Divorce, Legal Separation, and Annulment

Marriages can end through divorce, annulment, or legal separation. Although similar, each approach has differences which alter the finances of the parties after the marriage and will result in a different legal status. A divorce, along with the custody issues, financial concerns, and other associated struggles, are among the most stressful and difficult experiences that can happen to a person or family. An experienced attorney provides assurance and stability as you navigate the divorce process.

Regardless of whether the marriage ends in divorce, legal separation or annulment, your case can be resolved in one of two ways: either by reaching agreement with your spouse, or by leaving disputed issues to the Judge for resolution. If possible, we prefer avoiding the uncertain outcome, added time and increases cost associated with leaving disputed issues to a Judge. However, in some cases, the circumstances require that we fight in court to protect your rights.

Let us help you decide how best to proceed by calling Davis Miles McGuire Gardner at 480-733-6800.

Dissolution of Marriage / Divorce

Dissolution (or divorce) is the legal process used to resolve the many issues that come up when any marriage ends. Each divorce is different, but in most cases, many of the following issues arise:

    • Child support for any children
    • Equitable division of marital assets
    • Equitable division of marital debts
    • Alimony payments
    • Determination of payment of attorney’s fees

Arizona is a no fault divorce state. This means that if one party requests a divorce, the court will grant it. It is sufficient to allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken and no reasonable prospect of reconciliation exists. Of course, most divorce cases involve a number of additional issues. Child custody, visitation, and child support issues must also be considered and resolved.

Assets and debt acquired during the marriage must be distributed equitably (which typically means equally, under Arizona’s community property law). For an equitable division of property to occur, appraisals are often necessary. Alimony or spousal maintenance payments must also be resolved. The attorneys at Davis Miles McGuire Gardner PLLC have represented clients in a number of divorce cases involving custody, business and asset valuations.

In order to file for a divorce in Arizona you or your spouse have to have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days before your case is filed. If your case involves issues related to children, including custody and child support, the time period is generally six months. Simple divorces can become final in as few as 80-90 days, while more complex divorces often take longer to resolve. After your initial consultation, we can give you an idea of how long your case may take.

After the case is filed, a temporary restraining order is intended to prevent either spouse from concealing, selling or otherwise wasting the marital assets. It will also prevent either parent from leaving Arizona with the couple’s young children. After the case is filed, the parties are not allowed to harass the other spouse. Violation of this order can result in contempt proceedings.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is similar in process to a divorce, but much different in end result. For some people legal separation is more suitable, depending on the particular circumstances. Legal separation may be used to keep one spouse on the other’s insurance. Religious reasons sometimes play a role. Others are not ready to take the formal step of ending a marriage through divorce.

Legal separation brings up the same issues that arise in a divorce: custody, child support, visitation, spousal maintenance, and division of assets and debts. Legal separation does not end the legal rights and relationships that arise through marriage. If a legal separation is ordered, and one spouse or the other later wishes to remarry, a divorce must first be obtained.


An annulment of marriage results in the court declaring that parties were never legally married. Annulment is typically reserved for cases of fraud or incapacity.

Fraud can include bigamy, concealment of a communicable disease, or a criminal past. An annulment puts the parties back in the position they were in had they never been married. This result is much different in terms of property distribution than what may result from a divorce or legal separation. Issues related to custody, visitation and child support may arise, even when an annulment is granted.

Call Davis Miles McGuire Gardner for a free telephone consultation at 480-733-6800.