DOES AN ARIZONA DIVORCE WITHOUT CHILDREN MEAN A PROBLEM FREE DIVORCE?

DOES AN ARIZONA DIVORCE WITHOUT CHILDREN MEAN A PROBLEM FREE DIVORCE?      

 

Basic Requirements

If a married resident of Arizona has no children, or no children under the age of 19, and wants a divorce, they should have a less complicated procedure.  There won’t be any issues about legal authority, parenting time or child support.

When an Arizona resident seeks dissolution of marriage, they must file papers with their County Superior Court if they meet the jurisdictional standards:

§  Either party has lived in Arizona for a minimum of 90 days;and

§  There are no children under the age of 19, or no children of the marriage and the wife is not and will not become pregnant by the husband during the dissolution proceedings; and

§  The marriage was not a ‘Covenant Marriage” ( a marriage in which both parties sign agreements that marriage is for life—they have a separate proceeding for dissolution);and

§  The Petitioner believes the marriage cannot be saved; and

§  You and your spouse went to Conciliation Court, but it failed to save the marriage, or did not go because the marriage was damaged beyond repair.

A Note of Caution

There can be many twists and turns to dissolution of a marriage.  The Petitioner ( spouse seeking an end to the marriage) has met the requirements, filed a Petition for Dissolution, which includes a notice to creditors of the spouses, and a notice to convert health insurance, with the court, and served respondent ( the other spouse), but the process is only beginning.  Once service is perfected, the respondent has 20 days to reply to the petition if they live in Arizona, and 30 days if they reside outside the state.

Respondent’s Responsibilities

Once a spouse receives the divorce petition, they have three options:

§  Serve a response which agrees with the petition ( uncontested divorce);or

§  Serve a response which disputes part or all of the petition ( contested divorce):or

§  Ignore the Petition, and be held in default.  Not a good idea, since it leaves the petitioner the option of getting a dissolution by default.

Contested Divorces

When the respondent files a reply which disputes claims made by the petitioner, a bench trial (a judge, no jury) will be held to resolve those disagreements.  Remember, this is a divorce without children, so the court won’t have to determine child support or parenting rights.

Before the bench trial is held, the parties must engage in Discovery.  They are granted time to find and produce relevant documents—evidence about the disputed claims.  During the discovery process, the lawyers for both parties may hold negotiations to resolve the disputes.  If they succeed, they may give the written agreement to the court, and it will become part of the dissolution decree.  Should they fail, the court will hear evidence, and give a verdict on the dispute.

The End of the Line

Once the court has been given an agreement between the parties or has settled all the division of property and spousal support, it gives a judgment which includes the decree of dissolution.  The marriage no longer exists.