Arizona Divorce Laws

Family Law

Ending a marriage is never an easy decision to make. There are many legal consequences that follow a divorce that you might not be aware of. Based on your situation, you may run into different issues with your divorce proceedings. The experienced Scottsdale family law team are here to help you through this difficult time. We will guide you through the differences between Arizona divorces, legal separations, and annulments so you can make a decision that best for your family. To learn more, contact us at 602-279-1900 or through the contact form on this website.

Scottsdale Family Lawyers Explain the Differences Between Divorce, Legal Separation, and Annulment

In the state of Arizona, at least one of the spouses must be domiciled in Arizona, or stationed in Arizona while a member of the armed services, for at least 90 days before that spouse can file for a divorce or annulment. A “domicile” is a person’s true, principal, and permanent home. In other words, it is the place where that person has physically lived, regards as home, and intends to return even if they are currently residing somewhere else. There may be ways to get around this issue if you are new to Arizona, or are not sure if divorce is the right path at this time in your relationship.


A divorce is the legal ending of a marriage. It is irrevocable, and if the parties decide to reconcile, they must remarry each other.

Legal Separation

A legal separation is often sought when couples are unsure about the future of the relationship, but they are not ready to get divorced – they consider a legal separation a trial run for divorce. In other cases, couples choose to legally separate and not get divorced because they want to keep the benefits of being married like tax credits and health insurance while separating their finances and without continuing to live with each other. If you choose to legally separate instead of getting divorced for religious reasons, know that you cannot remarry while legally separated because you are still married.

A legal separation can only take place if both parties agree to the arrangement. If one spouse objects to a legal separation, then the only other recourse is reconciliation or divorce. An unwilling partner cannot be forced into a legal separation


An annulment is the voiding of a marriage. In order for your marriage to be annulled, you must be able to prove any of the following:

  • Concealment of a past marriage
  • A prior marriage not legally dissolved
  • Absence of a valid marriage license
  • One of the parties was not old enough to enter a legal marriage
  • The parties are related by blood
  • Duress or fraud
  • Absence of mental or physical capacity

Annulments are relatively rare, but they do happen. Once an annulment has been granted, the law treats the marriage as if it never existed. Spousal support is typically not awarded after an annulment, there is no community property to divide, and each spouse retains their own property.

Common Arizona Divorce Questions

Arizona marriage laws have some particular restrictions that you might not be aware of. Depending on your situation, some of these laws could apply to you when you are going through a divorce.

How is the Jurisdiction for an Arizona Divorce Determined? Is it Different Than Jurisdiction for Child Custody or Child Support?

As stated above, in order to qualify for a divorce in Arizona, at least one of the spouses must be domiciled in the state for at least 90 days before filing the petition for dissolution of marriage. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the state of Arizona has jurisdiction over child custody or child support matters. The correct jurisdiction for those issues is determined by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

Is Military Divorce any Different Than a Divorce between Two Civilians?

Most of the laws governing divorce are the same for military and civilian couples, but there are a few key differences.

A member of the armed services can file a petition for divorce in Arizona if they were stationed in Arizona for 90 days prior to filing the petition, even if their domicile is in a different state.

Under Arizona law, when a civilian spouse files a petition for divorce, the responding spouse is required to respond within 20 days after being served with the petition. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), if the responding spouse is an active-duty service member, they are provided with more time. An active-duty service member can postpone the proceedings for the entire length of their duty plus up to 60 days afterward.

Keep in mind that Arizona is a community property state. That means if a member of the military files for divorce in Arizona, their military retirement will be considered a community asset, and the community a portion of the military retirement pension may be divided.

One of the most challenging aspects of military divorce is the issue of child custody. Members of the military are often required to relocate out of state or be deployed overseas. If this happens, it’s vital for service members to talk to their lawyer in order to protect their child custody rights.

Do Arizona Divorce Laws Differ for Same-Sex Marriages?

Same-sex marriage is legal in Arizona. In the eyes of the law, there is no difference between a same-sex divorce and a divorce between spouses of opposite genders. The statutes that govern divorce in Arizona apply equally to any couple, regardless of their sexual orientation.

How Can People in a Covenant Marriage Get Divorced?

Arizona is one of 3 states that encourages covenant marriages. While divorce is more difficult to achieve with a covenant marriage, it is possible. The laws governing covenant marriage state that the couple can only divorce under these certain conditions:

  • One of the spouses commits adultery
  • One spouse commits a felony and receives a prison or death sentence
  • One spouse abandons the marital home and does not live there for more than a year
  • One of the spouses sexually or physically abuses their children or spouse
  • The couple lives separately for at least two years
  • One of the spouses has habitually abused drugs or alcohol
  • Both spouses agree to the divorce

Contact the Arizona Divorce Lawyers at Scottsdale Family Law

If you need help navigating through your divorce proceedings, give our experienced Scottsdale family law team a call at 602-279-1900. We can also be reached through the contact form on this site

Key Expertise:
  • Representation in arbitration procedures
  • Representing the client in arbitration-related court proceedings
  • Recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards
  • Advising on arbitration-related matters

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