If you are considering filing for divorce, the process can be overwhelming. In addition to the emotional drain on your family, your wallet may feel drained, too. As hard as it is, set your mind at ease. There are ways to find free divorce help in Arizona.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be legal advice. You can contact the Arizona Legal Center today to learn more about your rights in your situation. Note that when you first contact the Arizona Legal Center, a law student (and not a practicing attorney) will handle your intake.
What’s the Arizona divorce process?
There are two basic types of divorce: uncontested and contested. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree to the divorce and agree how marital assets are to be divided and other terms of the divorce (this may also include parenting time for those with minor children).
In a contested divorce, the parties cannot reach an agreement and a judge must decide on the divorce provisions. This is much more common.
The steps for filing for divorce in Maricopa County are the same, regardless of whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Generally, other counties in Arizona follow a similar process, but do check your county court’s website.
Filing the paperwork
The person asking for the divorce (the petitioner) files the divorce paperwork with the court and serves a copy of the paperwork on the other party.
The following forms are included in a divorce filing for Maricopa County:
- The Petition for Dissolution of a Marriage (Divorce)
- A Summons, which notifies your spouse of your filing
- A notice about rights regarding health insurance coverage
- A Joint Preliminary Injunction, which spells out some basic rules
- A notice about your responsibilities regarding creditors
- Information about parenting plans and responsibilities (required for parties with minor children)
Three copies of the divorce packet are required: one for the court, one for you (the petitioner), and one for your spouse (the respondent).
Responding to the filing
Once the papers are served on the respondent, they must answer within 20 days. Arizona law enforces a 60-day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized, even when both parties agree to all the provisions set forth in the Petition.
After 60 days, if your spouse has not answered the filing, you can file for a default divorce.
Where can I get free divorce help in Arizona?
Getting free divorce help in Arizona means locating free forms online, finding organizations that can help you make sense of them, and, in some cases, finding pro bono legal centers and document preparers to guide you.
Free DIY Arizona divorce forms
It is possible to complete your own divorce for just the cost of filing fees and paperwork. Arizona divorce forms are all available online and free to use.
The Arizona Judicial Branch provides the required forms and instructions for a divorce with minor children or without minor children. These forms may be accepted by courts statewide, although some courts may have their own preferred forms.
The Maricopa County Law Library Resource Center provides forms and instructions for divorce with or without minor children, as well as forms related to paternity, parenting time, and child support.
This site also includes a step-by-step guide in both English and Spanish for divorce proceedings with or without children.
Pima County offers the same free Arizona divorce forms in both English and Spanish.
Other Arizona courts
Again, if you’re in another area of Arizona, find your court’s website at https://www.azcourts.gov/AZ-Courts/AZ-Courts-Locator.
Free divorce advice and guidance in Arizona
While the process of divorce can be emotionally draining, there are ways to find free divorce help in Arizona to make it easier financially.
The Arizona Legal Center (ALC) is a great place to start for help with the divorce process. Beginning with a scheduled intake with a law student, we can evaluate your legal needs, provide assistance with forms, and answer your questions.
Find pro bono services or legal document preparation
If filling out Arizona divorce forms on your own is overwhelming, there are options here, too. Pro bono or reduced fee legal services may be available for those with financial challenges.
In some cases, what you really need is a document preparation service. This type of service helps DIY-divorce petitioners to fill out their documents properly and file them. This service is generally more affordable than hiring a lawyer.
If you are looking for free legal divorce help (including free legal advice and help with locating and filling out Arizona divorce forms), you have options.
The Arizona Legal Center is staffed with knowledgeable volunteer attorneys who can answer your questions and direct you towards the help you need. This might include a recommendation for a document preparation service, or it may be a pro bono attorney or an attorney who agrees to take your case for a reduced rate.
Come visit us at the Arizona Legal Center. At the ALC, we are making the law accessible to all by providing free legal assistance. If you need help navigating your divorce and don’t know where to start, contact us today!
Disclaimer: The Arizona Legal Center provides free legal aid and consultations in Arizona only. We provide low-cost access to fee-for-service cases when determined appropriate by an attorney at the Center, but generally do not undertake full-scope representation.