Arizona Divorce Procedure

Family Law

Going through the process of a divorce can be very difficult. Not only may you have to deal with the heartbreak of a failed relationship, but you also have to try and navigate through all the legal hurdles required to obtain a divorce. Working with an experienced divorce lawyer can help make the process go far more smoothly. The Scottsdale family law team has the expertise you need to navigate through the Arizona divorce process. Our team of family law experts has more than 100 years of combined experience in the legal field.
Let us put our experience to work for you. To speak to one of our divorce attorneys, just call 602-279-1900 to schedule an appointment. 

Steps in the Arizona Divorce Procedure

Educating yourself about what to expect during a divorce will help you prepare for the upcoming difficulties you may face during this process.

The Initial Filing

When one spouse files a petition with the court to have their marriage dissolved, divorce proceedings have begun. One copy of the petition is kept by the court with additional copies being kept by the filing spouse and delivered to the non-filing spouse. Once the initial documents have been legally served, the non-filing spouse has 20 days to respond to the divorce petition, if they were served in Arizona. They have 30 days if they were served in a different state.

A “cooling off” period of 60 days is usually required after the papers have been served. A decree of dissolution cannot be entered by the Court until this 60 day period has run.

A new process is available in Arizona if both parties have already reached full agreements on all of the issues in their divorce case at the time of the initial filing. Called the “Summary Consent” process, the parties file a notice that they intend to proceed using the Summary Consent Decree Process, along with a combined petition and response for divorce and an attached Consent Decree.

Following this process, this initial filing does not need to be served on the responding spouse. The Consent Decree can be submitted to the Court at the expiration of the 60 day period.

Dividing Community Property and Separate Property

Arizona law defines community property as all property acquired by a husband and wife during their marriage. The exceptions are property acquired by gift, property acquired by inheritance, and property acquired after the petition for divorce has been filed. Any property acquired by either party after the service of the petition for divorce is not community property and is not divided by the court.

One of the most challenging parts of the divorce process is dividing the spouses’ assets. For that to be done, the couple must separate everything they own into two categories: community property and separate property.

Houses, cars, furniture, bank accounts, stock options, retirement accounts, other investments, and even frequent flier miles, may all be considered community property. While the laws concerning ownership of real property (houses) can be complicated, generally speaking, if one spouse signed a disclaimer deed when the real property was acquired, they have forfeited an ownership interest in that property. Even so, the Court may award the community an equitable lien against the property, in certain circumstances.

Unfortunately, the distinction between community property and separate property isn’t always clear. Some assets that were once considered separate may have become part of the community property during the marriage through commingling or transmuting of assets.

Temporary Orders

If there are some matters that need to be settled before your divorce is finalized, the court may issue temporary orders, upon the filing of a motion seeking temporary orders, and following a hearing, if there are no agreements. These orders might cover temporary issues like child decision-making, parenting time, use of property, child support, spousal maintenance, possession of the marital home, payment of debts, contribution towards attorney’s fees, etc.

To speed the process along, parties can reach agreements of their own and enter a binding written agreement called a “Rule 69 agreement,” pursuant to Rule 69 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. In that case, the court will only need to rule on the issues in the case that the parties have been unable to agree upon.


The discovery and disclosure process is all about the exchange of information between the two parties involved in the divorce. According to Rule 49 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure (Rule 49), all parties must legally disclose information and documentation that is relevant to their case.

Subpoenas duces tecum (a formal request to provide documents), requests for admission, interrogatories (a formal set of questions), and requests for the production of evidence can be used during the discovery process. Another common method used to obtain information is through depositions, which are or formal statements or testimony provided by a witness or expert outside of the courtroom. Expert testimony from a forensic accountant, vocational expert, or real estate appraisal may be required in certain situations.

Contact The Experienced Arizona Divorce Litigation Team at
Scottsdale Family Law Today

Divorce can be a difficult process to navigate, but you do not have to go through it alone. Let the Scottsdale family law team help you through the process. To schedule an appointment, just give us a call at 602-279-1900 or fill out 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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