Phoenix Divorce Lawyer

Phoenix Divorce Attorney

The decision to end a marriage is never an easy one and navigating the complex world of divorce can be a daunting prospect for many. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney can be the saving grace in reaching an amicable resolution while maintaining stability in your life. For help with a related matter, contact Stewart Law Group to schedule your free initial consultation with a Phoenix family lawyer

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When Should I File For Divorce in Phoenix?

The decision to file for divorce is never an easy one, but if your marriage lacks intimacy and companionship and you and your spouse have tried to work on the marriage but you still feel that you’d be happier apart, the time may have come to take the next step. If you make the move to file first, you become the petitioner in the process while your spouse is the respondent. If you’re the petitioner, it’s important to know when you’re legally allowed to file for divorce in Phoenix. According to Arizona divorce law:

  • You or your spouse must have been an Arizona resident for at least 90 days
  • If you don’t meet this requirement, you or your spouse must wait until one or both have lived in the state for 90 days
  • If divorcing spouses have children, the children must have resided in the state for at least 6 months in order for the court to have jurisdiction over them to decide matters like child custody and child support
  • The respondent in the divorce has up to 20 days to respond to the petition before the process can move forward

Once you’ve decided to file for divorce you’ve taken the first big step toward your new future; however, it’s still sometimes a waiting game before the process for negotiating a settlement or awaiting a court date can begin. By hiring an experienced Phoenix divorce attorney, you can be sure that your case is moving forward with open communication and honesty as your attorney keeps you apprised of all progress on your case, what to expect next, and the likely timeline of the process.

Why Hire Stewart Law Group For Your Divorce?

Finding the right divorce lawyer is one of the most important steps in the divorce process. Here’s why you should work with us:

  • Stewart Law Group has been practicing family law in the Phoenix area since 2004. This means we have a profound understanding of the intricate nuances of Arizona’s divorce laws, negotiation techniques, and litigation strategies.
  • Our attorneys believe in treating clients with the utmost care and respect. We understand that divorce not only involves legal intricacies but also affects an individual’s emotional and mental well-being.
  • Every divorce case comes with its unique challenges and specific circumstances. Stewart Law Group acknowledges this fact and does not follow a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we invest in understanding each client’s objectives and concerns and then develop a personalized strategy to deliver optimal outcomes.

Phoenix’s Divorce Settlement Process and ADR

Every divorce case is as different as every marriage. In the best-case scenario, spouses can agree to part amicably or at least with mutual respect and dignity and then navigate the process together to draft their own divorce settlement agreement with the help of their attorneys. Through this process, both spouses may discuss and negotiate an agreement on all matters relevant to their divorce case such as:

  • The equitable distribution of their marital assets
  • Child custody and parenting time schedule
  • Child support amount paid by the higher-earning parent to the lower earner according to the state’s child support calculator, a tool that factors in both parents’ gross incomes and the amount of parenting time in their schedules
  • Temporary spousal maintenance (alimony)

In many cases, divorcing spouses may undergo mediation to help resolve any issues of contention. An experienced mediator in Phoenix may have solutions to offer that the spouses hadn’t considered. Mediation is an important part of the state’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program to settle differences outside of court, holding the stress and financial expense of court litigation as a last resort. During the ADR conference, both parties and their lawyers attempt to resolve matters of dispute as a last resort before going to trial.

How an Attorney Can Help You With a Divorce Case

Navigating the complexities of a divorce case can be overwhelming on your own. Here’s a look at some specific ways a lawyer can assist you during a divorce:

  • Knowledge of Family Law

Divorce laws vary between states, and it’s essential to have a lawyer who has a comprehensive understanding of the laws specifically applicable in Phoenix, Arizona. This knowledge allows them to effectively strategize and advise on the best course of action for your case.

  • Proper Documentation and Filing

Divorce cases involve a significant amount of paperwork, and accurately filing these documents with the court is crucial for your case’s success. A skilled attorney can help you file all the necessary documents correctly and on time, preventing crucial errors that could jeopardize your case.

  • Effective Communication and Negotiation

Even if you and your spouse are on relatively good terms during the divorce process, disagreements are almost inevitable. A skilled attorney is crucial in maintaining open lines of communication and working tirelessly to negotiate a reasonable settlement while protecting your rights.

  • Safeguarding Your Financial Future

Dividing marital assets is one of the most consequential aspects of a divorce. An experienced Arizona divorce attorney can help you protect your financial future by working with you to negotiate a fair and equitable division of assets and liabilities. Additionally, they can assist in estimating spousal support and ensuring that any tax implications are considered during negotiations. By having a knowledgeable advocate on your side, you can be more confident knowing your financial best interest will be considered during the divorce process.

  • Providing Objective Advice During an Emotional Time

Divorce can be a highly emotional and stressful experience, making it difficult to think clearly and make rational decisions. An experienced divorce attorney can serve as an objective third party who can provide valuable guidance during these challenging times. They can help clients focus on the long-term implications of their decisions, rather than letting emotions drive the process. This objective and measured approach can be crucial in obtaining a fair and equitable outcome for all parties involved.

Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce

Divorce can be an amicable process or a contentious battle, depending on the couple’s ability to reach an agreement. An important distinction to make when this separation occurs is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. 

Contested Divorces Can Be More Time-Consuming and Costly

When a couple cannot agree on crucial parts of their separation, such as alimony, custody, property distribution, and child support, a contested divorce happens. These types of divorce proceedings tend to be more drawn out since the parties cannot come to a consensus on key issues.

The contested divorce process begins when one spouse files a petition for dissolution of the marriage in court. The other spouse is then served with the petition and has 20 days to respond. After the response is filed, the court schedules a hearing, during which a temporary order may be entered on certain issues to maintain stability during the divorce process – like child support or spousal maintenance.

Discovery is a crucial stage in a contested divorce. During this phase, both parties make requests for information and financial disclosures. This process may involve submitting interrogatories (questions to be answered under oath) or attending depositions. The goal of discovery is to ensure that both parties are completely aware of each other’s assets, debts, income, and other important issues related to divorce proceedings.

Negotiations often take place during the discovery stage in an attempt to resolve disagreements. If a settlement cannot be reached, unresolved issues are then taken to trial, where a judge makes the final decision. This entire process, from filing to trial, can be lengthy and more expensive than an uncontested divorce, due to attorney fees, court costs, and other associated expenses.

Uncontested Divorce: Cost-effective and Expedited Process

An uncontested divorce occurs when the spouses can agree on all major aspects of their separation without the need for a judge to intervene. This type of divorce is generally quicker, less expensive, and less emotionally draining for the parties involved.

To initiate an uncontested divorce, the parties must create a comprehensive agreement covering all aspects of the separation, including property division, child custody, alimony, and child support if applicable. This agreement, once approved by both spouses, is submitted to the court for approval. Since the court does not need to get involved in lengthy negotiations or multiple hearings, the divorce process is significantly expedited.

The cost savings in an uncontested divorce can be significant since both parties avoid the expenses associated with trial preparation, court fees, and ongoing attorney fees. Moreover, these savings can also help couples transition into their new lives as separate individuals.

Phoenix Divorce Attorney

Key Components of Arizona Divorce Law

In Arizona, three primary components that need to be addressed during a divorce include alimony, child custody, and property division.


Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance in Arizona, is financial assistance granted to one spouse to compensate for any potential financial disparity. Some factors that determine alimony include the duration of the marriage, the age, and health of both spouses, and the financial needs and resources of each spouse. A Phoenix alimony attorney can help assess your legal options during a free consultation.

Division of Property: Splitting the Spoils of Marriage

One of the critical aspects of a divorce in Arizona is the division of property, which can be a complex, contentious process. Arizona is a community property state, meaning that all property, assets, and debts acquired during the marriage are generally divided equally between the spouses in a divorce.

However, it is essential to note that the division must be equitable rather than strictly equal, allowing judges some discretion in making decisions. 

Separate property is an exception to this rule. Separate property includes any real or personal property acquired before marriage or during the marriage by gift or an inheritance value. This property remains separate from marital assets and is not subject to division during the divorce process.

Child Custody

Child custody is one of the most sensitive and important aspects of a divorce proceeding. In Arizona, there are two major components to child custody:

Legal decision-making:  In Arizona, legal decision-making refers to the right and responsibility of a parent to make important decisions on behalf of their child, including those related to education, health care, and religion

There are two types of legal decision-making arrangements in Arizona:

Joint legal decision-making – Both parents work together to make major decisions for their children. This requires effective communication, collaboration, and agreement on key issues.

Sole legal decision-making – Only one parent has the authority to make major decisions for the child, without seeking the input or consent of the other parent.

Arizona courts typically encourage joint legal decision-making, unless they find it to be detrimental to the child’s best interests.

Parenting time: This refers to the amount of time each parent spends with the child. The goal is to create a schedule that allows the child to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents and ensures that the child’s best interests are met. While each parent has physical custody of the child, they are responsible for managing a child’s daily needs, such as housing, food, and clothing.

While the court has the final say in determining parenting time schedules, parents can create their parenting plan together and propose it to the court for approval. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will step in and create the parenting time schedule based on the child’s best interests.

Legal and physical custody are separate matters, though they are often awarded together. In most cases, Arizona courts prefer to grant joint legal custody, allowing both parents to have equal input in critical decisions about the child’s welfare. The court’s primary goal is to protect the best interests of the child. A Phoenix child custody lawyer will help navigate your legal options in the event of a lawsuit.

Divorce Proceedings in Phoenix

The process of obtaining a divorce in Arizona is legally called a dissolution of marriage. The timeline of the divorce process varies greatly between divorce cases, depending primarily on whether the divorce is uncontested—meaning both spouses agree on all issues—or contested. A contested divorce requires a hearing with both sides arguing for their desired outcome in matters like child custody, child support, property division, and spousal maintenance (alimony). In some cases, a divorce may proceed swiftly, including when a couple has already legally separated.

Separation is a different legal status than a dissolution of marriage. Some spouses file for a legal separation and live apart while remaining legally married. With a legal separation, the court can put orders in place for child support, parenting schedules, and spousal maintenance if it’s appropriate, while the couple remains husband and wife. Though similar to divorce, a separation agreement doesn’t allow for remarriage. Legally separated spouses cannot file joint tax returns but must file as “married, filing separately.

There are various reasons why spouses choose this option, including religious beliefs against divorce and the ability of a spouse to retain benefits like health insurance provided by the other spouse’s employer. With a legal separation in place, it’s a fast, streamlined process if a couple chooses to move forward with a divorce since they have already agreed to terms in their separation agreement.

What About a Partial Agreement?

In some cases, divorcing spouses may agree on some of the issues in their divorce, but not all. For instance, they may agree on a child custody schedule, child support, and the division of their assets, but may disagree about one party’s request for spousal maintenance. If this is the case, an attorney may advise them to sign a partial agreement as a step forward in the divorce process. A partial agreement resolves all divorce matters the spouses agree upon so the final divorce hearing only involves the remaining issues, saving time and expense.

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce in Arizona is a good alternative to an expensive contentious divorce in court. A collaborative divorce allows willing spouses to work together with their attorneys as a team to resolve all legal issues in their divorce and form a divorce agreement out of court. Sometimes professional mediators help with challenging issues by suggesting solutions the spouses may not have thought of on their own. 

Not only is a collaborative divorce a far more amicable way to divorce than battling it out in court, but it’s also faster than court litigation and typically leaves spouses better able to co-parent children and keep open lines of communication in the future. Once the spouses reach agreements on all divorce matters, a judge simply signs off on the agreement and issues a final divorce decree.

When is Spousal Maintenance Ordered in Phoenix Divorces?

Orders for spousal maintenance—alimony—aren’t appropriate in every divorce, but they may apply in some circumstances. Typically one spouse makes the request either in a temporary order while waiting for the divorce decree and/or in court for the final judgment. Spousal maintenance helps to bridge the gap when one spouse earns a substantially higher income than the other. In most cases, the order is for a limited amount of time so a lower-earning spouse has time to become self-sufficient by finding employment, finding higher-paying work, or increasing their education or training to boost their income. Spousal maintenance prevents one spouse from having an undue financial burden or a negative change in circumstances after the divorce. Spousal support orders are especially common in cases when one spouse sacrificed career or education opportunities to care for the home and children, or when one spouse financially supported the other in their career advancement to the detriment of their own career goals.

Client Testimonials

The following testimonials were originally left by happy clients. Here are a few examples of satisfied clients of Stewart Law Group:


“I had initially contacted Brian Winter to file for a divorce in January of 2016. My husband and I had reconciled and separated several times after that time and since we were unable to make it work, the divorce was finally filed with the court September of 2017. Brian was patient and kind, even though I was probably difficult and frustrating to work with at times. Brian and his team were excellent in navigating me through this difficult process and helping me keep my expectations with the outcome realistic and fair. I can’t thank Brian enough for being there for me during this difficult time.”

J. L.

“I had a very contentious and complicated divorce with four kids involved, and I couldn’t be happier with the way [Attorney] Scott Stewart handled everything. I had an uphill battle the whole way and had to go through three different evidentiary hearings, counter very serious false accusations that were made against me, and a very non-compliant, irrational ex- who wanted everything and more. When all was said and done, I got almost every single thing that I asked for, the most important of which was having my kids more than I ever thought possible. Although the experience was very dramatic and financially damaging, I feel that my faith in the legal system is much stronger than it has been in the past… my dealings with Scott Stewart and his excellent staff are a big reason for that. I feel that Scott knew as much about my situation as I did and that makes a big difference, especially when I compared that with the four different attorneys that my ex-wife had throughout the process. I feel that I lucked-out by finding Scott Stewart and would highly recommend him to anyone going through the unfortunate reality of divorce.”

L. A.

“Amy and her professional staff helped my daughter through the whole process from start to finish with dignity and compassion. Amy definitely knows the law, her attention to detail is incredible. Also, when my daughter had any questions, she was always quick to respond. She definitely has the client’s best interests at heart. I would highly recommend Amy and her staff to anyone who needs a great Divorce/Family law attorney!”

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What is The Best Interest of The Child Standard?

This standard is what the court looks at to make a decision, and includes the following factors:

The court shall determine legal decision-making and parenting time, either originally or on petition for modification, in accordance with the best interests of the child. The court shall consider all factors that are relevant to the child’s physical and emotional well-being, including:

  1. The past, present, and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.
  2. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest.
  3. The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community.
  4. If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal decision-making and parenting time.
  5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
  6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with the other parent. This paragraph does not apply if the court determines that a parent is acting in good faith to protect the child from witnessing an act of domestic violence or being a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.
  7. Whether one parent intentionally misled the court to cause an unnecessary delay, to increase the cost of litigation, or to persuade the court to give a legal decision-making or a parenting time preference to that parent.
  8. Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse pursuant to section 25-403.03.
  9. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding legal decision-making or parenting time.
  10. Whether a parent has complied with chapter 3, article 5 of this title.
  11. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under section 13-2907.02.”

Contact Stewart Law Group To Schedule a Consultation

Divorce is an emotional and difficult process. No matter the cause of a divorce, it can have significant mental and financial impacts on both parties involved. Therefore, it is important to seek experienced legal advice from a qualified family lawyer who will protect your rights throughout the divorce process. With the right representation by your side, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’re protecting yourself and putting yourself in a position for a successful outcome at trial if necessary. Contact Stewart Law Group today to schedule a consultation with a Phoenix alimony lawyer.