I Want a Divorce
The Divorce process can be a bit complicated and there are timelines and steps that must be followed in order to complete your court matter as described below. Even if you and the other party agree on all of the terms, you must wait a mandatory 60 days after service on the respondent before you can submit your final paperwork (Consent Decree).
I'm Not Sure If Divorce is Right for Me
If you are unsure if divorce is the appropriate decision for your family, you may wish to consider counseling. Limited free counseling services are available to married couples through the Conciliation Court. Either party can request this Counseling prior to filing with the court, or while the case is ongoing prior to trial. A C-Petition can be filed with the court, or requested directly through the Conciliation Court. If a C-Petition is received, both parties will be court-ordered to attend at least one counseling session and a stay of up to 60 days will be placed on the case if paperwork has already been filed with the court. The purpose of Conciliation Counseling is to provide an opportunity for both parties to explore the major issues in the relationship and make an informed decision regarding whether they wish to end the marriage.
There are several steps in the Divorce process that must be followed, whether you have an attorney or represent yourself. The process is slightly different based on whether you have children or not. The steps are also different if you have a "Covenant Marriage." Please visit the Clerk of Superior Court's website for more information if this applies to you.
- Step 1: One parent files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Children. This person will be listed as the "Petitioner" throughout the remainder of the court proceedings. This packet can be obtained at the Clerk of Superior Court's forms page. (Click the Family Court, then Divorce with Children.)
- Step 2: The person that filed the Petition must officially "serve" the Petition and all associated documents on the other party within 120 days of filing the paperwork.
- Step 3: After all of the documents have been served, the other party has 20 days to file a response if they were served in Arizona, or 30 days to respond if they were served in another state. There are different timelines if you serve by publication.
- Step 4: The other party files a response within the timeframes listed above. The Respondent must file 3 documents and mail a copy to the other party: Response, Parenting Plan, and Parent's Worksheet. These forms can also be found on the Clerk of Superior Court's forms page. (click on Family Court, Divorce, Respond to a Case, Response to Divorce with Children.)
- Step 5: Your case may be set for a hearing with the Judge or a conference through Conciliation Court. If both parties are represented by attorneys you may be set for a Resolution Management Conference. If you agree on everything, you may or may not have this step in your proceeding and may move to step 6.)
- Step 6: If you and the other party reach agreement on all areas of your Divorce, including parenting plan issues, financial issues, debts, and assets, etc. you may be able to prepare a "Consent Decree" and submit it to the Judge for signature (as long as you have waited 60 days from the date the respondent was served.) You and the other party must sign the document in front of a notary and it can then be submitted to the Court for signature and finalization. If you participate in a conference with Conciliation Court, they will prepare the legal document and submit it to the court for you.
- Step 7: If the parties do not agree, they may be set for a Trial where each side will be able to present evidence and have witnesses testify on his/her behalf. There are specific Court rules and timelines related to submitting evidence. The Judge will issue final orders within 60 days in your case upon completion of the trial.
- Step 1: One person files a Petition for Dissolution Without Minor Children with the Court. Clerk of Superior Court's forms page - click on Family Court, Divorce, Without Children.)
- Step 2: The Petition and all documents must be officially served on the other party.
- Step 3: After service has been completed the Respondent has 20 days to file a response with the Court and mail it to the other party. (The time is extended to 30 days if the Respondent lives out of state.)
- Step 4: The Respondent files a response.
- Step 5: You may be set for a hearing with the Court or a conference with Conciliation Court.
- Step 6: The Consent Decree may be filed if the parties agree on everything (this will be prepared by the Conciliation Court if you attend a conference.)
- Step 7: If the parties do not agree, then you will be set for a Trial and given an opportunity to present evidence and have witnesses testify. The Judge will issue final orders within 60 days in your case upon completion of the trial.
What if the other party does not file a Response?
If the other parent does not file a response to the petition, you may be eligible to request a Default.