Divorce and Legal Separation

Burggraff Tash Levy is experienced in handling everything from a simple dissolution of marriage to complex divorces involving children, division of retirement and investments accounts, businesses, and spousal maintenance (alimony).

If you are considering getting a divorce or are in the middle of one, contact us and schedule a consultation to find out what you are entitled to and how we would handle your case.

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A Bit of Information:

This page is meant to educate you regarding some of the aspects of Divorce and Legal Separation in Arizona. Please understand, this page is intended to be educational only and each case has specific issues that may effect the information below. We recommend you consider discussing your matter with an experienced attorney. Schedule a consultation today to learn about your rights.

Do I Need to Get a Divorce?

In Arizona, generally, you have three options for legally separating from your spouse: Annulment, Legal Separation and Divorce.

Annulment

A person seeking an annulment is asking that the marriage be treated like it never happened. Annulments are not typical and are obtainable when an impediment rendering the marriage void exists. (See A.R.S. §25-301). A few examples of potential grounds for an annulment are misrepresentation, failure to consummate the marriage and incapacity to marry. If you wish to obtain an annulment, we recommend you meet with an experienced family law attorney to discuss this option further. Schedule a consultation with us today to learn more about this option.

Legal Separation

Legal Separation is similar a Divorce in that the marital community is terminated, property will be equitably divided and child custody and support must be decided. But, under a Legal Separation, the couple is still considered married. People seeking a Legal Separation usually do so because of health insurance or religious reasons. Under a legal separation, neither spouse is legally divorced, so they are not able to re-marry. If one spouse contests the legal separation, they can request it be converted into a divorce.

Divorce (Dissolution)

Divorce, known as Dissolution of Marriage, is the most common type of separation sought by individuals. Arizona is a no fault state. A person may obtain a divorce in Arizona if they meet the jurisdictional requirements and the marriage is irretrievably broken (See A.R.S. §25-312). In Arizona, a marriage is irretrievably broken if there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. (See A.R.S. §25-316). Generally, unless you have a specific type of marriage known as a covenant marriage or conciliation is required.

Do I Need an Attorney to Get a Divorce in Arizona?

Parties can and often choose to represent themselves for financial reasons, they want a “quickie divorce” or they feel competent in their ability to navigate the legal system. Representing yourself is an especially attractive thought if the person believes the divorce will be amicable. Self represented parties are able to get forms from the Maricopa County Superior Court Self-Help Center. (See Maricopa County).

However, the forms provided are generic and are not tailored to the unique needs of each case. If a case does not start off on the right foot, it can be difficult and costly to get it back on track and it can greatly affect the outcome of your divorce. People can run into a lot of problems submitting documents they do not fully understand. Forms may even be rejected by the Court if they do not follow the applicable Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure.

The quickest you can get divorced in Arizona is regulated by law and experienced divorce attorney will not unnecessarily delay your matter. In our experience, it is best to at least meet with an attorney. initially, to discuss your matter and prepare the initial documents correctly. Even if you and your spouse agree on everything, it is still a good idea to have an attorney prepare the final documents for you. Incomplete documents can cause chaos in the future and are often expensive to fix. Sometimes, the cost to fix the problem is more expensive than the cost to have an experienced family law attorney draft the documents in the first place.

Many people perceive hiring an attorney as expensive. It does not have to be. If a case is started off right, managed well and the parties are reasonable, a divorce can be over quickly and with limited costs. Our firm offers multiple forms of representation to fit the needs of the specific case and the client. We offer document preparation services, limited scope representation and traditional representation. Call us today to schedule a consultation and find out what option best fits your needs.

What Happens During a Divorce/Legal Separation?

During a Legal Separation or a Divorce, the parties or the Court will decide issues like:

  • Alimony: Known in Arizona as Spousal Maintenance. An award of spousal maintenance is determined by the factors stated in A.R.S. §25-319. This is one of the most highly litigated areas of family law.  due in part to a lack of uniformity in the Judges’ awards of spousal maintenance. An experienced attorney will counsel you on the potential award of spousal maintenance as well as what it could cost to bring the issue to trial.
  • Distribution of Property and Debt: Arizona is a community property state. The courts seek an equitable division of property and debt. Some property, like retirement and investment accounts, can be more complicated to divide given the nature of the account and often require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”).
  • Child Custody and Child Support: Child Custody, known as Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time, and Child Support pose their own additional issues discussed more fully in Child Custody and Child Support.

When Will My Divorce/Legal Separation be Over?

A divorce/Legal Separation is finalized when the Court enters final orders. In order for the Court to enter final orders, a final evidentiary hearing (Trial) must be held and/or the parties have reached an agreement and submitted the appropriate paperwork.

If the parties are unable to reach a full agreement and proceed to a trial the Judge will then make their decision based on the evidence and testimony presented at trial. An experienced family law attorney will tell you, this is the absolute last resort. It is usually best to reach an agreement between the parties. Otherwise, you leave the decision up to the Judge. Plus, trial is stressful. You will likely feel attacked and your spouse will likely feel attacked by you. Neither will leave the courthouse feeling good about what happened.

Your other option is to reach a resolution with your spouse, which the Court encourages. Our firm is settlement focused, but we are prepared to litigate issues to protect the rights of our clients. Settlement negotiations can take the form of settlement letters, informal settlement meetings, alternative dispute resolution and mediation. Schedule a consultation to speak with an attorney to determine the right option(s) for you.