Family Law Specialist in Arizona

A mark of excellence.

Family Law Specialist

When you look for an attorney to help you with a family matter, you should look at State Bar Certified Specialists near you. Why? Because they have demonstrated that they understand and have advanced knowledge of family related legal issues, and you deserve the best. State Bar of Arizona 

Everyone wants to hire an outstanding law firm to represent them. But it is more difficult than ever to tell the difference between an OK firm and an excellent firm. Doing your homework is important; word of mouth, online reviews, and Google searches can give you an idea. But they don’t tell the whole story. So, how can you know you are hiring a knowledgeable, respected, and experienced family law lawyer? One surefire way is to look for a firm with a Family Law Specialist. 

The State Bar of Arizona’s mission is to serve and protect the public interest regarding legal services and access to justice. Over thirty years ago, the State Bar of Arizona instituted the Certified Specialist designation process to truly test and identify the elite attorneys. Of the nearly 18,000 attorneys licensed to practice in Arizona, there are less than 70 Certified Family Law Specialists. One of the reasons there are so few specialists is because the process is so rigorous. For example, State 48 Law Firm’s Managing Partner, Robbie Hendricks is one of only six practicing in the city of Scottsdale. (Feb 2023) 

Why Choose a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist?

Proven Experience.  

Online, many people flippantly use the words expert or specialized to claim a high skill level in their field. While many of these individuals are good at their jobs, to be called an expert or a specialist in the practice of law, you need to be a Certified Specialist. It is the highest distinction and accomplishment an attorney can achieve. 

How does this benefit you, the client? 

Pretend you need a major eye surgery; a once in a lifetime procedure that is risky but necessary.  Are you going to trust a doctor you found online who proclaims he is an expert or are you going to trust a Board-Certified Eye Specialist? The answer is obvious, and the same logic applies when hiring a family law attorney.   

The attorney you hire will have a major impact on your case. You are going to invest heavily in your attorney—both in terms of time, cost, emotion, and the outcome of your case. You want the assurance the attorney you hire can get the job done. A specialist designation helps you know that the attorney you’ve hired knows what they are doing. The more your attorney knows, the more arguments they can make on your behalf and the more aware they are of potential risks in your case. That allows them to know when they need to attack and where they need to defend.  

Benefits of hiring a law firm with a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist 

The rigorous specialist process not only benefits the attorney with the designation—it improves the entire legal team. Collaboration and teamwork are an important part of creating the right legal strategy. Each case is unique and when you have a Specialist on your team, everyone has access to their oversight, advice, expertise, knowledge, and experience. For clients, that means every attorney at the firm is equipped with proven legal strategies, improving client outcomes.  


Respected. Tested. Certified.

Board-Certified Specialists are Experienced.

What is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist? 

To become a specialist, an attorney must meet stringent requirements. Attorneys are eligible to apply to become Board-Certified as a Family Law legal specialist only if they have been admitted to the practice of law continuously for at least 7 years, and 5 of those years must have been spent engaged in the practice of Family Law within the State of Arizona. They must show they have handled a variety of complex family law cases, including, for example, cases using experts to assess custody or business valuations, and arguing cases at the Court of Appeals.  

Even with all these qualifications, they must also meet the highest ethical standards, have excellent peer reviews, a specialized legal education, and tested knowledge. If an attorney meets these requirements and is approved by the State Bar Committee, they achieve the honorable distinction of Board-Certified Specialist.

Can I stop a divorce once it starts?

Yes, you can stop a divorce at any time during the process if your spouse has not been served or has not filed a Response, and you were the filing party. But if the divorce has “officially” started, meaning, your spouse has been served or filed a Response, the two of you would have to agree to stop the divorce. If you and your spouse decide to stay married, the divorce case can be canceled or “dismissed” by filing a request with the Clerk of Superior Court and signed by both parties.

Do I have to go to Court to get a divorce?

You must go through the Court to get divorced. But, when parties are in agreement, the paperwork can be drafted by an attorney who will file it once it is signed by the parties. In that case, the Court will still open and close a case, but neither party will have to set foot in the Courthouse.

But if you cannot come to an agreement regarding your divorce, a judge will have to make those decisions for you.

Do I need an attorney for my divorce?

You are permitted to represent yourself in a divorce, but you are held to the same standard as an attorney. In other words, there is no excuse for not knowing the law or the rules. For that reason, if you do represent yourself, it may still be worthwhile to meet with an attorney and receive advice.

You may “need” an attorney if the other side has one. The rules and laws are complex, and people who represent themselves against an attorney are at a severe disadvantage. In contrast, if both parties are unrepresented, it is an even playing field; and, in that situation, hiring an attorney could give you an advantage.

Does it matter who files first for divorce?

It does not matter who files first or starts the divorce. One spouse must be the Petitioner and the other spouse must be the Respondent. There is no advantage or disadvantage to either (other than perhaps assignment of the courthouse nearest to the Petitioner).

How do you start a divorce in Arizona?

To start a divorce in Arizona, the first step is to file the Petition for Dissolution with the Superior Court. The Petition is the paperwork that starts that divorce. After you file the Petition, you need to have it legally served to your spouse. Before you file, you may want to consider consulting with an attorney. Divorces are complex, and you should be fully informed before you file something. Otherwise, you risk making a mistake that could hurt your case.

How long do I have to live in Arizona before I can get divorced here?

Arizona state law requires you to have lived in the state for at least 90 days before you can file for a divorce. If children are involved, the children need to live here for at least six consecutive months before a divorce can be filed.

How long does the average Arizona divorce last?

The average Arizona divorce takes between six to nine months. But this is only a rough estimate. It depends on a lot of factors, like length of marriage, if there are children, number of assets and debts to be divided, and the mental health of the parties. If spouses are agreeable, they can get divorced in as little as 60-days. Reasonable negotiations and settlement discussions can drastically reduce the time it takes to get a divorce. But contentious divorces can take a year or more, and highly contentious divorces can take two years or more.

How much does it cost to file for divorce in Maricopa County?

The filing fees charged by Maricopa County for dissolution documents include $349.00 for the Petitioner and $279.00 for the Respondent. The Petitioner is the spouse that files the Petition and begins the divorce. The Respondent is the spouse who files an Answer or Response to the Petition. If no Response is filed, the Respondent’s fee is still owed to the Clerk before allowing the final documents to be submitted and signed (As of January 2023).

If I can’t afford a divorce attorney, will the Court appoint me one?

The Court will not appoint you an attorney if you cannot afford one to represent you in a family law proceeding. The Constitutional right to an attorney applies only to criminal proceedings. For that reason, the government must appoint a free attorney to criminal defendants.

As family court is a civil proceeding, you have the right to hire your own attorney, but you will not be given a free one. If you want an attorney in your family court proceeding, you are going to have to obtain one the old-fashioned way: You’re going to have to pay for it.

What is a Covenant Marriage?

A covenant marriage is an optional type of marriage.  Before marriage, the spouses-to-be must attend certain counseling and meet other requirements. The legal effect of a covenant marriage is that it is harder to divorce.  In a covenant marriage, a legal separation or divorce may be granted only for certain reasons listed in state law. The law regarding covenant marriages can be found in Sections 25-901 through 25-906 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. If you are in a covenant marriage and are considering a divorce, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney experienced with covenant marriages.

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