QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE
What reason do I need to get a Dissolution?
No grounds are required other than one spouse’s belief that the marriage is irretrievably broken (unless you elected for a “covenant marriage”). Arizona is a “no fault” state which means the court will not look into why the marriage is irretrievably broken. For example, adultery, financial irresponsibility, or children out of wedlock would not be relevant to grounds for dissolution.
How does the Dissolution procedure work?
One spouse may begin the procedure by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with related paperwork (Preliminary Injunction, Affidavit relating to Children, Notice to Creditors, etc.) and paying a filing fee. That spouse is known as the Petitioner. The other spouse, the Respondent, will be served with the Court paperwork and must file a Response no later than 20 days upon receipt of service (30 days if the Respondent lives out of state).
If the Respondent agrees with everything contained in the Petition, a Response is not necessary. The Petitioner can then apply to the Court to proceed by default (default divorce). The Petitioner files an Application for Entry of Default and mails a copy to the Respondent. If the Respondent does not respond within 10 working days after the Application for Entry of Default is filed, the Petitioner can proceed with the dissolution without the Respondent being involved.
Most often, however, the Respondent files a Response with the court and both parties work to achieve a parenting plan and a property division plan. The spouses may agree on custody, visitation, child support, property and debt division, spousal maintenance and any other issues. If the parties reach consensus, a signed agreement is presented to a judge for approval as part of the Decree of Dissolution. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, a trial is held and the judge resolves the outstanding issues.
What is a Preliminary Injunction?
A Preliminary Injunction is issued in every case after the Petition is filed. The injunction is protective in nature; it prohibits a party from taking a minor child out of state without court permission or permission of the other party. It requires both parties to maintain in effect any currently existing insurance coverage and prohibits dissipation or encumbrance of community or jointly held assets.
When is my Dissolution final?
A Dissolution of Marriage is final after the judge takes testimony (if needed) and signs the Decree and files it with the Clerk of the Court.
How long do I have to wait to get the final decree?
You must wait at least 60 days from the date your spouse was served to go to Court and have the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage entered. This assumes you and your spouse have agreed on all terms or your spouse is in default.
How will our property be divided?
“Community Property” is all the property acquired during the marriage by the efforts of either party until the Petition for Dissolution is served upon the Respondent. Community property is usually divided equally. It does not matter that one spouse contributed more than the other. The Court may, in rare cases, give one spouse more than one-half because the other has destroyed, sold, or given away community property or for other compelling reasons. The Court may divide property by ordering it to be sold, or by splitting it between the parties. Assets and income acquired after the date the Petition is served are not community property and debts acquired after that date are not community debts.
“Separate Property” cannot be divided by the Court. Separate property consists of items owned before marriage or received as an inheritance or gift during the marriage and are kept separate during the marriage. It is possible for a person to gift their separate property to the community. For example, one spouse could retitle property acquired before the marriage as community property. If one spouse had property prior to the marriage, but that property has increased in value during the course of the marriage, then the increase in value could be deemed community property and divided between he parties, if the increase came from labor by either spouse during the marriage or expenditure of community funds.
What about the debts