DIVORCE WITH CHILDREN
Navigating the next exit with children. As you begin to collect the information needed to file for divorce, the process may feel overwhelming, daunting, and nerve-wracking but know that we are here to guide you. In Arizona, a divorce is legally a “dissolution of marriage” and a court process to end a marriage. The spouse who initiates a divorce is the Petitioner and the responding spouse is the Respondent.
A Decree of Dissolution of Marriage will result in:
• Terminating the marriage
• Establishing legal-decision making, parenting time and child support of children under the age of 18
• If applicable, determining spousal maintenance
• Dividing property attained in the marriage, and establishing property that was owned prior to the marriage by the spouse who owned it (if any)
• Appointing responsibility for debts acquired during the marriage and debts owned prior to marriage to the party who owed them (if any)
• Restoration of last name of a requesting spouse, if applicable
Meeting the requirements
To file for divorce in Arizona, you or your spouse must have resided in Arizona for a minimum of 90 days before you file. This also applies if you are in the military and stationed in Arizona. If it has not been 90 days, you must wait to file until you meet the minimum requirement.
When deciding matters regarding children such as parenting time, child support, legal decision-making, Arizona has to be the child’s primary residence. Hence your children must have been living in Arizona for a minimum of 6 months. If you are unsure if Arizona qualifies as the primary residency, we will need to discuss this in more detail.
When seeking to file for divorce in Arizona all you need to affirm is that the marriage is irrevocably broken (no reasonable possibility of getting back together) as Arizona is a no-fault divorce state.
If you have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days and your minor children for more than 6 months, then you meet the requirements for filing for divorce.
Path to getting a Default Judgment
A default judgment is when the process that the majority of people follow even with minor children. It basically means that your spouse does not disagree with the divorce paperwork or did not file a “Response” during the legal time limit for doing so.
File the PetitionServe the Papers Wait 20-30 DaysSpouse Response/no ResponseGet a Default Complete Decree FormAttend Default HearingYou’re Divorced!
Filing for divorce begins with a petition, which is a written legal request for a divorce. When you file for divorce with children, you will also have to file paperwork for child support, money that is paid from one parent to the other to meet the children’s needs and legal decision-making and parenting time, which is a plan for how parents will work together to meet the best interests of the children.
After you file the petition, service of papers is when your spouse receives legal documentation that you have filed a petition for divorce with corresponding child support and legal decision-making and parenting time paper work with the court according to court rules.
The 20 (if served in Arizona) or 30 (if served outside of Arizona) day waiting period is to give your spouse an opportunity to file a “Response” with the court if they disagree with any of the requests made in the divorce filing. Response, if your spouse files a “Response” to the divorce paperwork, you will have to navigate some extra steps.
After the 20-30 day waiting period, if your spouse did not file a response, you can file for a default judgment but it cannot be scheduled earlier than 61 days from the original date from when your spouse was served the divorce paperwork.
The default hearing is when the judge will take the opportunity to ask questions about the requests made on the divorce petition and check on if documents are correct and complete. If all documents check out, the judge will sign the Judgment Decree then the Court Clerk will stamp the copies of the decree, making your divorce final. The last step is sending copies of the signed decree to your former spouse within three days of the hearing.
It is important to note that parents with children under the age of 18 filing a petition for divorce will need to attend a parent education class known as the “Domestic Relations Education on Children’s Issues” course. Spouses have 45 days from the filing or being served to attend the class. Each spouse must register and attend course in person regardless of whether or not you are responding to a petition. Not attending the parenting education course will not delay the divorce proceeding but it can affect future requests for modifications in legal decision-making, parenting time and/or child support. The course is part of an Arizona Legislature mandate to assist in educating parents on how separation, divorce, blended families; conflict and familial legal actions can affect children and their parents. The course is intended to help with information for parents on how to lessen the strain and damaging effects of families separating and transitioning into a new normal.
In the case that your spouse (the Respondent) does not agree to the divorce, they may request a conciliation meeting with the court. The divorce could be put on hold for no more than 60 days meanwhile the meeting takes place. If after the meeting you and your spouse do not agree in postponing the divorce, the divorce proceeding will continue moving forward.
AZ Statewide Paralegal has handled cases like this since 1992. As a result we have experience to prepare all of the legal documents you will need. We also will take care of filing your documents at the court so you don’t have to spend your day trying to find the right place to file your paperwork. Because determining legal decision-making and parenting time can be stressful, we serve the other parent and make sure the court receives “proof of service.”
In addition we keep track of all the deadlines and notify you of the “legal decision-making” hearing and prepare all of the documents required for your court hearing. If you have questions or concerns that are not answered here then please call (520) 327-4000 Tucson or (602) 253-1515 Phoenix and we will do our best to answer them.