Arizona Family Law Guide

Considering a divorce or legal separation? We're here to help

Posted by Editor on July 28, 2022


Areas of Family Law We Serve

Most people in Arizona are affected by family law issues. In order to make the best decisions for your family in a family law case, you will need the advice and guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable advocate.

Arizona family law attorneys work closely with clients going through divorce, child custody and visitation issues, modifications, and other issues. We also assist with paternity determination, legal decision-making, prenuptial agreements, and same-sex divorce issues.

The Different Areas of Family Law in Arizona

Divorce without Children Involved

Divorces without minor children have the potential to be more straightforward. If you are divorcing without minor children, you must still address how your property and debts will be divided between you and your spouse. Spousal maintenance or support may also be an issue depending on the facts of your case.

In Arizona, divorces without children can be contested or uncontested. If you and your spouse agree on how to divide your property and debts, as well as all other issues, the divorce process can be relatively quick. If your spouse refuses to sign a settlement agreement, you may have to go to court to resolve the issues.

If you and your spouse have been married for a long time and no longer have children, you may have amassed significant assets. We have experience handling high-net-worth divorces and gray divorces, and we are ready to assist you with your case.

Divorce with Children Involved

If you have children with your spouse and want to divorce, you will have to deal with all of the child custody issues in addition to property/debt division and spousal support. Legal decision-making authority, parenting time, child support, property division, debt division, and possibly spousal support will all need to be addressed in an Arizona divorce with children.

Divorcing with children necessitates the filing of additional legal documents with the court as well as the fulfillment of other requirements that are not required if the case does not involve children.

Attorneys can assist you throughout the divorce process and work with you to reach an agreement that resolves all outstanding issues. We are also prepared to litigate on our clients' behalf when their divorces are contested in order to secure an outcome that protects their interests and is in the best interests of their children.

Child Custody and Parenting Time Establishment & Modification

While many people believe that child custody only refers to where a child lives, child custody entails much more. Courts base child custody and parenting time decisions on a variety of factors.

Custody is also known as legal decision-making in Arizona, and it refers to which parent will have the authority to make decisions on their children's religious upbringing, education, and medical needs. Legal decisions can be shared or made solely by one parent.

Parenting time refers to the amount of time the children will spend with each parent. Parents may share parenting time equally, or children may spend more time with one parent, with regular visitation granted to the other.

Legal decision-making authority and parenting time are always decided in the best interests of the children rather than the interests of either parent.

Courts base child custody and parenting time decisions on a variety of factors. We can assist you in comprehending the factors at work and how they may apply to your child custody case. Our child custody lawyers can also help you and your children reach an agreement on a parenting plan.

Establishing Paternity

When the parents of a child are unmarried, the man is not automatically assumed to be the father. The process of determining the father of a child is known as establishing paternity. It is also the first step for unmarried people seeking child support or asserting parental rights.

He will not have enforceable rights to child custody unless he establishes his paternity of the child. A mother can't get a child support order against an unmarried father until she proves he's the father of her child.

Unmarried fathers who want reasonable parenting time and decision-making authority over their children must establish paternity. Paternity can be established through an acknowledgment of paternity signed by both parents or by filing a paternity petition in court.

Following the filing of a petition, the court may order both the putative father and the child to undergo DNA testing to determine whether or not the man is the child's father. Once his paternity is established, the court will issue child support orders, and the father, with the assistance of an attorney, can file petitions for child custody and visitation rights.

Child Support Establishment & Modification

Both parents are expected to contribute financially to their child's upbringing in Arizona. Child support may be an issue if you have a child with someone with whom you do not live. Child support guidelines are in place in the courts to determine the appropriate amount of support that should be ordered in a specific case.

In general, the amount of child support ordered will be calculated by taking into account the number of children involved, the parties' incomes, the allocation of parenting time, the cost to a parent of providing health insurance for the children, the cost of childcare, any special needs a child may have, and other factors.

Child support attorneys can assist you in calculating the amount of child support you may be entitled to or ordered to pay. We can also argue for deviations from the guideline amount if special circumstances warrant it.

Same-sex Divorce & Other Legal Matters

When same-sex couples divorce, they may face unique issues regarding property division, child custody, and child support. Because same-sex marriage has only been legal in Arizona for a few years, many same-sex couples who have been together for a long time may have amassed substantial assets prior to their marriages.

This can cause issues during the property division phase of the divorce. Similarly, when a child is the biological child of one parent but not the other, child custody issues may arise.

Spousal Support Establishment & Modification

When you file for divorce, you or your spouse may request spousal support. Even if your income is significantly lower than your spouse's, requesting spousal support does not guarantee that the court will grant it.

The first step in any spousal maintenance case is determining whether a spouse is legally entitled to support. Spousal maintenance may be awarded when one spouse does not have enough property or earning ability to meet their reasonable needs.

Spousal maintenance may also be awarded when one spouse contributed to the other spouse's earning ability or career or made career sacrifices for the benefit of the other spouse. The Court will also consider the length of the marriage and whether a spouse is too old to work.

When determining how much and for how long support should be awarded, Arizona law requires the court to consider thirteen (13) separate statutory factors.

Once entitlement is established, the proper amount and duration of the maintenance or support award must be determined. Judges have broad discretion over the issue, which means that good, creative lawyering has a good chance of producing a better result.

When a spousal support order is issued, the payor spouse must continue to make the payments as directed or face being held in contempt of court.

If you believe that spousal support may be an issue in your divorce, you should seek legal counsel. We can assist you in understanding the various factors at work and negotiating an agreement with your spouse.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are contracts that are drafted prior to a couple's marriage. After they have married, people can enter into postnuptial agreements. These agreements can be used to keep certain types of property separate in the event of a divorce and to address whether a spouse is eligible for spousal support.

An antenuptial agreement cannot contain any unconscionable provisions in order to be valid. The parties must also have fully disclosed their finances and debts to each other and cannot have used coercion or duress to obtain the agreement of the other party.

People who bring significant assets into their marriages may benefit from entering into a prenuptial agreement. The agreement can specify which assets will remain the sole property of each spouse even if both use them during the marriage. A prenuptial agreement, if properly drafted, can make the division of property much easier in the event of a divorce.

Community Property Division

The task of determining who will receive what during the divorce process is a common one. When both parties do not agree to divide assets equally, things can get complicated.

In each case, the factors of what is considered "separate property" or what has become "community property" - meaning that both spouses have equal rights to the item - come into play.

Because Arizona is a Community Property state, unless a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is established, the courts must divide assets fairly and equally. This included real estate (houses and land), business assets, and even debt. This is typically when the services of an experienced family law attorney are required.

Orders of Protection & Restraining Orders

Orders of Protection in Arizona are intended to keep subjects from harassing or committing domestic violence against specific people or groups of people.

An injunction against harassment is another type of Restraining Order of Protection in Arizona. A harassment injunction can be issued against any non-qualifying third party to prevent the restrained party from harassing the protected party. This is common in divorce proceedings.

If the individual violates the order of protection, they will face criminal charges. Because there are many elements to consider when filing a restraining order, it is best to consult with our attorneys to ensure that everything is done correctly.

Adoption & Termination of Parental Rights

Adoption is typically one of our family law attorneys' least adversarial areas of practice.

We can help you navigate the adoption process whether you want to adopt a child through an adoption agency, from foster care, or through a family adoption. We also assist with step-parent adoptions and parental rights severance for disinterested, unfit, or uninvolved parents.

Our adoption services can assist you in understanding the requirements for adopting a child and whether or not a home study is required.

Step-parents are not required to be certified in order to adopt. The child's other parent, on the other hand, must either consent to the adoption or have his or her parental rights terminated.

Legal Resources & Directories


Divorce Attorney Phoenix AZ


Divorce in Arizona Without Children