Divorce in Arizona: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated April 10, 2024by Unbiased team

Learn more about the divorce process in the state of Arizona, including how to file for divorce, the costs associated with it, and how to protect your finances.

Summary

  • Arizona is a "community property" state, meaning most assets and debts acquired during the marriage are divided equally.

  • Simplified divorce cases in Arizona can cost a few hundred dollars in court fees, while complex litigation can cost tens of thousands in legal fees alone.

  • Spousal maintenance may be awarded in some cases to help the lower-earning spouse temporarily.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Arizona?

In order to file for divorce in Arizona, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days prior.

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In addition, you must have lived in the county where you plan to file for at least 30 days.

If you have recently moved to Arizona but do not yet meet the residency requirements, you may have to wait to open a case until you reach the timeline thresholds.

What are the different types of divorce in Arizona?

Arizona allows for no-fault divorce. This means neither spouse has to prove wrongdoing on the other’s behalf to dissolve the marriage.

When going through a divorce in Arizona, couples can opt for a contested divorce, uncontested divorce, collaborative divorce, or legal separation:

  • Contested divorce: This is when the couple does not agree on one or more key issues, including how property may be divided or who should have custody of any children. This option involves having a judge make a ruling on these issues. It is often the most expensive and time-consuming divorce type.

  • Uncontested divorce: This is when the couple agrees on all issues and does not need court intervention. It is usually cheaper and faster than a contested divorce.

  • Collaborative divorce: Here, the couple collaborate, working together in an amicable way to negotiate a divorce settlement without the need for litigation.

  • Legal separation: Here, the couple can separate and agree on various issues surrounding assets and children, but they will still be married in the eyes of the law.

How much does it cost to get divorced in Arizona?

The costs involved in divorcing vary widely based on whether the divorce is contested and if children or substantial assets are involved.

Simplified cases can cost a few hundred dollars in court fees, while complex cases that require lengthier litigation can cost tens of thousands.

Some key costs in an Arizona divorce may include:

  • Court filing fees: Between $300 and $400 to open the case.

  • Service fees: Roughly $45+ to serve your spouse with the petition.

  • Attorney fees: From $2,000+ for simple agreements up to $15,000+ if litigation over property or custody rights.

  • Mandatory mediation: If you have children together, there will be mediation costs to develop a co-parenting plan.

  • Expert evaluations: In high-conflict custody cases, evaluators may assess parental fitness at around $5,000 per parent.

Filing taxes as “married filing jointly” can also trigger more taxes owed during separation. So it’s key to plan for potential added tax liability.

How are assets divided in an Arizona divorce?

Arizona is a "community property" state.

This means most assets and debts acquired or earned during the marriage are considered jointly owned marital property, regardless of whose name is on the accounts or titles.

Upon granting the divorce decree, the court will divide the community estate down the middle so each spouse receives roughly 50% of those assets and liabilities.

Separate property owned before marriage or received individually (like gifts or inheritance) is not split.

Some assets commonly divided include:

  • House or other real estate

  • Cars and other vehicles

  • Bank accounts and investments

  • 401(k) or other retirement accounts

  • Businesses

  • Personal property (furniture, jewelry, collectibles)

Debts accrued jointly, such as mortgages, car loans, student loans, credit cards, and unpaid taxes, are also divided equally.

Can I get alimony or spousal support in Arizona?

Arizona courts may award “spousal maintenance” to help support the lower-earning spouse for a period of time after divorce.

How much and for how long depends on the recipient's financial resources, their ability to work, the marital standard of living, and the length of the marriage.

There is no set calculator or percentage used to determine spousal support awards. Rather, judges make discretionary rulings based on the facts of each case, taking factors such as income and expenses, employability, and marital standard of living into account.

The judge will also have to adhere to state guidelines when ruling on the duration of spousal support. These limits are:

  • Up to 3 years for marriages under 10 years.

  • Up to 7 years for marriages between 10 to 20 years.

  • There is no preset limit for 20+ year marriages.

The goal is to enable that spouse to eventually achieve financial independence while avoiding overly large burdens on the paying spouse.

How can I protect my finances when getting divorced in Arizona?

Taking steps early on to secure assets and manage financial affairs carefully can help reduce stress when dealing with a separation in Arizona:

  • Open individual bank accounts to ensure you have separate funds and are not vulnerable to withdrawals by the other spouse.

  • Gather financial documentation like tax returns and statements on debts, assets, income sources, etc., to understand the full marital estate.

  • Watch for unauthorized credit cards or debt taken out jointly - report any fraud or suspicious activity.

  • Hold off on large purchases that would impact the perceived marital estate value until after the divorce settlement.

  • Consider changing beneficiary designations on insurance policies and retirement accounts to avoid disputes should the worst occur.

Get expert financial advice

Going through a divorce in Arizona can be complicated and emotional. Understanding the legal landscape and financial implications from the start helps reduce stress during an already difficult transition.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and the Unbiased platform will match you with your advisor.

Find your financial advisor with Unbiased today.

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.