Your Guide to Hiring the Best Family Law Attorneys in Arizona

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Hiring the Best Family Law Attorneys in Arizona

Family law is a very expansive practice area that can cover many different concepts and case types. Cases frequently include divorce, spousal support, child support, asset division, and more. No matter which aspect of family law you are facing, an experienced family lawyer will most likely be the solution you need to get your case resolved in a timely manner and with a favorable outcome.

If you’re facing a family law case, your first step should be to find the right family law attorney. Learn how with this guide.

Qualities That Make a Good Family Law Attorney

Representation is key to achieving a positive outcome in your family law case. For that reason, it’s important to begin with choosing the right family law attorney to represent you. There are several factors to consider when deciding on the right family lawyer to help you.

Family Law Experience

A lawyer who has a history of helping individuals successfully resolve cases like yours is essential. In general, you will want to choose a lawyer who has ample experience in the realm of family law. Then, look for attorneys with plenty of experience in your particular area of need, whether it is divorce, child custody, adoption, or something else.

Effective Communication

The next critical quality to search for when you need a family lawyer in Phoenix is a lawyer with excellent communication skills. Your attorney will ultimately be responsible for communicating not only with you but also with the other parties involved, as well as the court. Family law under Arizona state law can become complex in many ways, and a good family law attorney can effectively communicate the nuances of family law in a way that clients can understand.

Top family law attorneys know how to effectively and efficiently communicate with clients throughout the whole process of a legal case. Effective communication can include responding to clients’ inquiries about their cases, negotiating with the opposing party and their legal counsel, and presenting the case before a court if it is required. A positive reputation and relationship with Arizona family court officials can be an excellent indicator of the attorney’s communication skills.

Topical and Court System Knowledge

It is essential that your attorney has the requisite knowledge of family law to successfully resolve your case. Expansive knowledge of the law can allow the attorney to exercise critical and creative thinking to resolve your case. Each family law case is different and unique in its own way, and knowledge of your particular case type can be critical. Finally, it is essential that your attorney has a thorough understanding of the intricacies of the Arizona family court system.

Character Traits to Look For in a Family Law Attorney in Phoenix and Mesa, AZ

Family Law Attorney in Phoenix

The top attorneys in the Phoenix and Mesa areas share many qualities, which, together with the knowledge, experience, and communication skills listed above, make them a better choice for your family law case. Look for an attorney with these qualities:


Courage is a common trait that top attorneys in Arizona share. An attorney who demonstrates courage throughout the entire legal proceeding is capable of showing respect while not being intimidated by the judge, the opposing counsel, or the courtroom setting. A fearless attorney typically gets better results for his or her clients.


Integrity is a key ingredient in the best family law attorneys. You want an attorney who is fair and honest in his or her billing, work, and communication with you. Attorneys who lack integrity generally fail to do what is right for the client. Scheduling a consultation and reading client reviews can be a good way to tell whether an attorney is one of integrity or not.

Work Ethic

A positive work ethic is essential when deciding on a family law attorney. There is no substitute for hard work. If you want great results for your case, then you need to hire an attorney who is motivated and will work diligently to argue your case. Much like integrity, consulting with an attorney and reviewing testimonials from former clients can help you determine whether an attorney has a positive work ethic.


You also want an attorney who demonstrates respect. A good family law attorney should be respectful toward you, the opposing counsel, and the judge. It is important that your wishes and views are respected in your case. It is also an advantage if your attorney has a good reputation in the community and in the courtroom.

Consider these character traits in your search for recommended family lawyers.

Family Law in Arizona

There are several different types of family law cases that can fall under the umbrella of Arizona family law.


Divorce is one of the most common types of family law cases. Although most people enter into a marriage with the best intentions, there are times when a divorce is warranted. Divorces can become contentious and complex, and it is important for you to have an understanding of the divorce process under Arizona state law so that you can be prepared.

Arizona is a no-fault divorce state. This means that the only grounds necessary to file for a divorce are “irreconcilable differences.” A spouse in a marriage does not need to prove that the other spouse was at fault for ruining the marriage or causing the divorce to happen due to infidelity or any other reason. The divorce petition simply states that the spouse or spouses believe that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

As you face your family law case, it is crucial to know that divorce can be either contested or uncontested.

A contested divorce occurs when both spouses do not agree to either the divorce itself or the terms of the proposed divorce agreement. Just because the divorce is contested does not mean that it cannot take place. A contested divorce typically means that the divorcing spouses will have to reconcile their differences in the negotiation or mediation process. An experienced Phoenix family lawyer can help spouses who disagree come to a resolution on their divorce.

An uncontested divorce means that either both spouses agree to the terms of the divorce or that there was no response received from the spouse who was served the divorce papers. If there is no response, it can result in a default judgment, and the divorce will be finalized without their input.

A Mesa divorce attorney can help review your case and provide the necessary help that you need.

Child Custody and Child Support

Whether you are a parent filing for divorce or an unmarried parent who does not reside with their child’s other parent, child custody and child support are topics that are sure to come up during your case. It is important to have some understanding of how child custody and child support are handled under Arizona state law.

Child custody consists of parenting time and decision-making rights, and both are determined separately by weighing several factors including:

  • The child’s preference
  • Any evidence of child abuse or child neglect
  • The mental and physical well-being of the child and the parents
  • Any criminal convictions
  • The child’s attachment to the home or school
A child custody agreement can be drafted between the spouses outside of court, but it will ultimately have to be approved by a child custody judge. The key aspect of child custody is that the court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child when determining who is awarded parenting time and decision-making rights. Child support will depend on several factors, including the incomes of both parents, the parenting time decision, and more.

Spousal Support Qualifications

Spousal support, also known as alimony but better known in Arizona as spousal maintenance, is an arrangement that establishes payments from one spouse to the other after the divorce. Spousal support payments are rarely permanent unless the spouse is disabled or otherwise unable to provide for themselves.

After determining that a spouse qualifies for spousal maintenance under one of the specified criteria, the court will then evaluate thirteen key factors as outlined in Arizona’s alimony laws.

These factors include:

  • The lifestyle established during the marriage
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age, work history, earning potential, and physical and emotional health of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • The ability of the other spouse to support themselves while also providing for the spouse seeking maintenance
  • A comparison of the financial situations of both spouses, including their earning capacities in the job market
  • The contributions made by the spouse seeking maintenance towards enhancing the other spouse’s earning abilities
  • The degree to which the spouse seeking maintenance has sacrificed their own income or career prospects for the benefit of the other spouse
  • The capacity of both individuals, post-divorce, to contribute to their children’s future educational expenses
  • The financial resources available to the spouse seeking maintenance, including what marital property they have been awarded, and their ability to support themselves
  • The time it would take for the spouse seeking maintenance to gain the education or training needed for suitable employment, and the availability of such education or training
  • Any excessive spending, destruction, hiding, or fraudulent management of shared property
  • The healthcare insurance costs for the spouse seeking maintenance and how those costs might decrease for the other spouse if they can switch from family to individual employee health coverage after the divorce
  • Any direct damages and legal judgments related to criminal convictions of either spouse where the other spouse or a child was the victim.
These factors collectively help the court make informed decisions regarding spousal maintenance to ensure fairness and adequacy of support.

Spousal Support Modifications

It is possible to modify a spousal payment order. Under the right circumstances, a modification can be processed. Some of the most common situations that could necessitate a spousal order modification can include:

  • One of the spouses retires.
  • One spouse loses a job.
  • There is a serious medical injury or diagnosis.
  • One spouse remarries.
  • There is any other significant change in the income of one of the spouses.


The right family law attorney can help you adopt a child in Arizona. There is a strict adoption procedure that must be followed under Arizona state law. The procedure can include a home study in which a social worker will evaluate your ability to provide the proper care for a child. This can include a background investigation into your criminal and financial history as well as a medical examination.

Family Law FAQs

Family Law in AZ

How Much Does a Family Lawyer Cost in Arizona?
A family lawyer in Arizona can cost anywhere from $200 to $500 or more per hour. The costs of a family lawyer often depend on the experience of the firm, complexity of the case and the amount of legal work that will be required. Each family law case, whether it is a divorce, child custody, or adoption case, can affect the costs of the attorney. Another factor to consider is the fee structure of the attorney. Most family law attorneys charge an hourly fee. Some attorneys can charge a retainer fee.

Is Arizona a 50-50 Custody State?
Arizona Family Court prefers to ensure that children can have a positive relationship and spend time with both parents. However, the 50-50 child custody arrangement may not be applicable in all circumstances. The ultimate deciding factor in child custody cases is the well-being of the child. Depending on where the parents live, their history, and their work schedules, a 50-50 custody split may not be in the best interest of the child. It is important to understand that even if you have a 50-50 parenting plan with your child’s other parent, you could still be required to pay child support.
What Is Common-Law Marriage?
Common-law marriage means that if you live or cohabitate with another person for seven years, you could be considered married. However, common-law marriages do not apply in every state. Arizona does not recognize common-law marriages.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Arizona?
A divorce in Arizona can be resolved in a few months, or it can take years. The time it takes to resolve the case often depends on the specific circumstances of the divorce. One of the biggest factors that can influence the timeline for resolving the divorce is whether it is contested or uncontested. Generally speaking, contested divorces naturally take longer to resolve due to the extra negotiation and possible litigation that is required. Another factor that can affect the timeline of the divorce is whether there are children involved.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Arizona?
Child support in Arizona is calculated based on several factors. These include:
  • The number of children and their ages
  • The amount of time that each parent spends with the child or children
  • The cost of daycare
  • The cost of health insurance
  • Any extraordinary expenses the child may require

Child support orders can be modified if there are serious changes in any of the factors outlined above.

Client Testimonials: Your Key Indicator of the Best Family Lawyer in Arizona

Reviews and testimonials provided by former clients are a key way to find the best family lawyer for you. Gillespie, Shields & Taylor is proud to have aided hundreds of clients over the years.

Here is what some real clients had to say about our family law team:

“I owe DeeAn Gillespie, and all her colleagues, an eternal debt of gratitude. She performed no other than a legal miracle on my behalf, and I would highly recommend this gentle yet highly competent attorney to anyone going through a divorce or a custody battle. DeeAn went the extra mile to give my case all the time and attention that was needed to be successful in court. She was a calming and confident presence during very difficult court proceedings. Simply phenomenal from start to finish. I could not have had a more kind and considerate lawyer in DeeAn Gillespie Strub.” – Frederic
I fully recommend Mark Shields; he is outstanding. He’s entirely competent, thorough and very forward thinking; he even anticipated what the judge would misunderstand. He was right; we had a contingency plan. His perfect focus locks him on priorities that matter most to our family and he managed our time and resources perfectly. My child’s life/our lives are better because of his expertise, understanding, and sense of humor and perspective. – John
I worked with DeeAn and her team for my divorce. Mine was a bit complicated as I was also dealing with health issues at the time. Divorce is incredibly difficult but DeeAn and her staff really were very compassionate and helped me get everything accomplished without breaking the bank. I also liked their flexibility which isn’t something often found in the legal profession! I highly recommend DeeAn and her amazing team! – Lea
This firm is fantastic! If you need justice and want a reputable attorney, I highly recommend contacting this firm for your family law matters, accidents, cyber suits, immigration and more. Give them a call and ask for a consultation. Clear and precise results in any courtroom. Ask for DeeAn Gillespie Strub (founder). – Afiah
DeeAn is a great representative for anyone needing to go through divorce and child custody issues. She is super smart, very compassionate, takes her work seriously, and goes the extra mile to help you feel secure and supported in an emotional, often exhausting process. I highly recommend her expertise. – Karen
I don’t even know how to say it, John and Michelle have been the Best ever going through this horrific time in my life. They have been so caring and compassionate and they have reunited me with my son. John is an absolute blessing, the definition of a great attorney who cares thank you , Michelle. They go above and beyond, I recommend if you are dealing with any custody issues you want them on your side. – Virginia

DeeAn Gillespie Strub not only possesses an impressive depth of legal knowledge but also a remarkable ability to communicate and explain the intricacies of the legal process in a way that put us at ease. DeeAn’s commitment to our case was evident in the countless hours spent researching, strategizing, and advocating for our family’s rights.

Throughout the challenging journey, DeeAn demonstrated exceptional courtroom expertise, making compelling arguments that ultimately resulted in a favorable outcome for us. DeeAn’s attention to detail, impeccable preparation, and unwavering support truly made a difference.

What truly sets DeeAn apart is her genuine concern for our family’s well-being. She listened attentively to our concerns and provided guidance that extended beyond the courtroom, always prioritizing the best interests of our child. DeeAn’s empathy and understanding made a difficult process more manageable.

In the end, thanks to DeeAn, we can finally enjoy a sense of justice and stability in our family’s life. We wholeheartedly recommend DeeAn to anyone in need of a family attorney who not only fights for your rights but also cares deeply about the well-being of your family. DeeAn’s expertise, dedication, and compassion are nothing short of exceptional, and we are eternally grateful for the positive impact they’ve had on our lives. Thank you, DeeAn, for being our unwavering advocate and bringing light to our family in our time of need. – Jillian

A Family Law Firm On Your Side

Navigating the family court system in Arizona can be difficult to do on your own. Family law cases often come with a great deal of physical, emotional, and mental stress for all parties involved. In addition, it is essential to resolve the case as efficiently and effectively as possible. For these reasons, one of the most important decisions you can make during your family law case is deciding which family law attorney you want to represent you.

At Gillespie, Shields & Taylor, our family law team understands the stresses of dealing with a family court case. Let our experts handle the stress of your case so that you can focus on moving forward with your life. If you need an experienced law firm that has a history of helping individuals all over the state of Arizona, contact our offices today to see how our experienced attorneys can provide you with the support that you need to get your case resolved.


*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published May 27, 2021 and has been updated April 3, 2024


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