Once you have decided to divorce, you may be impatient to get the process finished. Practically, however, your divorce timeline can depend on a number of issues.
First, it depends on whether you are in a covenant marriage. This is a form of marriage that is only available in Arizona and a couple of other states, and the rules for divorce are different. In order to file for divorce in a covenant marriage, you need to undergo marriage counseling, which slows down the process considerably.
Most people are not in covenant marriages, so we’ll focus on the timeline for an ordinary divorce.
60-day waiting period
Under Arizona law, divorcing spouses must wait 60 days after filing for divorce and serving the papers on the other party. That means that in the simplest divorce where the parties agree on everything, the earliest you could see a divorce decree is more than two months. However, you might have to wait for an appointment with the court to finalize your decree, so even a simple divorce usually takes longer.
Contested divorces take longer
The timeline gets longer if there are issues you and your spouse don’t agree on, such as:
- Legal decision-making authority and parenting time
- Child support
- Division of property and debt
- Alimony, in some cases
If you and your spouse agree on all of these issues, you can file what is called an “uncontested” divorce and it will go through as soon as court caseloads allow after the 60-day waiting period. If you don’t agree on one or more of the issues, you must file a “contested” divorce.
You may be asked to go through a court-sponsored conciliation process to see if your marriage can be saved or to work out your issues. This usually involves a few sessions with the conciliation court, which could take weeks to months.
In a contested divorce, a hearing will be scheduled with the family court. Depending on the parties’ schedules and court caseloads, this hearing could be scheduled a month out or longer.
if you cannot come to agreement, the court will decide any contested issues. However, you are strongly encouraged to work out your own agreement via negotiation, mediation or another dispute resolution mechanism. The process of coming to an agreement could be relatively short – mediation may take only a couple of days. However, any dispute resolution process will take time to schedule and the parties will need time to become prepared.
Ultimately, if you and your spouse disagree on any of the issues, you should assume your divorce will take six months to a year in total. If you agree on all the issues, it could take much less time.