Things You Need to Know About Divorce in Arizona
The end of a marriage can be a sad and messy affair, especially if the union has irretrievably broken down. The problem is compounded by the complex nature of family law and the issues that arise as spouses try to divide assets and figure out custody arrangements.
To this end, it is vital to arm yourself with some relevant information on what to expect. Below are the top things to know when commencing a divorce in Arizona’s family law court.
Arizona Law Does Not Use the Word “Custody”
Every legal drama you’ve ever seen about a spouse getting divorced uses the word “Custody,” so you might likely get confused when you can’t find the term in your court documents. Things are different in Arizona, with lawmakers replacing custody with “Legal decision making” and “Parenting time” in 2013.
The former allows a parent to make decisions regarding their child’s healthcare, religion, and education. Thus, parents can either seek sole or joint legal decision making and mutual or exclusive parenting time — physical time spent with the child.
Arizona Follows the Community Property System
Nine states in the U.S. follow the community property system, and Arizona is one of them. Under the state’s law, there’s a presumption that each spouse has an equal one-half interest in all community property items.
It means that assets acquired during the marriage belong to the couple, and both are entitled to a share. Before the union, properties acquired individually can also become community property if it is not managed correctly during the marriage.
Joint Legal Decision Making and Equal Parenting Time
Having joint legal decision-making custody does not mean equal parenting time. Spouses may be able to make decisions about their child’s welfare together but will not have the same physical schedule, vice-versa. What’s vital is knowing that the two are different and negotiating to get the best possible outcome.
Spousal Maintenance Follows Due Process
Arizona law replaces alimony with spousal maintenance, and it usually takes time before the courts award it. For a family court judge to consider spousal maintenance, a party to the divorce must request it in the dissolution petition. The court would then look at the case’s facts to determine whether you are eligible to receive spousal support.
There’s Room to Recalculate Child Support
Child support agreements in Arizona are not set in stone but are subject to change. As children grow older, their needs will change, and with that, the amount of the child support previously agreed upon. It can also change if the parent’s living condition adjusts in time, and the person starts earning more or too little.
Conduct Adds or Minus Points
Winning a contentious divorce case boils down to who has more positive points. Spousal conduct before and during the divorce goes a long way in determining how the case will turn out. Thus, be courteous to the other party and the court, and no matter the provocation, keep a level head always.
Divorce Happens Outside the Courtroom
Most divorce cases that make it to the courtroom happen when both parties fail to reach an agreement. Arizona law allows spouses to dissolve their marriage without going to court and filing the necessary paperwork afterward. To do this, contact a family law attorney for legal advice and the steps to take.