Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial Statistics 2022

Prenuptial agreements, more commonly known as prenups, are becoming increasingly more common, especially here in Arizona. Prenups are incredibly helpful legal agreements future partners can draw up together before getting married.

What Do Prenups Do?

In one sense, divorce in America has been on a steady decline for the last two decades, falling from a high of 4 divorces per 1,000 people to 2.3 in 2020—though the COVID-19 pandemic may have skewed numbers in that year.

However, the number of divorces per the number of marriages has stayed fairly steady. As a result, people are frequently anxious about what could happen if their marriage were to end. In particular, many people worry about what may happen to their assets and finances if they should divorce. A prenuptial agreement can help to ease some of that anxiety by making some essential decisions before divorce does occur.

Some of the most important things a prenup can do include the following:

Pre-Arrange Financial Matters

Many couples decide to get a prenup to protect their finances as well as set expectations for how their finances will be handled throughout their relationship. A prenup can outline, for example, if the couple will be using a joint bank or savings account. This helps to prevent conflict about how money is spent and shared. Some people also use their prenups to detail how assets and debt will be split if they are acquired during marriage, especially if the intent is to divide them in a way that does not align with Arizona community property guidelines.

Assign Separate Property Before Marriage

One of the most frequent worries partners experience, especially if it’s not their first marriage, is losing property they had before they got married. Because Arizona follows community property laws, everything acquired during a marriage is subject to equal division in divorce. A prenup can preempt this property division by outlining “separate property,” or property that was owned by each person before the marriage. This way, if one partner enters the marriage with valuable assets, a prenup can prove that it was owned individually before the marriage occurred.

Protect Partners Individually

Prenups can protect a variety of assets, physical property, finances, children, inheritances, and more. However, prenups can provide a great deal of protection for both parties involved, regardless of their personal wealth before the marriage. For a prenuptial agreement to become legally enforceable, it must be fair to both partners. For example, prenups can outline spousal support obligations to support a lower-earning spouse who may have left their job or stopped career training to care for children. The best part about prenuptial agreements is that they can be crafted to fit you and your partner’s unique wants and needs, no matter your financial situation.

Protect Children

Another important property of a prenup is that it can be used to protect children. Many partners seek prenups to make sure that any children they have during the marriage will continue to be supported by their wealthier partner after a divorce. People that have children from previous marriages may worry about protecting their children financially in the event of a divorce. A prenup can help to outline aspects such as spousal support and potential child support as well as detail important assets that may belong to the children. For example, a prenup can protect your child’s future inheritance by stating it goes directly to them.

The Benefits of Using a Prenup

The Benefits of Using a Prenup

Getting a prenup with your partner before you get married comes with a great deal of benefits, including:

Ensures Fairness

Sometimes, when a marriage ends poorly, the divorce process can be long, emotional, and difficult. Many people deal with consistent disagreements with their soon-to-be-ex-partners and find themselves in prolonged divorce litigation to settle each of them. A prenup can not only help with these disagreements, but it will also ensure that your assets are divided fairly as the divorce is finalized. Community property laws state that everything that was acquired during a marriage must be split equally. A prenup can help you ensure that you define separate property in advance and protect both spouses regardless of their earnings during the marriage.

Makes Divorce a Bit Less Complicated

Getting divorced is never easy, whether or not the relationship is ending on good terms. Having a prenuptial agreement in place can help make the process smoother and less stressful for all parties involved. When drafting a prenup, both parties can express their needs, expectations, priorities, and more. If a divorce does occur, many of the most complicated aspects of separation have already been addressed.

Provides Peace of Mind

Whether it’s your first marriage or your third marriage, a prenuptial agreement can help provide both partners with some peace of mind before, during, and after the marriage. Many people are afraid of losing critical assets if a marriage ends, which is why a prenuptial agreement can lessen some of that anxiety. As mentioned, outlining the division of assets ahead of time can provide much-needed peace of mind no matter the success of the marriage.

Current Divorce Rates

In 2020, over 1,600,000 marriages occurred across the country. As of 2021, the national divorce rate of the United States moved to just above 40%. For the past decade, that number has varied between 40-50%, meaning that almost half of marriages in the US ended in divorce during that time. For people in a second or third marriage, these rates often jump even higher.

According to the CDC’s latest report on marriages and separations, roughly 2.3 out of every 1,000 people are currently divorced in America. These figures can seem daunting for many couples, especially those who recently married and are hoping for the best. The divorce rate is consistently cited as a factor contributing to the growing use of prenuptial agreements around the country.

In Arizona, the marriage rate sits below the national average, at 4.9 weddings for every thousand people. This rate appears to be falling in recent years, and is currently 34th in the nation. By contrast, Arizona ranks 11th for total divorces, though the divorce rate per thousand people is on par with the marriage rate in the state.

Divorces in Arizona
Source: Strictly Weddings

Prenuptial Statistics

Prenuptial agreements can provide a sense of security for couples embarking on a marital journey, especially regarding their financial futures. While prenuptials aren’t as commonly used as you might think, they are becoming more common. Here are some statistics regarding the current use of prenups in the US and here in Arizona.

National Prenuptial Statistics

  • While prenuptial agreements can be incredibly helpful, it has been found that they are only used in about 10% of marriages.
  • Just over 10% of people believe that there is a possibility their marriage might end, despite consistently high divorce rates.
  • Almost 50% of unmarried people believe prenups can be helpful.
  • Despite their beneficial properties, most people polled had negative connotations regarding asking for or drafting a prenup
  • 63% of people said they would feel intimidated or at a higher risk for divorce if their partner asked them to sign a prenup.
  • Roughly 15% of people who were recently divorced wished they had crafted a prenuptial agreement.
  • Over 50% of divorce lawyers noted that they’ve seen an increase in demand for prenuptial agreements.
  • More people are getting married later in life, which may contribute to the rising use of prenups in America.
  • Drafting a prenuptial agreement is much less expensive than going through litigation and lawyers because of disagreements in a divorce.

Arizona Prenuptial Statistics

  • As of 2020, the divorce rate in Arizona was higher than the national average.
  • In 2020, Arizona had the 23rd highest divorce rate in the country. In 2022, it is now 14th.
  • As of 2022, roughly 12% of people in Arizona were divorced.
  • Arizona’s divorce rate sits at 2.9 people out of every 1,000 people according to a 2020 report by the CDC.
  • In the past 2 years, Arizona has also recorded some of its lowest marriage rates in decades.
  • In Arizona, only around 5% of people have created or used prenups.
  • However, in the past few years, Arizona has experienced a gradual increase in the creation of prenuptial agreements.
  • Because Arizona is a community property state, most people who created prenups to define separate property report being happy they did so.

Arizona Prenuptial Statistics

Help You Can Trust For Prenuptial Agreements in Arizona

Drafting, creating, and implementing any form of legal document is not an uncomplicated process, especially if you have minimal legal experience. However, retaining an attorney is not always feasible, especially in the time leading up to an important event like a marriage. Here at Draft My Legal Docs, our legal experts specialize in writing and reviewing legal documents of all types, including prenuptial agreements.

Our team of licensed attorneys can not only help you prepare and create a draft of your prenup, but also assist you throughout the filing process to prevent any issues from arising. Marriage, divorce, and the documents that come along with them are complex, so let Draft My Legal Docs help you through it. To learn more about our services and how we can assist you, contact our team today.

Sources

  1. https://time.com/nextadvisor/in-the-news/why-you-need-a-prenup/
  2. https://www.mediate.com/prenuptial-agreements-what-do-the-statistical-trends-say-2/
  3. https://pub.azdhs.gov/health-stats/menu/info/trend/index.php?pg=marriages
Facts About Arizona Family Court and Family Law

Facts About Arizona Family Court and Family Law

Arizona Family Court is a branch of civil court, meaning that the court does not handle instances in which people break criminal laws. Instead, family court handles civil disputes between people who are related to one another. Family court must interpret family law to settle these disputes.

Family court applies family law to determine physical custody of children after a divorce, adoption and even cases of child abduction. Family court can also interpret family law to determine which legal rights or responsibilities a person has for another family member, as in legal decision making responsibilities for children after a divorce or even spousal support/alimony. These are only some of the ways family law can affect Arizona family dynamics.

As a result, Arizona Family Court deals with a number of case types, including:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
  • Alimony/Spousal support
  • Division of property in divorce
  • Adoption and foster care
  • Child custody and legal decision making responsibilities
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Elder exploitation and abuse

Facets of Arizona Family Law

There are many aspects of family court that affect Arizona families. Here are some of the most important facets of family law.

Divorce

The impacts of divorce on the family dynamic are significant, and they can have long-term effects on everyone involved—particularly the children of the couple. Often, too, a divorce is not only a divorce, but a mix of several areas of family law.

These can include visitation rights, child custody and legal decision making rights, alimony or spousal support, and child support.

  • In 2019, the average rate of marriage in Arizona was 5.4 per 1,000 people and the divorce rate was 3 per every 1,000 people.
  • The average Arizona divorce rate was 56% as of 2019.
  • According to the 2016 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of people at the time of their first marriage increased by two years between 2008 and 2016.
  • There were over half a million divorces in the U.S. in 2021, according to CDC data.

Termination of Parental Rights and Adoption

Termination of adoptions and termination of parental rights are actions that, together, work to sever legal ties between adopted persons and their adoptive families. This action is also referred to as “relinquishment.” This action can be brought to AZ family court by the adopted family member or the adoptive parents, and usually comes as a result of disagreements about biological family members. The case can also be the result of concerns about the manner in which the adopted child was raised by their adopted family, including concerns involving physical abuse. These concerns often relate to issues that would make it difficult for the child to form future relationships.

Though the parties bringing this case to family court may feel they have no other options, family law attorneys take care to request that all parties involved carefully consider the decision. Relinquishment is irreversible and there is no potential to reconcile at a later date if disagreements are resolved. if parental rights are terminated, all legal ties are severed and the adoption decree is void.

Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders

In family law, a restraining order—also known as a protective order—is utilized to keep people safe from physical or emotional harm at the hands of another person. If the danger is immediate, the person at risk should contact an Arizona family law attorney. An attorney can request an emergency protective order to prevent whoever is harming or threatening to harm a person from doing so.

A restraining order could entail many actions, including ordering the threatening party to stay away from the victim’s place of residence and job, or ordering them to refrain from contacting the person by phone or any other means. If the risk will continue into the foreseeable future, a family law attorney can seek a long-term protective order that will last until a trial can take place. This is often necessary if the situation will remain dangerous for the person even after a divorce or other family court matter is complete.

Child Custody and Visitation

Child Custody and Visitation

Typically, parents create a parenting plan, including child custody and visitation decisions, and present it to the court for approval. If they are unable to do so, the court makes the final decision. The court determines legal decision making rights and physical custody according to the best interests of the child or children.

When a parent takes their custody case to family court, it’s generally with the end goal of gaining full and sole physical and legal custody, allowing the other parent only supervised visitation. Sometimes, the other parent desires full and sole physical and legal custody, as well. However, Arizona Family Court begins with the assumption of joint custody, and determines adjustments to custody according to the child’s best interests. A parent requesting sole custody must provide evidence parenting rights for their ex-partner are not in the child’s best interests, such as evidence of substance misuse or child abuse.

Paternity

Arizona Family Court often determines the biological parentage of a child, usually for custody or child support purposes. Often, proof of paternity becomes necessary when the parents were not married at the time of conception or the child is conceived outside of a marriage.

However, paternity can be either presumed or biological in the eyes of Arizona Family Court. Presumed paternity refers to the idea that if a child is conceived during a marriage, the male partner is presumed to be the father. Evidence must be provided to prove this isn’t true. Legal presumptions also apply to family members who financially rely on one other as they work for financial freedom from their families.

Biological paternity in family law is determined as the result of a legal action, which seeks to determine the genetic father of the child. In Arizona, a party must provide evidence regarding why a biological paternity case should be issued. However, the way paternity laws function across state lines may be different. Be sure to speak with an experienced family law attorney if you intend to initiate a biological paternity case or are dealing with a paternity case across state lines.

Juvenile Law Matters

This refers to any family law matter that involves minors who have not reached the age of eighteen in Arizona. Juvenile matters include many facets of family law, such as child custody and visitation conflicts, as well as child abuse and neglect. Juvenile matters also include temporary guardianship, or dependency, which refers to a party needing support from someone until they are an adult. This can apply in cases where parents have lost rights to their children.

Juvenile matters can also involve truancy and juvenile delinquency. Juvenile probation, supervision, and even juvenile custody are handled by family court. Minors cannot be prosecuted by adult criminal court, except under exceptional circumstances. As a result, Arizona Family Court handles most juvenile cases.

Division of Property

Legal property division ties in with Arizona divorce. It’s a complex process that addresses a number of extenuating factors to best distribute marital debts and assets between two people who are separating. In most cases, a divorcing couple either determines property and debt division prior to the divorce hearing, or accepts the equal division of community property as prescribed by the state of Arizona.

If no such agreement is possible, Arizona family court makes decisions for the division of property based on the best interests of the family, according to community property guidelines. Typically, this means both parties receive roughly half of all assets and debts obtained during the marriage. This, of course, can be very difficult to do in a way that pleases all parties involved, as people often come out of a divorce feeling as if they deserve a larger portion of the assets. It can be helpful to have a family law attorney by your side to represent your interests and help you retain what you deserve.

Why Do I Need to Understand AZ Family Law?

Understanding AZ Family Law

Family law in Arizona provides a framework upon which Arizona Family Court makes just decisions regarding family disputes. In this way, family law protects mothers and fathers from unfair treatment in child custody disputes, advocates for the best interests of children in all matters, and ensures that the interests of all parties are considered in divorce, custody, support, and property division cases. Family law works to create safe home environments and protect the most vulnerable among us.

Is Collaborative Divorce the Right Choice?

Collaborative Divorce Mediation: Is it the Right Choice for You?

A collaborative divorce, or collaborative divorce meditation, is an excellent way to work through dissolving your marriage in a way that allows you to focus on working together privately. With collaborative divorce, dissolving your marriage doesn’t have to be contentious or drawn out in litigation.

Instead, a collaborative approach can help you get through divorce without the court’s interference for the bulk of the process. Here we will discuss the benefits of taking a unified approach to divorce, who collaborative divorce is suitable for, and what a collaborative divorce entails in the state of Arizona.

Who Should Consider a Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce is an excellent option for people who do not wish to engage in lengthy divorce proceedings through the court. Using a collaborative approach to your divorce will help you avoid hashing out your issues in court, which costs time, effort and money. With a collaborative divorce meditation, you can stay on top of the process and have your attorney assist you with the various legal aspects of ending your marriage.

If you want a divorce that focuses on team effort and leaves out the drawn-out legalities, a collaborative divorce is the way to go. You and your soon to be ex-spouse can work through mediation with the shared goal of parting ways in an amicable manner.

What Makes Collaborative Divorce a Good Option?

Collaborative divorce mediation is a good option for several key reasons. We’ve listed the most common reasons people choose collaborative divorce.

You Can Avoid Lengthy Litigation

This benefit has been discussed above, but it is important to stress that collaborative divorce mediation keeps your divorce proceedings in your hands. In traditional divorce proceedings, a judge presides over your divorce and steps in to make decisions if you and your former spouse are at a point of disagreement. While this process works in situations where the involved parties are experiencing difficulties settling issues, it is not necessarily applicable to couples who want to divide assets and settle custody issues on their own.

You’ll Experience Flexibility in Scheduling Negotiations

With mediation, you can schedule divorce negotiations around other important day-to-day needs like work and the children’s school hours. You and your team can decide on a timeline for the divorce and work to resolve issues in a manner that helps everyone involved save precious time. Traditional litigation considers availability of the courts first and foremost, which can lead to a divorce that takes significantly longer to finalize.

You’ll Save Money on Court Fees

SSave Money on Court Fees

If you have a complex case where you need to divide businesses, split valuable assets, and sort out child custody, divorce litigation can become very expensive. Through mediation, the process of settling issues pertaining to children and finances can be much more affordable. Saving money in a time where you’re going through such a drastic life change can have a significant impact on your financial standing and should not be overlooked. Collaborative divorce mediation can achieve the same results while preventing you from spending thousands of dollars.

Collaborative Divorce Can Be Less Stressful For Children

Collaborative divorce mediation can prove much less stressful for children, especially if they would have been required to appear in a courtroom in front of a judge. In court proceedings where divorcing parents aren’t communicating with each other to make important decisions regarding the well-being of the children, children may need to meet with court officials. In mediation, both parents work together with their attorneys and can request the assistance of child specialists, communication liaisons and other professionals to maintain a healthy and productive dialogue about childcare needs.

When couples are divorcing, the idea of their child sitting in a courtroom often isn’t considered until discussion has devolved to the point of litigation. Fortunately if you are filing for divorce in Arizona and looking to do so via collaborative mediation, you can avoid this possibility. Settling your divorce and child custody arrangement through mediation can be a more gentle experience for the entire family.

Collaborative Divorce Helps Keep Your Divorce a Private Matter

In collaborative mediation, you can consult with legal representatives the same as you would in traditional proceedings. You have the added benefit of being able to ask questions, challenge decisions and work through points of disagreement yourself instead of relying on a judge. While your efforts are collaborative, your attorney will still serve to protect your rights and work in your best interest. Having legal counsel in your corner ensures you cover your needs in the process of dissolving your marriage.

What Issues Are Covered in a Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, mediation allows for negotiation between parties to reach satisfactory resolutions. Unlike traditional litigation, divorcing spouses rely on their attorney team and the mediator to help them come to agreements on all the issues usually covered in courtroom divorces. The most common issues you can expect your attorney and mediation team to focus on are as follows.

Division of Assets & Property

The division of assets and other property is a highly contested and complex divorce matter. Many couples, even those who are not interested in fighting in court, struggle to comb through the details of asset division effectively. With collaborative divorce mediation, this process is made smoother with the help of your attorney and a financial professional who has the expertise to settle property division issues. Your team will need the full cooperation of you and your spouse to accurately divide your assets, property, and finances.

Spousal Maintenance

With the help of your collaborative divorce attorney and your financial professional, you and your spouse will decide whether spousal support is warranted and determine the details of the arrangement. To successfully negotiate spousal support, you and your spouse must provide accurate financial information so the professionals can make a determination regarding financial support. Once an agreement is reached, a support document is created and both parties must honor the agreement. The spouse who is responsible for providing spousal support will then be required to assist the other with essential financial needs for the time specified.

Child Custody

Child custody (now referred to as legal decision-making) is often the most difficult part of a divorce to settle. When children are involved, emotions run high. As a result, power struggles over legal and physical custody can drag divorces on for extended periods of time. In a collaborative divorce process, divorcing spouses and their team openly communicate to negotiate the needs and desires of each party regarding childcare and important decisions. Like all other aspects of the divorce, spouses are encouraged to talk out issues so they can come to an agreement that works for both parties and serves the best interest of the child.

With the help of a collaborative team of professionals, divorcing spouses can develop a parenting plan that helps them decide how to communicate about childcare, how to schedule physical custody, and what they will do when critical issues regarding the child’s education, shelter, medical care and socialization arise. The parenting plan can then be approved and finalized by a family court judge.

Pets and Pet Care

A beloved pet is also an important member of the family that must be taken into consideration when spouses are divorcing. Decisions often revolve around which spouse has a stronger attachment to the pet or which spouse does most of the daily pet care. Still, it can be difficult to decide who will keep the pet moving forward. If an agreement over pet care and costs cannot be easily reached, a collaborative team can help decide how to share pet care and costs.

What Is the Cost of Filing For Collaborative Divorce in AZ?

The costs of divorce litigation can be very expensive. Attorney fees alone can range from tens of thousands of dollars to even a hundred thousand in more complex cases. While each divorce case differs in complexity, divorcing spouses who opt for a collaborative divorce process find themselves spending a fraction of the costs associated with traditional litigation.

Collaborative divorce can cost as little as a few thousand dollars. You will typically pay an attorney an hourly rate for the time they spend working on your case, but you are only billed for the time your mediator spends in mediation. Furthermore with the time saved in mediation the entire divorce process is less taxing on spouses, children, and even pets.

We Can Help You During Your Divorce

Help During Your Divorce

Divorce is a common but serious process that entails a great deal of decision-making and compromise. If you are filing for divorce in Arizona via collaborative divorce mediation, it is essential to prepare for the steps required to settle matters in a way that benefits the entire family.

Our legal experts are available to help you stay in control of the divorce process and effectively work through important issues to reach solutions that preserve communication and foster harmony. Count on us to assist with the creation of documents that will outline the essential aspects of your divorce. Together, we can ensure all your most important needs are thoroughly addressed and settled.

*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published Mar 30, 2018 and has been updated September 14, 2022.

How Financially Prepare for AZ Divorce

How to Prepare Finances for a Divorce in AZ

A handful of important considerations beckon your attention throughout the divorce process. And, being prepared can help ensure your assets stay protected.

How to Make Financial Moves Before a Divorce

If you or your partner have recently filed for divorce in Arizona, there are a few things that you should try to do as quickly as possible.

Choose a Lawyer that’s Right for You

One of the most important steps you can take before beginning a divorce is hiring an attorney you can trust. Divorce can be an intimidating process that is already emotional and stressful, and feeling unsure how to proceed can create even more anxiety.

By hiring an experienced AZ attorney, you will receive advice and assistance throughout your divorce, including formidable representation in court. A divorce lawyer is experienced with all the issues that may occur during divorce, including financial considerations. If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse differ regarding the division of assets, an attorney can help you handle financial concerns in a way that preserves your future.

Organize and Identify Your Assets

Organize Records

Identifying your assets also helps if you think your partner may try to sell or hide any community assets in an attempt to avoid dividing them with you. Bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage statements, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and any physical assets or properties should all be accounted for. It is critical to know what you have before you begin the property division process.

Estimate the Cost of Your Divorce

Unfortunately, divorce is rarely a cheap process. Many people go into divorce not expecting its high price tag and are therefore uncertain what to do with money before a divorce begins. Whether you choose mediation to settle various aspects of your divorce out of court or engage in lengthy litigation to make decisions, divorce expenses can add up quickly. Since every divorce is different, it isn’t easy to determine the potential cost of your case. However, estimating attorney fees, moving costs, court fees, and regular monthly expenses can help to give you a better idea of how to manage your money moving forward.

Avoid Making Major Financial Decisions

Of course, divorcing is itself a major financial decision that will impact your finances. However, other major decisions, like changing your beneficiaries, closing accounts, and transferring assets before a divorce can hurt you during the divorce process. These things will be handled legally once the divorce is underway and the division of assets has begun. If you make these moves too soon, you may risk contempt of court or lose your assets to your soon-to-be-ex.

How to Prepare Finances for an Arizona Divorce

During your divorce, division of assets will result in property ownership changes, in addition to your regular and divorce-related expenses. Here are some tips for handling your finances during the chaos of a divorce.

Close Joint Accounts

Close Joint Accounts

Once you have begun the divorce process, it’s time to start closing your joint accounts. Often, bank accounts have both partners’ names, and funds will have to be transferred individually to new accounts. Joint credit cards must be canceled through the creditor, and you’ll have to open your own new credit account.

Closing joint accounts can help prevent your ex-spouse from misusing funds before the divorce is finalized. It’s important that you open a new checking and savings account in your own name and arrange income for deposits and debits for expenses to be handled through the new account. You should also keep documentation regarding when you closed your joint accounts and began your own.

Get An Asset Evaluation

Your assets are important. Whether you’re dealing with expensive collectible items, a shared family home, or your retirement fund, evaluating your assets is critical for a fair property division process. By hiring a professional to evaluate your and your ex-partner’s assets, you can ensure that the correct value is placed on each asset and that they are fairly divided during the divorce. A professional asset evaluation should be done as soon as possible to avoid delays in your divorce and prevent your partner from hiding assets.

Gather Financial Documentation

To properly handle your finances and ensure that property division occurs fairly during your divorce, you will need to collect a great deal of financial documentation. If you have not already done so prior to beginning your divorce, gather bank statements and credit card statements to help to give your lawyers and the court a better idea of how finances were used throughout your marriage. Checking and savings statements, pay stubs, credit card statements, bills, loan agreements, and income tax returns are all critical documentation needed during a divorce. These documents can help the court understand how money was handled as well as its source, such as the individual incomes of each partner.

Maintain Your Individual Credit

Your credit score plays a crucial role in many areas of your life, including your financial health. Despite the difficulties of your divorce, it’s important to maintain your credit. Unfortunately, people often complete a divorce with weak credit due to mounting expenses, their partner’s spending issues, and many other factors. It’s essential to continue building your individual credit so that you can avoid issues like higher financing rates or difficulty renting or purchasing a new property.

Don’t Forget About Insurance Policies

Insurance policies can become a complex financial task because they often affect other important aspects of your life, many of which were shared with your partner. For example, most life insurance policies will require beneficiary changes if you wish to remove your former spouse. Car insurance policies may also need to be changed if they were previously shared by both spouses or if vehicle ownership has changed.

How Can I Afford to Live on My Own After Divorce?

During a divorce, you may experience multiple different housing situations, all of which present different financial concerns. So, how does this work?

Home Sale

One Spouse Buys Out the Other

Since a home is a physical asset that cannot be split unless sold, the person remaining in the family home must often “buy out” the other spouse. This can be done via a cash out finance or forfeiture of an asset or assets of equal value. With these assets or funds from the cash out refinance in hand, the other spouse can afford a new living situation. The title will need to be transferred to the remaining spouse, and all ownership and mortgage documents should be solely under that spouse’s name.

Spouses Agree to Sell the Home

Another option is selling the family home. Sometimes, this is the best option for couples who do not have children, or cases where neither partner feels they have the finances to maintain the home on their own. With the help of a real estate agent and your lawyer, you and your partner can sell your shared home and then split the proceeds fairly. If you and your partner can’t afford to keep the home or are worried about selling it in the current market, you may also agree to rent the house to a third party. When this happens, proceeds can be split between both partners.

Other Circumstances

Unfortunately, the above options may not be available for all couples, especially if they owe more for the home than the home’s current market value. In some cases, if neither you or your partner wants to remain in the home, or neither of you feel you can afford to stay there, you may have to agree to sell the home at a loss. In more severe circumstances, foreclosure may be necessary. Moving forward, the assets retained after the divorce and your own efforts to maintain your credit should help you find a new residence you can afford.

Protect Yourself and Prepare Your Finances During a Divorce

We provide affordable legal services for any individual involved in or looking to initiate a family or divorce law case. We offer guidance as well as our professional expertise and knowledge of the law. We are located in the heart of Phoenix, but our services are digital, which allows us to help individuals throughout the state.

 

*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published March 21, 2018 and has been rewritten August 23, 2022.

High-Quality Documents for DIY Divorce in Arizona

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get a Divorce in Arizona?

In the state of Arizona, many divorces can proceed through the legal system efficiently without either party hiring a lawyer. Arizona is what’s known as a no-fault divorce state, so couples do not need to file a specific reason for their divorce. In the eyes of the Arizona court system, an adult simply no longer wishing to be married is sufficient cause for proceeding with a divorce. This process of unilateral divorce has increased the divorce rate in states like Arizona.1

Couples with complex estates may be better served by hiring an AZ lawyer specializing in high asset divorce before heading to divorce court. This will also be true if there are contentious child custody issues that need to be worked out.

However, if your shared property is simple to divide, your marriage has been fairly short, and you and your ex are amicable about making the split work for everyone involved, you may be able to proceed without the extensive services of an attorney. 2 This leaves more assets on the table for you to divide between yourselves to start your new lives. It also creates a more accessible path out of bad marriages for citizens of modest means. 3

Situations where you may want to consider obtaining the services of a lawyer for your divorce include:

  • Extensive debt
  • Child custody and child support issues
  • Large, complex estates with questions about who owns what
  • Alimony or child support battles

If none of the above apply to you, it’s a good sign that you and your ex may be candidates for a simple, low-cost DIY divorce. This process can be begun by finding and completing the proper forms.

filing your own paperwork

Alternatives to an Arizona Divorce Lawyer:

  • Completing and filing your own paperwork and representing yourselves in court
  • Hiring Arizona divorce paralegal services to help you correctly prepare and file forms without the steep costs associated with retaining a divorce attorney

Arizona Divorce Forms

When you decide to proceed with filing your own divorce in Arizona or any other state, the single most important aspect is getting all the paperwork right. You not only need to obtain the correct forms and fill them out properly, but you also need to know how and when to serve them to other parties and file them with the court.

This will often seem daunting to someone with no legal experience, at least when you first begin to research the process. You may even second guess your choice to proceed without legal counsel when you see the list of forms that can be needed for a divorce proceeding.

While it is true that all of the paperwork and supplementary materials necessary to complete a divorce can sometimes be tedious and confusing, and the help of a skilled attorney can indeed be a valuable resource, most couples with simple, uncontested divorce situations are quite capable of filling out the paperwork for themselves.

They will be equally capable of representing themselves in the simple court proceedings that typically ensue in amicable divorces where both parties are on the same page about the end of the marriage, the division of assets, and parental responsibilities.

Retaining the services of a paralegal professional with experience in divorce and family law can also be a cost-effective way to get help with divorce paperwork while still representing yourself in court and not investing in the full cost of retaining a divorce attorney.

Our informative blog will also be an invaluable resource as you move ahead and dig deeper into the process of conducting your own divorce. Your local public library is another excellent resource for self-help materials on preparing and filing a divorce.

Divorce Paperwork: Arizona Courts Are Another Resource

The Maricopa County Courthouse
Historic Maricopa County Court House

The Maricopa County Superior Court has a self-serve area with basic divorce forms and instructions that can be obtained at no cost. Other Arizona courts may offer similar materials — check with your local court clerk. Basic divorce forms can also be found online. While these materials are free, the filing party (or the plaintiff) will still need to pay any court filing fees or costs related to serving the papers to the defendant (which must be performed in a specific, legally verifiable way).

What to Consider When Filing Your Own Divorce in Arizona

Even fairly simple divorces tend to have their own complexities and considerations to be made. Every marriage and every family are different, after all. Here are some of the potentially tricky situations you may have to consider, some of which may require additional, specialized paperwork.

Minor and Dependent Children

Children are often the innocent victims who feel the brunt of the emotional trauma in a divorce. All divorce proceedings must be approached with the best interest of any involved children in mind. Custody, legal authority over decision-making, the division of parenting time, and child support will all need to be worked out. There are legal standards that must be met, so the court will need to approve any plan agreed upon between you and your ex-spouse.

Spousal Maintenance or Alimony

Spousal maintenance, also called alimony, is a legal instrument by which the party in a divorce with the more significant income remits their ex-spouse a regular payment so that they can maintain their standard of living while rebuilding their lives. If you and your ex-spouse had a simple life with an equal division of assets and have no wish to set up spousal maintenance payments, it will make the divorce faster and simpler to process.

Child Support

In the State of Arizona and many other states, child support will largely be determined by a court-established formula. The purpose of child support is similar to alimony in that it is meant to be of an adequate amount so that it allows the children of divorced couples to maintain their standard of living after the divorce. When completing paperwork related to child support, it is essential that you fill out all information about your finances and living situation completely and accurately. Any false or misleading information on such documents intended to either make you look like the better parent or make your income appear less than it truly is will subject you to serious liability if disproven in court.

What to Consider When Filing Your Own Divorce in Arizona
African student guy sit at desk hold papers tasks having difficulties with test, company lawyer read contract terms and detail feels discontented, received bad news from bank unpleasant letter concept

Shared Debts

Married couples share bank accounts on a routine basis, but they also often share credit cards, mortgages, and car loans. When a marriage ends with shared debts on the line, the divorcing couple must decide who will take responsibility for them — and if they can’t decide, the courts will. We don’t always think of debtors as a factor in divorce, but they can be major factors and stand to gain or lose a significant amount.4

Business Interests

If the couple owns one or more businesses together, the terms of the divorce will need to establish what happens with these business assets. This will begin with determining the value of the business and what share of the business can rightfully be claimed by each party. Whether the business was established during the course of the marriage or brought into the marriage by one of the parties will also play a major role.

Separate and Commingled Property

Sometimes court intervention is needed to determine what property belongs to which party in a marriage, and what property should be considered community property. 5 The value and ownership of all such property needs to be established if the parties cannot amicably divide such assets among themselves to the court’s satisfaction.

Assets and Financial Instruments

Bank accounts, retirement accounts, and investments all need to be considered just like business interests and real property. The better you and your ex-spouse can do dividing such assets up among yourselves before filing for divorce, the cheaper and faster your divorce will likely be.

If any of the above situations apply to your divorce you may want to enlist the services of a qualified attorney. If, however, you can come up with a plan to amicably work out these issues with your ex, you may be able to continue representing yourself in the divorce case.

Representing Yourself in an Arizona Divorce

If you choose to represent yourself in divorce court in the State of Arizona, you will essentially be treated as though you are an attorney. This means you will be expected to know the area of the law in which you’re practicing — in this case, family law, and divorce specifically. Make sure to read up on every step of the process before you ever serve your ex-spouse the initial divorce papers.

Know exactly what to expect, and make sure you have the following tasks in order.

  • Knowing which documents are necessary, and obtaining or drafting them
  • Understanding where to file which documents
  • Meeting important deadlines for filing documents and responding to notices
  • Keeping a court schedule and not missing hearings or appearances

Something as simple as missing a deadline can jeopardize the success of your DIY divorce and even lead to you being limited in your ability to further participate in your case on your own behalf. If you should accidentally fail to appear at a scheduled hearing, the consequences may be similarly dire as the case will likely proceed without you being there to speak for yourself.

Timeline for Initiating a Divorce Without a Lawyer in Arizona

Timeline for Initiating a Divorce Without a Lawyer in Arizona
Event planners use timetables and agendas to arrange and schedule events. On the office table, a businessman is using his mobile phone and taking notes on the calendar desk.

To be able to file for divorce in the State of Arizona, you and/or your spouse need to be a resident of the state for at least 90 days. If you do not meet these criteria, you should look into the divorce laws for the state you previously held residence or wait until you meet the 90-day Arizona criteria before proceeding with your divorce.

In the State of Arizona, the first action to be taken in a divorce case is for one spouse (who henceforth becomes the plaintiff) to file a document called a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” with the court clerk and pay the necessary filing fee. This fee can vary by county or jurisdiction and is routinely in the hundreds of dollars.

At this time, the other spouse (who takes on the role of defendant) must also be served with a copy of the petition, which will include a summons to court. The defendant then has 20 days from the date they were served the papers to file their written response to the court. This window is extended an additional 10 days if the party being served is out of state. In amicable cases where the spouses are working together to get the divorce processed, the formal service process can be waived through a notarized legal instrument called an “Acceptance of Service.”

 

*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published March 14, 2018 and has been updated July 25, 2022.

 


Sources

  1. Friedberg, L. (1998). Did unilateral divorce raise divorce rates? Evidence from panel data. American Economic Review, (88) 3, 608-627 Retrieved May 20, 2022, from https://www.nber.org/papers/w6398
  2. Sales, B. D., Beck, C. J., & Haan, R. K. (1992). Is self-representation a reasonable alternative to attorney representation in divorce cases. Louis ULJ, 37, 553. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/stlulj37&div=33&id=&page
  3. Yegge, R. B. (1994). Divorce Litigants Without Lawyers. Family Law Quarterly, 28(3), 407–419. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25739993
  4. Ratner, J. R. (2010). Creditor and debtor windfalls from divorce. Est. Plan. & Cmty. Prop. LJ, 3, 211. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/epcplj3&div=16&id=&page
  5. Patton, M. (2005). Quasi-Community Property in Arizona: Why Just at Divorce and Not Death. Ariz. L. Rev., 47, 167. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/arz47&div=12&id=&page
Jobs With High Divorce Rates

Pay Raise or Divorce Papers? Some Careers Sink Marriages

Though both marriage and divorce rates are declining, divorce is still fairly common in Arizona. 1 Every year, thousands of couples decide to go their separate ways and begin new lives apart from one another. For those who are in or are entering into a marriage, divorce can be an intimidating and outright scary concept.

Many people wish to know how to foretell which marriages will end in divorce. Unfortunately, there is no perfect algorithm that can determine which marriages will last and which won’t. A lot of marriages end because of a combination of factors that become insurmountable.

However, individuals in certain professions may be more likely to divorce than other people. In some cases, this may be because the job does not pay enough; economic hardship has been shown to lead to divorce.2 However, there are other factors that can lead employees in some industries to be more prone to divorce.

Bringing Work Stress Home

It should be no surprise that jobs and divorce are correlated in some way. For most people, work is a large consumer of time. It makes sense that one’s work would have some impact on one’s home and personal life.

Stress is a common part of having a job. 3 Whether you are working with your hands, sitting at a desk, or have variable responsibilities, you have likely faced tension and stress about your job. Most people want to perform their tasks well, and this adds pressure to one’s daily performance. The stress of the tasks themselves, coupled with the pressure of providing for one’s family, can create significant stress for employees.

When employees are stressed, they often bring their concerns home with them. Sometimes, they are able to discuss their concerns. In other situations, they simply bring tension from their work environment into their home. This can ignite arguments and create an unpleasant home environment if not properly managed. This kind of environment creates a situation in which pent-up outside concerns, issues, and resentments can easily arise in an argument. When these kinds of explosive fights occur between couples, they can begin to erode the marriage.

If employees are not cautious, the stress from their job can do major damage to their families and relationships. When people do not safely and properly express their emotions, they create unpleasant situations throughout their lives. These unpleasant situations often lead their partner to consider divorce.

What Jobs Are Most Associated With Divorce?

As mentioned, workers in some professions are at a higher risk for divorce than others. In some situations, the industry has added stressors that create tension in a marriage. In other situations, the employees work strange hours or long shifts, which can create a work-home imbalance. Yet, other professions create environments where it is easy to make choices that affect a marriage, such as drinking too much, going on work outings, or being unfaithful. No matter the reason, it is important to be aware if you or your spouse works in one of these industries. You may be at an elevated risk of divorce.

Gaming Managers

Gaming Managers

Gaming and casino managers seem to have the highest divorce rate of any profession, with around 52% of marriages ending in divorce. There are many possibilities regarding why this may be. Casino employees keep abnormal working hours, as their industry is busiest on nights and weekends. Gaming managers are often given drinks on the job, meaning that they may arrive home inebriated after a shift. What’s more, there are many other salacious activities that occur at casinos and gaming halls, which can easily get employees into trouble with either the law or their spouses.

Military

Military

Members of the armed forces often have high divorce rates as well. Military jobs are high-stress and require intense dedication. Many families have to move from base to base without having a say in the decision, and the work is often underpaid. In order to remain with their loved ones, military employees often marry young, which is also a risk factor for divorce.4 Military members are often stressed or on high alert, which can take a significant toll on their mental health. This can create issues and increase the tension in their marriage.

In many of these marriages, the couple does not have the time, energy, or financial resources to properly address and resolve their issues. In others, frequent deployments, military schools, and other separations can create stress, reduce the marital bond, and even invite temptation. For some military members, divorce is a solution to unhappiness.

Food Service

Food Service

Individuals who work in the food service industry are more likely to get divorced than in other industries. This includes professions such as bartending, serving, or cooking at a restaurant, nightclub, or bar. Generally speaking, long hours play a significant role in this statistic. Most food service workers have to work nights and weekends, often without significant pay. Even with tips, waitstaff and bartenders do not usually make the kind of money that would be required to offset the detrimental lifestyle.

The service industry is also highly stressful, despite the inadequate pay. Restaurants and bars are often busy, and the stressful work environment can lead to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Substance abuse is also common in the service industry, which can lead to significant problems within a marriage.

Healthcare Support

Healthcare Support

Healthcare support staff positions have high rates of divorce. This category includes positions such as nursing assistants, home health aides, hospice careers, physical therapy assistants, etc. They often have to take care of a patient’s most basic needs, such as bathing and general hygiene. Some patients face terminal illnesses or end-of-life plans. These situations can easily leave an individual feeling emotionally and physically drained at the end of the day.

Though these individuals are in highly emotional and demanding situations, they do not get paid as much as nurses, physical therapists, or doctors do. This means that they may lack the resources to pay for couples’ counseling or therapy, which can often help to avoid divorce. They likely feel stressed about their financial situation, which can further erode their relationship with their spouse. Similar to military personnel, healthcare support staff may lack the time, energy, and resources to repair or maintain their marriage.

Flight Attendants

Flight Attendants

As part of their job, flight attendants travel from city to city. This often means staying overnight in hotels to wait for the next flight they must work. Sometimes they are on call for days at a time and are unable to see or speak to their families while they work. These hours can make it difficult to maintain a relationship, as it is difficult to plan time together with such an erratic schedule. If a couple is looking to get counseling, it may also be difficult to schedule appointments around flights and overnight stays. So much time apart can make it difficult to build a life with someone, and many end up getting divorced.

Telemarketers

Telemarketers

No one likes to receive calls from telemarketers, but it turns out being on the calling end of things is not so pleasant either. Telemarketing is a repetitive job with little room for advancement or job growth. As marketers change their methods frequently, there is little job security. What’s more, the pay is very low with very few rewards and perks.

These kinds of jobs breed unhappiness, resentment, and mental illness. Many people suffer low self-esteem when their job does not give them fulfillment or reward for their work. Telemarketing is one such job, and employees bring their frustration home to their spouses. This can quickly damage even the most stable of marriages.

Lowest Divorce Rates

It is worth noting that not all professions have a grim outlook as far as divorce is concerned. There are many common professions that have particularly low divorce rates, which can provide hope for some couples. Some of the professions with the lowest divorce rates include:

  • Actuaries
  • Clergy members
  • Scientists
  • Software developers
  • Physicians and surgeons
  • Chemical engineers

marriage counseling

While a job in one of these fields cannot guarantee that a couple will not get divorced, it does illustrate a key point about the connection between jobs and divorce. Many of the above positions offer competitive salaries and benefits are often included. With the additional income and healthcare support, many couples can afford counseling to work through their problems. They also likely have access to mental health support, which can help a marriage even if only one member participates.

Divorce Options for a Smoother Process

For many people, divorce is a frightening situation. Changing one’s entire life and family structure is certainly intimidating, and it can be difficult to traverse the emotions that occur during this time. What’s more, divorce often represents a significant cost. As we have seen, employees with low incomes are more likely to get divorced, meaning that the cost of the process is likely significant.

It may be helpful to know that you have options when it comes to seeking a divorce. There is no single way to get divorced, and you can tailor the process to your unique situation. Though you will have to get legal assistance during this time, you do not have to spend thousands of dollars for a litigation expert. In some cases, divorces can be relatively smooth and peaceful if both parties work together.

Explore Separation

Before you go through the legal process, it can be helpful to explore separation. This allows you and your spouse to get a reprieve from the stress of your marriage without going through the legal divorce process. In some cases, couples find that their problems reside outside of their marriage. Knowing this can save you a significant amount of time, money, and heartache.

Seek Mediation

Many couples find that mediation is a helpful alternative to courtroom litigation when negotiating divorce terms.5 Not only does this save a significant amount of time, it can lower the cost of a divorce significantly. Paying for two attorneys to represent you and your spouse in court can be oppressively expensive. However, with a mediator, there is only one person in the room with you. You and your spouse discuss your assets and how to divide them equally. The mediator is present to help move you through any disagreements and to ensure that your terms are fair and legal.

Though you will still have to appear in court for your divorce to be official, this can be a great way to negotiate the terms of your divorce. This is especially true if you and your spouse are divorcing fairly amicably and can communicate with one another with a professional present.

Disclose All Assets

Some people believe that hiding assets will help them to retain 100% of those hidden assets during a divorce. This never works the way it is intended and only slows the divorce process down. The court nearly always finds the hidden assets, and they may need to ensure that you aren’t hiding anything else. This can extend the court process and add additional fees and fines for both you and your spouse.

Use Online Document Drafting

Use Online Document Drafting

Rather than hiring an in-person attorney to draft your divorce documents, it can help to use online document drafting services. An online legal document preparer can save you time and money, while still giving you the professional divorce documents required to make your divorce legally binding. These documents are created and reviewed by attorneys who understand the needs of couples and the challenges of the divorce process. You can feel confident about your divorce documents without spending unnecessary money and time on expensive in-person divorce document drafting.

*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published Mar 13, 2018 and has been updated July 18, 2022.


Sources

  1. Sbarra D. A. (2015). Divorce and health: current trends and future directions. Psychosomatic medicine, 77(3), 227–236. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000168
  2. Scott, S. B., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., & Markman, H. J. (2013). Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications for Improving Relationship Education. Couple & family psychology, 2(2), 131–145. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032025
  3. Mensah A. (2021). Job Stress and Mental Well-Being among Working Men and Women in Europe: The Mediating Role of Social Support. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(5), 2494. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052494
  4. Cohen P. N. (2019). The Coming Divorce Decline. Socius : sociological research for a dynamic world, 5. https://doi.org/10.1177/2378023119873497
  5. Hahn, R. A., & Kleist, D. M. (2000). Divorce Mediation: Research and Implications for Family and Couples Counseling. The Family Journal, 8(2), 165–171. https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480700082009
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