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Let an Experienced Attorney Counsel you Regarding Arizona Divorce Laws

The law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C., serving clients in the East Valley of Maricopa County and in Phoenix, Arizona, and throughout the state, has experienced Arizona lawyers ready to help you with any aspect of your family law case. The area of law called Family law encompasses cases of various profiles including dissolution of marriage (divorce) or legal separation, child support and custody of children, adoption, and all of the related legal issues, including spousal maintenance (alimony), division of property and debts, establishment of paternity, issues related to domestic violence and criminal abuse charges, guardianship cases, grandparent rights, and all cases directly impacting families.

To learn more about each area of law, please click on the link or scroll down to the topic, or to contact a lawyer about your case and to schedule your free initial consultation by telephone go to Contact McGuire Gardner.

Arizona Divorce/Dissolution of Marriage
Arizona Legal Separation
Arizona Annulment
Arizona Spousal Maintenance
Arizona Child Support
Arizona Child Custody
Division of Arizona Property and Debts
Awards of Attorneys Fees

Marriages can end through divorce, annulment, or legal separation. Although similar, each approach has differences which alter the finances of the parties after the marriage and will result in a different legal status.

A divorce, and the issues that come with it, including custody and financial concerns is among the most stressful and difficult experiences that can occur in your life. An experienced lawyer can provide reassurance and stability as you navigate this difficult process.

Regardless of whether your marriage ends in divorce, legal separation or annulment, your case can be resolved in one of two ways, either by reaching agreement with your spouse, or by leaving disputed issues to the Judge for resolution at a contested trial or hearing. If possible, we prefer avoiding the uncertainty, time, emotional drain, and cost associated with leaving disputed issues to a Judge. However, in some cases, the circumstances demand that we fight in court to protect your rights.

Telephone the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. and let us help you decide how best to proceed with your family law matter.

Dissolution of Marriage / Divorce:

Custody, visitation, and parenting time of any children
Child support for any children
Equitable division of marital assets
Equitable division of marital debts
Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) payments
Determination of payment of attorney's fees

Arizona is a no fault divorce state. This means that if one party requests a divorce, the Court will grant it. It is sufficient to allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken and no reasonable prospect of reconciliation exists. Of course, most divorce cases involve a number of additional issues. Child custody, visitation, and child support issues must also be considered and resolved. Assets and debts acquired during the marriage must be distributed equitably which typically means equally, under Arizona#39;s community property law. For an equitable division of property to occur, appraisals are often necessary. Alimony or spousal maintenance payments must also be resolved. The attorneys at McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. have also represented clients in many family law cases involving complex and difficult custody, business, or asset valuations.

In order to file for a divorce in Arizona you or your spouse must have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days before your case is filed. If your case involves issues related to children, including custody and child support, the time period in which the children must have lived in Arizona is generally 6 months.

After the case is filed, a temporary restraining order (Preliminary Injunction) is intended to prevent either spouse from concealing, selling or otherwise wasting the marital assets. It will also prevent either parent from leaving Arizona with the minor children. After the case is filed, the parties are not allowed to harass the other spouse. Violation of this order can result in contempt proceedings.

Simple divorces can become final in as few as 60-90 days while more complex divorces can last much longer. After your initial consultation, we can give you an idea of how long your case may take

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to help decide if a divorce is the best option in your case.

Legal Separation:

Legal separation is a similar process to a divorce, but much different in its end result. For some people legal separation is more suitable, depending on the particular circumstances. Legal separation may be used to keep a spouse on the other spouse#39;s insurance. Religious reasons sometimes play a role. Others are not yet ready to take the formal step of ending a marriage through divorce.

Legal separation brings up the same issues that arise in a divorce: Custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, and division of assets and debts. Legal separation does not end all the legal rights and relationships that arise through marriage, as the parties remain technically married.

If a legal separation is ordered, and one spouse or the other later wishes to remarry, a divorce must first be obtained.

Telephone the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to help decide if legal separation is the option that would work best for you and your spouse


An annulment of marriage, results in the Court declaring that parties were never legally married. Annulment is typically reserved for cases of fraud or incapacity.

Fraud can include bigamy, concealment of a communicable disease, or a criminal past.

An annulment puts the parties back in the position they were in had they never been married. This result is much different in terms of property distribution than what may result from a divorce or legal separation.

Issues related to custody, visitation and child support, and division of property and debts may still arise, even when an annulment is granted.

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone about how an annulment would affect you.

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony):

For your free initial telephonic divorce or family law consultation, please contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. today, and speak with an Arizona divorce lawyer experienced in family law cases.

Spousal maintenance, often referred to as alimony, may be ordered by the Court if one party can demonstrate that he or she 1) lacks sufficient property to meet his or her reasonable financial needs; 2) is unable to work because of a young or disabled child requiring full time care; 3) contributed to the education of the other party; or 4) is of such an age that he or she is unable to obtain employment that would allow him or her to support his or herself. Once one or more of the above elements has been required, the Court can consider other issues, including the ability of the spouse to pay, the financial needs of the party seeking spousal maintenance, the standard of living of the parties during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, and other aspect of the parties financial situation.

There is no specific formula governing spousal maintenance as there is for child support. Spousal maintenance is very case specific. If you believe you may be entitled to spousal maintenance, it is imperative that you retain an attorney experienced in spousal maintenance issues to ensure that you receive an appropriate spousal maintenance award. If your spouse is seeking an award of spousal maintenance, it is likewise imperative that you hire an attorney experienced in spousal maintenance issues to ensure that you pay only the amount to which your spouse is entitled, if any.

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to discuss the equitable and fair division of assets and debts in your case.

Child Support:

The responsibility for the support and care of a child is shared by both parents. If you are the non-custodial parent, this will include paying child support. The amount of child support is calculated according to the Arizona child support guidelines. To get an idea of what you might expect to pay or receive, you can access the child support calculator from our website.

These guidelines apply to child support cases here in Arizona. They take into account a variety of factors:

What is the income of the parents How much are child care costs and who pays for it How much is insurance and who pays it Any special needs the child may have The age of the child How much time does the child spend with the parent who is paying child support

In most cases, Arizona child support obligations are typically taken directly out of the paycheck of the parent paying support and forwarded to the court. The court then handles the record keeping and forwards the payment to the parent entitled to receive it. The Court tracks these payments in case there are disagreements in the future over amounts paid.

For this reason, it is important that support payments go through the Arizona Court, not directly to the other parent or third parties.

Child support is paid when the child is under 18, or in some cases until the child is 19 if the child is still in high school. If the child has special needs, or is mentally and/or physically impaired, support may continue indefinitely.

In certain cases, the Court may allow parents to vary from the Arizona child support guidelines. This discretion rests with the Court and the Court is not obligated to allow it.

Each situation is different. You may be told that your friend pays (or receives) a certain amount of child support. This has no bearing on what you may be ordered to pay, or what you may receive. We can explain to you how the child support guidelines apply in your circumstance.

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to discuss your questions regarding child support.

Child Custody:

The determination on how parents will share custody, both legal and physical, must always be focused on the best interests of the child.

The concept of custody encompasses two concepts, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody concerns decision making with respect to decisions impacting the child, and physical custody determines parenting time.

If one parent is awarded sole custody that parent generally has complete responsibility with respect to important decisions in the child's life. Most often, the parent not awarded custody will have visitation rights, sometimes referred to as parenting time.

Where the Court awards joint custody of the children, the parents share in the decisions that will impact their children. These decisions may include things such as where the child will go to school, choices related to medical care, religious practices and others. An award of joint legal custody does not impact child support. It deals only with the legal rights related to decision making. When joint legal custody is awarded, a parent may or may not also have joint physical custody of the child. This does not always mean that both parents will spend exactly the same amount of time with the child.

Visitation or Parenting Time is typically ordered to ensure that the parent who does not have physical custody is still provided time with the child. As a general rule, the Court strives to ensure that both parents are present in the lives of the children where appropriate.

When considering visitation rights the Court will enter an order that provides visitation taking into account the age of the child, however, the parents can vary this if they are in agreement. Of course, if a parent does not make an effort to see the child, the Court cannot force them to. Typical visitation schedules take into account the weekday routine of the child, weekend time, and holiday and vacation issues.

In rare instances, supervised visitation can be ordered. This means that when the non-custodial parent spends time with the child, someone else must be present. This type of arrangement is most common where there is a history of violence, substance abuse or poor parenting skills. It is intended for the protection of the child.

Importantly, child support issues do not impact visitation rights. Even if a parent is having difficulty paying support, the other parent is not entitled to deny visitation. Issues of support are separate and apart from visitation and custody. Similarly, a parent who is ordered to pay support cannot withhold it because of issues with visitation.

Rarely will a Court order that a parent is not to have contact with a child. Such an order is rare and would be used only to protect the child where serious harm or abuse had occurred or was likely to occur.

Custody issues when one or more parent is in the military. Active members of the military are provided certain additional protections under federal law. If you or the opposing party are active in the military it becomes all the more important to discuss your case with an attorney.

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to discuss a custody arrangement that would be in your children#39;s best interest

Equitable Division of Assets and Debts:

For your free initial telephonic divorce or family law consultation, please contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. today, and speak with an Arizona divorce lawyer experienced in family law cases

Arizona is a community property state. Accordingly, assets and debts are split equitably (usually equally) upon divorce, legal separation or annulment. Property that the parties accumulate during the course of the marriage (with limited exceptions) along with debt incurred is shared by the spouses equitably.

Whether one or both spouses work, the result is the same. In either case, most property and/or debt acquired during the marriage is community property. Community property may include real property including homes, lots, or other real estate; as well as personal property including cash, stocks, cars, notes and other financial instruments, and even an individuals rights to a profit sharing or other retirement plan.

When a divorce, legal separation or annulment case is filed, all of the community property must be divided so that it becomes the separate property of one spouse or the other. The community debt is treated in the same fashion. An "equitable" division typically means each spouse is allowed half the community property and debts.

In most cases it is legally irrelevant who paid for the property, who obtained a loan, or who used the property most. The parties are free to agree upon the division of the assets and debts. If they are unable to do so, the Court will make the determination and divide the property and debts after a hearing or trial. At McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C., we work with you to identify community assets and debts and to advocate for equitable distribution.

Gifts and property that a spouse receives as the result of an inheritance generally are not community property. In addition, items that either spouse brought to the marriage are typically treated as separate property, not community property. Just because an item was once separate property, does not mean it always stays that way. In some cases, community property will be used to make continued payments on a separate asset. In such cases, what was once separate property may be "commingled" with the community property and become part of the community. A house is a common example of this. In much the same way, debt incurred while the parties are married, regardless of who incurred it, is typically considered community debt.

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to discuss the equitable and fair division of assets and debts in your case.

Awards of Attorneys Fees:

For your free initial telephonic divorce or family law consultation, please contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. today, and speak with an Arizona divorce lawyer experienced in family law cases

Arizona law provides that the Court can order one party in a divorce, legal separation or annulment case to pay the other partys attorneys fees and costs in some cases. The Court must consider both 1) the financial situation of both parties, and 2) the reasonableness of the positions taken by both parties.

In general, the Court will require that both parties pay their own attorneys fees and costs. However, as the disparity of income increases, the Court is more likely to find that the person with greater wealth or higher income potential has the financial ability to bear more of the costs of the divorce, legal separation or annulment case. In a recent court of appeals case brought by Douglas C. Gardner, the Court of Appeals agreed with him that the trial court was required to consider the financial circumstances of both parties, and could not make a decision based only upon one parties situation only. In that same case the Court of appeals also agreed that a person who chooses not to hire an attorney is held to the same standard of reasonableness as a party represented by an attorney, and cannot use the fact that he or she has no legal experience in an attempt to justify taking unreasonable positions in a case.

In some cases, the Court finds that the cost of the divorce, legal separation or annulment case was needlessly increased because one party took unreasonable positions or failed to negotiate and attempt to settle the case in good faith. When one party continuously insists on having a trial rather than settling the case, or refuses to settle the case without receiving an unfair advantage, the Court can require the offending party to bear more of the costs of litigation as a sanction for that parties behavior. In making an award of attorneys fees, the Court must consider both the financial resources of the parties and their reasonableness throughout the case, and cannot focus on just one or the other.

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to discuss the equitable and fair division of assets and debts in your case

Our Divorce and Family Lawyer's Telephone Numbers:
East Valley (Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert) (480) 559-8101
Phoenix and throughout Maricopa County: (800) 899-2730
Flagstaff, Prescott, Verde Valley, and Northern Arizona: (928) 225 2597
Toll Free: (800) 899-2730

In addition to answering your questions about the law by phone, you may also contact us online or by email. We will promptly reply, scheduling your free initial consultation by telephone, provide driving directions or AZ maps to one of our offices right in your community, and assist you in scheduling a time for you to meet with any attorney to start your case.

Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.