If you and your soon to be ex-spouse have agreed on the terms of your divorce, your divorce may be considered “uncontested.” You can work with your spouse to file the necessary paperwork setting forth your agreements and the case can be completed out of court, without involving a judge. Furthermore, you can get a divorce in Arizona without involving attorneys. However, getting a divorce without a lawyer is not always a good decision, especially if you have a high net worth, children are involved, etc. Below you will learn more about uncontested divorce in Arizona.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Arizona
In Arizona, a contested divorce means spouses cannot come to an agreement regarding one or more issues involved in terminating the marriage. Unless a settlement of these issues can be reached, a contested divorce will typically be brought to court to adjudicate the dispute, according to LegalArticles.
Disadvantages of contested divorce in Arizona:
Contested divorce disadvantages include:
- The judge determines the final decision
- Both parties may need attorneys
- Likelihood of multiple court appearances
- Almost always takes longer
- Almost always costs more money
An uncontested divorce, on the other hand, means spouses reach agreements regarding the issues related to the ending of the marriage, often before the initial paperwork is even filed.
Advantages of uncontested divorce in Arizona:
Uncontested divorce advantages include:
- You and your spouse make the final decisions
- You may not have to go to court
- Settlement costs less than divorce litigation
- You may feel more comfortable representing yourself
- The process typically takes less time
Uncontested Divorce Filing Process in Arizona
To file for divorce in Arizona, one partner needs to file a form called a Petition for Dissolution with the Superior Court Clerk in the county where at least one spouse lives. However, according to A.R.S. § 25-312 the spouse who files must have been a resident of AZ for at least ninety days.
The spouse filing the petition becomes known for legal purposes as the ‘Petitioner’ and the other party becomes known as the ‘respondent’. After the petition is filed, there are two ways you can get an uncontested divorce: by consent decree or by default.
Default Divorce in Arizona
If you file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Arizona and your spouse doesn’t file a Response within 20 days (30 days if he or she lives out of state), you may be able to ask the court to allow you to proceed by “default.” This means that the divorce process can go forward without the other party’s involvement. In these cases, the court might grant a default divorce decree, finalizing the divorce according to the terms in the Petition. Most states no longer recognize fault divorce according to BestLegalChoices.
Consent Decree in Arizona
If both spouses are in agreement about the divorce or are willing to work together on the details of the divorce, the court can then issue what is called a Consent Decree. At this point, they may want to consider working with a collaborative divorce attorney to help with the finer details. A collaborative divorce attorney can actually help lower your costs by avoiding costly mistakes.
If you have children, there is an extra step. According to Divorce.net, “If you have children together, both you and your spouse also have to attend a parent education class after the petition is filed, but before the decree is entered.”
Uncontested Divorce Cost in Arizona
The divorcing couple can go to the court and file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The court, depending on the county, will charge between $300 and $400 in filing fees. This makes the average court cost of an uncontested divorce in Arizona about $620 according to CanterburyLawGroup. This does not include Arizona divorce attorney fees. If the two parties amicably divorce at this point, then only court fees will have to be paid assuming the parties are sophisticated enough to paper their own divorce.
If the divorcing couple needs legal assistance, for example, a divorce attorney in Phoenix, legal fees at an hourly rate will have to be paid in addition to court fees. Some couples prefer to hire a mediator and legal counsel. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $500 per hour to hire a private mediator for divorce mediation services in Arizona. Mediators typically charge similar rates to attorneys. Overall, the fees of an uncontested divorce are far less in comparison to a contested divorce in Arizona.
Uncontested divorce options in Arizona
Uncontested divorce options in Arizona include:
Collaborative Divorce in Arizona
Collaborative divorce in Arizona is an out-of-court – private process – that can provide a peaceful path to divorce even if you and your spouse are not in agreement on child-related or financial issues coming into the process. In a collaborative divorce, each party has a lawyer to advocate for their interests according to BestLegalChoices. Learn more about Collaborative Divorce in Arizona
Divorce Mediation in Arizona
Divorce Mediation is a divorce process where a divorce mediator, neutral third party, works with both spouses to facilitate agreements regarding all their divorce issues. Mediation is typically more affordable than a traditional/litigated divorce in Arizona and often helps the spouses reach full agreements. The divorce mediation process allows both parties to determine the outcome of their divorce rather than a judge. Learn more about Divorce Mediation in Arizona
Default Divorce in Arizona
You can file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Arizona by yourself, and your spouse doesn’t file a Response within 20 days (30 days if he or she lives out of state), you might be able to ask the court to proceed by “default.” This means that the uncontested divorce process can go forward without the other spouse’s involvement. In these cases, the court might grant a default divorce decree, finalizing the divorce according to the terms in the Petition.
Legal Separation in Arizona
The process of legal separation in Arizona is a similar to divorce in that the court enters orders regarding legal decision making, parenting time and child support, as well as division of assets/debts and spousal maintenance; however, the parties are still legally married at the end of a legal separation, whereas the marriage is terminated at the end of a divorce. Learn more about Legal Separation in Arizona
Choose the Right Uncontested Divorce Lawyer in Arizona
Regardless of the choice you make, it’s important you make the best choice for you when hiring an uncontested divorce attorney. Remember: The decisions you make now can affect your future. Ultimately, choosing the best lawyer will depend on which lawyer feels best for you and your situation.
Engaging with an attorney to protect your family is never an easy step. Whether you need to protect your family from the unthinkable or restructure your family through collaborative divorce, we’re here to help. When you’re ready to schedule a consultation with Michelle Ogborne, please visit the scheduling page to get started.