How does the divorce process start?
The divorce process begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the family law court. The Petition outlines, in general terms, what the filing spouse seeks to obtain from the other spouse.
Once the non-filing spouse is served with the Petition, the marital estate is terminated from that point forward and no additional community property and/or debt is created. A response is then filed by the other spouse outlining their position.
What do I do for support while the divorce is pending?
The divorce / family law courts have a procedure to establish Temporary Orders also known as Pendente Lite Orders. The Temporary Order deals with the most immediate needs of the parties including, but not limited to, spousal maintenance (alimony), child custody, child support, child visitation, temporary possession of the house and vehicles, assignment for payment of debts, access to financial accounts and attorney’s fees. Other issues may be addressed in the Temporary Orders hearing.
How much will the divorce cost?
The cost of a divorce is the most difficult thing to evaluate. The cost is determined by a number of factors involved in your divorce matter. The factors generally include what are the contested and uncontested issues. In a divorce case, the most common issues are child custody and support, spousal maintenance, business evaluation, division of assets and liabilities, and seeking and obtaining Temporary Orders. The more areas in which each of the spouses agree will lower the overall cost of the divorce to both parties. The more contentious the divorce, the more expensive the family law proceeding becomes.
The primary focus of the family law court when determining child custody is the “best interest of the child”. This is the overriding concern of all divorce / family law courts in Arizona. The form of custody can be joint custody or sole custody. On rare occasions, one party may be required to be supervised by an independent third party when visiting the children. As mentioned above, the family law court’s determination of the form of custody is based upon the best interest of the children.
Child support is determined by a complex formula that has evolved over many years. The main criteria used to determine child support are the gross incomes of the parents, the amount of time spent with the children and who pays for such things as health insurance, daycare and other necessary services for the benefit of the child/children.
How does the family law court divide the assets and debts of the divorcing parties?
Arizona is a community property state. As such, the divorce court presumes that each spouse is entitled to 50% of the assets acquired during marriage. Divorce courts generally seek to divide debt equitably in a divorce case. This does not necessarily mean that each spouse will have 50% of the debt assigned to them. The family law courts also take into consideration the spouse’s income stream, ability to pay debts and issues of waste and/or dissipation of community property assets.
My spouse and I own a business. What happens to the business during and after the divorce?
During the divorce process, the family law courts attempt to maintain the status quo when it comes to the day-to-day operations of a family business. A business valuation expert can assess the value of the business during the pendency of the divorce matter. The court, with the input from the business valuation expert, will determine a fair value of the family business. The spouse that is ultimately awarded the business must pay the other spouse that person’s community share of the business. This is generally one-half of the value assigned to the family owned business.