Arizona Divorce Attorney
Arizona Divorce Process Simplified
At Bishop & Martin Law Office, we represent people throughout Arizona who are going through a divorce. To sit down with an experienced family law attorney to learn more about your divorce, contact one of our offices in Phoenix or Tempe.
- Anatomy of a Divorce Chart*
- Documents Filed With the Court
- Service of Process
- Response to Petition for Dissolution
- Default Process
- Stipulated Consent Decree
- Court Programs
- Temporary Orders
- Proceeding to Trial
Anatomy of a Divorce Chart*
The Bishop & Martin Law Office has found it helpful to review a simplified chart of divorce proceedings. The firm designed the chart for its clients to better illustrate the steps in a divorce proceeding. Not all steps apply in all cases. However, the use of this chart has been helpful to our clients in understanding the divorce process. A more detailed text description of the divorce process is described on this page. Contact Bishop & Martin Law Office if you would like to know more about how your situation will be applied to this process.
* The Anatomy of a Divorce Chart was designed exclusively by and
for the use of Bishop & Martin Law Office.
Documents Filed With the Court
The following documents are filed with the Court in order to commence the divorce proceedings:
- Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage
- Preliminary Injunction
- Notice of Right To Convert Health Insurance
- Notice Regarding Creditors
- Domestic Relations Cover Sheet
If the parties involved have minor children, the following documents will also be filed:
- Child Support Information Sheet.
- Order and Notice to Attend Parent Information Program Class.
Service of Process
In cases where the parties are fairly amicable, the Firm generally asks the opposing party to sign an Acceptance of Service of Process. This alleviates the necessity of formal service of process. In the event that the party does not accept service of process or in the event that the client wishes to proceed with serving the other party personally, the Firm retains a process server to have the documents served in person.
Response to Petition for Dissolution
Unless the parties are able to resolve all issues and stipulate to a consent decree, the other spouse will need to file a Response to Petition for Dissolution.
If the other party does not file a response by the required deadlines, you may be able to obtain a final divorce decree through the default process.
Stipulated Consent Decree
This is generally the easiest and most common way to get a divorce. If the parties can agree to all terms of their divorce, including custody (decision making), parenting time, child support, property issues, debt issues, spousal maintenance and other financial issues (if applicable), the parties can stipulate to all terms and obtain a consent decree without going to court. In such event, the Firm can draft the consent decree, the settlement agreement and other necessary documents.
Where children are involved, the Firm will also draft a parenting plan, child support worksheet and other documents to be submitted to the Court. In divorce cases the parties must wait no less than 60 days from the date of service of process in order to file these documents with the Court. However, the Firm can start drafting the documents and obtaining the parties’ signatures before this waiting period is over. This is obviously the least expensive and fastest method of getting a divorce. In the event that the parties are unable to reach an agreement regarding the issues, the only other way to get a divorce is by trial.
There are a number of Court programs that may apply, depending on the circumstances of your case. If you have contested custody issues, the Court may refer you to Conciliation Services for mediation in order for you to attempt to work out an agreement. These are confidential proceedings. In the event that the parties cannot reach an agreement during mediation, the matter is referred back to the Court.
With regard to financial and other issues, the Court may refer the parties to Alternate Dispute Resolution. This is also called a settlement conference. An appointed judge pro tem will assist the parties in settling all issues.
The Court may also refer the parties to Expedited Services with regard to child support and child support enforcement issues.
Resolution Management Conferences
The Court generally schedules at least one Resolution Management Conference if the case is not quickly settled. During such conferences, the Court often schedules a trial date and inquires whether any agreements have been reached. The Court generally also inquires whether the parties have exchanged all relevant documents and other information. If agreed upon, the Court may enter interim orders regarding support, payment of bills and similar orders pending the final trial. The Court may also refer your case for mediation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, or other Court services.
There is often a need to file a request for temporary orders with the Court. This is a request that the Court enter certain orders pending the final trial or other disposition of the proceedings. Parties may request temporary orders regarding custody and visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, temporary use of the house, attorney's fees, payment of debts, access to financial accounts, use of property and other issues.
In many cases, parties do not know what assets or other property they have acquired or what the value of such property is. In some cases, certain funds may be missing or unaccounted for. It may be necessary to conduct certain written “discovery.” This may include written questions that the other party needs to answer, such as listings of assets and other information. Discovery may also include requesting documents from the other party. Subpoenas may also be issued to obtain documents from banks, employers and other sources. In some cases, depositions are necessary. During depositions, questions are asked to the other party or witnesses under oath.
Proceeding to Trial
If you cannot come to an agreement with your spouse on all issues, you will have to go to trial so that the judge can decide the issues for you. Prior to the matter being submitted to trial, the parties may need to file a document with the Court in order to obtain a trial date. This is a document letting the Court know that the parties are ready to proceed to trial. The Court will then schedule a pretrial hearing or Resolution Management Conference in which the Court addresses whether the parties have provided each other with all of the necessary information, and will generally schedule your case for trial.
Trials in divorce cases do not involve juries. Rather, your case will be tried before the assigned judge. Trials in divorce matters are usually scheduled for a half day, although in some cases more or less time is necessary. During trial, the parties present testimony, exhibits and other evidence that support their respective positions. After the trial is completed, the Court will enter its divorce decree or other judgment, which sets forth its specific findings and orders.
For more information about getting a divorce in Arizona, contact an attorney at Bishop & Martin Law Office today.