How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Arizona?
The end of a marriage is painful, often agonizing. Going through a divorce adds insult to injury. Most people dread the procedure, especially because they know it could take a long time. Divorce in Arizona can be uncomplicated if the couple is going through uncontested divorce. Otherwise, finalizing the separation will take a bit longer. Here’s the typical duration of divorce proceedings in Arizona and the factors that could contribute to a longer process.
Average Divorce Proceedings Duration
Keep in mind that no two divorces are alike. While Arizona is a no fault state and anyone could file for divorce without having to prove the other party’s contribution to the dissolution of the marriage, several processes could complicate things. Child custody considerations and the division of assets are the two parts of the divorce that could increase the amount of time from filing to finalization.
Arizona has a mandatory waiting period of 60 days before the divorce is finalized. If neither spouse contests the divorce, this is the amount of time that it takes for the legal dissolution of the marriage to occur.
This “cooling off” period is needed to file the initial papers and to allow the other party to eventually respond. After being served with divorce papers, a spouse has 20 days to respond to the petition for dissolution of marriage.
Whenever no response is received, the divorce will be granted within the 60-day period. If a response is filed, the couple will be left with either reaching an agreement and finalizing the divorce or going to court to address issues that cannot be dealt with effectively.
Contested Divorce: A Much Longer Procedure
The above situation describes the perfect scenario in which both parties agree to the divorce and its conditions. Unfortunately, things tend to get a lot messier in real life and divorces cannot be finalized within the 60-day period.
A contested divorce is one in which the two former spouses cannot agree on the asset division, alimony, child custody and other important elements of the divorce. Because an agreement cannot be reached, the court will have to get involved. Obviously, such a procedure will increase the amount of time required for the legal dissolution of the marriage.
In the case of a contested divorce in Arizona, the first 60 days will have to pass once again. Next, a trial scheduling will have to take place. The date of the trial will depend on the complexity of the issues that have to be resolved in court, the need for expert involvement and evaluations, as well as the availability of a scheduling opportunity.
The process is more or less simple. Whenever two former spouses cannot reach an agreement out of court, the clerk’s office will automatically refer the case for assignment to an available Arizona judge. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled. The aim of the hearing is to allow both sides to present their side of the story.
In the case of remaining divorce terms that have to be addressed, the judge may decide to send the two partners to mediation or Conciliation Court. Both of these opportunities are aimed at allowing the former spouses to reach an agreement in order to finalize the dissolution.
Reaching an agreement at this stage signifies the end of the process. Sometimes, however, mediation will be ineffective. If it fails, a final court date will be scheduled. This is when all remaining issues will be addressed to enable the couple to move forward with the divorce.
If you have to go to court, make sure that you have a good lawyer. At this stage, the divorce process can get really ugly. Having an experienced legal representative will be the key to ensuring a good future for yourself and anyone who may be dependent on you.