AZ Divorce Guide

About Divorce

Divorce, legally known as the dissolution of marriage, can be a complicated, lengthy, and stressful process- our Phoenix divorce lawyers understand it can be overwhelming.

Emotions run high and important life decisions are on the line. When moving through this process, we have found that planning is very important to keep your head above water. An effective plan will accurately represent your needs while keeping both yours and your child’s best interests in mind. The Phoenix divorce attorneys at Gillespie, Shields & Taylor will help you create an effective plan, all while keeping you involved. We are conveniently located in Maricopa County!

Our attorneys will also vigorously advocate on behalf of you and your family. In addition to fighting for your rights, our family law attorneys strive to maintain civility between parties to achieve a peaceful divorce.

Arizona Marriage and Divorce Statistics

Since peaking in 1990 with a marriage rate of 10 per 1,000 people in Arizona, the rate has steadily declined down to 5.8 in 2014, according to the CDC. Following suit, Arizona’s divorce rate also peaked in 1990 at 6.9 per 1,000. However, it’s remained relatively stable throughout the 2000s, averaging around 4 per 1,000.

Grounds for Divorce in Phoenix, Az

Divorce laws vary widely across all states. Arizona has a residency requirement, which requires that at least one spouse has been a resident of Arizona for longer than 90 days before filing for divorce.

In Arizona, grounds for terminating a marriage are primarily based on a no-fault clause. Either spouse can file for divorce on these grounds. This no-fault clause essentially declares that the marriage is irretrievably broken. However, Arizona is also one of the three states that also recognizes covenant marriages.

If you are seeking dissolution from a covenant marriage, you can only file for divorce on specific grounds like adultery, drug abuse, abandonment, or a mutual agreement.

Arizona is also what is called a community property state. This means that there are certain rules to how property is divided between parties during a divorce. This is different from states that are considered an equitable distribution state. These differences are important when moving forward with your divorce.

The attorneys at Gillespie, Shields & Taylor have been practicing family law and divorce law in Phoenix, AZ since 1985. We understand the variations in state laws governing divorce and we will develop a strategy to get you the outcome you’re hoping to achieve.

Distribution of Property and Division of Debt

When it comes to dividing property, the process alone can seem daunting before even taking into account the various rules and regulations regarding property division. In Arizona, all property acquired during the marriage will be divided equally upon divorce. This is known as community property.

Property refers to possessions, real estate, income, and debts. Any property acquired before the marriage will not be included as community property. This can be very beneficial to parties seeking a divorce. However, parties often disagree about the worth of property and/or classification of property as “marital.”

The Phoenix divorce lawyers at Gillespie Shields and Taylor are experienced at navigating these disputes in the Arizona system and can guide you to a fair division of property.

How is a Business Divided in a Divorce?

Family owned businesses can complicate a divorce matter if it is not handled with care. Parties frequently disagree on what the business is worth and how much each party should receive. Business valuations are a tool often used to resolve this dispute.

When parties cannot agree, Judges can and will order parties to have a business valuation completed. However, business valuations are very expensive. Clients can lose money by paying more for the valuation than what the business is actually worth. Our attorneys understand that this step is not always necessary. We can help you explore better potential options.

Our team uses a process known as discovery to assign a numerical value to your assets, including 401ks, stocks, bonds, savings, and business investments. We can also uncover any hidden assets you may not be aware of. This way, we can create a fair and equitable agreement for you, and our Phoenix divorce lawyers will help keep the proceedings amicable.

Types of Divorce: Contested Vs. Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce proceeding is generally when both parties agree to resolve their differences amicably. Even if you and your spouse have decided to part as friends, it is still in your best interest to hire an experienced divorce law firm.

Matters become significantly more complicated when members of a marriage cannot come to a mutual arrangement. When a divorce becomes contested, seek the help of a professional. In these cases, family law mediation or arbitration may be necessary to achieve the outcome you want.

The more assets you jointly share, the more complicated your court proceedings can get. Our team of divorce experts can help you secure the outcome you are looking for by advocating for you in every step of the process. Whenever possible, we work with opposing counsel to reach a civil agreement to save you the time, money and aggravation associated with taking a case to court.

Legal Separation Versus Divorce in Phoenix, AZ

Legal separation is a situation in which a couple is still legally married but living apart with a court order dictating the situation. Legal separation may initially sound like a good option, but it almost never is. The rare instances where it would be recommended include religious or financial protection reasons. If you have concerns or questions about the differences between legal separation and divorce, please contact our office for a consultation. We are happy to meet with you and discuss which option is right for you and your family.

Prenuptial Agreements and Divorce

If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement, it can be hard to decipher the “legalese” and know if anyone violated it. Let our team of Phoenix divorce lawyers read over your agreements and determine how a premarital arrangement will play a part in your divorce proceedings.

How Does a Cheating Spouse Affect a Divorce and Spousal Support?

Spousal support guidelines factor in the income of both spouses, general quality of life before the divorce, length of the marriage, and a number of other factors. Generally speaking, the faithfulness of a spouse is not a factor in calculating alimony. It is strictly a math calculation involving the factors listed above. However, it is helpful to have the guidance of an experienced Phoenix spousal support attorney because parties frequently disagree or are unclear about what numbers to use for income and quality of life. These are important calculations that can affect your quality of life for years to come. Contact one of our attorneys today to help you receive a fair ad manageable settlement.

Arizona Custody and Support Laws

The state of Arizona takes child custody and support very seriously.

The custody ruling is based on the best interest of the child. If one of the parents has a history of drug use or any kind of criminal record, it will be very hard for that parent to gain custody.

Child support guidelines factor in a number of elements. The Arizona Child Support Guidelines follow what is called the Income Shares Model. This model of calculating child support is followed by 39 other states and is well established. The guidelines surrounding these calculations are comprehensive but can become complicated.

For example, the court will assume that both parties are able to work a full-time, minimum-wage job unless he or she meets very specific criteria. Child support is also calculated off of gross income, not net income. Courts will then combine both parties income calculations, determine a basic child support obligation based off of a statute, add in other expenses, and then prorate that number based on the amount of time each parent gets with the child.

It is important to seek experienced legal counsel for matters of spousal and child support to be sure you have effective representation and get the amount of support you need. Although modifications to decrees can be made after the fact, they can be difficult to secure unless there are significant changes that warrant the modification.

Divorce Mediation– Divorce ADR

Mediation/ADR is an opportunity to settle a case without going to trial. It is a flexible dispute resolution process in an attempt to come to a mutual agreement without involving the court. Most family law cases should be settled in mediation, but it is essential to have an attorney guide you. Our attorneys have seen far too many unfair, impracticable, and unmanageable resolutions in mediation because of poor representation. The attorneys at Gillespie Shields and Taylor are creative problem solvers and fierce advocates of fairness. We are committed to ensuring that your mediation establishes fair and sustainable results.

How much does a divorce cost?

The fees for your divorce include paying your attorney, their paralegal, the court, the law firm, and other experts helping to resolve your case (mediators, child custody evaluators, appraisers, etc.). Family law attorneys generally bill by the hour in six-minute increments. These attorneys and their paralegals constantly track the time spent on your case and then bill you accordingly. You may have additional firm expenses for copying and mailing documents. The court will also charge you certain fees for filing certain types of documents. Gillespie Shields and Taylor includes those court and firm fees in your bill from the attorney so that you only have to worry about one bill per month.

We understand that divorce attorneys are not what you want to be spending your income on. We strive to lower your fees and keep your divorce as simple, quick, and cost-effective as possible.


“David was initially highly recommended to me by friends and I was highly impressed on his knowledge and pricing. David was outstanding he was available at all times to answer any questions and if he was not available Greg was there to answer. He said, in the beginning, don’t worry it will be all fine and I will fight for you. And sure enough, he did everything he said he would. I am very pleased with the outcome of my cases. I will definitely refer my friends and family to David. Thank you again, David and team, for all your help”

“We had a very successful outcome to the pursuit of 18 years of back child support owed. Thanks so much to Jeffry McCombs and Ruth Hyde, a tremendous team that was dedicated, did not give up, 18 month effort to track down my ex, have him served and 60 days after service, a great resolution! Thank you Jeffery and Ruth! I continue to recommend to anyone needing a good attorney!”

“Best decision I could have ever made was to have [this] firm represent me. Got the outcome I wanted! Couldn’t be happier.”

“I live out of state – and we went through 3 attorneys before finding Mark [Shields]. He came highly recommended ~ and he knows AZ law! He was able to accomplish what the other attorneys were not – because he is knowledgeable and ethical!”

“I didn’t know what my rights were as a Dad but DeeAn guided me through my divorce and child custody with exceptional professionalism. My case was appealed to the AZ Supreme Court and DeeAn batted a thousand with every Judge along the way. Six years after the final divorce the nightmare returned. DeeAn guided me through the custody process protecting me and my children while exposing my ex as the appalling person she had turned into. I highly recommend DeeAn if you’re looking for the best outcome.”

“DeeAn Gillespie-Strub and firm is a pinnacle of advocacy! She, her associates, and staff work tirelessly to achieve justice for their client. Her passion for the best interest of children in her family law practice is unequivocal and her integrity is above reproach. Her knowledge of the law, skill, and assertive but calm demeanor in a court room helped give my daughter a true chance for a healthy, happy life after a 3-year, complicated and arduous battle.”

“DeeAn helped me immensely post divorce. She responds quickly when you reach out to her. She’s so knowledgeable and experienced. I felt comfortable and confident that my issues would get resolved with her as my advocate and they did. I would absolutely hire her again without hesitation.” – Sarah J.

Experienced Divorce Attorneys

The dissolution of a marriage is much more complicated than just disbanding the relationship. Without the help of an experienced divorce attorney, it can be daunting to organize custody, support, property division, and any other individual circumstances. Our attorneys take the time to listen to all of your needs and create an effective plan for your divorce. We have experience in an array of family law concentrations and our strategies are collaborative and comprehensive. Our divorce attorneys work together to get you the best possible outcome, all while keeping your stress to a minimum.

Based out of Phoenix, AZ, we provide legal services encompassing family law, estate planning, elder law, business law, employment law, and catastrophic injuries. Our AVVO ratings and badges range from excellent to superb, and two of our team attorneys have received Martindale-Hubbell client recognition awards. We are committed to providing effective representation and undeniable value to our clients. We hope that you will contact us for any of your legal needs.

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