Q: Do I need grounds for divorce?
A: Arizona is a "no fault" state. Grounds do not need to be established in order to obtain a divorce.
Q: Do I need to hire an attorney?
A: If your marriage is of short duration, without children, with limited property, and each spouse has the ability to support him or herself, it may be possible to proceed with the divorce without the need for an attorney.
However, it is extremely important that any divorce which involves a marriage of long duration, a significant disparity of income between the parties, substantial property, or the involvement of children should not proceed without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. The failure to do so may result in orders that are not in the best interests of either the children or the parent, and may not have fairly divided the assets and provided appropriately for support.
The failure to properly address the various issues arising in a dissolution proceeding may result in a substantial loss of rights, which may be difficult or impossible to change once the divorce has been granted.
Q: Custody: what factors are considered?
A: The Court is required to make decisions based upon the "best interests" of the child. As a result, there is no limitation as to the factors that may be considered by the Court in making such determination. The most common factors considered by the court include the following:
1. Ages of the children
2. The mental and physical capabilities of each parent
3. The historic involvement of each of the parents
4. The lifestyle of each parent
5. The parents' willingness to include the other parent in the child's life
Q: What are the types of custody?
A: Custody may be awarded solely to one parent or jointly to both parents.
If sole custody is awarded, the parent who has sole custody has the authority to make all necessary decisions on behalf of the children.
For joint custody, the parents must communicate with one another and share in the decision-making process. Often one of the parents may be designated as the "primary custodial parent" and that parent may be authorized to make decisions in the event that the parties disagree.
Q: How is parenting time determined?
A: Parenting time, or visitation, may be determined based upon the historic involvement of the parent, as well as the parents' future availabilities. Parenting time may be extremely limited, and in some cases, supervised, or as broad as to allow for an equal division of time between the parents.
Q: Can I move out of state with my children?
A: Once custody and parenting time has been ordered, neither parent can relocate outside the state with the children without providing written notice to the other parent.
Should the other parent disagree, a petition must be filed with the court and the court is then allowed to make a determination as to whether the relocation of the children will occur, again taking into consideration the "best interests of the children".
Q: Can custody be changed?
A: A parent may file an application with the court if that parent can establish that there has occurred a "substantial and continuing change in circumstances" since the last order entered by the court. Under certain circumstances there may be a waiting period of one year following the entry of the prior order.
Q: Do mothers or fathers generally receive custody?
A: Custody may be awarded to either parent regardless of gender. The primary issue before the court will include the historic involvement of each of the parents and the various issues regarding custody as discussed above.
Q: How is property division handled?
A: Arizona is a community property state. That means that generally assets and debts accumulated during the course of the marriage will be shared equitably, which is usually equally between the spouses. Property acquired prior to the marriage or during the marriage from an inheritance or a gift may constitute separate property.
Q: Will I need to move from my home?
A: During the course of the divorce, the court will attempt to minimize the effects of the divorce on the minor children. Often the children will be allowed to remain in the home along with the parent who is awarded primary custody.
Q: How will child support be determined?
A: Child support will be based upon the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines take into consideration the income of each parent, the expenses for children's medical insurance, day care expenses, and the parenting time division.
Q: Will I get alimony/spousal maintenance?
A: The court considers a number of factors in determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. Those factors include the length of the marriage, the disparity of income, the standard of living during the marriage, the need of the spouse applying for spousal maintenance, and the ability of the other spouse to pay maintenance.
Q: Can I recover my attorney's fees?
A: A spouse may be ordered to contribute to the other spouse's attorney's fees based upon a disparity of income.
A spouse may also be ordered to contribute to the other spouse's attorney's fees if it is found that a spouse has maintained an unreasonable position with respect to the issues raised in the divorce proceeding.