Divorcing Your Spouse in Prison
Divorce is always tough, especially when your spouse is the one to initiate the divorce proceedings. Although it seems like nothing could be worse, one Arizona man is facing the ultimate insult and injury. Brittany Zamora, the Goodyear teacher who made headlines for sleeping with her 13-year old student, has recently filed for divorce from her husband (who supported her through the proceedings) from jail.
Divorce from prison blog

A Brief Overview of the Case

Zamora was sentenced back in 2019 to 20 years in prison for the charges of sexual conduct with a minor, attempted molestation of a child, and public sexual indecency. She had pled guilty despite claims that school officials failed to transfer the boy to another classroom due to his “aggressive” pursuit of the teacher. The parents eventually found the texts between the teacher and the 13-year old. This led the parents to pursue both a criminal and civil case.

The parents of the boy in question have filed civil lawsuits against both the Liberty School District and Zamora’s husband. It is speculated that Zamora is divorcing her husband to protect him from civil liability for her actions, as she had previously pleaded to the judge to let her go home to be with her husband. Like many cases where an attractive female teacher sexually abuses a young male student, the case received considerable media attention.

Imprisonment as Grounds for Divorce?

In Arizona, most marriages don’t need a specific reason to be granted a divorce. Most divorcing couples do so on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences.” However, incarceration can also be listed as a grounds for divorce on the petition. For each year a spouse is in prison, the chance of one spouse filing divorce increases by about 32%
Arizona is one of the three states that offers Covenant Marriage. Couples wishing to enter a covenant marriage must complete couples counseling and include a statement of intent on their marriage license application. There are also a limited number of reasons that the couple can be granted a divorce. Incarceration is one of them.

Divorcing a Spouse Who is in Prison

divorcing someone in prison blogDivorce is a complicated process in general, but it is even more complicated when one or both spouses is incarcerated. Regardless of what you decide to do with your case, you should consult an attorney before proceeding with an attorney, whether or not you or your spouse is incarcerated.

To divorce an incarcerated spouse, you will need to file a divorce petition just as you would if your spouse wasn’t in prison. In this petition, you will list what you would like the terms of the divorce to be, like custody issues, alimony, etc. Custody disputes are likely to be resolved in your favor as your spouse won’t be able to care for your children in prison. Typically, your next step is to have this petition served upon your spouse. This is where incarceration can make things trickier. You will need to hire a process server who services prison inmates before your case can proceed. Your spouse’s prison may have a designated employee who will make sure that the prisoner who is being served receives the paperwork.


Filing for Divorce While in Prison

The prison in which you are incarcerated will likely have a legal library, and you may have access to a “jailhouse lawyer.” Some law schools allow students to earn credits by providing free  legal services to  inmates. You should complete a divorce petition for the state that your spouse resides in. You may need to find a friend or relative to file the paperwork for you if your prison doesn’t have legal services. You will not be able to request custody of any children you have with the spouse while you are incarcerated. You can submit an accompanying affidavit for a fee waiver if you won’t be able to afford the applicable divorce filing fee. You will need to file a process server to serve the paperwork on your spouse.

If you are looking to file for divorce while at least one spouse is incarcerated, our firm can help. Our dedicated family law attorneys are available for free consultations to determine your best course of action. We also offer affordable retainers and monthly payment plans. Call to schedule your free consultation today!