You must follow Arizona’s laws both when you get married and when you divorce in Arizona. This includes meeting minimum eligibility and licensing requirements to make your marriage legal. During your divorce, Arizona courts follow guidelines in Arizona law when rendering decisions about property division, custody, child support and spousal support.
Arizona requires both potential spouses to be at least 18 years old before they can marry, but minors under 18 can marry if they have parental consent. A valid Arizona marriage requires a marriage license, which must be obtained by the potential spouses before the marriage ceremony, or solemnization. Spouses can obtain a marriage license from the clerk of a superior court in any county in Arizona and the license is valid for one year from the date it is issued. Arizona also recognizes another form of marriage, called covenant marriage; spouses must obtain premarital counseling before entering into a covenant marriage.
An Arizona spouse can begin the divorce process by filing a petition for divorce in the Arizona superior court of the county where she lives. The petition must list a reason, or grounds, upon which the court can grant a divorce. Arizona permits spouses to file for divorce on the grounds that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” This no-fault reason allows the filing spouse to obtain a divorce without proving the other spouse committed misconduct like adultery, cruelty or abandonment. Spouses who entered into a covenant marriage cannot use no-fault grounds for divorce, only fault-based grounds like adultery.
In Arizona, divorcing spouses can agree about how to divide property, as well as how to address other issues like child custody, and the Arizona court will generally approve such agreements. However, if the spouses cannot agree, the court will decide for them. Arizona is a community property state, which means property the spouses acquired during the marriage is generally presumed to be marital property, owned equally by both spouses. Some property, like that acquired by gift or inheritance, is not considered marital property unless it becomes commingled, or mixed, with marital property.
If the spouses cannot agree about child custody, the court will create a child custody order it feels is in the best interests of the child involved. Arizona courts consider many factors when deciding what parenting arrangement is in the child’s best interests, including the relationship between each parent and the child, child’s adjustment to his home, school and community, and whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse in the household.