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Common Law Marriage in Arizona

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Common Law Marriage- How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

Common law marriage is a concept that has been around for centuries and continues to be a topic of interest in family law.

In Arizona, however, common law marriage is not recognized

which can lead to some unique legal challenges for couples who consider themselves to be husband and wife without a formal marriage certificate.

Whether it’s understanding the legal implications of not being recognized as a married couple in the eyes of the state or seeking affordable legal services to protect each other’s rights and assets from a common law marriage originating in another state, a legal paraprofessional can provide much-needed guidance and support. 

We will cover the following topics:

What Is a Common Law Marriage? 

A common law marriage is a non-ceremonial form of marriage that can be recognized as legally valid without a formal wedding or marriage license,

based primarily on the couple’s cohabitation, intention, and presentation as a married couple.

This concept originated in England and was transported to many states in the U.S. However, its recognition varies significantly across different jurisdictions.

In Arizona, common-law marriages are not legally recognized. This means that regardless of the duration of a relationship or how a couple may present themselves publicly, they are not considered legally married without undergoing the formal process, including obtaining a marriage license and having a marriage ceremony.

In What States Are Common Law Marriages Legal?

Common law marriages are legally recognized in a select few states within the United States.

Each state has distinct criteria for what constitutes a common-law marriage. 

  1. Colorado: No minimum period of cohabitation required; couples must hold themselves out to the public as married.
  2. Iowa: Requires a minimum period of cohabitation and public declaration of the marriage.
  3. Kansas: Recognition based on cohabitation and public representation as a married couple.
  4. Montana: No formal requirements for a specific period or public declaration, but couples must meet certain criteria to be recognized.
  5. New Hampshire: Recognizes common law marriage only for the purpose of inheritance.
  6. South Carolina: Requires proof of cohabitation and a mutual agreement to be married.
  7. Texas: Known as “informal marriage,” requiring declaration and registration at the local county clerk’s office.
  8. Utah: Requires a petition to the court to establish a common law marriage.

It’s important to note that the recognition of common law marriage and the associated rights and responsibilities vary from state to state.

Couples in these states are typically granted the same legal rights as those in ceremonial marriages, including in areas of property division, inheritance, and spousal support. 

Will Arizona Recognize My Common Law Marriage From Another State? 

Arizona acknowledges common law marriages established in other states, adhering to the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution.

While the state itself does not permit the formation of common law marriages, it recognizes them if they are legally valid in the state where they were formed.

  • Interstate Recognition: Arizona respects out-of-state common law marriages, provided they meet all legal requirements of the state in which they were established.
  • Proof of Validity: Couples must demonstrate their relationship met the criteria for a common law marriage in the originating state, including aspects like cohabitation and public recognition as a married couple.
  • Equal Legal Standing: Once recognized, these marriages have the same legal rights and responsibilities as traditional marriages in Arizona, covering areas like property rights, inheritance, and spousal maintenance.
  • Legal Challenges: Proving a common law marriage can be complex without formal documentation, so maintaining detailed records is crucial.

In summary, Arizona will recognize a common law marriage from another state, but couples need to be prepared to provide evidence of the marriage’s validity according to the laws of the state where it was established.

Common Law Marriage and Divorce: How Does It Work?

While Arizona does not establish common law marriages within its borders, it does recognize those validly formed in other states due to the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

Consequently, if an Arizona resident was part of a common law marriage formed in a state like Colorado or Texas, Arizona courts will treat the dissolution of this marriage similarly to any other divorce proceeding.

This process will involve the equitable division of assets, determination of spousal support, and, if applicable, decisions regarding child custody and support. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1: Can my partner and I be considered legally married under common law if we live together in Scottsdale, Arizona?
A1: In Arizona, including cities like Scottsdale, the state does not recognize common-law marriages, regardless of how long a couple has lived together. While the concept of “marriage by habit and repute” or common-law marriage is recognized in some states, Arizona is not one of them.

Q2: As a surviving spouse in a common-law marriage from another state, what are my inheritance rights in Arizona?
A2: If your common-law marriage is recognized by the state of Arizona, you would have the same inheritance rights as a surviving spouse in a traditional marriage. This includes rights related to community property and other estate matters, subject to Arizona state probate laws.

Q3: Is it possible for my partner and I to file joint tax returns in Arizona if we have a common-law marriage from another state?
A3: If you are in a common-law marriage recognized by the state of Arizona because it was contracted in a state that allows such unions, you may file joint tax returns as a married couple.

Q4: If my partner and I have a common-law marriage in another state, how does the State of Arizona handle our marital contract for legal matters?
A4: When a couple with a common-law marriage from a state that recognizes such unions relocates to Arizona, the State of Arizona will uphold their marital contract for legal matters. This includes recognizing rights related to property disputes, probate proceedings, and other family law matters under Arizona state law.

Q5: Can I use my spouse’s last name in Arizona if we are in a common-law marriage recognized by another state?
A5: Yes, if your common-law marriage is recognized by Arizona because it was contracted in a state that recognizes common-law marriages, you can legally use your partner’s last name. However, it’s advisable to keep documentation proving the validity of your common-law marriage.

Q6: Are there family law firms in the 480 area code that specialize in cases involving common-law marriages?
A6: Yes, there are family law firms in the 480 area (Scottsdale and surrounding areas) that specialize in cases involving common-law marriages recognized by other states. These firms can provide legal advice and representation in various family law needs, including those unique to common-law marriages.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

How a Family Law Legal Paraprofessional Can Help 

De Novo Law offers specialized assistance through their family law legal paraprofessionals for couples moving to Arizona with a common law marriage established in another state.

A legal paraprofessional, like those at De Novo Law, is a licensed professional who can perform many of the same functions as an attorney but at a more affordable cost.

This includes offering guidance on how Arizona laws might affect your common-law marriage and handling associated legal matters like property division, child custody, and support.

For individuals seeking advice in this area, De Novo Law’s free consultation offer is an excellent starting point to better understand your situation. You can contact them at (480) 725-2200. to schedule this consultation and discuss the specifics of your common law marriage and how it may be treated under Arizona law.

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

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.

CONTACT US

Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.

De Novo Law Blog

Get a Divorce Without Going to Court in Arizona

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Divorce Without Court- How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

If you have considered getting a divorce in Arizona, you may dread the idea of a lengthy and expensive court battle. However, there is a way to end your marriage without the need for a court appearance.

With the help of a legal service, you can handle the divorce process without ever stepping foot inside a courtroom.

In Arizona, couples have the option to pursue a collaborative divorce or mediation instead of going through a traditional court process. This can save time, money, and emotional energy. In a collaborative divorce, both parties work together with their respective representation to negotiate a fair settlement, including spousal support and custody decisions.

We will cover the following topics:

Understanding Arizona’s No-Court Divorce Process

To qualify for a no-court divorce in Arizona, certain conditions must be met. These generally include agreement on major issues such as asset division, child custody, and support.

Couples must be in a mutual understanding that the marriage is irretrievably broken and are willing to negotiate terms amicably.

Overview of the Legal Framework

Arizona law, detailed in the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), provides the legal basis for a no-court divorce, known as an uncontested divorce or dissolution of marriage. This process is governed by ARS §25-312, which outlines the requirements for dissolving a marriage, including residency requirements and grounds for divorce.

Additionally, ARS §25-318 addresses the consensual division of property and debts, which is a crucial part of the no-court divorce process.

In a no-court divorce, the primary focus is on negotiation and agreement. Couples work together, often with the help of legal counsel or mediators, to reach a mutually acceptable divorce settlement.

This approach contrasts with the traditional contested divorce, where disputes are resolved in court, often leading to a more adversarial and lengthy process.

Filing for Divorce Without Court Intervention

Filing for a divorce without court intervention in Arizona, known as an uncontested divorce, is a more straightforward process compared to a traditional contested divorce.

This option is ideal for couples who agree on all major issues, including property division, child custody, and support.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you understand the process:

  1. Determine Eligibility: Ensure that you meet Arizona’s residency requirements for divorce. At least one spouse must have lived in Arizona for a minimum of 90 days before filing.
  2. Agree on Key Issues: Both parties need to agree on all aspects of the divorce, including asset division, debt division, child custody, visitation, and support, as well as alimony (if applicable).
  3. Prepare and File Divorce Papers: Complete the necessary forms, which can be obtained from the Arizona Judicial Branch website or your local court. The primary form is the “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.” The forms vary depending on whether you have children.
  4. Serve Your Spouse: Once filed, you must legally serve your spouse with the divorce papers, following Arizona’s rules for service of process. Your spouse will have a set period to respond.
  5. Submit a Consent Decree: If your spouse agrees to the terms, you both can submit a Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. This document outlines all the terms of your agreement.
  6. Final Review and Decree: After submitting the Consent Decree, a judge will review it. If it meets all legal standards, the judge will sign it, making your divorce official.
  7. Address Post-Divorce Considerations: After the divorce is finalized, follow through on all agreed-upon terms, such as transferring property titles and updating legal documents (like wills or beneficiary designations).

Remember, while an uncontested divorce can be simpler and less expensive, it’s important to ensure that all agreements are fair and in line with Arizona law. 

Financial Aspects of a No-Court Divorce

When undergoing a no-court divorce in Arizona, it’s important to understand and appropriately handle the financial aspects.

These include the division of assets and debts and considerations for child support and alimony.

Proper management of these elements can lead to a smoother divorce process and ensure a fair outcome for both parties.

Managing Assets and Debts in an Amicable Split

In a no-court divorce, couples have the advantage of working out the division of assets and debts themselves.

This requires full disclosure and an honest assessment of shared and individual assets and liabilities. The key steps involve:

  • Listing All Assets and Debts: Both parties should compile a comprehensive list of all assets (like real estate, vehicles, savings accounts) and debts (such as mortgages, car loans, credit card debts).
  • Valuing Assets and Debts: Accurately assessing the value of assets and the amount of debts. This may require professional appraisals or valuations for certain assets.
  • Agreeing on Division: The couple should agree on a fair division. Arizona is a community property state, which generally means that any assets and debts acquired during the marriage are to be divided equally. However, couples can agree on a different division if they both consent.
  • Consideration of Tax Implications: Be aware of potential tax implications of asset division, especially for items like retirement accounts and real estate.

It’s often beneficial to work with financial advisors or legal professionals to help with the process, ensuring that the division is equitable and complies with Arizona law.

Child Support and Alimony Considerations

Child support and alimony are significant considerations in any divorce, including no-court divorces.

  • Child Support: In Arizona, child support obligations are determined based on the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, which consider various factors including the income of both parents, the number of children, and the time each parent spends with the children. The goal is to ensure that the children’s financial needs are met post-divorce. 
  • Alimony (Spousal Maintenance): Alimony, known as spousal maintenance in Arizona, is not guaranteed in every divorce. It depends on factors like the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial resources, and the standard of living established during the marriage. Unlike child support, there’s more flexibility and negotiation involved in determining alimony.

In summary, addressing the financial aspects of a no-court divorce in Arizona requires careful consideration and often professional guidance. By managing these aspects effectively, you can ensure a fair and sustainable outcome for both parties and any children involved.

Frequently Asked Questions: No-Court Divorce in Arizona

Q: Can I get a divorce in Arizona without going to court? A: Yes, you can get a divorce without appearing in court if both parties can reach an agreement on all terms of the divorce. This is known as an uncontested divorce. Once the divorce petition is filed with the court and all necessary documents are served and agreed upon, you may not need to attend a hearing if everything is in order.

Q: What is a default divorce in Arizona? A: A default divorce occurs when one spouse files for divorce (the petitioner) and the other spouse fails to respond to the petition within the stipulated time frame. In such cases, the court has discretion to grant a decree of dissolution of marriage based on the terms set forth in the petition.

Q: Do I need to be a resident of Arizona to file for divorce in the state? A: Yes, Arizona law requires that at least one of the spouses be a resident of Arizona or be stationed in Arizona (in the case of military personnel) for at least 90 days before filing the divorce petition.

Q: What happens if we have minor children involved in the divorce? A: If there are minor children involved, Arizona courts look into the best interests of the children regarding custody and support. The process may involve an early resolution conference and both parties may need to come to an agreement on child-related issues. This can be done through mediation or negotiation, avoiding the need for a court hearing.

Q: How does the division of property work in an Arizona divorce? A: Arizona is a community property state, which means that any assets and debts acquired during the time of marriage are generally divided equally between the parties. It’s common to think that this split is always 50/50, but the actual division may vary based on the circumstances. Couples are encouraged to reach an agreement on property division, possibly with the help of a qualified financial adviser or family law expert.

Q: What if my spouse and I cannot agree on the terms of our divorce? A: If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on your own, the case is considered contested and may require intervention from the court. In this scenario, both parties may need to attend a hearing, and the court will make decisions on the contested issues.

Q: Can I file for divorce in Arizona if my spouse is not willing to? A: Yes, you have the option to file for divorce even if your spouse does not want to divorce. If your spouse fails to respond after the papers are served, the procedure is done as a default process where the court may award the petitioner the terms set forth in their petition.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

In cases of no-court divorce, a legal paraprofessional can offer substantial help. They can guide clients through preparing and filing divorce documents, ensuring that all paperwork is correctly completed and submitted.

This includes drafting and reviewing documents such as the petition for dissolution of marriage, financial affidavits, and agreements related to child custody and support, if applicable.

Their knowledge of Arizona’s family law allows them to provide clients with accurate information on their rights and obligations, ensuring that the legal aspects of the divorce are handled properly. 

Additionally, they can assist in the negotiation and mediation processes, helping clients reach amicable agreements on various aspects of the divorce, thus avoiding the need for court intervention.

This support can significantly streamline the divorce process, making it less stressful and more efficient for the clients involved.

To contact De Novo Law for assistance with family law matters including uncontested divorce, you can reach them by phone at (480) 725-2200. They offer a free initial consultation with a legal paraprofessional to discuss your specific concerns.

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

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.

CONTACT US

Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.

De Novo Law Blog

Understanding Arizona Paternity Laws: Effective Ways to Establish Paternity in Arizona

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Paternity- How a Paraprofessional Can Help

When it comes to the paternity of a child, the state of Arizona has specific laws and procedures in place to determine and establish legal paternity. In the state of Arizona, paternity may be established through various methods, and it is important for both parents to understand their rights and obligations in the process.


In Arizona, a father may establish paternity by voluntarily acknowledging the paternity of a child. This can be done by signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form, which can be filed with the court or the Arizona Department of Health Services. Additionally, paternity may also be established through a DNA test, court order, or the parents’ marriage after the child’s birth.


To pursue legal rights and responsibilities as a father, individuals must first establish paternity in Arizona. This process can be complex and requires a clear understanding of Arizona’s paternity laws. In this article, we will explore the effective ways to establish paternity in Arizona and the rights and benefits that come with it. 

We will cover the following topics:

The Basics of Paternity Establishment in Arizona

Paternity establishment in Arizona is a legal process that determines the legal father of a child. This process is important for various reasons, including child support, inheritance, and access to family medical history. 

Understanding Arizona Paternity Laws

Arizona paternity laws are governed by the Arizona Revised Statutes, particularly Title 25, which deals with family law. Under these statutes, paternity can be established in several ways:

  • Voluntary Acknowledgement: Both parents can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form, usually at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. This form is legally binding and is equivalent to a court order of paternity (ARS § 25-812).
  • Presumption of Paternity: In Arizona, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he was married to the mother within ten months of the child’s birth or if the child is born within ten months of the marriage’s termination (ARS § 25-814).
  • Court Order: If paternity is disputed, either parent can file a petition with the court to establish paternity. The court may order genetic testing and will issue a judgment of paternity based on the evidence (ARS § 25-803, § 25-804).

Genetic testing is a cornerstone in the legal establishment of paternity, especially when paternity is under dispute in Arizona. This type of testing, which can be requested by either the involved party or mandated by the court, offers a highly accurate method for determining paternity, often with more than 99% certainty.

The procedure for genetic testing is straightforward and non-invasive. It typically involves collecting DNA samples from the child, mother, and the alleged father using a simple cheek swab.

These samples are then analyzed to compare genetic markers that indicate paternity. Various types of genetic tests, such as STR (Short Tandem Repeat) analysis, which looks at specific areas in DNA, and SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) testing, which examines variations in the DNA sequence, are used to establish a biological relationship with a high degree of accuracy.

When a genetic test confirms paternity, it carries significant legal implications. The court, acknowledging the test results, is likely to issue an order of paternity. This legal declaration is pivotal, as it forms the basis for determining child support, custody, and visitation rights, establishing a clear legal connection between the father and the child.

Legal Procedures to Establish Paternity in Arizona

In Arizona, when paternity is in question or disputed, legal procedures are in place to ensure a definitive and legally recognized determination of fatherhood. These procedures are vital for both the child and the parents, impacting child support, custody rights, and the child’s right to inherit.

Filing a Petition for Paternity in Arizona Courts

Filing a petition for paternity is a key step when parents cannot agree on paternity or when paternity is in doubt. This process is outlined in the Arizona Revised Statutes and involves several steps:

  1. Petition: Either parent can file a petition in the family court of the county where the child, the mother, or the alleged father resides. The petition should detail the relevant facts and request the court to determine paternity (ARS § 25-803). 
  2. Service of Process: The alleged father must be served with the petition and notified of the court hearing. This ensures that he has an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
  3. Hearing and Evidence: During the court hearing, both parties can present evidence. This may include testimony, documentation, and results from genetic testing.
  4. Court-Ordered Genetic Testing: If the alleged father denies paternity, the court may order genetic testing. The results of these tests are typically conclusive and greatly influence the court’s decision.
  5. Legal Representation: Both parties may have attorneys to represent them during the process. A family law legal paraprofessional can provide guidance and support.

The Role of Birth Certificates in Arizona Paternity Cases

In Arizona, when a child is born to unmarried parents, the biological father’s name does not automatically appear on the birth certificate.

To establish paternity and have the father’s name included, both parents must sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form.

This process is typically facilitated in the hospital at the time of the child’s birth but can be completed later as well.

  • Legal Implications: Signing this form is a significant legal act. It establishes paternity without the need for a court order, granting the father legal rights and responsibilities, including child support obligations and parental rights (ARS § 25-812). 
  • Presumption of Paternity: Once signed and filed with the Arizona Department of Health Services, this acknowledgment creates a presumption of paternity. This presumption can be rebutted only under specific circumstances, such as through genetic testing proving otherwise.

Correcting or Amending Birth Certificates in Paternity Matters

There are situations where a birth certificate may need to be corrected or amended in relation to paternity:

  • Paternity Established After Birth: If paternity is established after the child’s birth, either voluntarily or through a court order, the birth certificate can be amended to include the father’s name. This typically requires submitting the proper form and the documentation proving paternity (such as the acknowledgment form or court order) to the state’s vital records office. 
  • Disestablishing Paternity: If paternity is disproved (e.g., through genetic testing), steps can be taken to remove the father’s name from the birth certificate. This usually requires a court order.

Child Support and Parental Rights in Paternity Cases

In Arizona, the legal recognition of paternity is closely linked to child support responsibilities.

State laws mandate that both parents contribute to their child’s financial upbringing, and this duty becomes enforceable with the establishment of paternity.

  • Child Support Calculations: The state adheres to specific guidelines for child support calculations, which consider factors like parental incomes, the child’s necessities, and the custodial arrangement. Once paternity is legally recognized, these guidelines are used to ascertain the father’s contribution (ARS § 25-320).
  • Enforcement Mechanisms for Child Support: Arizona has effective and well-established methods for enforcing child support to ensure that financial responsibilities are met. The state’s approach includes a variety of measures such as withholding income, placing liens on property, and taking legal action when necessary. These methods are designed to maintain consistent support payments for the welfare of the child.
  • Adjustments to Child Support: Recognizing that circumstances change, Arizona law allows for modifications to child support orders in cases of significant changes in parental income, employment, or the child’s needs.

Securing Parental Rights Following Paternity Establishment

Beyond financial implications, establishing paternity is critical for defining and protecting parental rights.

  • Custody and Access Rights: With paternity established, the father gains legitimate rights to pursue custody or visitation. Arizona courts prioritize the child’s best interests in these decisions, fostering a balanced relationship with both parents.
  • Involvement in Key Decisions: Legal paternity endows the father with the authority to participate in major decisions affecting the child’s life, encompassing aspects like education, healthcare, and cultural upbringing.
  • Guarding Parental Relationships: The establishment of paternity safeguards a father’s right to remain actively involved in his child’s life. It also serves as a legal barrier against potential adoptions or custody changes initiated without his consent.

The affirmation of paternity in Arizona carries profound implications for child support and the enforcement of parental rights. It guarantees financial responsibility for the child’s upbringing and ensures the father’s active involvement in his child’s life. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Paternity Establishment in Arizona

  1. Refusal of Paternity Test by a Mother in AZ: Under Arizona paternity laws, if a paternity action is filed in an Arizona court and a DNA genetic test is ordered by the judge, the mother must comply. Refusing a court-ordered paternity test can result in legal consequences. However, if there is no court order, a mother can refuse a paternity test. In such cases, the father of the child or another interested party may need to establish paternity through legal proceedings.
  2. Father’s Absence and Loss of Rights in AZ: There’s no set period after which a father automatically loses parental rights in Arizona due to absence. However, if a father is absent for an extended time, this can influence paternity proceedings, especially in cases concerning the child’s welfare and best interests. An Arizona court may consider the absence as a factor in custody or parental rights cases.
  3. Filing Costs for Paternity in Arizona: To file a petition to establish paternity in an Arizona court, costs can vary. Typically, court filing fees range between $200 and $300, though it’s important to check with the specific court for accurate fees. Establishing paternity can also involve additional expenses, such as attorney fees and costs for a DNA paternity test.
  4. Mother’s Participation in Paternity Tests: In paternity establishment, including the mother’s DNA in the test can often provide a more complete genetic picture. While it’s possible to conduct a DNA test with just the alleged father and the child, involving the mother can enhance the accuracy of establishing the child’s biological father.
  5. Signing Birth Certificate and Paternity in Arizona: In Arizona, an unmarried father signing the birth certificate at the child’s birth does not automatically establish legal paternity. For paternity to be legally recognized, the unmarried father must sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form, filed with the appropriate state agency.
  6. Time Frame to Establish Paternity in Arizona: In Arizona, there is no strict deadline for a father to establish paternity. However, it’s advisable to address paternity issues promptly after the child’s birth, as this can impact rights to child support and other benefits. Paternity proceedings can be initiated anytime during the child’s minority.
  7. Presumption of Paternity in Arizona: Presumption of paternity is a legal concept in Arizona where a man is presumed to be the father under certain conditions. This presumption applies if he was married to the mother during a specified period around the child’s birth or if both parents sign the birth certificate within a certain timeframe. This presumption can be a critical factor in paternity proceedings and can be contested through legal means, such as a paternity lawsuit or genetic testing.
Stephanie Villalobos, LP

At De Novo Law, the first Arizona firm to employ licensed Legal Paraprofessionals (LPs), they provide affordable legal services in family law matters, similar to those offered by family law attorneys. Their team, including the pioneering LP Mrs. Stephanie Villalobos, specializes in various aspects of family law.

This includes handling paternity cases, where they offer expert legal advice and representation. Their services cover guidance on voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, assistance in filing paternity petitions, and navigating legal presumptions of paternity under Arizona law. 

To contact De Novo Law for assistance with family law matters including paternity cases, you can reach them by phone at (480) 725-2200. They offer a free initial consultation with a legal paraprofessional to discuss your specific concerns. For more details and to schedule a consultation, please visit De Novo Law Contact Page.

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

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.

CONTACT US

Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.

De Novo Law Blog

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
    environment
  • 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
assets.

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. 

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

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.

CONTACT US

Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.

De Novo Law Blog

My Ex is Behind on Child Support: What are my Options?

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Navigating Child Support Can Be Challenging

Learn what your options are when your ex spouse is behind on child support. Choose from any of the topics below.

  • Can a Parent Refuse to Pay Child Support?
  • What Should You Do if Your Ex is Not Paying Child Support?
  • Is it Common for People to Miss Child Support Payments?
  • What are the Penalties for Not Paying Child Support in Arizona?
  • What Are Child Support Arrears?
  • How Can a Paralegal Professional Help me Recover Child Support Payments?
  • Speak With a Legal Paraprofessional Regarding a Divorce Trial

Can a Parent Refuse to Pay Child Support?

 

Yes, a parent can refuse to pay child support.

In most cases, if one parent is not paying their fair share of the financial responsibility for a child, then the other parent can take legal action.

A court may order the non-paying parent to make payments or face jail time. It is important to note that parents cannot use this as an excuse to avoid paying child support; it is their obligation as a parent and should not be taken lightly.

Furthermore, the amount of money owed will not go away even if the non-paying parent refuses to pay it; they will still have to pay what they owe, plus interest and penalties in addition to any court costs associated with enforcing the order.

What Should You Do if Your Ex is Not Paying Child Support?

If your ex is not paying child support in Arizona, it is crucial to take legal action.

You should contact a lawyer or legal paraprofessional specializing in family law who can provide sound advice on how to proceed.

You may also want to contact the Arizona Department of Economic Security Child Support Services Division, which can help you with enforcement efforts such as wage garnishment or interception of income tax refunds.

It’s also important to keep records of payments that have been made and any communications with your ex regarding child support.

Finally, you should regularly review your child support agreement and make sure that all payments are being made according to the terms of the agreement. 

Taking these steps will help ensure that you receive the financial support for your children that is rightfully due.

Is it Common for People to Miss Child Support Payments?

Unfortunately, it is common for people to miss child support payments. This can be due to various factors such as unemployment, illness, or other financial issues.

In addition, some parents do not prioritize paying their child support and may use the money on other things. This can have long-lasting consequences for both the parent and the children involved in the situation.

The parent who fails to make payments can face legal action and/or financial penalties. Meanwhile, not receiving the total amount of child support may cause financial hardship for the custodial parent and/or the children.

Parents must stay current with their payments to ensure their children are financially provided for.

How do I Manage my Finances While I Wait for Child Support Payments?

 

Waiting for child support payments can be a stressful and overwhelming experience.

The best way to manage your finances while you wait is to create and maintain a budget.

Start by tracking your income and expenses, so you know exactly how much money is coming in and going out each month. Once you have an accurate picture of your finances, set realistic goals for saving money and creating an emergency fund. First, prioritize bills such as rent, utilities, food, and healthcare. Try to pay off any debt or high-interest loans as soon as possible.

Additionally, consider looking into government assistance programs and other forms of financial aid that may be available to help support your family during this time.

What are the Penalties for Not Paying Child Support in Arizona?

In Arizona, the penalties for not paying child support are severe.

The court may take away a person’s driver’s license or professional license, place liens on their property, or order wage garnishment. If a person is found in contempt of court for failure to pay child support, they could face jail time and be fined.

It is essential to understand that the state of Arizona takes non-payment of child support very seriously, and those who do not make their payments can face serious consequences.

What Are Child Support Arrears?

Child support arrears are payments that are owed to a custodial parent from the non-custodial parent for past due child support.

This is usually in the form of money but can also include other items such as medical expenses or reimbursements for daycare costs.

When parents do not make timely payments or fall behind in their obligations, the amount owed accumulates and is called arrearage.

In some cases, this debt can become very significant and even lead to legal action against the non-paying parent. The amount of arrearage should be paid in full before any future payments are made, so parents must stay on top of any money they owe to avoid having a large balance accumulate.

How Can a Paralegal Professional Help me Recover Child Support Payments?

 

A paralegal professional can assist in recovering child support payments in various ways. They can help to research and locate the non-paying parent and then advise on the best course of action for obtaining payment. This could include negotiating with the other parent or filing a motion with the court to order payment.

Additionally, they can also prepare all necessary legal documents, such as petitions for support, motions for contempt, and garnishment orders. Furthermore, they can advise on managing funds received and ensure that all expenses related to raising children are correctly accounted for.

With their knowledge and experience, paralegal professionals can help families recover unpaid child support payments quickly and efficiently.

Tip: Consulting a paralegal professional is also more cost-efficient compared to hiring an attorney.

 

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

A step that can be taken if you see yourself facing late child support payments is to contact an experienced paraprofessional at De Novo Law. The team of legal paraprofessionals will be able to concentrate on the case at hand. 

Call us today at (480) 660-4414 to schedule your consultation.

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

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.

CONTACT US

Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.