Like many questions related to divorce, this is one that depends on the specifics of your case. If you and your former spouse can come to agreement on some terms, your divorce may move through the system more quickly. If aspects of the divorce are contested, though, you might want to speak directly with your Arizona family lawyer to learn more about how long your case might take. Remember that an attorney’s perspective is just an estimate.
What’s the Waiting Period?
In Arizona, there is a mandatory 60-day stretch known as the “cooling-off period.” This period does not officially begin until your spouse has received notice of the divorce by either accepting service or being formally served with a Petition, so you must file first to initiate this process. Do not use the filing date as the beginning of your cooling-off period as filing without service of the Petition does not actually start it. If most aspects of your divorce are uncontested, or your spouse does not respond and you proceed by default, your divorce could wrap up shortly after the 60 day waiting period.
An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse have come to agreement on some of the major aspects of the divorce and have signed an agreement stating such relating to property division, child support, and child custody. If both of you can agree and neither one of you contests any of these issues in court, your divorce may be finalized as soon as the 60 day waiting period has elapsed.
Divorces tend to last beyond the initial waiting period when the spouses cannot agree on key aspects of the marriage dissolution. In Arizona, a contested divorce could take between six and 18 months, but it could also last longer depending on the issues in your case. For example, if you and your spouse only struggle to reach agreement on division of property, those issues can be handled relatively quickly in court. If the issue in question is child custody, however, your case might take longer than 18 months.
Many contested cases go through some Alternative Dispute Resolution process such as mediation. Mediation is often helpful in resolving contested issues but, if it is not, or if mediation is not appropriate for your case, the contested issues in your Arizona divorce case will be addressed by the court.
When is the Divorce Final?
Your divorce is considered final when the Decree is “entered” into the record by the Clerk of the Court. After “entry” of the Decree, which must be signed by the judge, you will receive your decree, generally speaking by mail. Bear in mind that if your divorce was contested, the decree will very likely not be entered on the actual day of trial, meaning that your divorce is not final until a later point in time. The judge may want to review all the evidence and any testimony from the case before signing off on the decree. Your attorney will inform you when your divorce decree is final and when the issues decided in the case will be officially dealt with (like division of property). Make sure you hire an experienced Arizona family law attorney to help you with these complex issues.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding When Will My Arizona Divorce Be Final?, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Sheri D. Shepard at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.