How to Convert a Legal Separation Into A Divorce During the Case in Arizona
If you are currently involved in a legal separation proceeding, you may turn that legal separation into a divorce by amending your Petition for Legal Separation into a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If you are the Petitioner (i.e., person who filed first), you may do so by just filing an Amended Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, so long as the opposing party has not filed a written Response to the Petition for Legal Separation.
If the Respondent (i.e., the person responding to the Petition filed by Petitioner) has already filed a written Response to the Petition for Legal Separation, the Petitioner must file a motion seeking the Court’s approval to file an amended petition to convert the legal separation proceeding into a divorce proceeding. Judge’s will routinely grant such a motion. Alternatively, the Petitioner may seek the Respondent’s agreement to convert the legal separation into a dissolution of marriage case.
If you are the Respondent who has been served with a Petition for Legal Separation and you wish to convert the matter to a dissolution of marriage, all you have to do is file a Response to the Petition for Legal Separation and a Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
However, if you are the Respondent and initially filed a Response to the Legal Separation only (i.e., you did not ask to convert the legal separation proceeding into a divorce proceeding), you would be required to file a motion to amend your response to include a counter-petition seeking a divorce. Again, most judges routinely grant such motions.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about converting a legal separation into a divorce in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about legal separation and 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 legal separation or divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.