Arizona Divorce Process
Arizona Divorce Process: Step 1 Filing for Divorce
Many people facing a divorce have questions about the 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 begin a divorce in Arizona by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage, 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 beginning a divorce in Arizona is to determine that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
Since Arizona is a no-fault state, neither spouse needs to give a reason to obtain a dissolution of marriage. At least one spouse needs to be able to assert the marriage is irretrievably broken. Additional laws apply to couples that chose to have a “covenant marriage.”
While everyone is entitled to represent themselves in their divorce, if you do so, the court will expect you to follow all the applicable laws and correct Arizona divorce processes that apply to the case at hand even though you are not a divorce attorney. If you choose to represent yourself and you do not follow the laws and the Arizona divorce procedures applicable to your case, it may damage your chances of obtaining certain benefits and utilizing your legal rights. This can be particularly problematic if your case goes to trial, as the judge could determine you not be allowed to present evidence or call certain witnesses to the stand.
If you are at all unsure of the Arizona divorce process and laws about your divorce case, you should contact an experienced Arizona divorce attorney as soon as possible. In some situations, a judge could order your spouse (or ex-spouse) to pay all or part of your lawyer’s fees accumulated as a result of the proceedings.
Once you have contacted an Arizona family law attorney and obtained legal representation for your divorce, they will ensure all necessary documentation is filed and compliance with the Arizona rules of procedure as needed. 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 related 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 period, the Petitioner may file for a default. Once this request is filed, the Respondent has only 10 to 15 days to respond; depending on 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 sent, 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 correctly defaulted, the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage may cover major issues including:
- Termination of the marriage
- Determination of custody and parenting time for the children and child support
- Determination of spousal maintenance or alimony
- Division of property that was obtained throughout the marriage/affirmation of property that was owned by either spouse before 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 before marriage
- Determination of liability for attorney fees, costs, etc
- Optional restoration of the last name of the requesting spouse
You can call the experienced Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona divorce attorneys at (480)305-8300 to get your questions regarding the Arizona divorce process answered. Our attorneys have over 100 years combined family law legal experience.
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