When considering divorce law basics in Arizona, one of the most basic things you need to know is that one party who files the petition is known as the petitioner and the other spouse is thereafter known as the respondent. If you choose to move forward with filing for divorce, it’s a good idea to consult with an Arizona family lawyer first to ensure that you understand all of your rights and responsibilities after filing. In order to file for divorce in the state of Arizona, either one of the parties involved must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days prior to the date of filing.

Reasons for Divorce

There are many different reasons for divorce in Arizona, but the courts in the state usually separate these reasons into two categories; no-fault divorce (for non-covenant marriages) and fault divorce (for covenant marriages). There is only one finding necessary  for a no-fault divorce and this is simply that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

For pursuing fault grounds in the state of Arizona, however, you must be married in what’s known as a covenant marriage. From this, your at-fault divorce can only happen if the respondent has committed adultery, the respondent is guilty of alcohol or drug abuse, the respondent has moved out of residency for one year before filing for the divorce and refuses to return to the state, if both parties have been living separately for at least one year after the date of legal separation or if physical or sexual harm has happened between the two parties, if both parties have agreed to dissolve the marriage or have been living separately for at least two years before filing for divorce. Both parties could instead choose to legally separate as opposed to divorce.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce

A legal separation refers to when a couple decides to go their separate ways while keeping their marriage intact. There are many reasons that you might want to do this such as for taxes or for medical insurance purposes. While a legal separation may lead to a divorce agreement, it does not always have to. Legal separation separates property and debts, and also makes provision for maintenance, child support, and parenting time matters.  These are all things that occur in a dissolution, as well. The main difference between a divorce and legal separation is simply whether or not someone may remarry when the process is finished – after a divorce, the parties are single and, therefore, may remarry; after a legal separation, the parties are still technically married and are, therefore, unable to marry someone else.

Dissolving your marriage can be complex in the State of Arizona as you may be dealing with issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, legal decision-making and parenting time and distribution of property. Discussing your options with your Arizona family law attorney before filing can give you some reasonable expectations about what the process is like as well as an overview of what you should be prepared for. Having your questions answered early can make a difficult process a little bit easier. Make sure you find an Arizona family law attorney who has a background in this field and is committed to representing your individual needs.


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 Divorce Law Basics in Arizona, or any other family law issue,  please feel free to contact Steven H. Everts 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.