Once you’ve decided to divorce your spouse, the process of filing for divorce begins. There are many things that one must do before filing in order to prepare, but what does the actual process look like? For many, the divorce process is long and confusing, and it’s comforting to know that you’re not alone. An experienced family law firm like Simon Law Group can help you navigate the complicated legal terrain.
When filing for divorce in Arizona, there are a few critical steps that must be taken in order to ensure that your divorce proceedings go as smoothly as possible and that both parties are informed and participatory.
1: Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
The Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage is the first step in a divorce. This document must be filed with the Superior Court of Arizona and states that you are formally starting the divorce process. The petition includes logistical information about the marriage, such as names and circumstances, and requires a fee to file. Two copies of the document will be created and the Superior Court keeps the original. One copy is served to your spouse, and the other is for your records.
2: Serving the Petition to Your Spouse
The petition is formally served to your spouse after it’s been filed. They have 20 days to respond if they are in state and 30 days if they’re out of state once they’ve been served. The petition is often served (and an affidavit signed as proof) by a process server or sheriff to your spouse and not by you personally, unless your spouse signs an Acceptance of Service form.
3: Petition Response
The petition response is a legal document that your spouse files in response to your petition and serves as their formal response to your claims made. Remember, the petition response is time sensitive, so if you’ve been served one, you have a limited window to respond. If that time lapses and no response is made, the petition can go to default.
If the respondent does not respond to the petition within the required time frame, then it goes into default. The default can be contested with valid reasoning, but it’s better to make sure you don’t get to that point. If you let the petition go into default, your spouse may have the upper hand in the divorce terms, so it’s important to respond as soon as possible.
5: Mediation or Trial
A divorce trial occurs in Arizona when a divorce cannot be reasonably solved between the two parties (and/or their representatives) and needs intervention from the courts. This is where divorce attorneys and the couple meet to work out the agreements of the divorce. This can be a costly and emotionally difficult experience, so alternate options such as mediation can save you money and stress, if feasible.
The decree is the final step in the divorce process. This official decree declares the legal dissolution of marriage as recognized by the courts.
Simon Law Group has helped hundreds of clients in divorce cases, and can help you too. With a concentration in family law, whether you have children with your spouse or not, our extensive trial experience can help you through the divorce process, starting with filing for divorce. For more information, including a free consultation contact us today online or via phone at (480) 568-1141.