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Arizona Family Law

Arizona Family Law

Arizona Family Law – A Comprehensive Guide

Arizona family law governs the legal rights, obligations, and duties of individuals who are either married or about to marry, divorced or seeking divorce, engaged in child custody, support and visitation disputes, or are in domestic violence situations. The Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) provide most of the basic principles and laws that govern family law in Arizona, but additional local rules and regulations also apply.

This article discusses Arizona family law in detail, outlining the most important concepts and commonly used terminology. We will also discuss recent updates in Arizona family law and their practical impact.

Marriage and Divorce

Marriage is a legal institution that creates a family unit in Arizona. Arizona family law recognizes two types of marriage – ceremonial marriage and common law marriage.

Ceremonial Marriage

Ceremonial marriages are formalized through a ceremony performed by a registered clergy member, judge, or religious leader, followed by a marriage certificate issued by the Arizona Department of Health Service. A ceremonial marriage can be dissolved through divorce proceedings in the court of law. The process involves spouses filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. In Arizona, there is a mandatory cooling-off period of 60 days before the final divorce order can be issued.

Common Law Marriage

Common law marriages, also known as informal marriages, are not formalized through a ceremony but are created through the parties’ conduct, such as cohabitation and a mutual agreement to be married. In Arizona, common law marriage is only recognized if the parties meet specific requirements, and, generally, they must live in a state that recognizes common law marriage.


Arizona follows the no-fault divorce principle, which means that neither spouse needs to prove wrongdoing for the court to dissolve the marriage. A court can issue a divorce order if it finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

Once the divorce proceedings commence, the court may make orders regarding property division, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance, commonly known as alimony. In many cases, spouses can come to a mutually agreeable settlement through mediation or negotiations with their attorneys. Where disagreement exists, the court must decide these matters at trial.

Property Division

Arizona is a community property state, meaning that all property acquired during the marriage is considered to be the community property of both spouses. Community property is divided equally between the spouses after the divorce. Property that qualifies as separate property, such as property acquired before the marriage or through an inheritance or gift, is retained by the spouse, except under specific circumstances.

Child Custody and Support

Child custody and support are decided based on the child’s best interests, and the court may consider factors such as the child’s emotional attachment to each parent, their willingness to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent, and each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs.

A parent may seek sole legal or physical custody of a child, or, in the alternative, may agree to joint custody, which gives both parents a say in important decisions affecting the child and often provides for a shared parenting schedule. Arizona law requires both parents to provide financial support for their children, based on the state’s child support guidelines.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is a payment made by one spouse to the other to support them financially after the divorce, where a disparity in income exists. Arizona law provides guidelines for determining the amount and duration of spousal maintenance payments based on the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, the financial resources and needs of each spouse, and other relevant factors.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a serious and pervasive problem in Arizona. Domestic violence laws apply to physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual violence, and threats of violence, and cover not only spouses but also cohabitants, children, and any other individuals in a familial or intimate relationship. Arizona Revised Statute §13-3601 defines domestic violence as any criminal act that is committed between household members, including current or former spouses, people in a dating relationship, parents or guardians and children, and siblings.

A person who is the victim of domestic violence can seek a restraining order, also known as an order of protection, which is a court order that orders the abuser to stay away from the victim, their home, and the places they work or attend school. An order of protection can also prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim or from possessing a gun.

Updates in Arizona Family Law

Arizona family law has seen some significant updates recently. Here is a summary of the most pertinent changes:

1. Grandparents’ Visitation Rights

Arizona Revised Statutes §25-409 now extends the visitation rights of grandparents. This new provision allows grandparents to file a petition for visitation if visitation is in the child’s best interests. The law aims to address circumstances when parents are not facilitating visitation between their children and grandparents.

2. Parenting Time and Support

Arizona law now mandates the creation of a parenting plan in all divorce proceedings. The parenting plan outlines which parent will have custody, how much parenting time the non-custodial parent will have, and how parents will share decision-making authority. Additionally, Arizona has updated the Child Support Guidelines, which calculate the amount of child support based on the incomes of both parents, the number of children involved, the amount of parenting time each parent has, and other factors as applicable.

3. Protection of Personal Information

Arizona Revised Statutes §25-401.02 now prevents both parents from making the child’s personal information, such as their social security number or birth certificate, public. The law aims to reduce data breaches and fraudulent activity.


Arizona family law governs all relationships related to marriage, divorce, custody, and domestic violence. Understanding Arizona family law is essential if you are dealing with any family-related legal issues. Arizona law is complex, and it is always prudent to consult an experienced family law attorney to explain your rights and responsibilities and guide you through the legal process. If you are facing a family law issue, we recommend that you seek professional legal advice as soon as possible.

Nearly all Arizona family laws issues can be handled with the assistance of Arizona family law attorneys.  Having the AZ family law attorney working on your behalf will help you to determine appropriate legal strategy in family court, adequately represent you in your family law matter and most importantly, advise you on the merits of any case that might involve Arizona family law.  Arizona family law is a diverse legal topic with a number of potential cases, so use this guide to find an attorney that works with the Arizona family laws applicable to your legal matter.

Adoption cases and Arizona family laws

You will work with an adoption agency as well as Arizona Department of Economic Security to facilitate your adoption of a child in Arizona.  Arizona family law attorneys specializing in adoption law will help you to fill out the paperwork, comply with requests from the adoption agency and ensure all steps of the process are done thoroughly in compliance with Arizona family law.  Issues to be concerned with during the adoption process include the rights of the birth parents, the limitations on custody and if there is a sibling paring or other limitation on the adoption under Arizona family laws.  you must adhere to the process and Arizona family law in order for the adoption to be successful and there are no shortcuts to circumvent the process.

Arizona family laws and divorce

If dealing with a divorce issue, Arizona family law attorneys specializing in divorce will assist you in creating an appropriate legal strategy, determining your best possible case, possible limitations and arguments to win custody or alimony.  Arizona family law attorneys will be involved in a number of family court issues and even if you intend to settle amicably, you will want to consult with Arizona family laws attorneys for more information on your legal options.

Arizona family law and juvenile delinquency

If there is a minor involved in a delinquency issue, you will work with the Arizona family law attorney to either deal with the prosecution office in and out of family court.  The Arizona family law will be instrumental in demonstrating the innocence or need for leniency for the actions of the minor.  There is typically a focus on alternative sentencing for juvenile offenders and the Arizona family law attorney will be instrumental in forcing this determination in the favor of the child.

Working with AZ family law attorneys

If you must work with AZ family law attorneys, then it is important to practice full disclosure, noting all parts of your AZ family law issue, including things that might not reflect well on you and your AZ family law case.  Being open and honest with the AZ family law attorney will prevent miscommunication, weakening your case and other AZ family law issues that tend to arise.