Divorce is undoubtedly one of the most challenging and emotionally draining situations a person can face. It’s a process that not only signifies the end of a partnership but also requires significant legal knowledge to navigate successfully. If you’re considering a divorce in the state of Arizona, working with an experienced divorce attorney is essential. Contact Stewart Law Firm today to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney in Chandler.
When Should I File for Divorce in Chandler?
Deciding to divorce is a very personal decision and one of life’s most difficult choices. No one expects to end up in front of a divorce court judge when they begin their journey down the aisle surrounded by flowers. Sadly, sometimes life takes people in unexpected directions.
If you and your spouse have tried to work on your marriage to no avail, and it’s come to the point that living together is putting a strain on your emotional well-being, it may be time to consider making a change. The first step is speaking to a Chandler divorce lawyer with a strong record of success in representing their client’s interests.
In order to file a petition for dissolution of marriage (divorce) in Chandler, you must meet the following qualifiers:
- Either you or your spouse have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days
- If you have children together, they must have been residents in Arizona for at least 6 months in order for the court to hold jurisdiction
If you file for divorce first, you become the petitioner in the process. Some Chandler child support attorneys assert that this comes with some advantages, such as being the first to list your desired outcomes for your spouse’s response, and being the first side to speak in a divorce trial should it come to that. If your spouse has already filed and you’ve been served with paperwork, that makes your spouse the petitioner and you are the respondent. Respondents have only 20 days to respond after receiving the divorce petition, so it’s important to set up a consultation with a divorce lawyer in Chandler as soon as possible to discuss your options for drafting a response.
Why Hire Stewart Law Group If You Need Help With Divorce
Going through a divorce can be one of the most emotionally draining experiences of your life. It’s a time when you need reliable guidance, experience, and support to navigate the legal complexities and achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children. Here’s why you should work with us during this time:
- We provide the highest quality representation to our clients, ensuring that we are with you every step of the way. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys will carefully guide you through the legal process, helping you make substantive plans for a better tomorrow.
- We understand that every divorce case is unique, and your representation should be too. There’s no room for boilerplate representation here; our attorneys take the time to thoroughly understand your specific legal situation and develop a customized strategy that puts your needs and interests first.
- Cost is an inevitable concern when hiring a divorce attorney, and it’s important to understand what you’re paying for – that’s why Stewart Law Group offers a transparent rate structure. With our clear and upfront pricing, you’ll know exactly what to expect in terms of legal expenses at each and every step of the process.
Chandler’s Divorce Settlement Process and ADR
It’s never easy to separate one home into two households, either emotionally or financially. When the divorce involves children, it becomes even more emotionally charged and complex. Arizona family law requires divorcing spouses to attempt to draft a fair divorce settlement agreement with custody arrangements that reflect the best interests of the children as well as an equitable distribution of their marital assets. Most divorcing spouses begin negotiating terms on these issues with their attorneys. An experienced Chandler divorce lawyer can help untangle the separate assets from marital assets and debts that are subject to equitable division. Your attorney from Stewart Law Group will strongly represent your best interests in all negotiations.
When divorcing spouses cannot agree on one or more issues, the next step is to meet with both attorneys in a series of meetings known as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) conference to negotiate contentious issues. If the spouses draft their own divorce settlement agreement with the help of ADR, then there’s no need for a divorce hearing, so the court can cancel any pre-scheduled court date. If they’re still unable to come to mutually agreeable terms after the ADR conference, the case progresses to court litigation. In court, each spouse and their attorneys present their sides to an unbiased judge who’ll make a final decision on all matters in a binding divorce order.
Reaching a Settlement Agreement
Other than making the decision to divorce, the most challenging part of the divorce process for most spouses is reaching a settlement agreement. Emotions become heated when it comes to matters of child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and the division of debts and assets. The process may be fairly simple for spouses with no children and few assets, but for those with children and/or many diverse assets, there may be many contentious issues to resolve. For example, some spouses accidentally commingle property with their spouse that would otherwise remain their separate property. This occurs when one spouse grants access to financial accounts to the other or one spouse makes substantial improvements to the other’s inherited property.
When spouses can forge their own settlement agreement, it minimizes the amount of contention between them going forward and facilitates better communication after the divorce, which is important when spouses share children and must continue a degree of communication in order to make parenting time exchanges and other co-parenting decisions. Con
What is the purpose of a separation agreement?
For spouses who choose a trial separation before making the decision to divorce, a separation agreement can help protect both spouses and their children while they live apart by defining parenting schedules, child support, and in some cases, spousal maintenance to prevent a lower-earning spouse from suffering an unfair financial burden. A separation agreement makes it easier to later proceed to divorce if the spouses aren’t able to reconcile. The separation agreement forms a good basis for a divorce settlement agreement since both spouses may have already agreed on mutually acceptable terms during their separation. This can help minimize the need for contentious court litigation.
What about a partial agreement?
A skilled Chandler divorce attorney takes a resolution-based approach for their clients, including minimizing the need for contentious litigation in court. In cases where spouses agree on some matters and not on others, a partial agreement can help minimize the amount of time spent arguing in court. For example, divorcing spouses may agree on their shared child custody schedule but not on who retains residence in the family home, or they may agree on the division of their assets but not on a custody schedule. When spouses can draft a partial agreement, it means fewer matters to take before a judge and less time, expense, and contention.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
Some spouses agree to part amicably, and others just want to expedite the painful divorce process. Either way, a collaborative divorce is a good option for divorcing couples who wish to go their separate ways without a contentious court battle. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses agree to meet with their lawyers to navigate the divorce settlement agreement in a series of meetings together with their lawyers to collaborate on the agreement without the need for a trial. If necessary, a professional mediator may attend one or more meetings to help resolve issues by offering solutions that neither party considered.
How a Lawyer Can Help You With Divorce
If you’re going through a divorce, it can feel overwhelming to decide how best to move forward. Fortunately, a lawyer can help. Here’s how:
- Understand Your State’s Divorce Laws: It is important to understand their state’s laws regarding family law issues such as property division, child custody, and alimony payments. A lawyer will know these laws and will be able to explain them to you.
- Gather Essential Details: A lawyer will ask all the important questions regarding your legal rights and obligations when it comes to things like assets, debt, or alimony payments so they can plan your case appropriately.
- Negotiation: A skilled divorce attorney can negotiate on your behalf, whether it’s in the courtroom or through mediation sessions. Their expertise in negotiation can help you reach a fair settlement faster and with less stress.
Issues to Consider During Divorce
Divorce proceedings involve numerous complex issues, which can be overwhelming and confusing to navigate on your own. For example, a Chandler child custody lawyer can help navigate a potential custody case. Divorce attorneys have extensive experience in dealing with all aspects of divorce, including:
- Property Division
- Custody and Parenting Time
- Child Support
- Spousal Maintenance
Annulment vs. Divorce: The Basic Differences
Although annulment and divorce may seem similar in that they involve the dissolution of a marriage, there’s a crucial distinction between the two:
- Annulment declares that no valid marriage existed to begin with essentially erasing any record of the union taking place.
- Divorce, on the other hand, terminates a legitimate and recognized marriage between two individuals.
This distinction has a significant impact on how the processes are carried out, and the outcome for the individuals involved.
The primary reason someone might pursue an annulment in Arizona is if they believe their marriage was not valid to begin with. Some common reasons for declaring a marriage invalid include:
- One or both spouses were already married at the time of the union (bigamy)
- The spouses are closely related by blood (incest)
- One spouse was under the legal age to marry
- The marriage was entered into fraudulently (e.g., one spouse hid critical information to secure the marriage)
If an annulment is granted, it’s as if the marriage never took place. Even a lengthy marriage of many years can be annulled if it meets one of these criteria:
“Superior courts may dissolve a marriage, and may adjudge a marriage to be null and void when the cause alleged constitutes an impediment rendering the marriage void.”
Meeting Arizona’s Divorce Requirements
The first step in filing for divorce in Arizona involves meeting specific residency requirements. The state mandates that either you or your spouse must have lived in Arizona for a minimum of 90 days before filing for divorce. If one spouse is an active member of the military and stationed in Arizona, then they must have been stationed here for 90 days prior to filing paperwork.
Service of Process and Responding to Petitions
Before your case can advance, you’ll need to properly serve your spouse with copies of the divorce petition and summons. Service of process ensures both parties are aware and given the opportunity to respond to the impending divorce. Once served, the other party must respond within 20 days if they are in Arizona or 30 days if service is out-of-state.
Uncontested Divorce vs. Contested Divorce
An uncontested divorce in Chandler can streamline the process, as it requires divorcing spouses to agree on all matters in writing. This includes spousal maintenance, asset division, parenting time, legal decision-making authority, and child support obligations. By coming to a mutual agreement on these issues, you can avoid a prolonged legal battle and minimize the impact on your emotional well-being and finances.
However, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on these matters, the divorce is considered contested and proceeds through the phases of litigation. This can result in a more complicated and time-consuming process, highlighting the importance of having a knowledgeable divorce attorney by your side.
Contact Stewart Law Group To Schedule a Consultation
If you’re facing a divorce in Arizona, don’t navigate this complex process alone. Reach out to Stewart Law Group and find a path to a brighter, more stable future for you and your family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.