Scottsdale Divorce Lawyers
Our primary goal is to assist you with resolving your divorce efficiently and affordably while protecting your interests. Our Scottsdale divorce attorneys exercise a no-nonsense style of practice. We are upfront and straightforward about the strength of your positions, based on over 50 combined years of experience, so you can make appropriate and informed decisions about your divorce.
How a Scottsdale Divorce Attorney Can Help
At BTL Family Law, we understand the daunting complexity and emotional weight that accompanies divorce proceedings. As a law firm deeply rooted in family law and divorce matters, we adopt an approach that combines candid professionalism with heartfelt empathy. Our primary aim is to provide efficient, affordable legal solutions that protect your best interests.
Our law firm is known for its straightforward practice style, providing you with an honest assessment of your case and enabling you to make informed decisions. However, straightforwardness should not be mistaken for a lack of compassion. We value and respect the gravity of what you are dealing with.
Our family law attorneys listen — to your story, your concerns, your anxieties, and your aspirations. Then, our task is to distill these emotions into actionable legal advice so that you can make decisions that safeguard the welfare of you, your children, and your financial future. We hold fiercely the belief that your resources should be directed towards your children’s well-being and your post-divorce life rather than on unnecessary legal expenditure.
Our compassionate yet realistic approach to family law was established by our founding attorneys, Randi Burggraff, Justin Tash, and Bryan Levy. They envisioned a firm that placed the client at the center, offering impartial advice that considers factors often hidden beneath emotional turbulence. Our guiding conviction is that a client making a well-informed decision — one that considers future prospects, children’s wellbeing, and financial health — ends up more satisfied than one who only hears what they want to hear.
Our approach to practicing family law has earned us the most rewarding accolade — referrals from our clients. To us, it’s not merely a referral — it’s a token of trust, an endorsement from those who intimately understand our commitment to our work. It serves as the most valuable testament to our dedication to family law practice and to you, our valued client. We invite you to experience the dedication of an experienced Scottsdale divorce attorney first-hand.
Overview of Divorce in Arizona
Below, we have created a general and high-level overview of information related to the legal process of divorce in Arizona. Keep in mind that there are exceptions and facts that can change the applicability of the information below. Divorce is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and we recommend you consider meeting with an experienced Scottsdale family law lawyer to discuss your specific situation.
The Arizona Divorce Process
A divorce in Arizona starts with a Petition for Dissolution being filed in the Superior Court; the Petition is served onto the Respondent and generally proceeds by a Response being filed, Disclosure and Discovery being completed, the parties engaging in some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, and then a final resolution occurring. While this is the general process and progression of a case, it is crucial to understand that some of these topics are more fluid and ongoing as opposed to the linear list below. Within the list below, different phases may or may not apply to your case, and there are potential hearings and conferences that may occur in your case that are not identified below. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you navigate each aspect of your divorce.
Initial Petition for Divorce in Arizona
To start a divorce in Arizona, one party must file a Petition for Dissolution with the Superior Court in the appropriate county. A “petition” is the initial pleading that beings a family law case in Arizona. See A.R.F.L.P. Rule 23 Pleadings: Petition and Response. The petition must contain a statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction, a statement of a claim that shows the petitioner is entitled to relief, and a demand for the relief sought. See A.R.F.L.P. Rule 24 Contents of Pleadings.
As it relates to divorce in Arizona, the Petition will contain claims related to the division of community property and debt, spousal maintenance, child issues, and other claims as they relate to the specific facts of the case. The Petition is an important legal document and failure to complete the Petition appropriately can have a negative impact in your case.
Service of Process
Commonly, service is effectuated by the Respondent accepting service or being served by a process server. For more information, see our article on How to Serve Divorce Papers (What and When to Serve).
A Response is a document that substantially answers a petition, and if a person fails to file a Response in a divorce action within the appropriate timeframe, they risk a default judgment being entered against them. See. A.R.F.L.P. Rule 23 Pleadings: Petition and Response.
Generally, if the Petition is served within Arizona, the Respondent must file and serve a response within 20 days after service. If the Petition was served outside of the State of Arizona, the Respondent has 30 days to respond. See A.R.F.L.P. Rule 24.1 Time for Filing and Serving a Response to a Petition for more specific information.
Disclosure and Discovery
Disclosure and Discovery relate to the requirements of parties to exchange documents during the divorce litigation and the tools or mechanisms available for parties to obtain additional information for the divorce case. See Part VII. Disclosure and Discovery for specific rules related to each.
Rule 49 of Arizona Rules of Family Law Procure outlines the mandatory disclosure requirements in an Arizona divorce. This is an important step in a divorce case and quick compliance can go a long way to expediting the case and avoiding increased costs of litigation. For more information, see our article, Rule 49 Arizona Family Law.
Sometimes, additional information is necessary to resolve the divorce. Discovery is a broad term that encompasses the tools and mechanisms that a party can use to obtain that information. Discovery would include things like subpoenas, interrogatories, and depositions. Discovery can significantly increase the costs of litigation, so discuss those increases with your attorney. For more information on Discovery, see our article Sample Divorce Discovery Questions (Real Examples).
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative Dispute Resolution “ADR” is actually a broad term that encompasses several different options for resolving a legal issue without court intervention. This can include informal settlement negotiations, a collaborative law process, and mediation, to name a few options. Typically, ADR is designed to be less adversarial than having a formal evidentiary hearing before the judge in your case.
However, as it relates to divorce in Arizona, when someone references ADR, they are usually specifically referring to a settlement conference before a neutral judge, commissioner, or judge pro tempore. The distinction is important because some forms of ADR may restrict attorneys from being involved, and other forms may grant the facilitator certain powers and abilities. So, if you are discussing attending some form of ADR, be absolutely sure you understand what specifically you are attending.
In our office, we regularly utilize private mediators to help facilitate settlement and resolution of the case. Settlement often offers the best conclusion of a case when considering all of the litigation circumstances. The Arizona Family Law Rules of Procedure also encourage the resolution of divorce and family law matters using non-adversarial means, like ADR. For more related information, see our articles Everything You Need to Know About Divorce Mediation and How to Settle Divorce Out of Court [Tips for Settlement].
Ultimately, divorce cases conclude with a final resolution. Either by Default Decree, Consent Decree, or Decree of Dissolution.
A Default Decree can occur if the Respondent fails to respond to the Petition and the other procedural requirements are met. See A.R.F.L.P. Rule 44 Default.
If the parties reach full agreements on their own, with the assistance of mediation, or with the assistance of some other form of ADR, then they can submit a Consent Decree to the court and finalize their divorce. This is usually the preferred way of finalizing a divorce, but it is not always possible. Sometimes, people need assistance from the court.
The other way a divorce is finalized in Arizona is by Decree of Dissolution. A Decree of Dissolution is entered by the court after a formal evidentiary hearing. The Decree of Dissolution is the judge’s ruling after hearing all of the evidence presented at a formal final trial. Going to a final trial is not always a bad thing. While it is usually not the preferred method of finishing a divorce, sometimes parties need assistance from the court for one reason or another. Sometimes, parties disagree on the application of the law to their facts. But, other times, a party is being unreasonable in their settlement positions, and you have to seek relief from the court. For more information on final trials, review our article What Happens at a Final Divorce Hearing.
Types of Divorce in Arizona
Divorce in Arizona is the dissolution of the marriage and termination of the marital community. In divorce, the court will assign each spouse’s sole and separate property and divide the community property assets and debts equitably without regard to marital misconduct.
Amicable or Uncontested Divorce
People often use the terms amicable and uncontested divorce interchangeably, but they can mean different things. As these terms are commonly used, people mean that their divorce was wanted by both parties, and they settled out of court.
But, in practice, both parties can want the divorce but disagree about the specific provisions. So, the divorce itself isn’t contested while the details of it are, and just because the details of the divorce are contested doesn’t mean the parties are not civil towards one another.
Divorce is an emotional topic, and rightfully so. In most cases, there are ups and downs in the case. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the case and stay on track to an out-of-court resolution.
But, in practice, both parties can want the divorce but disagree about the specific provisions. So, the divorce itself isn’t contested while the details of it are, and just because the details of the divorce are contested, doesn’t mean the parties are not civil towards one another.
Divorce is an emotional topic, and rightfully so. In most cases, there are ups and downs in the case. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you navigate the case and stay on track to an out-of-court resolution.
Contested or High Conflict Divorce
While there can be a bit of misunderstanding when someone refers to an amicable or uncontested divorce, there is usually no misunderstanding when someone refers to their divorce as contested or high conflict. People typically mean it is a nasty divorce with high legal fees.
In a contested divorce, having legal representation is important. An experienced attorney can work to get the case back on track and toward an amicable resolution. Suppose the case is too high a conflict, and an amicable resolution is not likely. In that case, an experienced attorney can work to reduce conflict (and legal fees) where possible while still working to protect your rights.
Especially in these cases, hiring an experienced divorce attorney is important. An experienced attorney can work to get the case back on track and toward an amicable resolution. Suppose the case is too high conflict, and an amicable resolution is not likely. In that case, an experienced attorney can work to reduce conflict (and legal fees) where possible while still working to protect your rights.
Parenting Time and Legal Decision-Making – Child Custody
Parenting Time and Legal Decision-Making make up what is commonly referred to as Child Custody in other jurisdictions. Parenting Time is the time the children actually spend with the parent. Legal Decision-Making is the specific designation of how major decisions for the child(ren) will be made. Arizona has essentially three designations for Legal Decision-Making:
- Sole Legal Decision-Making;
- Joint Legal Decision-Making; and
- Joint Legal Decision-Making with one parent having the final say authority.
The court determines the award of legal decision-making and parenting time in accordance with the best interests of the child. The court uses the factors identified in A.R.S. §25-403 in the determination. Be sure to discuss your case with an experienced divorce and family law lawyer. These are important issues, and you want to ensure that orders are being entered in the best interests of the children; the lawyer’s experience can be very helpful in these family law cases.
Child Support in Arizona is the amount of money reasonable and necessary for the support of the child. Child support is ordered in accordance with the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. You can find the current version of the Child Support Calculator and the current version of the Child Support Guidelines at Arizona Judicial Branch Child Support and Family Law.
Application of the guidelines can be a bit complicated in some situations. Consult with an experienced divorce law attorney to discuss how the guidelines apply and what figures to include in the child support calculator.
Community Property vs Separate Property
Generally, in Arizona, community property is all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, with the exception of property that is acquired by gift, devise, or descent and property acquired after service of the Petition for Dissolution. See A.R.S. §25-211.
Generally, in Arizona, a spouse’s real and personal property that is owned prior to marriage and that is acquired during marriage by gift, devise, or descent is that spouse’s separate property. See A.R.S. §25-213.
We emphasize the word generally in both definitions above. This is an important issue that should be discussed with an experienced divorce lawyer in relation to your specific facts. There are multiple issues not identified in the generic definition provided above. There may be exceptions, community interest, community liens, preservation issues, or other entitlements depending on the case’s specific facts.
Division of Community Assets, Debts, and Property
In Arizona, community assets, debts, and property are divided equitably but not necessarily 50/50. Because Arizona is a community property state, property division during a divorce seems simple, but it can actually be complicated. For more information, see our article Handling Complex Property Division Determinations in Arizona.
As mentioned in the paragraph above, there can be issues determining what community property is and what separate property is, whether separate property maintains its character, whether the community has a lien on the separate property, as well as what the equitable division is in a specific case. An experienced divorce attorney can guide you in how this information is actually applied by the court.
If they follow certain requirements, an Arizona prenuptial agreement will be considered valid, and the family law courts will enforce it. If you want assistance creating a prenuptial agreement, your Scottsdale family law lawyer can help you create a valid document.
You can use a prenuptial agreement to protect your real estate, retirement, or other assets. You can also make an agreement before you marry about the limits of any future spousal maintenance.
Experienced and Respected Divorce Attorneys in Scottsdale, AZ
BTL Family Law was founded in 2017 and is located in Scottsdale, Arizona. At BTL Family Law, we understand how impactful divorce is. Divorce is intensely personal, and you need the right attorney to help you navigate it.
While some firms have several practice areas, we focus on divorce and the other aspects of family law. Our Scottsdale divorce lawyers want to help families get through the Arizona divorce process and move past it to a new, successful life.
Our Reputation in The Community
I googled divorce attorney, read some reviews and I chose Burggraff Tash Levy. I appreciate the knowledge and support given to me during an unexpected and emotionally traumatic divorce. My attorney Bryan Levy was trustworthy, reliable and a quality attorney. I felt well represented. Bryan addressed all my concerns and explained what to expect and the possible risks throughout the process. Every email and phone call was answered in a timely manner. Bryan worked very diligently to the end and I’m so grateful and happy with the outcome. Highly recommend!!! – A.W.
“I’m truly grateful for finding Randi and choosing BTL to represent me through my years of litigation in family court. I couldn’t imagine going through all that without her compassion, dedication, and tenacity to ensure I always had the strongest possible case.” – C.P.
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Take Control and Protect Your Future
The lawyers at Burggraff Tash Levy know that choosing the right divorce attorney is a personal matter. This is why you will never feel any pressure during your consultation. We are here to answer your questions, discuss your options, and help you understand your rights. If we represent you in your divorce, our lawyers will guide you through every step of the process as efficiently as possible. Our family law firm works to keep costs low so that you can start this new chapter in your life in the best position possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce in Arizona
No. Arizona does not require a reason to divorce. Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state meaning that parties do not have to prove any wrongdoing of the other party to obtain a divorce. Instead, to obtain a divorce in Arizona, the court must find that the jurisdictional requirements have been met, that the marriage is irretrievably broken, as well as a couple of other findings identified in A.R.S. §25-312. A finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken is a determination that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. There are some additional requirements if you have a covenant marriage.
No. Both parties do not have to agree to a divorce in Arizona. The court does need to make a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken but if the parties do not agree, there is relief in the law that allows the divorce to proceed so long as one party affirms that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Anywhere from sixty (60) days to a couple of years. The answer largely depends on the parties and their ability to cooperate in the litigation. If parties have full agreements on all issues, the soonest the court can enter a Consent Decree is sixty (60) days after service of the Petition for Dissolution. In other cases, if parties can complete disclosure quickly and get into divorce mediation, a case can usually be resolved in 4 – 6 months. Issues with discovery and disclosure, parties unwilling to settle, and complicated issues needing extended trial time can all create situations where cases take eight months to a couple of years. However, your counsel and the court will actively work to keep the case moving forward.
Community property is subject to equitable division in an Arizona divorce. That does not necessarily mean that it will be split 50/50. Rather, the court looks at what is an equitable division of what is considered community property.
Consider at least having a consultation with an attorney experienced in Arizona divorce. Divorce can be more complicated than people think, and there are issues that, if not correctly pleaded, could be lost. Consider consulting with an attorney before handling a divorce on your own to make sure you are proceeding appropriately.
Community debt is subject to an equitable division in an Arizona divorce. Like property, that does not necessarily mean the debt will be divided exactly 50/50. Instead, the court looks at what an equitable division of the community debt is.
No, Arizona does not require legal separation before one party files for divorce. Legal separation before a divorce can become a factor if the parties have a covenant marriage.
Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. You should think about what is the best divorce lawyer for you and your case. There are many factors to consider: do they have experience in the specific divorce issues or your case, can you afford their billing structure, and does their style of practice match your expectations? You can also check out their reviews online.
Assuming they have the appropriate experience as a divorce lawyer, we think one of the most critical factors is their communication with you and whether you feel comfortable speaking with them. This is a deeply personal decision, and there needs to be a solid attorney-client relationship, so consider meeting with more than one attorney before making your decision. For additional information, see our articles 10 Questions to Ask Your Divorce Attorney at the First Visit and How to Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer [What To Look For]. Also, if you prefer female representation, read our team spotlight on Female Divorce Lawyers.
Experienced, Compassionate Divorce Lawyers Representing Clients in Scottsdale, AZ and Throughout Maricopa County
If you live in the area of Scottsdale or Phoenix, Arizona, our divorce and Scottsdale divorce attorneys can help you with all legal matters related to divorce and custody.
Call our law office today at (480) 307-6800 to schedule your initial consultation, whether you are still just seeking general information or ready to move forward.
BTL Family Law – Scottsdale Office
8980 E Raintree Dr #110
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
P: (480) 307-6800