While divorce is not easy, we can assist you at every step in the process.
Here are Divorce Steps for Mesa, Arizona and Phoenix, Arizona (Arizona statutes use the term dissolution of marriage instead of divorce), or How to File a Divorce in Mesa, Phoenix, Maricopa County, or Arizona:
STEP ONE: PETITION FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE OR DIVORCE
The first step to a divorce in Arizona is filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. One party (it doesn’t really matter which party files first) fills out the petition, makes the appropriate copies, and files it with the court. A filing fee must be paid to the clerk of the court at the time of filing.
PRO PER OR ATTORNEY FOR A DIVORCE; BUNDLED SERVICES
At Hawkins & Hawkins, our attorneys will provide representation and guidance for you throughout the divorce process. Mark W. Hawkins has 24 years of litigation experience, and has handled many challenging cases. Susan Hamblin Hawkins has many years of experience as an attorney. We frequently resolve cases with amicable settlement, through our mediation services and settlement conferences. If it is best for you, we will fight your case at trial.
If you represent yourself in a divorce, you are filing pro per, which means for yourself, without an attorney. The forms in Maricopa County, Arizona for Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage are well-written. They have instructions on how to fill out the petition and how to file. Many people are able to proceed with a divorce without using attorneys. If you have questions you can’t answer, at Hawkins & Hawkins we will assist you with filling out paperwork for an hourly fee, even if you plan to represent yourself. We may be able to answer your question over the phone, even if you intend to represent yourself. We can also represent persons for a single court hearing by using a Limited Notice of Appearance. These services can save money, and are referred to as Bundled or Unbundled Legal Services.
STEP TWO: SERVICE OF PROCESS
Once the petition is filed, you serve your husband or wife with the paperwork. They have 20 days to file a response. They will have to pay a filing fee also. If they don’t respond, you can apply for a default decree.
STEP THREE: 60 DAY STATUTORY WAITING PERIOD
Arizona law requires the parties to wait sixty (60) days from the time the divorce paperwork is served before a divorce decree can be filed.
OPTIONAL: TEMPORARY ORDERS
A Petition for Temporary Orders can be filed, if necessary.
STEP FOUR: SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES AND NEGOTIATION
The parties can settle all or part of the issues at any time. The court will set a Resolution Management Conference, where the parties meet to try and settle the case, and then afterwards meet with the judge to report their success. Settlement is highly encouraged by the courts, since it saves everyone time, money, and stress. Settlements can be made pursuant to Rule 69 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure if they are in writing. These agreements can be binding. Ask an attorney if you need help before you sign. At Hawkins & Hawkins, we can give you guidance on settlement on an hourly basis, even if you are representing yourself (pro per). If you agree on everything, you can file a Consent Decree, which resolves the entire case and is a type of final Divorce Decree or Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
STEP FIVE: DISCOVERY OR INFORMATION EXCHANGE
The parties should exchange the information necessary to proceed with the divorce, for example: Bank Statements, account balances for retirement accounts, blue book prices for vehicles, statement showing first and second, or heloc, mortgage balances, lists of personal property and values, child support worksheet, pay stubs and tax information. There is also an Affidavit of Financial Information or AFI that is required, which is a summary of income information as well as a monthly budget and list of debts. The parties may use Interrogatories (Uniform or Non-Uniform) or subpoenas to obtain more information.
STEP SIX: TRIAL
If the parties are unable to settle, the court will set the case for trial. Most trial dates are set about six months or more after the petition for dissolution is first filed. At trial, the parties testify; they may also call witnesses. The parties present their exhibits or evidence, which includes the items that were part of discovery. Everything you might use at trial, you are supposed to give to the other side at least 30 days before the trial, and then you give the other party those exhibits you will actually use five business days before trial, with your Joint Pre-Trial Statement (or you can file separately). If a fair settlement is possible, it is a better option than trial; trial is expensive.
STEP SEVEN: DIVORCE DECREE, I.E., DECREE OF DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
After the trial, the judge will decide all the issues in a written minute entry, which may be the final decree, or the judge may ask the parties to prepare and submit a final decree. The divorce is final when the judge signs and files the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. The parties receive a copy in the mail.
This web site is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney. The attorneys at Hawkins & Hawkins are licensed in Arizona only.