything well. Divorce is likely one of the biggest challenges you’ll ever face and your children, wellbeing, and future are all depending upon you doing your “damnedest”.

If you are so inclined, this article (which is based upon Arizona divorce law) will help you do your best. Herein, we’ll discuss:

  • Arizona specific divorce law requirements;
  • What you need to know about divorce; and
  • Whether it’s in your best interest to hire an Arizona divorce lawyer and, if so, how to find a qualified lawyer and how to prepare to work with him or her.

Arizona Divorce Law Specifics

  • Either you or your spouse must have been domiciled (or, if in the military, “stationed”) in Arizona for at least 90 days prior to the divorce filing.
  • Divorce may be filed based upon either “no-fault” or “fault” grounds.
    • No-fault means that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”.
    • In Arizona, the dissolution of a “covenant” marriage must be based upon fault.
      This means that your spouse committed adultery; abused the you, a relative, or a child; abused drugs or alcohol; abandoned the you; or was convicted of a felony.
      In addition, both spouses can agree to divorce.
  • Arizona uses the terms, “petitioner” and “respondent” to describe the spouse who initially filed the divorce papers and the other spouse, respectively.
  • In Arizona, divorce papers are filed in the Superior Court of a particular county.
  • In some cases, alimony is available.
  • In Arizona property distribution will be based upon community property laws. This means that, unless otherwise agreed, marital property will be divided 50/50.
  • Child support will be based upon the Income Shares Model.

What You Need to Know About Divorce

If you’re interested in doing your best to minimize legal fees, get more of what you want in the marital settlement, and make the divorce easier on your children and yourself, this section is especially pertinent.

  • Your mantra must be something like this: “Compromise, communicate, cooperate, and collaborate.”
  • Only hire an attorney who will respect and share this mantra.
  • Meet with a therapist to work through the emotional part of your divorce. Your attorney is best at addressing your legal needs.

Is it in Your Best Interests to Work with an Arizona Divorce Lawyer?

  • Legally, you have the right to represent yourself in all legal matters; but that doesn’t mean self-representation is in your best interests – or those of your children.
  • After all, if you make a mistake and give up any marital rights during divorce, you will be forever barred from asserting them in Arizona courts.
  • Even Arizona attorneys, who go through divorce, hire their own divorce lawyers.

How to Find and Select an Arizona Divorce Attorney

If you enter “How to Find a Arizona Divorce Attorney” into your favorite search engine, you’ll get a lot of results or you can get referrals from the bar association and friends.

As you narrow down your list of potential attorneys, look for those who focus their practice on family law and divorce (and are licensed to practice law in Arizona).

Either meet with or hold a telephone conference with a few attorneys and choose who you like best. It’s okay to ask questions about fees, procedures, what you can expect, the timeline, and anything else on your mind.

In addition, be sure to ask about mediation and how your attorney approaches divorce negotiations. It’s likely in your best interest to select an attorney who emphasizes cooperation and collaboration, not paybacks, threats, and court.

How to Prepare to Work with Your Divorce Attorney

  • It’s okay to hold off on filing divorce until your emotions subside a bit. Determine whether reconciliation attempts are feasible.

  • Meet with a therapist who specializes in helping people going through divorce. Everyone needs an impartial listener.

  • Make a list of what you would like in the divorce (e.g. cash, investments, retirement assets, the house, car, pets, and child related matters). Identify those items that are the most important and those that are the least important.

  • Make a list of questions and concerns.

  • Gather financial documents that identify all assets, liabilities, expenses, and income. If you have a prenuptial agreement, you’ll need a copy of it.

About 23,000 divorces are finalized in Arizona each year. That means 46,000 people are struggling to go through each day with feelings and challenges similar to your own. It may take a year or more, but someday you’ll wake up and your divorce won’t be the first thing you think about in the morning. At that time, you’ll be able to look back and know you did your damnedest.

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