No Contest Divorce in Arizona
A no contest divorce in Arizona occurs when either the parties agree on all of the issues, such as division of their assets and debts, custodial arrangments of their children, child support, and spousal maintenance or one of the parties fails to participate and is defaulted, or the parties are both cooperating and choose to default one spouse and provide an agreed upon Default Divorce Decree to the Court.
Reaching an agreement in your divorce will save you valuable time and money and possible frustrations and problems that occur when two parties are fighting it out in divorce court. A no contest divorce may also save your children a lot of stress and disruption to their lives if their parents can amicably resolve the issues in a divorce.
Divorce When the Parties Agree
If the parties reach an agreement, one of the parties will first need to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. He or she will use a process server to serve the other party with the divorce papers. The other party either files a Response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, but does need to do so if the parties draft and file a Marital Settlement Agreement, a separate Parenting Plan, and a proposed Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
The best practice is for the responding spouse to file a Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to avoid the other spouse secretly pursuing a default with terms different than what he or she agreed upon. The settlement documents are then filed with the court after sixty days have passed since the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was served on the responding spouse. The judge will sign the Consent Decree for Dissolution of Marriage within a couple of weeks of it being filed with the court.
No Contest Divorce by Default
If the other spouse does not file a Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the time required, the filing spouse can file an Application and Affidavit of Default. The other spouse is then granted ten additional days to file a Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
If he or she still fails to file a Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and does not otherwise “participate in the case”, the filing spouse will call Court Administration and request a default hearing.
You will be required to bring a form of the Default Divorce Decree with you for the court to sign. The court will ask you a few questions to establish the court’s authority to enter the divorce, will review the decree to determine if it is fair and equitable and in the best interests of your children, and will then sign the Default Decree. But . . . you are still not divorced. You are not divorced until the judge’s staff file the signed Divorce Decree with the Clerk of the Court.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about a no contest divorce in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about divorce laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.