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Know the Laws: Arizona

UPDATED June 23, 2016

Basic information about Arizona divorce laws.

back to topWhat are the residency requirements for divorce in Arizona?

To file for divorce in Arizona, you or your spouse must have been a resident of Arizona for at least 90 days before filing for the divorce.*

A member of the armed forces will be considered a resident of Arizona if s/he was stationed in Arizona for a continuous period of 90 days.*

* A.R.S. § 25-312(1)

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back to topWhat are the grounds for divorce in Arizona?

You can be granted a divorce in Arizona if the judge determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken (impossible to fix).*

If you and your spouse have entered into a covenant marriage, the judge can only grant you a divorce for certain reasons.  (If you entered into a covenant marriage, you would have indicated this on your application for a marriage license, completed required premarital counseling, and filed certain paperwork.)**  The judge can grant a divorce from a covenant marriage if:

  • Your spouse commits adultery (cheats on you);
  • Your spouse is convicted of a felony and is sentenced to death or imprisonment;
  • Your spouse abandoned (moved out) of the shared home and refuses to return for a period of at least one year (although it’s possible to file before one year if you expect your spouse not to return within the year);
  • Your spouse has physically or sexually abused you, a child, or a relative that is living in the marital home;
  • Your spouse has committed domestic violence or emotional abuse;
  • You and your spouse have been living separately continuously without reconciling for at least 2 years before filing;
  • You and your spouse have been living separately continuously for at least 1 year from the date that your legal separation was issued (if you received one);
  • Your spouse habitually abuses drugs or alcohol; or
  • You and your spouse both agree to the divorce.***

* A.R.S. § 25-312(3)
** A.R.S. § 25-901
*** A.R.S. § 25-903

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back to topCan I get alimony?

The judge may grant you alimony if s/he determines that:

  • you don’t have enough property to provide for your needs;
  • you are unable to support yourself through appropriate employment;
  • you are the caretaker of a child whose age or condition does not allow for work outside the home;
  • you contributed to the educational opportunities of your spouse; or
  • your marriage lasted many years and you may be unable to find adequate employment to support yourself due to your age.*

* A.R.S. § 25-319(A)

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back to topHow will the judge decide the amount of alimony to award?

If the judge has decided to award you alimony, the judge must also decide what amount is fair.  The judge will not consider misconduct (bad acts) of either spouse when making this decision.  The judge will use the following factors to decide the amount of the alimony award:

  • the standard of living established during the marriage;
  • the length of the marriage;
  • your age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition;
  • your spouse’s ability to meet his/her own needs while also supporting you;
  • the financial resources of you and your spouse, including each of your earning potential;
  • your contribution to the earning ability of your spouse;
  • how much you may have reduced your income or career opportunities for the benefit of your spouse;
  • the ability of you and your spouse to contribute to the future education costs of any children of the marriage;
  • your financial resources, including marital property distributed to you as part of the divorce and your ability to meet your own needs without assistance;
  • the time needed to obtain education or training that will help you find suitable employment, and whether such education or training is readily available;
  • either spouse’s excessive or abnormal spending, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community property or joint property;
  • the cost of securing health insurance for yourself and the amount that your spouse may save on health insurance if you are dropped from his/her plan; and
  • any actual damages and judgments that you (or your spouse) may have won in a lawsuit against the other due to behavior that resulted in a criminal conviction of either spouse (assuming the other spouse or child was the victim).*

* A.R.S. § 25-319(B)

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back to topWhat are the basic steps for filing for divorce?

While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps for a divorce in Arizona:

  • First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state.
  • Second, there must be a reason to end the marriage.  If you have a covenant marriage, you must prove one of the specific grounds (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.*  To learn more above covenant marriage and the specific grounds for divorce, you can visit the state supreme court's website. If you do not have a covenant marriage, a divorce can be granted based on the fact that your marriage is "irretrievably broken."
  • Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse.
  • Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then s/he will have the opportunity to file papers telling his/her side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” If s/he contests it, then you will have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out.  If your spouse does not disagree with anything (known as an "uncontested divorce"), then you can proceed either by default (where s/he takes no action) or by consent.  Speak to a lawyer for more information. 
  • Fifth, if there is property that you need divided or if you need financial support from your spouse, then you will have to work that out either in an out-of-court settlement or in a series of court hearings.  Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.

* See A.R.S. § 25-903

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back to topWhere can I find additional information about divorce?

The State Bar of Arizona provides answers to frequently asked questions about divorce, including questions about grounds for divorce in Arizona.

The Arizona Judicial Branch has a glossary of terms commonly used in divorce and other family law proceedings.

The Superior Court of Arizona provides a booklet that discusses the divorce process and spousal maintenance.

The Arizona Supreme Court has a booklet about divorce, which includes information on residency requirements you must fulfill before you can get a divorce in Arizona.

WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their sites.  These links are for your information only.

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WomensLaw.org would like to thank Sarah Youngblood, Managing Attorney at Community Legal Services, Eastside Office for her help in revising this section.

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