Every state has its own laws dealing with divorce. Arizona is like some states and different from others. It’s important to know the basics if you think it’s your next step. If you don’t live there already, be aware that there is a six-month waiting period before a new Arizonan can file for divorce.
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What are the Grounds for Divorce?
Arizona is one of only three states that have a separate divorce system for covenant marriages. In these situations, a person would have to prove abandonment, adultery, or substance abuse. They can also divorce by mutual agreement.
However, most married people in Arizona will divorce under the regular no-fault clause. This simply requires one person to declare that the marriage cannot be saved. They can file for divorce, but they need to do so in the county where they live.
For some, the no-fault clause is a disappointment. They may want to prove that their spouse has been cheating. This may factor into the proceedings, but it isn’t a deciding factor anymore when it comes to how property is divided or how custody is decided.
Does the Judge Divide Up Property?
Most states are equitable distribution states. This gives the court more leeway in deciding how to divide property and assets.
However, Arizona is a community property state. This means basically that anything acquired during the divorce is subject to being divided equally. That means it will be split 50/50 without much discussion.
This can become a big point of disagreement as the parties seek to prove or disprove that the property should be declared the couple’s or the individual’s. This includes income, bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, cars, and homes.
Adding to the complications, the 50/50 split also applies to debts. The division can be especially difficult when there is a family-owned business involved.
Many divorces that start off relatively amicable can fall apart at this point in the process. It is common for this to move into mediation rather than going before a judge. If the divorce does wind up in court, then the judge will make the final decision on how property is divided. Still, it will have to follow the general 50/50 rule.
If there’s a prenuptial agreement, you’d think it would be straightforward. However, it often is contested, and arguments over the meaning of the agreement may be made.
A cheating spouse does not directly factor into property splits. However, there are ways that an Arizona divorce attorney may be able to discuss this when dealing with issues of income or quality of life.
How is Child Support Decided?
Like 39 other states, Arizona utilizes an income shares model. The formula looks at the gross income of each parent. Then, to that, basic expenses may be added. This includes expensive items like healthcare insurance, school fees, and daycare. Then, to complicate the formula even further, the court may prorate the amount based on the number of days that the child will spend with the noncustodial parent.
With all of these factors in play, there is no set formula with which to calculate your child support. This can be very frustrating as you start into the process.
50/50 custody has become appealing to many working parents. In this arrangement, the parents have the children every other week.
How is Alimony Decided?
Well, this is where it gets even more complicated. Whereas child support is based on a strict formula, alimony is based more loosely on things like standard of living. Mediators and judges may look at the length of the marriage and dependency factors such as stay-at-home moms or disabled husbands.
There is no guarantee that a wife will receive alimony in this day and age. The most likely person to receive alimony is someone who has been married for many years to someone who has a much higher income. The court is unlikely to impose alimony on a person who doesn’t make much money.
As you can see, the path to alimony isn’t a straight one. For some, the money it would take to fight for alimony in court is more than their alimony would be worth. For others, the amount they would gain through alimony will more than pay for the cost of the legal fight.
How Can You Save on Divorce in Arizona?
The best way to save money on a divorce in Arizona is to reach an agreement before you go to court. In this way, Arizona divorces are in keeping with the current national trend. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t hire a lawyer to protect your interests and to argue your case.
To allow arbitration to work, you may have to put aside any grievances or ego. You also need to be strong and steady. That’s why you will need an attorney to make the best possible case for the best possible outcome.
A really messy mediation can end up in court. That’s a good incentive for you to come to an agreement through your lawyers. If it goes before a judge, the arguments will have to adhere even more closely to the law. It is likely that no one will be happy.
Divorces are emotional and complicated for most people, whether they live in Arizona or anywhere else in the world. The goal should be to enter the process knowing as much as possible. A good divorce attorney can explain your rights and responsibilities in detail.