Q: If we haven’t been married long, can we just get an annulment?
A: Annulment is not a matter of how recently you were married. The ground for annulment is that there is a cause that “constitutes an impediment rendering the marriage void” (ARS §25-301).
Q: What is required to get a divorce?
A: You may need a lawyer to ﬁle for divorce (called a “Petition for Dissolution” in Arizona). If you decide to ﬁle without a lawyer, you must complete the necessary forms and understand the applicable laws and court procedures. A judge will consider and rule on all issues such as the division of property (ARS §25-318), spousal maintenance (ARS §25-319), child support (ARS §25-320), legal decision-making and parenting time (ARS §25403). Forms may be available at your County Courthouse or law library (see appendix).
Q: What are the grounds for a divorce?
A: The ground for dissolution of marriage in Arizona is that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation (ARS §25-316).
Q: Can I just let my ex-spouse take care of the kids?
A: During a marriage, after a divorce or legal separation, and even if the parents are unmarried, both have an obligation to provide for the support of all minor children (ARS §25-501). Either spouse or parent may be held liable for necessities furnished to the other or to minor children. The state, a parent, or a guardian may ﬁle a request to establish child support (ARS §25-502). An income assignment can be obtained that will automatically deduct the amount from your paycheck (ARS §§25-504, 505).
Q: What if I am not sure the child is mine?
A: An action to determine paternity can be started by the mother, the potential father, a guardian or conservator of the child, or the state. Paternity actions receive priority over other cases. Blood tests can be required by either party or at the court’s request. If the question isn’t settled, a trial will be held to determine paternity (ARS §§25-801-817).
Q: If I’m the parent, then I’ve got my rights...
A: Yes, but they are not absolute. In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, a court will determine custody according to the best interests of the child, which may sometimes be sole custody with one parent (ARS § 25-403.01). The court will also order parenting time to the non-custodial parent unless visitation would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health (ARS §25-408).
With any custody order the court will determine an amount of child support. Even with joint custody, there is still a responsibility of either parent to provide for the support of the child (ARS §25-403.09).
According to ARS §8-533, parental rights can also be terminated by the court when:
- The parent has abandoned the child.
- The parent has neglected or willfully abused a child.
- The parent is unable to carry out parental responsibilities because of mental illness, mental deﬁciency or a history of chronic abuse of drugs or alcohol.
- The parent is deprived of civil liberties due to the conviction of certain felonies.
- A potential father has failed to file a paternity claim or action in certain circumstances.
Laws may have changed since the last time this article was updated. The current and most up-to-date laws can be accessed here.