How Long Does Divorce Take in Arizona?
One of the first questions that arises after making the decision to divorce is “how long will this divorce take?” The answer depends on which state you live in and whether you choose litigation or mediation to complete your divorce process.
We offer the following information to help you make an informed decision about how you wish to complete your process. To complete your divorce as efficiently as possible, it is important to understand how choosing litigation or mediation will likely affect your timeline.
Legal Divorce Timeline
In Arizona, it is not possible to finalize a divorce in less than 60 days. Under Arizona law, (A.R.S. § 25-329) the court will not accept the finalizing Consent Decree until at least 60 days after the date of service.
What qualifies as ‘service’ is very different depending upon whether you are in litigation or mediation.
In litigation, service means a spouse is ‘served’ (presented with) the Petition, which is the court document necessary to file for divorce. The attorney will likely arrange for formal service through a process server or deputy sheriff. This can be a very startling and stressful experience that fuels conflict.
In mediation, no one is ‘served’. Spouses complete the Petition and an Acceptance of Service document together with their mediator, eliminating the need for anyone to be served. This approach drastically reduces tension and eases concerns for both spouses.
Once Arizona’s 60 day minimum requirement is met, the length of your divorce process can fluctuate greatly depending on the process you choose.
Arizona Residency Requirement
In Arizona, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least the last 90 days to begin your divorce process. At least one spouse must be able to show, via an Arizona driver’s license, Arizona Voter Registration, etc., for at least the past 90 days.
Legal separation cases do not have the same requirement in Arizona. Without meeting any 90 day residency requirement, spouses can complete the legal separation process. Once the 90 day requirement is met, divorce becomes a possibility.
Litigation With Attorneys Causes Prolonged Divorce
High levels of conflict typically lead to a contentious divorce battle and a prolonged divorce process. Hostile, litigated divorce cases rarely conclude in less than 8 to 10 months and regularly stretch over 1year; with many cases lasting years.
In litigation, it is typical for each spouse to hire an attorney—thereby cutting off any productive communication between the spouses. The court controls the schedule for the whole process, to include dates, deadlines, and requirements. Attorneys, who typically get paid by the hour, may be less inclined to work toward settling out of court. For them, hourly billing means that the longer the case, the higher their legal fees.
Divorce Mediation Online in 2 to 4 Months
Without the constraints of a judge or the court schedule, our clients are empowered to complete their divorce mediation process at their own pace. While a significant number of our clients finish their entire divorce process in less than 60 days (~30%) , the law requires a 60 day waiting period after the signing of the Acceptance of Service to submit the Consent Decree to the court. Our average, the divorce mediation process, is successfully completed in only 2-4 months.
Complex parenting issues, such as: parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, and property division, add complexity and length to the divorce process. Even in uncontested divorces, difficult conversations regarding these issues may cause delays.
Regardless of parents’ desires to divorce as quickly as possible, parenting issues may require extra conversation and negotiation. It is common for spouses to disagree on parenting time considerations, but in mediation, creative solutions that meet both parent’s needs, allow for the best possible agreements. Each family is unique, thus every divorce process is unique. Mediation allows for nuanced agreements that will address the specific needs of your family.
Going to family court to complete your divorce can promote high levels of hostility and encourage unproductive conversations. Working through your divorce process in mediation is a healthy alternative, where conversations happen at whatever pace you desire. In mediation,you are in control of your process—from beginning to end— and high levels of conflict can be avoided.
Hourly vs. Flat Fee – What it Means for You
It is very important for you to know if the divorce professionals you choose to work with will be billing you on an hourly basis or on a flat fee basis.
We believe traditional “hourly billing” is counter-productive to ensuring that conflict remains as low as possible throughout a divorce. As more and more people understand that hiring an attorney is not their only option, families are remaining healthy through their transition and into the future, by completing their process in mediation.
Aggressive divorce attorneys have been known to dig their heels in on any number of positions, without fully appreciating the interests or concerns of their client, causing the divorce process to drag on and on.
Litigation means spouses work against one another to meet their individual needs. This adversarial positioning can lead to a stagnant process, increased conflict, and stalled litigation which can dramatically increase attorney fees.
On the other hand, mediation means spouses work collaboratively, under the guidance of a professional mediator, to communicate in new ways, to reach mutually-beneficial agreements.
The Aurit Center takes a predictable flat fee approach. Regardless of how long your process may take, we never charge by the hour. Our flat fee approach means you can rest assured that we will in no way attempt to delay or prolong your process. We are dedicated to helping both of you every step of the way through an efficient and effective process. Our flat fee approach helps you to accurately plan, which helps reduce conflict.
You are in Control of your Divorce Timeline
Beyond the Superior Court’s required 60-day waiting period, how long your divorce in Arizona will take is up to you. Our healthier divorce mediation offers a more efficient, thoughtful, low-conflict process, compared to the litigation process. Online divorce mediation can significantly reduce the length of your divorce process and result in an affordable divorce with better agreements and healthier co-parenting relationships. The Aurit Center team is committed to providing a new, innovative, healthy approach to divorce.