Divorce doesn't happen overnight, but some states permit it to happen quicker than others. Arizona’s waiting period is 60 days, so spouses must wait at least that long, though divorce often takes much longer than 60 days if court schedules are busy or the couple cannot reach agreement about the major terms of the divorce.
Arizona’s waiting period begins with the date the filing spouse serves the divorce petition on the other spouse. In 2010, attempts to change the waiting period from 60 days to 180 days were made but unsuccessful; thus, Arizona spouses still must wait at least 60 days before their divorce can become final. However, once the 60 day period is over, the next step depends on the spouses’ level of agreement and the case’s length depends on whether the divorce is contested, uncontested or by default.
If the filing spouse properly serves the other spouse, called the responding spouse, with the divorce paperwork, the responding spouse has 20 days to respond to the petition if he lives in Arizona or 30 days if he lives outside Arizona. These 20-to-30 days take place within the 60 day waiting period mandated by Arizona law. If he does not respond within that 20- or 30-day period, the filing spouse can ask the court for a default hearing after the 60 day waiting period is complete. The court can grant the default divorce, typically based on the filing spouse’s petition, since the responding spouse did not respond.
If the filing spouse and responding spouse agree to the terms of their divorce, the divorce is said to be uncontested. With this type of divorce, the spouses can submit a consent decree, along with their marital settlement agreement, to the court for approval once the 60-day waiting period has passed. If the case involves children, the spouses must also submit a parenting plan, child support worksheet, child support order, judgment data sheet and certificates from a mandatory parenting class.
If spouses contest the terms of divorce, the process will take much longer than 60 days -- typically between eight and 15 months. Once the filing spouse serves the divorce petition on the responding spouse, the responding spouse must file an answer with the court. Next, the case enters a discovery phase where both sides have the right to request evidence from the other spouse. If the couple has children, both spouses attend a parenting education class and mediation. If the spouses still cannot reach agreement, a trial is scheduled where the court will hear evidence from both sides before reaching a decision.