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2023 Guide to Filing for a Divorce with Minor Children in Arizona

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Divorce with a Minor Child in AZ – How a Paraprofessional Can Help

Divorce is never an easy process, especially when it involves children.

As parents, your top priority is the welfare and happiness of your children, and navigating the complexities of divorce with a minor child can be challenging and emotional.


At De Novo Law, our licensed legal paraprofessionals specialize in Arizona divorce and family law, and we are here to help you through this challenging time in Phoenix, Arizona.

We have the expertise, compassion, and dedication to guide you through the divorce decree process and ensure your children are well cared for.

In the state of Arizona, some specific laws and procedures govern divorce with minor children, such as to be eligible to file a petition for dissolution of marriage, you or your spouse must have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days.

These laws are designed to protect the child’s best interests and ensure that both parents have a fair chance at custody and parenting time.

We will cover the following topics:

According to recent statistics from the Arizona Department of Health Services, there were approximately 23,000 divorces in Arizona in 2019.

Of those divorces, approximately 12,000 involved children under 18 years old.

These numbers highlight the importance of having a knowledgeable and experienced legal paraprofessional on your side during a divorce with a minor child.

Arizona Revised Statutes Governing Divorce with Children Involved

The state of Arizona has a comprehensive set of laws known as the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), which along with the Arizona Supreme Court, govern filing for divorce cases involving children.

Some of the key statutes include:

  • ARS 25-312(1): This statute requires that either spouse is required to be an Arizona resident for a minimum of 90 days.
  • ARS 25-402: This statute defines the different types of custody in Arizona, including legal decision-making authority and parenting time.
  • ARS 25-403: This statute outlines the factors courts consider when determining the best interests of the child in custody cases.
  • ARS 25-403.01: This statute provides guidelines on joint custody and
    the development of parenting plans.
  • ARS 25-403.08: This statute discusses how to modify custody orders in the event of changed circumstances.
  • ARS 25-501: This statute establishes the child support guidelines in Arizona, including the obligation of both parents to provide financial support and what they need to pay.

Understanding these statutes and their implications is essential for getting a divorce with a minor child in Arizona.

A legal paraprofessional from De Novo Law can help you understand your rights and responsibilities under these laws and ensure that your child’s best interests are protected.

Understanding Child Custody and Parenting Time 

In Arizona, child custody encompasses legal decision-making authority and parenting time.

Legal decision-making authority refers to the right and responsibility to make important decisions about a child’s upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.

Parenting time and custody, on the other hand, refers to the physical custody of the child and the time each parent spends with the child. 

Types of Legal Decision-Making Authority

Arizona courts can award either sole or joint legal decision-making rights, depending on the circumstances of the case:

  • Sole Legal Decision-Making Authority: One parent is granted the exclusive right to make significant decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. The other parent, while still having parenting time, does not have the same
    decision-making authority.
  • Joint Legal Decision-Making Authority: Both parents share the right and responsibility to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing. This arrangement requires a high level of cooperation and communication between the parents. 

Parenting Time Arrangements

Parenting time arrangements and visitation can vary greatly depending on the child’s needs and the family’s specific circumstances.

Some standard arrangements include:

  • Equal Parenting Time: Both parents share parenting time equally or as close to equal as possible. This arrangement typically works best when both parents live close to each other and can maintain a cooperative relationship.
  • Primary and Secondary Parenting Time: One parent is designated as the primary caregiver, with the child spending most of their time with that parent. The other parent, designated as the secondary caregiver, regularly schedules time with the child.
  • Supervised Parenting Time: In cases where a parent’s ability to care for the child is questioned, the court may order supervised parenting time. This requires the presence of a third party during the parent’s time with the child to ensure the child’s safety and well-being.

Factors Considered in Determining Custody and Parenting Time

When determining custody and parenting time, Arizona courts  consider what is best for the children, taking into account factors such as: 

  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a stable, loving, and nurturing
  • The child’s wishes, if they are of an appropriate age and maturity level
  • The willingness of each parent to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent

Developing a Parenting Plan

In cases where joint legal decision-making authority is awarded, the parents must create a parenting plan that outlines the specifics regarding custody of children and parenting time arrangements.

The plan should address the following: 

  • A schedule for parenting time, including holidays, vacations, and special occasions
  • A method for making important decisions about the child’s upbringing
  • A process for resolving disputes related to the child’s care
  • Provisions for reviewing and modifying the parenting plan as needed

A legal paraprofessional from De Novo Law can help you understand the various aspects of custody and parenting time, develop a comprehensive parenting plan, and advocate for your interests in court proceedings.

Uncontested Divorce with Minor Children vs. Contested Divorce in Arizona

Divorces in Arizona can be either uncontested or contested, depending on whether the parties can agree on key issues such as custody, parenting time, and child support.

In an Uncontested Divorce, each spouse must agree on all aspects of the divorce, including the division of assets, marital property and debts, spousal support, and parenting arrangements.

This type of divorce typically results in a faster, less expensive, and less adversarial process.

Fictional Scenarios of an Uncontested Divorce.

Example 1: Sarah is a 35-year-old mother of two children living in Tempe, just outside Phoenix. She works as a high school teacher and has an amicable relationship with her soon-to-be ex-husband, Tom.

Sarah and Tom want to keep the divorce process as smooth and stress-free as possible for their children.

They aim to agree on all aspects of their divorce, including custody and child support, without needing court intervention.

Example 2: Mike, a 42-year-old father of one, lives in Scottsdale.

He runs a small business and has decided to end his marriage of 12 years with his wife, Emily.

Mike and Emily want to avoid a prolonged and expensive legal battle.

Their goal is to negotiate the terms of their divorce, including child custody and support, cooperatively and avoid unnecessary conflict.

In a Contested Divorce, however, the spouses cannot agree on one or more issues regarding the children or other areas.

The court must intervene to make determinations on their behalf.

Contested divorces with children involved can be more complex, time-consuming, and costly.

They may involve court hearings, mediation, or even a trial to resolve disputes related to the children’s best interests. 

Fictional Scenarios of a Contested Divorce with Minor Children.

Example 1: Jennifer, a 28-year-old mother of a young child, lives in Chandler.

She is a stay-at-home mom with a strained relationship with her husband, Daniel, who has a demanding career.

Jennifer and Daniel cannot agree on custody, parenting time arrangements, or the division of marital

She aims to assert her rights and achieve a fair outcome in the divorce process, ensuring her child’s best interests are protected.

Example 2: Steven, a 45-year-old father of three, lives in Glendale. He is a police officer and has been married for 20 years to his wife, Laura.

Steven and Laura have deep-rooted disagreements regarding child custody, support, and the division of their marital property.

Steven’s goal is to protect his rights and achieve a fair resolution in the divorce process that addresses the best interests of his children.

A legal paraprofessional from De Novo Law can help you understand the differences between uncontested and contested divorces, guide you through the necessary steps, and advocate for your interests in negotiations or court proceedings to help finalize a dissolution of marriage.

Arizona Child Support Laws 

In Arizona, both parents are required to provide financial support for their children.

The state has established child support guidelines, which consider factors such as each parent’s income, the number of children, and the amount of parenting time each parent has.

These guidelines help ensure that child support payments are fair and appropriate for each family’s unique circumstances.

The non-custodial parent typically pays child support to the custodial parent to assist with the costs of raising the child, such as housing, food, clothing, education, insurance coverage, and medical expenses.

It is important to note that child support payments are separate from spousal maintenance (alimony) and are specifically intended for the child’s needs.

Fictional Scenarios of a Child Support.

Example 1: Olivia, a 29-year-old mother of a young child, lives in Gilbert. She is a part-time retail employee and struggles to make ends meet.

Olivia needs to ensure that her child’s father, Nathan, fulfills his financial obligations to their child after the divorce.

Her goal is to establish an appropriate child support arrangement that takes into account both parents’ incomes and their
child’s needs.

Example 2: Jason, a 36-year-old father of two, lives in Surprise. He works as a construction worker and is concerned about his ability to financially support his children after the divorce.

The challenge is that Jason wants to ensure that his child support payments are fair and consider the financial circumstances of both him and his ex-wife, Jessica.

He wants to work with a legal paraprofessional who can help him through Arizona’s child support guidelines and establish an equitable child support arrangement that reflects both parents’ financial situations and their children’s needs.

A legal paraprofessional from De Novo Law can help you understand Arizona’s child support guidelines and calculate appropriate support payments that ensure that the support order is properly enforced. 

A licensed legal paraprofessional from De Novo Law can provide invaluable support and guidance throughout the divorce process, particularly when minor children are involved.

They can help you navigate the complexities of Arizona family laws, advocate for your interests, and ensure that your child’s
best interests are protected.

Some of the ways a legal paraprofessional can assist you include:

  • More affordable than traditional attorney’s fees at a family law firm
  • Explaining your rights and responsibilities under statewide Arizona law
  • Assisting with the preparation and filing of necessary documents and forms
  • Advising on custody, parenting time, and child support arrangements
  • Representing your interests in negotiations, mediation, or court hearings
  • Ensuring that custody and support orders are adequately enforced and modified when necessary
Stephanie Villalobos, LP

By working with a certified legal paraprofessional from De Novo Law, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have an experienced advocate on your side, helping you navigate the challenging divorce process with a minor child in Arizona.

If you are filing for a divorce with minor children in Arizona, contact De Novo Law today at (480) 725-2200 to schedule a free consultation.

Our legal paraprofessional can provide the support, guidance, and advocacy you need to protect your child’s best interests throughout the divorce process.

With over 30 years of experience and dedication, licensed legal
paraprofessional Stephanie Villalobos can help you navigate this difficult time and secure a brighter future for you and your children.

We are here to help you through this challenging time to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. 

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DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.


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