Obtaining an inexpensive divorce in Arizona can be possible if the right circumstances are met. If you and your spouse are divorcing, you can avoid an expensive court hearing with help from legal document services like Draft My Legal Docs. Here is everything you need to know about how divorce works in Arizona, so you can ensure you achieve the results you want at the lowest cost.
Requirements for Getting a Divorce in Arizona
Arizona is what’s known as a “no-fault” state. That means that in Arizona, couples do not need to provide a reason for divorce beyond the fact that they no longer get along and do not wish to remain married. This is known as “irreconcilable differences” and means one spouse does not have to be found “at fault” for the marriage’s dissolving.
However, there are residency and filing requirements. For instance, if neither you nor your spouse has lived in the state for 90 days, you can’t file for a divorce in Arizona. In addition, the petition for dissolution must be filed with the clerk of the court, and a copy must then be served to your soon-to-be ex by someone other than yourself, including a process server or sheriff. Keep in mind that a process server will charge a fee, while a sheriff can do so for free.
If your partner chooses to contest the divorce, they must file a response. If they do not choose to contest, they can begin working with you to settle the terms of your divorce or simply enter no response at all. This may result in a default judgment, but you must wait 60 days from the service date to finalize the divorce. However, with court schedules and other requirements, most divorces will not be settled this quickly.
Expense of Getting a Divorce in Arizona
In 2022, Forbes explained that the median cost for a divorce in the United States was $7,000, while the national average was much higher, ranging between $15,000 to $20,000. This may seem daunting, but it doesn’t mean that you need to spend a great deal of money to get divorced in Arizona.
The cost of your divorce will depend on a few essential factors, such as whether your spouse contests the divorce, whether you choose to hire an attorney, filing costs, court costs, the cost of a process server, and whether there are any complexities like child custody, child support, complicated assets, and more that will result in additional time in court. In general, the more agreeable you and your spouse are – and the fewer complications that must be settled in the courtroom setting – the fewer expenses you’ll accrue during the divorce process. Take a look at some of the most common costs of divorcing to learn what you can expect.
When you first file for a divorce, you have to pay a fee for the “petition for dissolution of marriage.” Such a fee will be quickly followed up by a second payment if you use a process server to serve the petition to your spouse. Women filing for divorce also may file paperwork to restore their maiden name, and parents filing will need to file paperwork to attend a parent education class so they can determine aspects like child custody and child support.
The bulk of the cost of divorce comes from attorney fees, especially if the divorce is contentious and must be settled in a courtroom. It’s difficult to determine exactly how much a divorce lawyer would cost in a particular situation, as every divorce is different. So, too, is every attorney’s pricing structure. However, divorces that cannot be solved amicably without lengthy litigation can cost tens of thousands of dollars above and beyond the cost of a simple divorce in Arizona.
As mentioned, an uncontested divorce occurs when your spouse does not contest the dissolution of the marriage. They can do so by working with you to compromise on the terms of the split or by not responding to the petition for dissolution and allowing the court to issue a default judgment in your favor. If you and your spouse are working together to create a mutually agreeable divorce agreement, you can avoid spending a great deal of time in a courtroom at a series of divorce hearings.
However, this may be easier said than done, which is why it’s so common for divorcing spouses to end up in court.
Unless you have a prenuptial agreement that has pre-determined the terms of your divorce for you, you and your spouse will need to decide the following:
- How to divide your assets and debts according to Arizona’s community property laws
- Whether either spouse should receive spousal maintenance (alimony)
- The amount of parenting time and legal decision-making rights both parents will have if there are children involved
- Child support payments, if there are children involved
A contested divorce, where one spouse does not agree to the divorce or the terms of the divorce, will often become more expensive because the spouses often feel the need to hire attorneys to navigate this more complex case. While not all contested divorce cases end in a contentious court battle, this is one possible outcome. This process can take much longer than an uncontested divorce and often involves other decision-making strategies that can require additional funds.
Before resorting to a court hearing, divorcing spouses who need assistance coming to an agreement typically undergo mediation with an objective, third-party mediator. Mediation is cheaper than going to court, and the goal is for it to end with both spouses in agreement without the need for litigation. However, mediation can cost up to $500 per hour, and if it is unsuccessful, the couple will still need to attend divorce hearings.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Get a Divorce in AZ?
Do you need an attorney to get a divorce? When it comes to calculating the cost of a divorce, most of that cost can be attributed to hiring one or more attorneys for the duration of the process. Court costs and document filing fees are much less expensive than the alternative of paying an attorney for several months of help, as even an uncontested divorce can take at least three months to settle properly. It is not only possible to divorce in Arizona without an attorney, but it is also much less expensive. For example, if you and your spouse believe that you can settle your differences without needing a lawyer’s help, you may only need to pay the basic filing fees.
However, it’s important to note that divorce is a complex issue, and there are a great number of equally complex documents that must be drafted and filed in a timely manner. In addition, divorce tends to be an emotionally charged, exhausting, and stressful affair, and divorce can be taxing on even the most prepared individuals. To ensure the divorce process goes as quickly and smoothly as possible, it is essential to ensure all documents are completed in full and submitted to the court on time.
Controlling the Cost of Divorce
In Arizona, a divorce doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. While it’s impossible to plan for everything, and every relationship will have unique complexities when it’s time to finalize the divorce, there are some ways you can reduce the cost of your
Being willing to listen and cooperate can go a long way in making sure the marriage ends peacefully and inexpensively. While this does require cooperation from both you and your ex-spouse, kindness can prevent your case from becoming a court hearing. Consider making a list of all the things you and your spouse agree on, then calmly discussing the others causing disagreement. If you can peacefully negotiate issues like the division of property and parenting time, you can save yourself the costs of multiple divorce hearings, attorney’s fees, and mediation. If you do need to proceed to mediation, you can save time and money by only discussing those things that are causing disagreement.
As you and your partner untangle your finances, deal with child custody, and more, it is essential to get educated regarding these topics. Get to know your finances by obtaining your credit report, evaluating your property, and investigating your spouse’s share of the assets as much as possible. Then, research your rights regarding these important topics. You won’t need to rely on your spouse’s word regarding how the process should occur, and you can assert yourself without being unfair or aggressive.
Pick Your Battles
Don’t let your emotions guide you. While it may seem unfair that your spouse also wants the car you both worked to pay off, for example, spending months arguing over it in court can cost you far more than the car’s value. Be prepared to compromise, especially if it will save you money in the end.
Use a Legal Document Service
Even if you and your spouse agree on all aspects of your divorce agreement, you will still need to carefully create and file a number of legal documents on a strict schedule as dictated by the court – mistakes can cost you extra time in court, additional filing fees, and may even damage your case. This is a key reason many people choose to hire an attorney to manage their divorce.
However, a legal document service can file divorce documents much more affordably than a firm of family law attorneys. The best services are operated by full-fledged attorneys who will consult with you to determine your needs before drafting your documents and offer unlimited revisions to give you the best chance of success in your case. You’ll be able to avoid both attorneys’ fees and the risk of lengthening your time in divorce court due to mistakes or missed deadlines.
Experienced Divorce Attorneys in Arizona
Divorce can be a stressful process even if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are divorcing amicably. When you add in the costs of settling, dividing finances, and other endeavors that become necessary in divorce, the process can quickly become expensive.
Draft My Legal Docs is operated by expert family law attorneys who can draft and file family law documents you need to keep as much of your divorce out of the courtroom as possible. Best of all, we offer consultations and revisions to ensure your most critical documents are correct and beneficial to your case. Browse our affordable divorce services in Arizona to learn more about how we can help you divorce at a lower cost.
Jonathan Roeder is one of the founding partners of Reppucci & Roeder. He is an Arizona native who has dedicated his life and career to the service of others. After graduating salutatorian of his high school class, Jonathan attended beautiful and prestigious Pepperdine University, where he majored in Political Science. During his tenure at Pepperdine University, his passion for helping others grew after securing a clinical position with a residential treatment center for juveniles with substance addictions. Post-graduation, Jonathan returned to Arizona and served as a residential manager for mentally and physically disabled homes.