Common Types of Family Law Case

Most Common Types of Family Law Cases

No one wants conflict in their family, but life happens, and there is no shortage of family problems that can require legal intervention. From two people dissolving a marriage to addressing how to support a child, family law can be incredibly complicated and emotionally intense. At their core, family law cases involve people deciding matters close to their hearts, with major implications for the rest of their lives – and completing several family court documents to ensure a smooth, seamless case.

Common Types of Family Law

Arizona family court most often handles legal cases that have to do with marriage, children, and domestic violence. For instance, Arizona judges frequently address divorces, spousal maintenance, marital agreements, property division, and name changes as romantic partners navigate changing terms of their relationship. They also make major decisions that impact children’s futures in cases like child custody, child support, emancipation, guardianship, adoption, and termination of parental rights. Unfortunately, common Arizona family law cases involve domestic violence as well.


Ending a marriage is never easy, but it is quite common in Arizona. The state categorizes divorces into two types, distinguished by how the involved parties feel about the terms of the split: uncontested and contested divorce. Regardless of the type of divorce you’re facing, you might need legal support to navigate the complexities of the process.

file a divorce petition

Uncontested Divorce

If you and your partner both agree on the terms necessary to dissolve the marriage, the divorce can proceed smoothly. In Arizona, this is called an uncontested divorce and doesn’t require the stereotypical legal battle. You’ll still have to file a petition and complete the necessary paperwork for an uncontested divorce, but you can expect it to be a great deal more straightforward than a contested one.

Contested Divorce

On the other hand, if you and your partner disagree on the conditions of the divorce, like how to split your property or who will spend more time with the kids, you might be in for a long legal battle. Arizona law calls this a contested divorce. You may need to utilize negotiation and mediation, but if you cannot arrive at a decision with your soon-to-be ex, the courts will need to settle your differences in litigation.

Spousal Maintenance

If you dissolve your marriage, you or your partner might need to provide financial support to your former spouse. You may have also heard this called spousal maintenance, spousal support, or alimony. Family court will determine whether spousal maintenance is necessary to help one spouse maintain the standard of living to which they have become accustomed.

Spousal maintenance is typically temporary but may be permanent, depending on the details of the case. For instance, if one partner has been unemployed, the judge might issue temporary spousal support to help them readjust after the legal separation. If a spouse is disabled, permanent support may be necessary. Both spouses must submit documentation of income, property, and other pertinent financial information.

Property Division

Property Division

If you’re legally separating from a spouse and you share property, especially in a contested divorce, you will need legal guidance to divide the property according to community property laws in Arizona. For instance, the court must determine how to divide large assets like family homes or how to divide assets that need special attention, like stocks or debts. The goal of community property division is to ensure each spouse receives roughly half of all shared property. You will need to complete and file financial documents to ensure a fair division of assets.

In Arizona, events in a marriage like infidelity do not influence how assets will be split. However, if one of the partners was convicted of a crime that created damages for their spouse or kids (such as destruction of joint property), the judge would consider this in the division of assets. The court must analyze documentation of income and all assets to make this determination.

Marital Agreements

You might think that marital agreements are only for the wealthy, but that’s not the case. Drawing up a marital agreement is a way to stay organized and protect your assets before getting married. While most people choose prenuptial agreements, you can also protect your assets after marriage with a postnuptial agreement.

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements

No one wants to think about getting a divorce before the wedding day. However, if you’re planning on getting married and want to predetermine the financial rights of each partner, you should consider drawing up a prenuptial agreement, called a prenup for short. These documents can help you and your partner avoid heated emotional conflicts in the event that you consider separating or filing for divorce.

For example, you can plan ahead for how you will divide property in the event of a divorce so you don’t battle about it in court years later. Prenuptial agreements are also very effective for protecting an individual’s separate property.

Postnuptial Agreements

Once you’re married, you and your spouse might consider a postnuptial agreement, nicknamed a postnup. Just like a prenup, a postnup lets you plan ahead about the division of assets. Even if you had a prenup before getting married, you could also get a prenup year into your marriage to update your previous plans. While many people choose a postnup if they’re considering separating, you can also draft a postnup while you’re in a stable relationship, just to stay organized for the future.

Domestic Violence

Every day, more than 20,000 phone calls are made to domestic abuse hotlines throughout the United States. Arizona law defines domestic violence as any form of harassment or assault among people in a specific relationship, including the following:

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • People who are or used to be in a romantic and/or sexual relationship
  • Parent
  • Grandchild
  • People who live in the same household

Instances of domestic violence can impact how a judge makes a decision about child custody. Family court judges work tirelessly to ensure children are in the best environment possible. If there were any instances of child abuse or domestic violence by one or both parents or in a household, it could affect the custody decision. Also, if there is proof that one parent falsely accused the other of child abuse, the judge will also take that into consideration when approving a custody order.

Individuals divorcing or separating from a spouse who has been abusive – or anyone who has experienced domestic violence – may wish to file for an order of protection while the proceedings occur. This can be done by petitioning for an order of protection.

Name Changes

We all go through transformative times in life, and there are many reasons you might want to change your name, like getting married or divorced. In order to legally change your name, you’re in for a relatively easy process, but you will have to complete and file an application with the court. You’ll also usually have to pay a filing fee, but you can apply for deferral if necessary.

Family Court Cases Involving Children

Family court cases involving children are often closely tied to divorce, but other parents who were never married may wish to determine issues like paternity, child custody, and the like.

Child Custody

Determining who will hold parenting time and decision-making rights regarding any children can be one of the most drawn-out parts of a contested divorce. However, even if you and your spouse agree regarding these determinations, you must have the parenting plan approved by the Arizona family court.

Child Custody

The court’s primary consideration is the well-being of the child, and it will consider all the facts of the case, including aspects like the parents’ work schedules, salaries, their relationships with their children, and potentially even the child’s wishes. You must submit financial documents and other custody documents to determine parenting time and decision-making rights

Child Support

Family courts try to minimize the damage to children during tough times in their families. When a marriage ends, and the couple has children together, the court typically orders the noncustodial parent (the parent who holds less parenting time) to contribute financially. If one partner has substantially more income than the other, they may have to pay child support. Again, financial documents and an application for child support are necessary, and paternity documents may be required.


Proof of paternity is often required for child custody and support cases to ensure the right individual is responsible for the child. While paternity is assumed at the time of birth when a married father is placed on the birth certificate, known as the presumption of paternity, other fathers may need to voluntarily accept paternity. If there is a question regarding paternity, either parent may request adjudication of paternity.


From family conflicts on the rise to a unique job opportunity presenting itself, there are endless reasons a teenager may seek independence from their legal guardians. Known as emancipation, the legal process of liberating oneself from family requires quite a few legal hurdles. You must be at least sixteen, file a petition, notify your guardians, and then wait for the court to evaluate whether or not they think emancipation is in your best interest.


If you want to take care of a child, but that child isn’t yours by birth, you will need to apply for guardianship. You can only do this if the parents are not able to fulfill their responsibilities as parents or if there are serious concerns about the child’s welfare, such as abuse in the household. Applying for guardianship involves several steps, but if you are a trustworthy individual with a clean background, it should be straightforward. You will need to file a petition and appear at a court proceeding where evidence is presented about the parents (if they’re living) and how fit you are to take care of the child.

You can also apply for guardianship of an adult in the event that they are temporarily or permanently incapacitated. For example, if someone is recovering from a serious brain injury and is unable to make decisions for themselves, you might consider filing for guardianship so you can do things for them, like sign contracts and make medical and health decisions. Similar paperwork must be submitted in this case.

Adoption and Termination of Parental Rights

If you want to adopt a child in Arizona, you must often locate a trustworthy adoption agency and go through a lengthy application process, including a home study in which a social worker addresses if you are a suitable parent. If the social worker finds you a good potential parent and a child is matched to our home, you will have a visit with them and may be supervised for a temporary period to ensure the adoption goes smoothly. Finally, you must submit adoption paperwork and attend a hearing in which a judge reviews the adoption process and makes the adoption official.

Another common family law case involving parenting is the termination of parental rights. This is a serious, irreversible process in which a parent loses custody and visitation of their child. Someone in the child’s life, like a teacher, doctor, therapist, or adult family member, might be concerned about concerning actions occurring at home, like the following:

  • Serious substance abuse in the home
  • A parent’s mental health problem prevents proper childcare
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of children
  • Long-term incarceration of a parent
  • Parental failure to adequately provide financial support
Child protection services (CPS) investigates reports of abuse and, if necessary, can initiate termination proceedings. Once parental rights are terminated, a relative like a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other close family member often adopts the child. In this case, adoption paperwork again becomes necessary.

Juvenile Issues

No child should have to endure abuse or neglect or find themselves in a situation in which they have broken local or state laws. Unfortunately, the reality is that these things are quite common in Arizona, and the family court must address them. Juvenile issues include:

Child Neglect

Family courts, unfortunately, deal with a wide range of child neglect. For example, if parents do not give children the right clothes for freezing cold weather or raise children in an unsanitary environment, they might lose custody or face penalties for child neglect. Other types of neglect include failing to provide necessary medical care, leaving young children alone for extended periods of time, or emotionally abusing children.


Parents are legally required to enroll their children in school. If a child is not going to school, whether as a result of the parent’s actions or their own actions, the family court may step in. School neglect is called truancy, and Arizona law can intervene in many ways, including mandating counseling, mandatory attendance plans, fines for parents, or court-mandated interventions.

Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile Delinquency

If a minor commits a crime, they will typically face different consequences than adults will since the courts want to teach young people how to become law-abiding citizens. For small crimes like shoplifting, they might have to go to educational programs, pay restitution, or do community service.

For more serious crimes, they might have to attend a juvenile detention center where adults focus on rehabilitation and preventing children from committing crimes in the future. A family court judge will determine the rehabilitative steps necessary depending on the child’s juvenile court history, the offense, and other factors.

Arizona Family Law Services

No matter what type of family law case you’re navigating, you can be sure there will be no shortage of paperwork required of you. It is essential to ensure all documents are drafted correctly and filed in a timely manner, which can be the most challenging part of many family court cases.

At Draft My Legal Docs, our experienced Arizona attorneys provide a range of family law services. We know how tense and high-stakes family law legal processes can be, so we’ll be by your side to draft and review crucial legal documents.

Resources :

Legal Document Services for Arizona Court

Preparing for a Family Court Case in AZ

Arizona family law cases can become extremely complex, as they often deal with intense emotions, personal struggles, disagreements, or discord among family members and spouses. If you decide to represent yourself in Arizona family court, it’s essential that you prepare well in advance for the various legal aspects involved. If you wait until the day of your hearing, you risk becoming blindsided by these roadblocks—you may even endanger your case by neglecting the various documents you’ll need to complete.

Here’s everything you need to know about family court in Arizona and what you can do to prepare yourself for the legal proceedings ahead.

What Is Arizona Family Court?

Arizona family court is a specialized court of law created to handle cases dealing with family and domestic relations, otherwise known as family law. One of its main priorities is to help settle disputes that occur within families and find solutions that work for all parties. Common AZ family court questions are related to divorces, separations, spousal maintenance claims, child custody disputes, property division proceedings, child support matters, adoptions, paternity disputes, and more.

How Does a Family Court Case Work in Arizona?

Legal Document Services for Arizona Court

While the precise workings of a family court hearing will vary depending on the type of case you’re filing, conducting hearings and trials in family court generally proceeds in five steps.

1. Trial Preparation

Before entering the trial preparation phase, you’ll need to begin your case by filling out an initiation form that matches your case type. For example, you may need to file a petition for legal separation, a petition for dissolution of marriage, a petition to establish child support, or something else. From there, you will be assigned a court date when your hearing will take place and you’ll enter the trial preparation phase.

Your court date will take place according to the time available on the court’s calendar, and you will receive a slot on the docket when the judge has time to hear your case. This can take time, and you’ll want to spend most of it preparing to represent yourself. You should determine your goals and objectives for your case, locate and complete all documents required for your specific type of case, and gather evidence that will support your argument. For example, you may need financial documents, affidavits from childcare providers, doctors’ statements, and more.

2. Trial Begins—Opening Arguments Shared

Once your trial date finally arrives, it will begin with both parties sharing their opening arguments with the petitioner—the party that initiated the case—going first. The purpose of opening arguments is for both parties to outline their respective positions on a matter for the court without interruption or argument from the other side. If you choose to represent yourself, you should add the preparation of your arguments to your trial preparation list.

3. Evidence and Witnesses Are Presented

After the opening arguments are presented from both sides, the judge will ask to hear evidence backing each party’s position. Again, the petitioner will go first. This is where most of the preparation you did will be critical, as you’ll need to make a convincing, effective argument to win your case.

Your argument must be backed by a preponderance of evidence, which can be presented via witness testimonies, legal documents, records, photographs, video, and more. After the petitioner calls and questions a witness, the respondent can cross-examine. When the petitioner has finished calling witnesses and presenting evidence, the respondent can do the same. At this time, the respondent can cross-examine.

4. Closing Arguments

After all evidence has been presented and all witnesses that were listed have testified, the closing arguments of both sides will then be made in court. Closing arguments are used to reiterate the argument of both parties, summarize the evidence that backs their claim, and try one last time to convince the judge to choose their side. At this time, the judge may ask any questions they have that are applicable to the case.

5. Final Decision

When closing arguments are complete, the case will then be submitted to the judge so they can make a final decision. It’s possible that the judge may make their decision immediately after closing arguments, but it’s common for a judge to review evidence in their chambers before deciding. In cases with complex documentation and financial histories, including division of property and child support cases, the judge may take time to review the documents and announce the decision later. When the judge makes their decision, they will deliver it to the court, and the case will be closed.

Being Prepared for an Arizona Family Trial

When it comes to representing yourself in court, it is critical to prepare well for your hearing. You must be able to present a convincing argument to the judge, back that argument with evidence or witness testimony, and respond to the opposing side’s evidence. In addition, you’ll need to prepare a variety of legal documents and file them properly by the expected date. Without adequate preparation, your chances of success are severely diminished.

Just a few of the ways preparing for your trial can benefit you and your case include the following.

Helps You Develop a Strong Argument

One of the most critical aspects of trial preparation is developing a solid argument that will help you secure the judge’s decision. You need ample time to determine your goals for the case, decide what argument you will present, and assess how you will convince the judge. Ask yourself questions like, “What do I want out of this case?” and “What is the best possible outcome for me?” Once you have created a strong argument, you can then move on to backing it up.

Gives You Time to Gather Evidence

Sometimes, gathering evidence can take a significant amount of time, especially if your case involves finances or an exhaustive records search. Preparing for your trial as soon as possible is the best way to give yourself enough time to gather the evidence you need. If you are looking to use witness testimony, it’s also crucial to speak with them as soon as you are able.

You Can Complete and File All Required Paperwork

Each family court case requires different legal forms, all of which must be filed correctly and in a timely manner. For example, a divorce case must include a formal petition for dissolution of marriage filed by one spouse and then legally served to the other. If there is no initial petition, a couple cannot get divorced. If you begin preparing for your trial early, you can give yourself enough time to identify the required documents you need for your case and complete and file them properly.

You’ll Know What to Expect

Taking the time to properly prepare for your trial can also help you get a better idea of what to expect when the proceedings begin. Court proceedings can be intimidating for anyone, but they can be especially nerve-wracking when you’re representing yourself. With proper preparation, you can learn how the court process works, what to expect, and how to deliver a compelling argument confidently.

Tips to Prepare Yourself for Arizona Family Court

Arizona Family Court

Some of the best things you can do to get ready for your upcoming Arizona family court case include the following:

Gather Documents

There is no such thing as being over prepared for a family court case. If you are representing yourself, make sure you plan as thoroughly as possible for each phase of your upcoming case. Plan your arguments, plan what you’ll ask witnesses, plan how you will present your opening arguments, and plan how you can effectively convince the judge of your position. The more time you take to plan your case, the smoother it will go.

Organize Documents

No matter what your family law case involves, you’ll need to complete and file a variety of legal documents throughout your trial. It’s vital that you keep your documents organized so that when they are needed, you can quickly present them. It’s recommended to keep documents for evidence, such as printed records, separate from documents you may be reading and documents you’ll need to file with the court. If you’re disorganized, it can make your case more difficult than it needs to be—and may also have a negative effect on your case.

Identify Strong Evidence

Making sure that you have convincing evidence to back your claims in court is crucial. Without evidence, there’s an extremely low chance you’ll be able to convince the court to take your position, especially if your case is a complex dispute. Taking the time to gather pieces of evidence and witnesses that can back your claim will increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Secure Opening and Closing Arguments

Your opening and closing arguments play critical roles in your case. Because they are the first and last words a judge will hear from you, you’ll want to take the time to make sure you form an argument that’s efficient, convincing, and memorable. Your opening argument should clearly state your position and tell a story through facts that help the audience better understand how you plan to outline your case. Your closing argument should include a summary of your evidence, critiques of any holes in the other party’s case, and an overall conclusion of your argument that convinces the audience of your position.

Prepare Witnesses

If your case involves calling any witnesses to testify, it is important to make sure they are prepared for trial as well. However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t rehearse with the witness to the point where your witness begins to recite answers; otherwise, it can look like witness tampering. Make sure your witness is comfortable, ask them some questions, and help them understand how the trial will go, and your witness will be adequately prepared.

Documents You May Need for AZ Family Court Case

We provide a wide variety of legal forms and documents for residents of Arizona. When you’re going through a family law case, you’ll need to complete paperwork before, during, and after your case.

To Initiate Your Case

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (with or without Minor Children): These are the official forms that must be filed if you decide that you want to get divorced in AZ.
  • Petition to Enforce: This form is often used to initiate a case where one party hasn’t been following a court-ordered agreement.
  • Petition to Modify: If you want to request a modification to a previous court order, you need to file this form to initiate your case.
  • Petition to Establish: These petitions can be used to initiate multiple kinds of family court cases, including paternity, child custody, and child support cases.

During Your Case

  • Petition for Temporary Order: If you’re waiting for the judge’s final decision and believe you need a temporary order in place until that decision is made, you’ll need to file this document.
  • Property Settlement Agreement: These agreements are used to clearly establish how property and other assets will be divided and show that both parties consent.
  • Rule 69 Agreement: When two parties involved in a case reach an agreement, they need to legally confirm it by filing this document with the court.

After Your Case

  • Motion for Clarification: After a trial ends, you can file a Motion for Clarification to have the order clarified or corrected if some aspects are unclear.
  • Notice of Appeal: If you don’t agree with the final decision regarding your case, you have 30 days to file an appeal to have it reviewed.
  • Motion for Relief (from a Judgement or Order): If you have a legally justified reason, you may be able to file this document to request relief from a previously filed court order.

Legal Document Services for Arizona Family Court

Legal Document Services for Arizona Court


Draft My Legal Docs is pleased to offer legal document drafting and preparation services to help Arizona residents successfully navigate their court proceedings. As trained Arizona attorneys, we understand how complex family courts can become. To help, we offer a full slate of 50+ legal documents to assist you throughout your family law case.

The complex nature of family law cases is why we are so dedicated to providing the help you need to ensure your case is handled properly. Whether you’re looking to initiate a legal case or preparing for an upcoming trial, contact us today to see how our legal document services can help.


Get Free Consultation