Divorce with Minor Children in Arizona

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Divorce with Minor Children in Arizona

Getting a divorce with children follows the same process as a divorce, with a few extra steps. If you and your spouse agree with how to share parenting time and make decisions regarding the children, a divorce with kids is only slightly more difficult. But Arizona’s laws, rules, and procedures can become complicated if you and your spouse have different ideas with how your children should be raised. It can become even more intensive if child support is also needed and contested.

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When a divorce involves minor children you need to consider the following:

  • Where the kids will live?
  • What the parenting time/visitation schedule be?
  • How will decisions regarding the children be made?
  • Who will pay for what?
  • How will you communicate with your ex?

Somewhat confusingly, the term “custody” in family law does not exist. The Arizona legislature changed this law in 2013 because of the common misconceptions and confusion surrounding the term. The important thing to remember about “custody” is that the two basic questions to be determined regarding children in a divorce are:

  1. When does each parent have the children in their care?
  2. Who makes major decisions (e.g. school, health, religion) about the children?
Most important concepts

Divorces Involving Custody Issues

The Best Interest of a Child

The Best Interest of a Child is a standard by which a court determines what arrangements would be to a child’s greatest benefit, often used in deciding decision-making and parenting time matters.

Legal Decision-Making

Legal Decision-Making refers to who makes ‘major decisions’ on behalf of the children. Major decisions include education, medical care and religion. The court can award Sole Legal Decision-making or Joint Legal Decision-making or some combination of the two.

Parenting Time

Parenting Time refers to both custody and visitation. Parenting Time outlines where the children live and when they see each parent. Equal parenting time is when both parents have the children for the same amount of time. There are a variety of different parenting time schedules to satisfy these arrangements.

Child Support

Child Support is a court-ordered payment paid by one parent to the other parent for the financial support of a child. The amount is calculated by Arizona’s Child Support Guidelines, which calculated in a Child Support Worksheet.

Have Questions? We have answers

Divorce with Minor Children in Arizona FAQs

Divorce FAQs

How soon can I get divorced?

The quickest timeline for a divorce is a little more than two months, and it requires both parties to be in agreement. That is because of a 60-day waiting period that is put in place under Arizona law. On this timeline, one spouse files the Petition for Dissolution, the paperwork that starts the divorce. Then they serve the other spouse (when things are amicable, this is done by giving your spouse the paperwork, and having them sign a notarized document that they received it, and this is then filed with the Court. That service date is important because it starts the sixty-day waiting period. At the end of the waiting period, the two of you can file your Consent Decree (and Parenting Plan, if you have children, and a Property Settlement Agreement, if appropriate). These are the documents that divorce you, contain your agreement, and divide your property and decide what happens with your child. Once the papers are signed by the judge, you are divorced. 

Will I be able to stay in my house?

If you want to stay in the house, you will need to get your spouse to agree to it, and you will need to buyout your spouse’s interest in the house. Unless a disclaimer deed has been signed, your spouse is entitled to half of the net equity in the home. To figure that out, you need to how much your home is worth and what is owed on the mortgage (in some cases, a home equity line of credit or a lien on the home may impact the net equity). For example, if your home is worth $400,000, and there’s $200,000 left on the mortgage, the net equity is $200,000, and you will need to pay your spouse $100,000 to buy out their interest. In most cases, you will need to show you are pre-qualified for a refinance. Most lenders can work with you to include the buyout as part of the refinance.  

My spouse managed all the finances during the divorce. How do I know what is out there?

Before we can divide the marital property, we need to know what property is out there. The primary way we learn this is through disclosure and discovery. Under the rules of procedure, both parties are required to make extensive disclosures of their assets and debts. You can request additional information via discovery—a process that allows you to use different tools to find money. For example, if you believe your spouse is not forthcoming regarding their salary, you can subpoena their employer for their pay history. There are numerous discovery tools—depositions, subpoenas, interrogatories, requests for production, requests for admission, etc. You should speak with an attorney to learn your options regarding discovery and your duties under the disclosure rules. 


My spouse started a business, can I get it in the divorce?

Maybe, unless an exception applies, you are an owner of the business because it was started during the marriage. Under Arizona law, it does not matter whether your name is on the business because it was started during the marriage, it is part of of the community property and needs to be divided as part of the divorce proceeding. There are a few exceptions: Where the business was inherited or gifted to your spouse or where or a prenup or postnup is in place, then the business may not be community property.  

Can we get an annulment?

Contrary to popular belief, annulments are not given easily or given out simply because the marriage was of short duration. An annulment is given out when the marriage itself is defective. For example, one spouse was married to another person at the time of the marriage or one spouse was defrauded into marrying the other spouse or you did not intend to get married. You have to meet one of the reasons for an annulment in order to get one.  


Learn More About Divorce

Arizona Divorce Resources

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