Area of Law:
Divorce is referred to as “dissolution of marriage” in the state of Arizona. Married couples do not have a legal or a constitutional right to seek a divorce, but states commonly grant divorces because compelling people to stay married would be go public policy. Arizona recognizes both standard and covenant marriages, and each type has separate requirements for dissolution.
In the United States, “no-fault” and “fault” are the two kinds of grounds, or justifications, for a divorce. In some states, no-fault is the only acceptable justification for divorce, even if fault grounds exist within the marriage. Other states allow the people involved to elect either a no-fault or a fault divorce. The United States first adopted the concept of a no-fault divorce in the late 1960's, and nearly all of states presently allow for some type of it. Arizona allows both no-fault and fault grounds for divorces, depending upon the specific type of marriage that is being dissolved.
Arizona recognizes two types of marriages: a standard and a covenant. Both types of marriage are valid, and one does not replace the other. To enter into a covenant marriage, a couple must have premarital counseling provided by a member of the clergy or a marriage counselor. They must also sign a special statement, or covenant, when they apply for their marriage license. For a greater explanation of covenant marriage, go to the Arizona Supreme Court website.
For standard marriages, Arizona uses a no-fault standard of divorce that does not require either spouse to prove blame or fault in order for the divorce to be granted. In the case of covenant marriages, a dissolution of marriage may only be granted for specific reasons, or fault grounds, according to Arizona State law. Furthermore, either spouse must have been a resident of Arizona for at least 90 days before filing for divorce.
Many states require a “cooling-off” period of separation for a specific length of time before no-fault divorce proceedings can commence. During this time, the couple is required to live separate and apart with the intent that the separation will become permanent. The duration of the cooling-off period varies according to state law. In Arizona, the waiting period is 60 days.
Some states also allow fault grounds for divorce. Common fault grounds include cruelty, desertion, adultery, prison confinement, habitual intemperance (drunkenness or drug addiction), and impotency. According to lawyers.com, the fault grounds for dissolution of a covenant marriage in Arizona include adultery, conviction of a felony that demands punishment of imprisonment or death, abandonment for more than one year, acts of domestic violence against a spouse, child, or other relative, living separately for at least two years, living separately for at least one year after a legal separation is granted, habitual abuse of drugs or alcohol, and both spouses agree to the dissolution.
A consent decree can be obtained in Arizona without going to court if the spouse can agree to all of the dissolution of marriage terms, including custody, parenting time, child support, property issues, debt issues, and financial issues. The divorce decree is the final order of the court that legally ends the marriage. Spouses are not actually "divorced" until the court formally grants the divorce and the judge signs the decree.
The grounds for divorce vary widely across the United States. The American Bar Association provides a variety of information regarding divorce requirements state by state, including Arizona, on their Section of Family Law website. A chart comparing all 50 states can be found at abanet.org
*An example of an Arizona Divorce Settlement Agreement can be seen on Free Legal Aid.