How long does it take to get a divorce?
Under Arizona law, A.R.S. §25-329, the Court cannot consider entering a decree of dissolution unless and until 60 days have passed since the date of service of process. If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on all issues within that time, then it is possible your divorce could be final within a short time after those 60 days have passed. If not, then it will of course take longer. If the matter proceeds to trial, then the overall length of time until your divorce is finalized will depend on many factors, including the court calendar and what steps need to be taken to gather information and documentation, and to prepare your case properly.
Do I need witnesses?
Whenever there is an evidentiary hearing or trial, a decision has to be made whether to have any witnesses other than the parties testify. Failing to call the right witnesses can be a critical error. Calling the wrong witnesses can also be a critical error. Whether or not you will need to have any witnesses besides you and your spouse depends on many factors, and must be analyzed on a case by case basis, with a full understanding of all the relevant facts, issues and case history. In most cases, only the parties testify but there are many cases where family members, neighbors, educators, medical personnel, and experts are necessary and important witnesses who have information that is very important for the Court to hear. In such situations, it is crucial to have an understanding of the applicable rules and procedures including the Arizona Rules of Evidence and Family Law Procedure. If the Rules are not followed, those important witnesses may not be allowed to testify.
What information and documentation will I need?
The specific issues and individual facts of each case will determine what information and documentation will be needed for your case. In general though, it is important to gather documentation pertaining to the income, assets and debts of the parties, including pay stubs, tax returns, recent statements for bank accounts, retirement accounts, other financial accounts, credit card accounts, and other debts.
Does is matter who files first for a divorce?
The Court will not base its rulings on who filed first. It will not be held against you because you're the one who asked for the divorce. Very often there are important reasons for filing early instead of waiting for your spouse to file first. For example, at the time of filing for a dissolution of marriage, the Court will issue a Preliminary Injunction. This Court Order may prevent your spouse from selling off marital assets without your approval, or incurring new significant debts without your consent. Other important reasons may also exist for filing sooner rather than later, but there are also many strategic reasons for waiting before filing. For these reasons and more, it is important to consult early with a qualified attorney to determine the best time to file for divorce in your particular case.