Phoenix Divorce LawyerSchedule a Consultation
A divorce is a difficult legal process for everyone involved. It may be possible to make your divorce simpler, more peaceful and more successful, however, with assistance from an experienced divorce lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona.
The attorneys at Guymon Law offer personalized divorce case representation. We have experience with high-asset divorces, business owner divorces, divorces involving children and other complicated cases. We can represent you during a complex or high-conflict divorce case for the best possible results. Contact us today to request a consultation.
When to Hire a Divorce Lawyer in Phoenix
You have the right to represent yourself during a divorce case in Arizona. However, certain cases require services from dedicated and qualified attorneys. No amount of online research or self-help tools can give you the level of experience and expertise of a divorce lawyer. If you have a lot on the line, such as custody of your children or valuable assets, it is critical to hire a divorce lawyer to represent you during mediation or litigation.
The Steps of Getting a Divorce in Arizona
If you wish to dissolve your marriage by terminating your marriage contract, there are certain steps that you and your spouse must take to complete this process in Arizona. A divorce lawyer can help you get through all of the required steps using professional legal services. These steps include:
- Filing the divorce petition. A divorce in Arizona starts with one spouse – thereafter known as the Petitioner – filling out and filing the necessary family law forms. These forms will change depending on whether or not the couple has children.
- Serving the other spouse. The Petitioner (or a third party) must serve the papers on the other spouse, who will become the Respondent.
- The response. The Respondent will have 20 days (or 30 if they’re out of state) to file a response to the Petition.
- Negotiations. If the Respondent doesn’t agree with the Petitioner’s terms, the couple will enter into settlement negotiations. All couples have the chance to come up with their own divorce decrees before a judge will intervene.
- Trial. In some cases, negotiations and mediation fail to achieve settlements, meaning the couple must go to trial for a judge to determine the terms of the divorce instead.
If the Petitioner never receives a response from the spouse, he or she can obtain a default divorce. This means that a judge will grant the divorce petition without regard to the wishes of the other spouse, who gave up the right to negotiate by failing to respond by the deadline.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
The two different types of divorce in Arizona are contested and uncontested. A contested divorce means that the couple does not agree on the main conditions of the divorce: child custody, child support, spousal maintenance and property division. If the couple cannot work through their disagreements during pretrial negotiations, the case will go before a judge. The judge will make these decisions for the couple based on applicable state laws and legal precedents, such as the best interests of a child.
An uncontested divorce, on the other hand, means that the couple is able to work together and compromise on the terms. This is the easier route, as it allows the couple to avoid a trial. They remain in control of the outcome of the case. It is also cheaper and avoids the emotional toll that a full-blown trial can take on a family. Hiring an attorney to represent you can improve the odds of achieving an uncontested divorce, as your lawyer can help you come up with creative resolutions to your problems.
Property Division Laws in Arizona
In Arizona, the law imposes a 50/50 community property division law on all divorce cases that go to court. This means that a judge will allocate 50 percent of the couple’s marital property to one spouse and 50 percent to the other, regardless of how much property or debt each spouse brought into the marriage. Your separate property, however, will remain only yours in a divorce case. Separate property includes any assets or debts that you had prior to your marriage, as well as any gifts or inheritance given to only you while you were married.
How Do the Courts Determine Child Custody?
One of the most contested aspects of a divorce case is which parent will get custody of children. If your case goes before a judge, he or she will always rule according to what is in the best interests of the child. This legal parameter means what will best protect the child’s physical, emotional and psychological well-being. This decision can rely on many different factors, including:
- How close the child is to either parent
- The child’s relationship to other relatives
- The child’s wishes, in some cases
- How connected the child feels to his or her home and community
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child
- Each person’s fitness as a parent, including physical and mental state
- Which parent is more likely to allow the other parent continuing contact with the child
- Any history of crime, substance abuse, domestic violence or child abuse
For the most part, the courts do not want to take a child away from a parent. They will usually attempt to assign joint custody to both parents, unless there’s a reason why contact with one parent would harm the child. Joint custody means that both parents share physical and legal custody of the child, such as a 50/50 or 75/25 split. Sole custody means that one parent retains full custody of the child, while the other may or may not have visitation rights.
Contact a Phoenix Divorce Lawyer Today
If you are considering a divorce, don’t wait to contact our attorneys at Guymon Law. We know what divorce cases involve and how best to protect our clients throughout the legal process. We will sit with you to really understand your problems and get to know you and your family. Then, we will customize our legal services to best suit your unique needs.
Our attorneys will be there for you every step of the way in a dark and difficult time in your life. Please call (480) 680-8823 or send us a virtual message to contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you.