Arizona law allows default judgments against recalcitrant spouses
Role of the attorney
A trained, experienced divorce attorney can help you in ways beyond the obvious protection of your rights during “dissolution of marriage” and ensuring that your paperwork–or your spouse’s papers, if you been served–is legally accurate and that the decree will be enforceable. Unfortunately, these are all serious areas of concern that you must address during a time of potentially profound emotional trauma.
In fact, that emotional upheaval may be so painful as to require grief counseling: many people who have gone through divorce report feelings of loss so deep as to resemble that of experiencing a death in the family. A competent attorney can help with referrals to compatible grief counselors.
Addressing domestic violence: priority one
Another unfortunate aspect of divorce is domestic violence. In fact, that can be the driving force in recognizing the need to end the marriage. Because of the high risk of danger to spouses, children (and even pets), family experts and legal authorities advise anyone whose family equation includes domestic violence to make safety their first priority. In other words, if you’re in such a situation, you need to address it now. Your attorney can help in several ways:
- creating a safe exit strategy
- finding counseling
- securing emergency/temporary shelter
- filing restraining/protective orders.
Local & statewide resources
Additionally, here’s some statewide and local resources that can help:
- Maricopa County, Superior Court list: Abuse Counseling;
- A.A.R.D.V.A.R.C.’s page, Arizona: Domestic Violence Resources;
- My Sister’s Place (East Valley);
- Safety planning.
Venue for filing
Because Chandler-area residents live in Maricopa County, the first office to become familiar with is the Clerk of Superior Court’s Office, which provides a list of fees for family court filings, plus a support page that lists addresses and other resource links, including Parent Resources.
Family Court is administered via the Superior Court; its intro to divorce page explains:
In Arizona, the legal name for a divorce is Dissolution of Marriage. The amount of time that takes to get a dissolution or divorce can vary from case to case. State laws require that you wait 60 days from the date of service before you can proceed with a divorce. After the 60 days from the date of service passes, the steps necessary to obtaining a divorce will greatly depend on your situation.
A divorce where the parties have been married for a relatively short period of time, have no children, and little property or debt can be less involved. A divorce where the parties have been married for a long period of time, where there are minor children, or where there is a significant amount of property or debt to be divided and the parties are in disagreement may take additional time.
If both parties agree to all issues within the case, the case may proceed by the parties filing a consent decree. If the Petition for Dissolution has been filed and served on the other party and a response has not filed within the allotted time period, the filing party may apply for a default [judgment].
The person filing for the divorce is called the Petitioner. The person responding to the divorce is called the Respondent.
The court also has an online Self-Service Center, which may be of value for those with very simple cases, for example, no children, no property, short history of marriage, and both parties agree to everything. Remember, court personnel can provide no legal advice but can be helpful with questions such as where to file? which forms to use?
We also have related articles that may be of interest:
- Divorce in Arizona: Part 1
- Divorce in Arizona: Part 2
- Getting a divorce in Phoenix
- Getting a divorce in Tucson
No matter your marital situation, we can help. If you’re ready to begin the search for a compatible, well trained, experienced divorce attorney, you can start with our free case evaluation. If you need more information, please browse our site, using the tabs at the top of the page.
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