What is the Divorce Process in Arizona?
It is important to have a clear understanding of the divorce process in Arizona if you are contemplating a divorce. A divorce in Arizona begins when a person files a petition for dissolution of marriage and related documents. Once the petition is filed with the court, a private process server will serve (i.e., “personally deliver”) the other spouse with a copy of the petition and related documents.
The spouse served with divorce papers has twenty days to file a written response to that petition if the person was served in Arizona. If the person was served in another state and does not reside in Arizona, he or she will have thirty days to file a written response with the court.
It is important to know that the spouse being served must have substantial connections to the state of Arizona; otherwise the court lacks personal jurisdiction to proceed upon any issues other than child custody and the dissolution of the marriage. In such cases, the court will not be able to order child support, alimony, the payment of attorney fees or the division of the spouses’ debts and assets. The Arizona Court of Appeals in the case of Schilz v. Superior Court ruled that a divorce decree issued by a court that lacked personal jurisdiction over a party can be overturned.
However, assent to personal jurisdiction can occur, either voluntarily or involuntarily, in certain circumstances. You should review the Arizona Court of Appeals decision in the case of State Ex Rel. Dept. of Econ. SEC. v. Burton for a discussion of personal jurisdiction and waiver of a personal jurisdiction argument.
Once a divorce is filed, the divorce process in Arizona permits either party may ask the court to schedule a “Temporary Orders Hearing”. The purpose of a Temporary Orders Hearing is to obtain court orders for custody of the children, child support, alimony, exclusive use of homes and vehicles during the case, the payment of debts, and a request to make the other spouse pay your attorney fees.
These Temporary Orders are just that; meaning they are only valid during the case and automatically terminate when the final divorce decree is signed and filed by the clerk of the court.
The court will typically schedule a Resolution Management Conference (i.e., “RMC”) as a part of the divorce process in Arizona before setting the case for a Temporary Orders Hearing. A Resolution Management Conference gives the judge a chance to hear what the parties agree upon, as well as what they do not agree upon. The court may send the parties to mediation and/or schedule a Temporary Orders Hearing after the RMC.
The judge may order a follow up status conference after the scheduled mediation to determine if the remaining issues in the case have been resolved or narrowed. After these hearings have resolved or narrowed the remaining issues, the court will set your case for a final trial. After your trial has been completed, the judge has up to sixty days to issue a final ruling in your case.
Contact Our Scottsdale Arizona Divorce Attorneys
If you are in need of a divorce lawyer in Arizona or have questions regarding the divorce process in Arizona, the family law firm of Hildebrand Law, PC is only a phone call away. Our attorneys handle all types of divorce cases in Arizona. Please call (480) 305-8300 if you wish to speak with our Arizona divorce lawyers or have additional questions regarding Arizona divorce laws.