Arizona No-Fault Divorce Doesn’t Mean Fault Won’t Matter

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While all 50 states have some kind of no-fault divorce option, Arizona is one of those that offers it unconditionally, without requiring a period separation and absent the option of seeking a fault divorce.

Our Mesa no-fault divorce attorneys know that there are a number of advantages to this system. But what we also want people to understand is that “no-fault” does not mean that marital misconduct will never play a role in your divorce and family law proceedings.

This is important to know because we need for you to prepared for the possibility that issues like infidelity, financial irresponsibility or substance abuse could become an issue in your divorce.

Likewise, if you are the one who has suffered in the marriage as a result of these actions, you may have an advantage at certain points in the negotiating process.

The whole idea of a no-fault divorce is to make it easier for married couples to split. There is no need for either one of them to prove that the other person did wrong in order to have the divorce formalized.

When you file for a no-fault divorce in Arizona, you are simply stating that the reason for the separation is not one that is recognized by the state. It’s enough to say that you had irreconcilable differences, without going into detail about those differences.

There are a lot of states in which you would have to live separately from your spouse for a period of time before you could file for a no-fault divorce. Arizona doesn’t require you to wait. You don’t need the consent of your soon-to-be-ex.

Some of the advantages to this include:

  • Empowering abused spouses to leave a dangerous situation;
  • Less conflict during divorce, which can mean less harm to children involved;
  • Reduction of caseloads in family court;
  • Shortens the length of time between filing and finalization.

The issue of whether you committed adultery probably won’t play a role in how much you are ordered to pay in support, as the court’s goal isn’t punishment.

However, let’s say the issue before the court is one of child custody. The standard the court will apply is the “best interests of the child.” In deciding who the child should spend more time with, the judge may factor the moral standards of both the former husband and wife. If one of those individuals has a proven history of lying and deceit (i.e., in conjunction with concealing an affair), that might become an issue.

Domestic violence, too, would become an issue in terms of child custody. A spouse with a documented history of physical abuse toward a household member is in a weak position to ask for custody of a child.

Another example would be in the area of property division. With Arizona being an equitable distribution state, the court is going to look at a division of property and assets that is fair. That doesn’t always mean a 50-50 split. If you have one spouse who has wasted a fair amount of the family savings on, say, gambling or a drug addiction, the court may factor that in when determining how much to award both sides.

Unlike in a civil case, you won’t find a family law judge awarding punitive damages, even to spouses who have suffered some of the worst cases of marital misconduct. However, there are ways in which the court will seek to even the playing field that has resulted from wrongdoing within the union.

If you are interested in pursuing a divorce in Arizona, contact our Mesa family law attorneys at (480) 833-1113.

Additional Resources:

Child Custody: The Divorce Files, September 2013, By Joseph Cordell, Askmen.com

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