What is Dissolution?
When one or both married persons want to end their marriage they need to begin the process of dissolution. This involves filing documents with the court to address details of their finances, children, and other obligations. In Arizona, there is only one kind of dissolution/divorce – a no-fault divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the person filing for divorce does not need to allege fault or wrongdoing on the part of the other spouse in order to obtain a divorce.
How Does the Process Start?
To begin the process of dissolution in Arizona, one of the parties must have been a resident of this state for at least 90 days. One of the parties may initiate the process by filing a “Petition” with the court and serving the documents on the other party. The other party has 20 days to file a response. If he/she fails to do so, the relief requested by the petitioner may be granted by the court.
What Happens Next?
If the responding party fails to respond, you must wait at least 60 days before seeking a default from the court. If a response is filed, the court encourages the parties to work together to resolve issues. If this happens, then the process will proceed to a Consent Decree of Dissolution, which is the court order with which each party must comply. If the parties do not work together and are unable to agree on various matters, there will be hearings and possibly a trial where the court will have to make decisions for you. Obviously, that process will take longer and be more expensive.
Key Issues to Be Decided.
There are essentially five major issues to be decided:
- Division of the assets and debts of the marriage.
- Parenting time arrangements when minor children are involved.
- Child support, if minor children are involved.
- Spousal maintenance (aka “alimony”), if any.
- Decision-making authority (regarding religion, education, etc.)
What About Immediate Issues?
After the initial petition is filed the court will issue a preliminary injunction that prohibits either party from harassing the other; prohibits any community property from being sold; requires insurance coverage be maintained; and prohibits children from being removed from out of state. Beyond that either party may ask the court for “temporary orders” for matters such as child support, spousal maintenance, parenting time, attorney fees, and other matters while the dissolution is proceeding. Again, the more the parties can voluntarily reach agreement on these matters, the faster and less expensive the process will be.
A party who has been threatened with, or suffered, domestic violence may seek an “order of protection” for themselves or their children.
Please call our family law attorney, Nichole Oblinger, if you have additional questions or would like to discuss moving forward with a dissolution. Nichole can be reached at (623) 526-5597.