Divorce can be very stressful or surprisingly simple, it can be quick or it can take a very long time, and it can be very expensive or inexpensive. While every divorce has it’s own unique circumstances, there is a basic process that will be followed in dissolving a marriage. Your experience going through this process will depend on your own situation. Consulting a family lawyer who is familiar with Arizona state law is very important.
Temporary Orders and Filing Papers
After you have agreed to separate, you need to do is hire the right professional help, the first step in the divorce process. Having the right team on your side from the beginning can save money and give you peace of mind. You will need a family lawyer and/or mediator as well as a Certified Divorce Financial AnalystTM (CDFATM).
Then, you and your spouse will need to come to an agreement on interim arrangements. This agreement needs to address things like child custody, bank accounts, property and living arrangements during the separation until the final decision. If you cannot agree you can get a temporary order from the courts. At this time you can also request restraining orders if needed. The terms of your temporary order should be considered carefully as this may set precedents for the final divorce settlement.
Next, you or your spouse will file an application for divorce with your local family court. Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you do not have to justify a divorce by accusing your spouse of wrongdoing.
After the immediate terms of separation have been settled the process of discovery begins. Discovery is gathering information about the marriage, property, finances, children and other issues, for the lawyers or mediators to determine a fair settlement. It is important to collect as much specific information and documentation as possible, especially regarding your finances. Your CDFA will guide you through this process and help you determine the kind of financial settlement you need.
Contested or Uncontested?
You and your spouse may have come to an amicable parting of ways and be in agreement about how to divide your assets and handle custody of your children. This would be an uncontested divorce, which is simpler and much faster. If you cannot agree on the terms, or one spouse does not want to divorce, this becomes a contested divorce.
If the divorce is contested you will have to decide on how you will resolve the divorce. Mediation, arbitration and Collaborative Divorce work to resolve conflicts in a cooperative way. These methods can be very effective and beneficial for all parties involved, with less stress and expense. When negotiation and cooperation are not possible you will need to go through litigation and finally to trial. In court, you will each testify before the judge or jury. You will be asked questions by your lawyer and then cross-examined by your spouse’s lawyer. Divorce trials are generally unpleasant and can take a very long time.
When everything has been decided, either through mediation or by the courts, the judge receives all the final papers. The judge then signs the official document that ends the marriage and you are officially divorced. In Arizona there is a waiting period of 6 weeks from filing the divorce petition before the judge can grant the official Divorce Decree.
The divorce process is difficult to go through. It can be expensive and very disruptive to the families involved. However, it is possible to proceed through divorce in an amicable way and get through it quickly, which is better for everyone. Getting the right professional help from counselors, lawyers, mediators and Certified Divorce Financial AnalystsTM will help put you on the right path to your new future.