Choosing to end your marriage is not an easy decision to make. One of the most common ways to end your legal union is to file for a divorce. Both the husband and wife should agree on the terms and conditions involving asset division, alimony (spousal support), child support, or child custody.

The article explains the divorce process in Arizona. Divorce (also known as dissolution of marriage), can be filed by either the husband or the wife. The dissolution process will begin once you have filed your complete divorce paperwork with the court. Here are some of the important steps to take when you decide to file for divorce:

  1. Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  2. Filing a Response
  3. Understanding Temporary Orders
  4. Settling Child Custody Issues
  5. Calculating Child Support
  6. Finalizing the Divorce Process
  7. Calculating the Cost of Divorce
  8. Understanding the Role of a Divorce Attorney

Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

When you file for divorce, the first step that you need to take is to accomplish the dissolution paperwork that includes a “Petition and Summons”. This petition informs your spouse and the court regarding your terms and conditions in filing for divorce. It should specify your requests for child support, child custody, division of marital property, spousal maintenance (alimony), and lawyer’s fees. The dissolution petition must be served by the spouse who will file for divorce to the other party through the help of a sheriff or a process server.

Filing a Response

The respondent or the spouse who receives the dissolution petition has the right to agree or disagree with its terms and conditions. In Arizona, there is a specific deadline for filing a response to any dissolution petition. Generally, the respondent can file a response within 20 days from the served date, or 30 days if the respondent lives outside the state.

If you fail to respond to the dissolution petition, a “default judgment” can be made by the court against you. Once a default judgment is declared, the court has the right to grant the divorce petition of the filing spouse even without hearing from the non-responsive spouse.

Understanding Temporary Orders

For divorces in Arizona, a judge may issue temporary orders, also known as “pendente lite orders”. Temporary family law orders provide a way for couples to address issues before a formal divorce settlement is agreed upon. Issues that can be addressed include spousal support (alimony), temporary child custody, possession of the residential property, and health insurance. These orders are not mandatory, but they do serve an essential purpose in some divorce cases. You can receive temporary orders through an agreement with the other party or by a ruling from a family court judge. Typically, these orders last until your divorce is finalized.

Settling Child Custody Issues

Determining child custody is one of the most crucial and difficult tasks to consider when parents separate or file for divorce. When you and your spouse decide to end your marriage, your role as parents will not end with it. A credible Phoenix AZ divorce lawyer can help you agree on how to fulfill your parental responsibilities (legal custody) and manage parenting time (child visitation). If both parties fail to come up with a custody agreement due to irreconcilable differences, the judge will decide based on the best interests of the child. When you’re negotiating child custody and your parenting plan, there are two types of custody that can be granted to you. It can be legal custody or physical custody.

Legal Custody

The parent who is granted legal custody is authorized to make major decisions on the child’s life. It includes decision-making about the child’s education, medical needs, religious life, and more. Legal custody can be shared by both parents. However, if both parties can’t agree on any of these major issues, then the primary custodial parent has the right to decide.

Physical Custody

This type of custody is granted to the parent who will primarily live with the child and care for them daily. In some cases, one parent may have “primary physical custody” or both parents can share “joint physical custody”.

Calculating Child Support

Child support is money paid by one parent to the other parent to provide financial support to a child. The goal of child support is to divide the costs associated with raising a child between the parents. Child support computation in Arizona aims to be a universal standard, so that child support determinations will be consistent for everyone. It can be calculated based on the number of children involved and the parent’s income. A judge has to follow certain child support guidelines before issuing a child support award.

Finalizing the Divorce Process

After filing your divorce papers and establishing temporary orders, here are the next steps that you need to take during the divorce process:


By definition, discovery is part of the pre-trial phase of a divorce in which each party obtains evidence and valuable information from the other party involved.  The goal of discovery is to ensure that both spouses have the same information that will allow you to negotiate a fair agreement as part of your final settlement. The leading Surprise, AZ divorce legal team can help you submit and gather relevant information on your behalf during the discovery process. Here are some of the types of discovery that can be used by your divorce lawyer:

  • Interrogatories – list of written questions that must be answered truthfully by both spouses)
  • Requests for production – formal request to produce specific documents related to your divorce
  • Depositions – sworn testimony from an opposing party or witnesses in a divorce


Even if you have already gathered enough evidence to support your divorce case, the judge will not schedule you for a divorce trial until you and your spouse have tried “divorce mediation”. This mediation gives couples the option to plan their futures rationally with cooperation and mutual respect. With the assistance of a trained divorce mediator, you can reach an agreement that will be best for your family, your finances, and your future.


A divorce trial is when both the husband and wife cannot agree on some or all of the issues in your divorce and you need to have a judge to help you make the final decision. When your divorce goes to trial, you will present your case at a formal trial in court. The judge will hear each spouse’s case and will make any necessary decisions for the divorce.

In some cases, a trial doesn’t automatically end a divorce case. If you or your spouse is not satisfied with the results of the divorce trial, you may appeal the judge’s decision. An appeal is a request to have a higher court change or reverse the judgment of a lower court. Appealing a divorce judgment is time-consuming and may not end in one or both spouse’s favor. If no one appeals, then the divorce is final.

Calculating the Cost of Divorce

Your divorce cost will be based on the intricacy of your family’s case. A primary factor impacting the cost of divorce is the process you choose to complete your divorce. Divorce cases filed by couples with few assets or without children involved tend to be cheaper than divorce cases filed by couples who own several businesses or with children involved.

Understanding the Role of a Divorce Attorney

Divorce is one of the most complex and emotional legal processes in family law. It is a challenging and stressful process that mentally and physically affects the husband and wife, as well as their children. Therefore, it is advisable to consult our competent Arizona divorce lawyers at Dodds Law Firm. Our experienced lawyers in Phoenix can guide you throughout the divorce process. We will help you know the divorce laws, protect your rights, and negotiate on important family matters.