Arizona Divorce Process
A divorce, or dissolution of marriage as it is referred to legally, is the court procedure used to end a marriage. The individual who “starts” the divorce is termed the Petitioner, while the other party in the divorce is termed the Respondent. Either spouse may petition for divorce, but one or the other must have been a resident of the state of Arizona for at least 90 days before filing. The first step to begin a divorce in Arizona is to determine that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
Since Arizona is a no-fault state, neither spouse needs to provide an actual reason in order to obtain a dissolution of marriage. At least one spouse needs to be able to assert the marriage is irretrievably broken. Additional laws apply for couples that chose to have a “covenant marriage.”
Arizona Divorce Process | How You Need to Begin
How to Begin a Divorce in Arizona? The first step is to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the Superior Court.
While everyone is entitled to represent themselves in their own divorce, if you do so, the court will expect you to follow all the applicable laws and correct procedures that apply to the case at hand even though you are not an Arizona divorce attorney. If you choose to represent yourself and you do not follow the laws and procedures applicable to your case, it may damage your chances of obtaining certain benefits and utilizing certain rights. This can be particularly problematic if your case goes to trial, as the judge could determine you not be allowed to present specific evidence or call certain witnesses to the stand. If you are at all unsure of the legal procedures and laws pertaining to your divorce case, you should contact an experienced Arizona divorce attorney as soon as possible. In some cases, a judge could order your spouse (or ex-spouse) to pay all or part of your attorney’s fees accumulated as a result of the proceedings.
Once you have contacted Arizona family law experts and obtained legal representation for your divorce, they will ensure all necessary documentation is filed as necessary. If you were filing for Dissolution of Marriage as the Petitioner, the list of necessary documentation would begin with an actual Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and associated documents. Once the Dissolution of Marriage and associated documents are filed, the other spouse (Respondent) has 20 days to respond after being served if served in Arizona or 30 days to respond if they are not an Arizona resident and were served outside of Arizona. If the Respondent fails to respond within the 20 (or 30) day time period, the Petitioner may file for a default. Once this request is filed, the Respondent has only 10 to 15 days to respond; depending upon how they were served with the Motion and Application for Entry of Default (i.e., personally served or mailed). If the 10 day rule applies and the Motion was mailed, the other party receives an additional five days to file an Answer to avoid the default. If they do not, they run the risk that the divorce is granted on the terms of the Petitioner.
If the Respondent does not respond and is properly defaulted, the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage may cover major issues including:
Termination of the marriage.
Determination of custody, parenting time and child support for any minor children.
Determination of spousal maintenance or alimony.
Division of property that was obtained throughout the marriage/affirmation of property that was owned by either spouse prior to the marriage to the individual who owned it.
Determination of responsibility for debts accrued during the marriage as well as affirmation of debts accrued by either spouse prior to marriage.
Determination of responsibility for attorney fees, costs, etc.
Optional restoration of the last name of the requesting spouse.