Divorce Process in Arizona
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
To begin the divorce process in Arizona, one party must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (“Petition”) with the proper Court. Once the Petition is filed, the other party has 20 days to file a Response, or 30 days if served out of state.
Response to Petition for Dissolution Marriage
The Response must assert any additional claims the Responding party has, such as maintenance (otherwise known as alimony). The failure to timely request additional claims, such as maintenance, can result in the permanent waiver of such claims. Therefore, it is extremely important to timely assert all claims in your Response.
Within 40 days of service of the Petition, both parties must exchange the required financial disclosures, including a Sworn Financial Affidavit.
Resolution Management Hearing
This may be the first hearing before the court to let the court know the issues involved. At this hearing, the Court may schedule deadlines for future hearings and mediation.
If you cannot agree on temporary arrangements, you can request a Temporary Orders hearing to put into place a temporary plan regarding financial matters such as the payment of the mortgage, utilities, credit cards, car payments, child support, and possibly maintenance. The court will also determine a temporary parenting plan. The Temporary Orders are just that – temporary. The Temporary Orders will remain in place until Permanent Orders are issued.
To prepare for Permanent Orders, either party can serve Discovery on the other party. Discovery typically includes Interrogatories (written questions) and Requests for Production of Documents.
Mediation provides you and your spouse an opportunity to try to settle some, or all, of the issues in your case without going to trial. You can choose to pay for private mediation, or if you cannot afford private mediation, the court can set mediation with court personnel.
If the case settles during mediation, the agreements reached during the Mediation are filed with the Court and the Court is asked to approve the agreement. Once the Court approves the agreement, the dispute is resolved and the trial is cancelled.
If you are unable to resolve the various matters in your case through Mediation, the case will proceed to trial and the Judge will decide your case. Although it is usually in your best interest to resolve your case without going to trial, there are times when the parties cannot reach an agreement. In those cases, the only option is to go to trial.
If a party is not satisfied with the decision made by the Court, the decision can be appealed, but there are deadlines to notify the court of your appeal or you lose the right to appeal.
Post Trial or Post Decree Modifications
If your circumstances change after your divorce, you can return to Court to modify any prior orders issued by the Court. An involuntary change in earnings might allow you to go to Court to change child support, parenting time, or maintenance.