Marriage equality came to Arizona in 2014, but the 2015 decision by the Supreme Court had a nationwide impact as well. If you are already married to a same-sex partner and have lived in the state of Arizona for at least 90 days consecutively, you could be eligible to file for divorce in Arizona and take advantage of the state’s community property laws. This article is written to help answer some FAQs about same-sex marriage and legal rights in Arizona

Marriage and divorce matters for gay and lesbian couples require particular insight and legal skills that might not otherwise appear in a traditional heterosexual case. For example, issues that could be more complex for same-sex couples include spousal maintenance and custody (now known as legal decision-making) and parenting time. The same protections are afforded under Arizona’s domestic relations laws, and the community property system is used to provide an equitable and fair court allocation of divorce assets. The date of marriage is of paramount importance in dealing with same-sex marriages as couples may have entered into one or more different types of relationships trying to solemnize their marriage in the absence of marriage equality (i.e. entered into a Domestic Partnership, Civil Union, or even simply engaging in a commitment ceremony). Depending on the state these relationships were entered into, one or more “marriage” dates may be arguable.

Special Considerations for Same-Sex Divorces

Same-sex parentage and child custody issues can also come into play during a divorce, and this is why you need an Arizona family lawyer who is comfortable in handling situations like this.  For example, many couples had one parent adopt a child and/or genetically participate in the conception or birth of a child. The rights attendant to the other parent can be murky depending on the facts and the evolving law. Having someone who understands the unique challenges that you may be facing as a same-sex couple can be extremely beneficial during these otherwise challenging times. Consult with an Arizona family lawyer sooner rather than later if you have individual concerns that should be addressed by a legal professional.

As you can see, there are many reasons why you should work with an Arizona family attorney who understands your unique needs. While you have many of the legal protections that other couples do, the process of bringing these concerns into the legal sphere can be confusing and frustrating for you. Knowing that you have an attorney committed to working towards the best outcome for your family is essential in this situation. You need an attorney you can count on as well as someone who understands your concerns and goals.

It’s a good idea to set up an initial meeting with an Arizona family lawyer to determine whether or not you feel comfortable with this individual. Family law issues are very personal, and they require not only the touch of someone who is knowledgeable about the law but also someone who you can place your trust in. You may need to communicate with your lawyer about sensitive issues and details that could influence your future for years to come, so choose someone who makes you feel comfortable.


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 FAQs About Same-Sex Marriage and Legal Rights in Arizona, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Sheri D. Shepard at 480.461.5300, log on to, 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.