Question

How long does a divorce take in Arizona?

William D. Bishop - Family Law - Super Lawyers

Answered by: William D. Bishop

Bishop Law Office, P.C.
Phoenix, AZ
Phone: 602-749-8500
Fax: 602-749-8502

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Answer

The short answer to the question “how long does it take to get a divorce in Arizona”  is anywhere from 61 days to as much as a couple years or more. Some divorces have more issues than others, and may require more work and time to complete. The average “semi-contested” divorce generally takes between six months and one year.

  • Some divorces often have many issues such as parenting issues, child support, spousal maintenance, values of property and businesses, concealed assets, wasted community property (as a result of affairs, substance abuse, fraudulent transfers, reckless investments, etc.), and numerous other matters. More involved divorces may require valuations of businesses, real estate and other assets, and may involve financial experts.
  • If you and your spouse agree to all terms, you can present the final documents to the court as soon as 61 days after the responding party was served or accepted service of process. If the final documents are properly presented to the court, the court generally signs off on the divorce within a few days to a couple of weeks. To obtain this type of uncontested divorce, the parties (on their own or through attorneys) will pre-draft the documents necessary to obtain their divorce, including a divorce decree (also called a decree of dissolution of marriage), a marital settlement agreement if desired, and a parenting plan if the parties have one or more minor children. If everything is agreed to, you may be able to obtain your divorce without ever stepping foot in a courtroom.
  • In many cases, at least some disclosure and discovery is necessary in order to confirm that all community assets and debts have been identified, and that other relevant information is obtained. The Arizona rules require certain types of disclosures depending on the issues before the court. If the parties both have adequate knowledge of their assets and debts and trust the other party, the parties are able to waive the disclosure requirements. However, most attorneys feel that it is important to obtain confirmation in writing that all assets and debts are disclosed in writing and under oath. If the other party engages in fraud, and you sign off on consent documents, you may only have six months under the family law procedural rules to discover the fraud and do anything about it.

How To Choose An Attorney If You Need One

A good attorney will take the necessary action to move your case forward so that you can get on with your life, while also protecting your best interests and ensuring that all necessary confirmations have been made, and helping you settle the issues, if possible, at the earliest stage that makes sense in your case.

  • You can always settle your case on your own, and obtain a divorce without an attorney. There are forms that you can obtain through the Superior Court of Arizona website (self-service center) to help you do this. Keep in mind that you can always consult an attorney for a small fee and obtain guidance without actually hiring them to do everything in your case.
  • If you do retain an attorney, you should think long and hard about the attorney you retain. Some people want to hire what is often referred to as a “junk yard dog.” Keep in mind that vicious dogs will sometimes bite their owners (or clients). Moreover, the judges know what attorneys can be less than candid with the court, and lose trust in those types of attorneys. Hire an attorney who is professional, settlement-minded, who investigates potential compromises that still serve your interests, who desires that you save attorney fees where possible, is efficient, but that knows when to be assertive and is not afraid to go to trial and fight for your rights if necessary.

Attorney advertising is becoming more and more difficult to sort through to find an attorney most competent to handle your case. Many “top attorney” designations are paid for by the law firm. The designations and credentials that are best known are Martindale-Hubbell, Certified Specialist through the State Bar of Arizona, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers. All of these designations are based in part upon recommendations made by other attorneys and judges as opposed to paid-for, self-promotion sites. Finally, always check to see whether the attorney you are considering hiring has been disciplined by the State Bar of Arizona.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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