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If you are dealing with a divorce in Chandler, one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your family is hire an experienced and highly qualified divorce attorney to represent you. The Chandler divorce attorneys at Guymon Law have been assisting clients with divorce cases for a collective 50 years. We have what it takes to handle divorce cases involving children, no children, high-value assets, a shared business and many other elements. Find out how we can protect your rights during a Chandler divorce case today. Contact us to schedule a case evaluation.
Services We Provide During a Divorce Case in Chandler
Some people in Arizona choose to file their divorce petitions on their own. While this is always an option available to you, it may not be in your best interests to move forward without a divorce lawyer. Unless you have a background in family law, you might not understand how divorce cases work in Arizona – or how best to protect your rights when going up against your former spouse or their attorney. This could lead to a divorce settlement that is unfair or takes advantage of you.
With an attorney by your side, on the other hand, you can build a strong case for your desired divorce outcome, including child custody and property division. You can also save time and money with an easier and more efficient legal process. At Guymon Law, we treat our clients to the highest quality legal services, which include:
- Explaining how the divorce and court processes work in Arizona.
- Filling out and filing confusing divorce paperwork with the Maricopa County family courts.
- Helping you reduce costs through fee waivers and other techniques.
- Hiring forensic accountants and other experts to support your case.
- Presenting evidence and information in a way that showcases your side of the story.
- Guiding you through divorce arbitration or mediation in Chandler.
- Representing you during a divorce trial, if your case goes to court.
Your lawyer will take care of all of the most difficult aspects of your divorce case so that you can focus on yourself and your family. You don’t have to go through this alone. Our attorneys, paralegals and staff members will support you through every phase of your divorce or legal separation in Chandler, giving you advice that you can trust and overcoming any challenges that you encounter.
How to File for Divorce in Arizona
In Arizona, you can file for what is known as a no-fault divorce without having to give a specific reason, such as adultery. You do not have to prove that your spouse caused you to grow apart to get a divorce. Instead, you can simply cite irreconcilable differences on your Chandler divorce paperwork. You or your spouse will need to fill out and file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. It does not matter which one of you files – both the Petitioner and the Respondent will have the opportunity to negotiate and state their cases.
The Petitioner must file the required paperwork with the Superior Court in the county where he or she resides and pay the filing fee. Then, a copy must be served on the Respondent, who will have 20 days from the date of service to respond (or 30 days if the Respondent lives outside of the state). If the Respondent does not agree with the Petitioner’s proposed terms, he or she can respond and both parties can work together to come to a settlement.
If a settlement is impossible, the case will go to trial. This is what is known as a contested divorce. It is generally longer and more expensive than an uncontested divorce, as it involves a court trial. If the Respondent never files a response to the Petition – or if the Petitioner cannot locate the other party after expending a reasonable effort to do so – the Petitioner can receive a default divorce. A default divorce accepts all of the Petitioner’s terms and becomes effective 10 days after the application has been filed.
The Steps of a Divorce
If you are considering divorce, the first step is consulting with a qualified Chandler divorce attorney. An attorney can explain your rights and let you know whether you should hire legal representation for the duration of your case. When you are ready to proceed, your attorney will help you prepare the initial divorce petition.
Filing the Petition
The petition will inform the court and the other party how your property should be divided and whether you or your spouse is entitled to Chandler spousal maintenance (alimony). If you have children, the petition will also include information about your requests for custody and child support. Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, unless the parties have entered into a covenant marriage.
Serving the Other Spouse
After the petition is filed, the other party must be served with the petition before the case can proceed. The other party can accept service, or they may be served by a registered process server. In some cases, they may be served by publication. Once the other party is served, they are prohibited from transferring, concealing, selling or disposing of any community property unless certain exceptions apply.
Discovery and Disclosure
In most cases, the parties will exchange financial information to identify and locate all of the community assets. The parties are required to exchange bank statements, financial affidavits and other information so that they can both make an informed decision about how to divide their assets. Disclosure may also include information about child custody in Chandler, criminal history and mental health treatment.
Almost every divorce case in Chandler will include some form of mediation or alternative dispute resolution. After disclosure is exchanged, the parties may attempt to settle the case through their attorneys or through a mediator. Mediation often results in a partial or full agreement, reducing the need for expensive litigation.
If the case cannot be settled in mediation, the remaining issues will be decided by a judge. At trial, each party will have an opportunity to present evidence supporting his or her position. The judge will apply the law based on the facts presented at trial and issue a decision. In Arizona, all divorce trials are decided by a judge, rather than a jury.
In some cases, the parties may agree on everything right from the start, or after participating in mediation. If the parties have a full agreement and the case is uncontested, a trial is unnecessary. If your case is uncontested, our attorneys can help you prepare your divorce decree.
If your case is decided by a judge and one or both parties disagrees with the decision, it may be necessary to appeal the ruling. A ruling may be appealed if the judge made a legal error in deciding your case. Appealing a judge’s decision is rare, but is sometimes necessary to achieve a fair result.
Is There a Waiting Requirement for a Divorce in Chandler?
Yes. Like many states, Arizona enforces a waiting period of 60 days to get a divorce. This means that you and your spouse must wait 60 days from the time that you file your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage before the courts will finalize your divorce. The waiting period gives you and your spouse a chance to work out the aspects of your divorce, such as property division and child custody, to increase the odds of achieving a settlement. It also prevents hasty divorces and remarriages by giving a couple time to reconcile, if applicable.
How Does Arizona Divide Property in a Divorce Case?
Arizona is a community property state, meaning the courts will divide all assets and property acquired during the marriage down the middle, giving 50 percent to one spouse and 50 percent to the other. In an equitable division state, on the other hand, a judge will allocate a percentage of the marital property to each spouse based on what is equitable (fair) after carefully analyzing their situation. This means if your divorce case goes to trial in Arizona, you may have to split all property and debts with your spouse.
Community property refers to everything earned, gained or acquired during your marriage. This includes debts. Any assets or debts that were owned separately by either spouse before the marriage, however, are separate property, unless they were commingled during the union. For example, your own bank accounts will remain separate property unless you turn them into joint accounts with your spouse. Gifts or inheritance given only to one spouse during the marriage are also classified as separate property. The courts in Arizona have jurisdiction to divide community property but cannot touch separate property.
How Is Child Custody Determined?
The standard that the family courts always use when determining child custody is what is in the best interests of the child. This means what protects the child’s physical, mental and emotional health, as well as what is best for the child’s happiness and development. The courts generally hold that a child does best with continuing and meaningful contact with both parents. This is why joint custody arrangements are most common. In special circumstances, however, the courts may award sole custody to one parent – such as if it is believed that contact with the other parent will harm the child.
The courts in Arizona will examine many different aspects of the child’s life to create a parenting time schedule in a divorce trial, including:
- The custody arrangement that each parent wants
- The arrangement that the child wants (if old enough to decide)
- The child’s relationship with both parents and other relatives
- How connected the child is to his or her home and community
- Both parents’ physical and mental fitness
- Which parent is most likely to allow the child continuing contact with the other parent
- Any parental history of neglect, substance abuse, domestic violence or child abuse
The courts may use tools such as child psychiatrists and parental psychological evaluations when making a child custody determination. A judge will also listen to information and evidence submitted to the courts by both parents and their attorneys. Then, the courts will create a parenting schedule according to what it believes is best for the child. The courts may award joint or sole custody. Sole custody may come with or without visitation for the noncustodial parent.
Who Has to Pay Child Support After a Divorce in Arizona?
Child support in Chandler is a financial obligation intended to maintain a child’s standard of living after a divorce. The courts believe that a child should not suffer any negative financial consequences from a parents’ divorce. They should enjoy the standard of living they had when the parents were still together. Thus, the courts allocate a percentage of financial childcare responsibility to both parents in a divorce case.
Then, using Arizona’s Child Support Guidelines (updated in 2022), they reduce each parent’s financial obligation by his or her amount of parenting time. This is why it is most common for the noncustodial parent to have to pay child support. The amount that the paying parent must pay depends in part on his or her gross income.
Does a Chandler Divorce Case Have to Go to Trial?
Getting a divorce does not necessarily mean that your family has to go to trial. In fact, most dissolutions of marriage are achieved through settlements. A settlement is a legally binding agreement between both parties, where they have created their own plan for parenting time and property division. If you and your spouse can agree on every aspect of your divorce, a judge will most likely sign off on the settlement that you create. This can save you the cost and stress of a divorce trial.
If you need help communicating with your spouse during the divorce process, you can employ a form of alternative dispute resolution before going to trial. The most common is mediation. Mediation is a private meeting before a mediator, or an unbiased third party who can help you resolve conflicts with your spouse and come up with compromises that work for both of you. You do not have to agree with the mediator at the end of your meeting; the mediator has no power to create a divorce decree or court order.
The next option is arbitration. This is similar to mediation, except that it uses an arbitrator instead of a mediator. You have the choice between binding and nonbinding arbitration. If you choose binding arbitration, you and your spouse must abide by the final terms decided by the arbitrator. Unlike a divorce trial, however, the results of arbitration remain private. Nonbinding arbitration is more like mediation, where the outcome does not have to be permanent. If alternative dispute resolution fails, your divorce case will go to trial in Chandler.
Can You Modify a Divorce Order in Chandler?
Yes, you can modify a divorce order in certain situations. You must prove to the courts that the modification is necessary based on a significant change in your circumstances from when the judge granted the order. If you wish to request a modification of a child support order, for example, you must demonstrate that your financial situation has drastically changed, such as the loss of your job or a significant demotion. Only then will the courts grant a modification request.
It is extremely important to go through the correct channels to modify any part of your divorce decree. Do not come to a verbal – or even written – agreement with your former spouse in lieu of a court order. Unless a judge officially grants a modification request, your divorce decree will not change. No matter what your former spouse says, you can still be held responsible for the full amount of your child support or spousal support obligation by law, plus additional fees in penalties and interest.
What to Ask Your Divorce Attorney During the First Consultation
When choosing your divorce attorney in Chandler, take the time to schedule consultations with more than one option near you. You can learn a lot about the attorney and find out if they are the right fit by asking a few key questions during your first meeting – the initial consultation. Ask about the attorney’s stance on communication with his or her clients. You should be able to enjoy open and frequent contact with your lawyer during your case through emails, phone calls and in-person meetings.
Then, ask how much experience the attorney has in handling divorce settlements, mediation and trials. There should be an experienced team of lawyers and paralegals behind your case. Next, check for reviews or client testimonials that can help inform your decision. Finally, ask what you can do to help your divorce case. The lawyer may recommend gathering documents, avoiding speaking to your former spouse and staying off of social media. You should get the feeling that the attorney cares about you and is offering honest advice during your first meeting.
Speak to a Divorce Lawyer in Chandler, AZ at Guymon Law Today
At Guymon Law, we care about our clients. Our founding attorney created our law firm out of a true passion for helping people. We understand how difficult a divorce can be for the whole family. We will work hard to come up with solutions to your unique problems and support you every step of the way. Learn more about how we can assist you with a divorce case during a case evaluation with one of our experienced family law attorneys. Call (480) 680-8823 or contact us online today.