Arizona is a community property state, which means all of a couple’s debts and assets acquired during marriage are to be divided equally. Separate property is not subject to division upon divorce. It is presumed that property acquired during marriage belongs to the community but there are several exceptions to this presumption, such as if the property was acquired by gift or inheritance. It is possible to commingle sole and separate property with community property, making it subject to community property division.
One of the following must be true to qualify for spousal maintenance:
- You do not have enough property, including property that will be awarded to you in the divorce, that could adequately provide for your reasonable needs
- You do not have the ability to be self-sufficient or lack the earning capacity to be self-sufficient in the labor market
- You are custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that you seeking employment should not be required
- You contributed to your spouse’s educational opportunities
- Your marriage was of “long duration” and you are of an age that may prevent you from ever becoming self-sufficient by employment
After it is determined that you qualify for spousal maintenance, the amount and duration of spousal maintenance will need to be calculated. There is no formula for calculating either of these. Rather, several factors are taken into consideration, such as your age, your earning ability, the length of your marriage, your spouse’s ability to meet his/her needs while paying spousal maintenance, your employment history, etc. The goal of spousal maintenance is to enable you to become self-sufficient after divorce.
Premarital Agreements are valid if they are in writing and signed by both parties, they are voluntarily executed by both parties and they become effective upon your marriage. There are certain provisions that cannot be contained with a Premarital Agreement (i.e. custody arrangements). You will need to fully disclose all of your assets and liabilities to your future spouse before signing the Premarital Agreement to avoid a challenge to the agreement in the future.
First, one of the following must apply:
- The marriage of the child’s parents has been dissolved for at least three months
- One of the child’s parents has been deceased or missing for at least three months
- The child was born outside of a marriage and the child’s legal parents are not married to each other at the time grandparent rights are requested.
If you have one of the foregoing factors, then you must prove that visitation is in the child’s best interests. The child’s parent can object and the Court will give special weight to a child’s parent if that parent objects. There are several statutory factors for the Court to consider if an objection is made.
The Arizona Child Support Guidelines take into consideration a number of factors, including each party’s gross income, the cost of health insurance, the cost of daycare, the number of children and the parenting time schedule to arrive at a monthly support calculation. Child support is ordered until the youngest child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever occurs later.
Arizona doesn’t use the word “custody”. Arizona breaks parenting arrangements into two (2) aspects: legal decision-making and parenting time. Legal decision-making can be sole or joint and that refers to the ability to make life decisions for your child (i.e. medical, school, religion). Parenting Time is the weekly, holiday and vacation schedule you will follow. For both legal decision-making and parenting time, the best interests of your child is the paramount consideration.
The Court will usually encourage you to attempt mediation before setting a trial date. My experience has been that most family law cases settle at mediation after all disclosures are made. If you have a post-decree case, you may be required to mediate before you can file your post-decree Petition.