CLS supports the safety and wellbeing of the family through the legal process, focusing on victims of domestic violence and children at risk of abuse or neglect.
CLS focuses on family law issues involving domestic violence or child abuse. CLS offers many types of family law assistance. Whether you are able to receive help depends in part on staff availability. Also, not all community resources are available in every county, and available CLS services vary slightly from office to office.
Family Law Q&A
Click FAQs below to expand sections:
Family law cases are cases in the family court, rather than the juvenile court. Family law includes cases involving divorce, paternity, child custody (now called "legal decision-making and parenting time") and child support. Typically, only the child's parents are parties in a family court case.
- Divorce (dissolution of marriage) = including property division, debt division, spousal maintenance, and legal decision making and parenting time for children.
- Legal Decision-Making (formerly "child custody" or "legal custody")
- Parenting Time (formerly "visitation")
- Child Support
- Enforcement = a court action to make someone follow court orders.
- Modification = a court action to change court orders.
View or download Typical Family Law Issues for more information.
Family courts throughout Arizona handle family court cases in similar ways; however, details may be different, depending on the county where your case is. In very general terms, one party starts a case by filing a petition with the court and having the petition served on the other party. If the other party disagrees, he or she files a response. To resolve the case, the parties either reach an agreement, or the court decides the issues the parties cannot agree on. Though not a substitute for legal advice, there are many resources online that provide general legal information about family law issues.
You can look up Maricopa County Family Court cases and minute entries (court orders) here.
If your case is in another Arizona county, you may wish to contact the office of the superior court clerk in the county where your case is, or search that superior court's website. Courts are putting more information online all the time.
CLS has attorneys who represent people in their family law cases; however, we typically only provide representation in cases involving domestic violence or child abuse, where children are involved. Also, because of the very high demand and limited number of staff, most often we assist people by giving legal advice, reviewing court papers, helping to draft documents, and provide referrals to additional resources.
While many people would benefit from having an attorney represent them in court, most people can’t afford to hire an attorney. Around 80% to 85% of people in family court represent themselves. There are resources for people who are representing themselves in family court, and it is always a good idea to get advice from an attorney, if possible.
Depending on where your case is, you may try to find an attorney to hire to represent you by contacting:
- Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education, Modest Means Project or 1(866) 637-5341
- Maricopa County Bar, Lawyer Referral Service or (602) 257-4434 (Maricopa County only)
- Arizona State Bar, Attorney Directory or 1 (866) 482-9227 (No attorney referrals given)
- Maricopa County Superior Court Self-Service Center Lawyer Roster (Maricopa County only)
This booklet, How to Represent Yourself in Family Court, provides some helpful information, especially for domestic violence victims and survivors.
This flowchart outlines the basic divorce process.
Other resources for people representing themselves in family court include:
- Superior Court of Arizona Self-Service Centers:
- Family Lawyers Assistance Project (FLAP) (Maricopa County Only)
- Arizona Department of Economic Security: Department of Child Support Enforcement (for child support issues only)
- Family Law Ombudsman Program (Yavapai County only) = (928) 445-9240, Extension 2025
The juvenile court handles cases such as dependency, termination of parental rights, guardianship, and adoption. CLS does not handle dependency cases or cases for termination of parental rights. CLS can help with some guardianship and adoption cases, through the Children's Law Center.