When a couple decides to dissolve their marriage, the first question they ask is how much it costs. Generally, the expenses greatly depend on each specific case, with the relationships between the spouses being a decisive factor that determines the way all the events will advance. Nevertheless, it is quite possible to divorce for cheap in any state if you know where to look for and take the right steps in this process. Another question that would definitely arise is how long does it take to get a divorce. And again, much depends on the circumstances and the couple’s relationship. In case of an amicable marriage dissolution and the parties’ ability to resolve all the disputes and reach marital agreements, they can considerably save their time and money.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Arizona?
As has already been mentioned above, the length of the divorce process hugely depends on a couple and their ability (or desire) to resolve all the possible disputes in a friendly manner. In Arizona, it can take from 60 days to many years in case children and mutual assets are involved while one or both spouses are unreasonably uncooperative. Let’s take a look at the possible options you have and the duration they may take.
Schematically, the statistics on the waiting period for a divorce can be depicted as follows:
But everything, of course, has its own nuances, which we will now consider.
The minimum time your divorce process can last in Arizona is two months. The state requires a waiting period (also known as a “cooling off period“) that lasts 60 days from the date of service or the date of acceptance. The court generously regards this period as a possibility for a couple to save their marriage, which happens very seldom (if ever at all). Thus, the quickest time during which you can get divorced in the state of Arizona is 61 days under the most favorable circumstances.
It can be even quicker in case the partner of a filing spouse does not respond to the papers. After the papers are served, the respondent has 20 or 30 (in case they live outside the state) days to respond to them. However, the responding spouse may sometimes disappear and fail to accept or respond to the papers. Such a scenario ends in a so-called “default divorce,” when the court may grant the divorce petition in just 30 days.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that 60 days are only the waiting period, and even in the most favorable circumstances, some more time may be required for certain procedures like filing the petition, serving the papers, doing all the paperwork, etc., which results in average 90-120 days.
An uncontested divorce is one in which the spouses agree on all the issues, terms, and provisions. They draft a Divorce Settlement Agreement on their own (or with the help of an expert), without the necessity to settle any disagreements or disputes on assets, children, and financial obligations or the involvement of attorneys and lengthy trial processes. Nevertheless, even such a divorce may require certain negotiations as well as other steps like serving papers, responding to the petition, filling in all the forms, drafting agreements, or attending the courtroom for the final decision. On average, the process between filing the petition and finalizing the divorce in Arizona will take from 90 to 120 days. In some cases, it can last to about six months, which is still the quickest you can get.
On the other hand, you can get a cheap divorce in Arizona online, which can help to save even more money and time. In such a case, you may save on lawyer consultations and assistance from other court clerks, for example. However, you must be sure that you can handle all the paperwork on your own properly, without any errors and omissions, to avoid even more wasted time and expenses on correcting such mistakes and doing it all over again.
If you ask how long does it take to get a divorce if it is contested, no one will provide a definite and unambiguous answer. Considering all the issues, facts, and complexities it entails, the process can last from 6-9 months to several years. A contested divorce means that the couple cannot agree amicably on some or all the issues involved and are forced to resolve the disputes in the courtroom. Disagreements that require the interference of attorneys and the court generally include:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Parenting time and visitation
- Spousal support
- Division of marital property
- Division of debt
The resolution of each issue requires a separate hearing. Besides, each of these entails certain paperwork to be done, which is certain to take some amount of time. In extremely complicated cases, when the spouses are too uncooperative or hostile to each other and cannot resolve a single dispute even with the help of attorneys, mediators, and judges quickly, the negotiations on each of these disputes can last for months. Naturally, the divorce process will drag on, draining your savings due to fees for attorneys and additional hearings. Moreover, the court caseload must also be taken into consideration. If the court is overloaded with cases, scheduling the next hearing for tomorrow may be impossible, and the paperwork processing will also require some time. These processes cannot be controlled by the couple, but they usually extend the process immensely.
So, let’s sum up all the possible steps of the most complicated option, which is a contested divorce, and outline an approximate timeline of divorce in Arizona.
Step 1: One of the spouses files a petition – a legal written request to end the marriage. The paperwork must also include (three copies in total):
- Notice of right to convert health insurance
- Joint preliminary injunction
- Creditor notice
- Information on parenting programs (if minor children are involved)
Step 2: The petitioner has 120 days to serve one copy of the papers (the other two are kept by the court and the filing spouse) to the respondent. The notice from the process server informs the court that it was served.
Step 3: The respondent has 20-30 days to respond to the petition. The absence of a response ends with a default divorce (with additional 10 days granted to the respondent).
Step 4: A 60-day waiting period starts, during which the couple can resolve some additional disputes or even reconsider their decision and call off the petition.
Step 5a: If all the issues are agreed upon, the filing spouse writes a Consent Decree that must be signed by the judge or the commissioner.
Step 5b: If by the end of the cooling off period, there are still disputes on property, debt, or children, a trial is scheduled to resolve all the contentions. Scheduling the first hearing may take a few days, a month, or even longer. Everything depends on court rules, set procedures, court caseload, as well as the parties’ availability. Similarly, the number of hearings will depend on the complexity of each dispute and the couple’s cooperativeness.
In addition, check out this infographic:
As You Can See…
…the duration of a divorce process in Arizona is very much dependable on a number of various factors. The marriage can be dissolved as quickly as 30 days in case of a default divorce if the responding party fails to respond to the served papers. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait for at least 60 days in case of an uncontested divorce or to rack your brains over endless disputes on child custody and support, property, debt, and other assets division, and alimony that could last for several years. Perhaps, the most decisive factor in this matter is the couple’s relationship, their readiness to cooperate, and the desire to finalize the process as quickly as possible with small losses in terms of time, expenses, and mental health. Therefore, it is quite difficult to say exactly how long does a divorce take in Arizona. If you and your spouse are reasonable and cooperative enough to end this burden sooner, the entire process should be quite painless for all the parties involved.