What Is An Uncontested Divorce in Arizona?

Arizona is a no-fault divorce state which means that neither party must prove that the other has erred in some way to file for divorce. On top of this Arizona also allows people to file for an uncontested or no-contest divorce. But what is an uncontested divorce? There are many reasons why two people may decide that they wish to dissolve their marriage and seek divorce. If both parties are in agreement about ending the marriage and both can agree on the major elements of the separation such as child custody and property division, it is called an uncontested divorce. It is estimated that about 95% of divorces in America are uncontested and end up settled mostly out of court. They are considered somewhat ‘DIY’ divorces.  

uncontested divorce arizona stewart law group

Although both parties may agree about getting divorced and on some or most of the pertinent issues that will need to be addressed when proceeding with a divorce, it does not mean they will necessarily agree on every issue. When this is the case each party can seek out legal counsel to help with mediation to create a fair and equitable uncontested divorce settlement agreement to be presented to the courts. As long as both parties are in full agreement with the terms of the divorce the courts will almost always approve the divorce. 

In contrast, a contested divorce is when neither party can come to an agreement about items like child custody or support, property division, spousal support, and other such issues and they must present their opposing sides in front of a judge to render a verdict. Contested divorces can become quite expensive since they involve court costs and other legal fees. If facing a contested divorce, it is always best to seek counsel from an experienced Arizona divorce lawyer near you who understand Arizona divorce law.

Why Choose An Uncontested Divorce?

Most people looking to end a marriage are hoping to get things resolved as quickly as possible. They want to be able to move on with their lives and start fresh. A no-contest divorce is the easiest option when it comes to dissolving a marriage and letting both parties go their separate ways. Some of the advantages and reasons people may choose an uncontested divorce include:

Time: An uncontested divorce can be processed in as little as 3-6 months, depending on the issues that need to be addressed and the amount of time it can take to get a court date. Whereas contested divorces can drag on for years depending on the complexity of the issues that need to be solved.

Cost: The cost of an uncontested divorce in Arizona is significantly cheaper than that of a contested divorce. Courts fees for filing a petition for the dissolution of marriage and an answer or response to that petition in Maricopa County, AZ are about $500, and this cost will be very similar throughout the state of Arizona. The only other cost involved with a contested divorce is the legal fees should you employ a divorce attorney near you to help you sort out some of the more difficult issues for both parties to agree upon. But even these fees can be quite a bit less than in a contested divorce where divorce lawyers will have to do extensive investigation and preparation for trial. 

Strain on Family: In divorces where children are involved emotions can run high, often causing the children stress and upset. Moving forward with an uncontested divorce and trying to come to agreements that work best for the children rather than getting into a nasty custody battle can help the children see that their parents will still work together for their good and help ease their fears.

There are times when an uncontested divorce is not the best way to proceed. Typically when one or both parties cannot agree on certain terms of the divorce or if there is a question of safety for either one of the parties or children involved. In this case it is best for the courts to step in and determine a fair and equitable divorce agreement.

uncontested divorce 2 arizona stewart law groupHow To File For An Uncontested Divorce in Arizona

The steps involved with filing for an uncontested are fairly easy and straightforward.

  1. Fill Out a Petition for Divorce – The first step is for one of the spouses to fill out a petition for divorce document that can be found on your local county court’s website. The party that fills it out becomes the petitioner in the state of Arizona and files the document with the court. The petition will cover all pertinent information about both parties such as names, date of marriage, date of separation, etc. It will also have a section to be filled in with a breakdown of how finances, property, debt, child custody, and other terms of the divorce should be handled.
  2. File The Petition Papers – Once the papers are filled out the petitioner hands them into the county clerk’s office and pays the filing fee. Depending on the county you live in there is the possibility of e-filing as well. The clerk’s office will stamp the forms and give the petitioner a case number and issue them a summons to give to the other spouse. 
  3. Serve The Papers – The next step is to serve the summons and divorce papers to the spouse who did not file. This person is known as the respondent. There are a number of different ways that a person could be served divorce papers including in person, by mail, through a county sheriff, or by publication. This step is necessary to prove that both parties are aware of the intention to divorce. The respondent has 20 days in Arizona and 30 days if out of state to respond or the petitioner then has the right to apply for a default judgment with the courts. 
  4. Creation of a Settlement Agreement – Before the courts will agree to grant a divorce they must see a signed and notarized settlement agreement. This document will give a full overview of how property will be divided, child custody, visitation and support agreements, spousal support agreements, and any other items that need to be determined such as insurance or pension issues. It is during this step that a divorce attorney who is experienced in mediation can be a help. Couples who are divorcing rarely agree on all terms and having legal counsel involved can help the process go much smoother. The creation of the document can be done before or after filing divorce petition papers but it must be completed before stepping in front of a judge. 
  5. Final Court Hearing – After all of the paperwork has been completed a court date can be set. The judge will review all documents in the divorce agreement and may ask questions of either party to clarify that both are satisfied with the agreement and believe it to be fair and equitable. Once that is completed a divorce decree can be issued making the divorce official. In uncontested divorces, this step is typically very brief. 

Contact Our Office For Help With Your Uncontested Divorce

Although uncontested divorces are the easiest way to get a divorce in the state of Arizona they can still come with their own challenges. It is usually best to hire a lawyer or mediator to assist in the negotiation process for creating the divorce settlement agreement papers. They can help both parties come to terms about property division and child-related issues that will be best for both parties. If you are beginning the divorce process it can be a difficult time and you need someone on your side that is both an expert in divorce law and who can offer compassion and understanding. The team here at Stewart Law Group has years of experience helping Arizona residents go through the divorce process helping them come to the best possible resolution for themselves and their families. Contact our office today to set up a free initial consultation and see how we can help you. 602-548-3400

 

See What Our Clients Have To Say About Us

“Certainly no one wants to go through a divorce, but I am so grateful to my attorney, Robert Howard and the rest of the team at Stewart Law Group for their care, support, and professional legal work in resolving my case. From the very beginning, I was provided with resources that educated me about the process, protecting my interests, and relieving a great deal of fear and anxiety. I received sound advice at every step, and communication was great! I would recommend Robert Howard and the Stewart Law Group to anyone who finds themselves faced with the end of their marriage.”

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