WHAT HAPPENS IF MY SPOUSE DIES DURING OUR DIVORCE?

If your spouse dies during the pendency of your divorce your case should be dismissed.  Rule 37, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, provides in part, “in the event of death one or more of Petitioners or one of more of the following Respondents in an action, in which the rights sought to be enforced survives only to the surviving Petitioners or only against the surviving Respondents.”  The death shall be suggested upon the record and the action shall proceed in favor or against the surviving party.

Arizona case law is crystal clear if a party to a dissolution action dies before entry of a decree of dissolution of marriage or some other rendition of the final judgment, the trial court loses jurisdiction.  Van Emmerik v. Colosi, 193 Ariz. 398, 400. Thus if your spouse dies before a final judgment is entered in your divorce case, a dismissal of the action is warranted.