Case Timing

How long can a divorce be put on hold?

At the bare minimum, a divorce will take sixty (60) days in the state of Arizona. The state colloquially refers to the 60 day timeframe as a “cooling off” period and mandates that the Courts wait to process a divorce for at least 60 days. The Courts rationale is based on their policy which promotes marriage between couples; The State hopes that by creating hurdles for divorcing couples to “jump” over, the Couple will be discouraged from pursuing a divorce.

Clearly, the state’s rationale is outdated; by the time a couple files for divorce, the marriage is over, and (usually) has been for a long time. While this law probably made sense when it was enacted, all the law currently does is drag out an already stressful process.

In reality, contested divorces take far longer than sixty days. It’s rare that a divorce happens in just 60 days. In order for a divorce to take just 60 days, the divorcing couple must agree on everything and submit their paperwork promptly and correctly. Unfortunately, this is relatively rare. More commonly, divorce cases takes six months to one year (or longer). In reality, contested divorces (i.e. a “contested” divorce is one where the parties don’t agree on everything) will drag out for a long while.

In particular, when there is a custody battle (i.e. you and your soon to be ex-spouse disagree on custody arrangements, parenting time, and child support) your case will have two or more evidentiary hearings and the case will almost certainly take more than one year.

The First Hearing when there is a divorce with Children

In your first hearing, you often are required to file a petition for temporary orders. When filing for “temporary orders” you are asking the Court to formally decide what will happen for the duration of your case. For example, filing for temporary orders is particularly desirable when your ex is keeping your children from you. When your ex keeps the kids from you, they are engaging in “gatekeeping” or “parental alienation.” While this is widely known to be illegal, couples that are heading for divorce often engage in this behavior….typically as a last-gasp effort to exert power over their ex. When your ex does this, it creates a need for a special “first” hearing in which the Court addresses how Child custody, parenting time, and child support will be handled between the time that you file and the case ends.

Courts rarely address financial matters between couples before the case’s “final hearing.”

Later Hearings During a Divorce

At your final hearing, the Judge slams his gavel and makes final determinations about your case. Anything that could not be agreed upon at an earlier is are handled at the final hearing. Your case’s final parenting plan, custody arrangement, child support, spousal maintenance, and property division are all decided at this final hearing.

Call us at (480) 518-3569 to discuss your case further.