How Does a Judge Decide a Divorce Case?

How does a judge decide a divorce case? After all, judges are human beings, but it is also their job to be impartial. Judges are charged with reviewing the law applicable to a situation and applying that law to the specifics of a case. The law of divorce and family law is found in statutes, Title 25, Rules of Procedure, and the case law interpreting our statutory authority. These statutes and family law procedures help judges determine divorce settlements, custody arrangements, and spousal maintenance and support.

When a Divorce Goes to Trial – What Does a Judge Do?

Divorce cases are heard in front of a judge, not a jury.

Generally, the petitioner goes first in the trial, while the respondent is second.

In most cases, each attorney then presents their closing argument. Here they summarize evidence, facts of the case, applicable case law, and argue why their client’s position should be the order of the court.

Then, the judge reviews all information and issues his or her decision. However, in Arizona, a judge can take up to 60 days from the date of the trial to issue that decision. During the decision process, the judge reviews the presented arguments, evidence, and the applicable law.

It is the judge’s job to come up with a fair and equitable ruling that is also in the best interests of any minor children.

Finalizing Divorce – The Judge’s Role

A divorce is completed in Arizona when the judge signs your Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and the Clerk of the Court enters it. Both steps must be completed to finalize your divorce officially.

The Risks of Taking Your Divorce to Trial

Judges have hundreds, nearly thousands, of cases on their dockets.  They simply cannot dedicate significant time to any one particular case.  In Maricopa County, for example, it is not uncommon for an entire dissolution trial to be heard in only three (3) hours.  Consequently, the more individual issues that can be settled, the better, as this frees up the Judge for the remaining contested issues.  There is also the risk that one or both parties won’t be happy with the final result after a trial.  While there are post-Decree options for relief (i.e. an appeal), this means that your case will continue for months and years before a resolution is reached or finalized.

To explore your options, contact a divorce advocate from Udall Shumway, PLC.

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 How Does a Judge Decide, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Lindsay A.M. Olivarez 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.