In Arizona, we untie the marriage knot by filing for a marital dissolution (commonly known as a divorce). The process takes at least 60 days from when the other party is properly served with the legal paperwork. The 60 day wait is necessary even if you and your spouse agree on all the terms.

If the you and your spouse are not in agreement on how to divide up the assets, debts, or the payment of spousal maintenance, then it is “contested” and will take longer. If children are involved and the parties do not agree on all of the above and the child related issues like the parenting plan, legal decision making and child support, the process may take several more months.

Contested family law matters may take months to resolve due to the many hearings involved and the busy family court calendar. The court will often insist the two of you participate in some form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in an attempt to find a less adversarial solution in which you both have input on the end result. If the case cannot be resolved through mediation or some other form of ADR, it will be set for a trial. If it goes to trial, after hearing testimony and reviewing exhibits, the Judge will make all the decisions. The end result may be very different than what you hoped for and expected.

It is important to speak with an attorney to make sure you understand what the real legal issues are in your case and what outcomes are most likely for your unique situation. This is especially true if you have children, significant assets like high income, real property, 401(K)’s and retirement accounts, credit card and other debts or if one of you received an inheritance during the marriage.

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