When Does a Divorce Become Final in Arizona?

by Heather Frances J.D. Google

Once you decide to file for divorce in Arizona, the amount of time the process takes depends heavily on whether your spouse decides to fight the divorce or any issues involving property and custody. The divorce process is much easier and quicker if it is uncontested and can be completed in as few as 60 days, but contested divorces may take much longer.

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Waiting Period

Arizona has a mandatory 60-day waiting period before your divorce is final. To initiate your divorce, you must file a divorce petition with the appropriate local court and serve copies of this paperwork on your spouse. The 60-day waiting period does not begin until your spouse is officially served or accepts service, so it may take longer than 60 days to divorce if you wait several days to serve your spouse after filing your petition.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse have signed a marital settlement agreement addressing such topics as child custody, property division and child support, and neither of you attempts to fight the divorce in court. With an uncontested divorce, you can submit your settlement agreement to the court and be divorced as soon as the 60-day waiting period has elapsed and the judge approves it.

Contested Divorce

Contested divorces in Arizona may take between six and 18 months, or longer, depending on the complexity of the case. For example, if you only dispute one or two items, the process may be quicker, but if you dispute several issues and the court has a heavy case load, the divorce might take years. Delays may come from the process of gathering evidence from your spouse’s attorney, going through mediation, preparing for trial and trial itself. Mediation is not mandatory in Arizona unless it is ordered by a judge, but it might make your divorce quicker if you and your spouse can reach agreement through the mediator.

Divorce Decree

Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, it is not final until the day the judge signs your divorce decree. If you have a contested divorce, the decree may not be signed on the day of trial so your divorce may not be final until a later time. Your judge may want to review the evidence and testimony from the trial before issuing the divorce decree. Until the decree is signed, you are still considered legally married.