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Divorce basics in Arizona

Arizona residents contemplating divorce may wonder what the process entails. In order to file for divorce, either the filing spouse or the respondent must be a resident in the state for 90 days. Since Arizona is a no-fault state, the divorce is sought due to irreconcilable differences that caused the breakdown of the marriage. Arizona is one of three states the recognize so-called "covenant marriages", where the divorce process is stricter.

After the petitioner files in the county court, the paperwork is served on the respondent. If the respondent is not able to be served by a deputy sheriff or a process server in or out of the state, then the divorce papers may be sent to the last known address by certified mail. There is a 60-day waiting period from when the respondent is served. If after searching for the respondent, the petitioner is satisfied they have made a good faith effort, they may publish a notice in a newspaper for four weeks. If the latter method is used, the respondent cannot be ordered by the court to pay spousal or child support.

The respondent is allowed to contest the divorce. If that does not happen within a predesignated period of time, a default judgment may be granted. Default periods vary according to the method of service. When service is accepted or served by a deputy in Arizona, the default period is 21 days. If certified mail is used or if it is served out of state by a deputy, it is 31 days. However, when a newspaper is used, the default period is 90 days after the first published notice.

An attorney with experience in family law may help make the process of divorce easier, particularly with issues such as alimony, property division and child support. The attorney may also provide guidance in attempting to negotiate a settlement agreement.

Source: Divorce Support, "Arizona Uncontested Divorce", September 15, 2014

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