If you are going through a divorce or are trying to determine parenting time and legal decision-making in Arizona, there are certain steps that you will typically have to follow. Of course, depending on the specific circumstances of your case, the steps could vary, and some could be omitted entirely.
It’s also important to note that it is possible to settle these types of cases at any time. If both parents can agree to a parenting plan, the schedule, support, and other issues, it will mean that the case doesn’t have to go through a trial.
To make it easier to potentially settle, you might want to consider using an alternative type of resolution. This could be collaborative law or mediation, for example. If you settle, it can help to speed up the process substantially.
Although you can represent yourself in these types of cases, it’s often better to work with an attorney. Choosing to hire an attorney who is versed in these types of cases can help you immensely. They know the process and can come up with a legal strategy that could work for your case. Additionally, they can help with ensuring all of the paperwork is filed correctly and on time and can negotiate with the other parent and their attorney. If the case does end up going to court, they can argue on your behalf.
Even if you are going to be using an attorney, it is a good idea to become familiar with the procedures of the court and family law statutes in the state. Here’s a look at the typical steps that occur during more family law cases for parenting time and legal decision-making.
Filing to Open a Case
Either you or the other parent can file the paperwork needed to open a case in family court. Those who are married and filing for divorce will need to have at least one spouse who has lived in the state for the last 90 days or more. Divorce and legal separation will both include a parenting plan and a child support order.
If the parents are not married, either can file for a parenting plan and child support. Filing for paternity testing is possible, as well. This might be needed in cases where the mother wants to prove that the other person is the father when he denies that fact, for example. Unlike divorce, there is not a residency requirement when the parents are not married.
Serving the Paperwork
After the paperwork is filed, the other parent needs to be served with the papers, which lets them know about the case. They could be served in person or by mail. In cases where the other parent files a response that agrees to everything that was requested with the initial filing, it means that the case is uncontested. It can them move on and be settled.
However, if the other parent disagrees with anything in that initial filing, the case becomes contested. In some cases, the other parent might not respond to the paperwork at all. If that happens, it’s possible to get a default judgment from the court, which would give the petitioning parent what they asked for in the papers they filed.
All parents who are going through custody cases with children are required to take a parenting class. There are options available through the court or through private companies. Parents are required to take a course in-person or online within the first 45 days of opening their case. They don’t have to take the course together, though. they can do it separately.
These classes provide parents with information about how divorce and separation can affect the parents and the children. This knowledge is meant to help them make the process easier for the kids and themselves.
Resolution Management Conferences
An RMC is when the parents and their attorneys meet with the just to talk about the issues that are still disputed in their case, along with options for settling, and what they need to do next. If parents are representing themselves, there is the option of an early resolution conference. This happens earlier, as the name suggests, and tries to help parents get to the point where they can work on areas where they disagree.
Discovery happens throughout the divorce process. During discovery, parents are supposed to exchange information regarding the evidence they are preparing for the trial. It starts at the point where a contested response is filed and will continue up to the weeks before going to trial. Both parties are required to comply with discovery requests. If they don’t, it can cause some serious legal consequences including being held in contempt.
Mediation is a process that will often be required by the courts before going to trial. It’s also possible for parties to request mediation at different points of the case. The goal of mediation is to help the parties reach a point where they can agree on those outstanding elements of their divorce.
Often, this is the parenting time and arrangements. It can be difficult to settle in these areas, but it tends to be a better solution. Doing so will leave things in the hands of the parents, rather than letting the court be the final arbiter of what happens with parenting time and legal decision-making.
Mediation can go through the court, or you could agree to hire a private mediator. They will be a third party that can help parents to find ways to reach agreements.
Most of the time, cases will be settled without the need to go to trial. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, parents can’t agree on certain things, and they will need to put it in the hands of the court, so a judge can rule on legal decision-making in their stead. During a trial, evidence and witnesses are presented. The judge will take all of the information and make a decision they feel is in the best interest of the children.