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Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First in Arizona?

By Heather Baker-Mushkatel on

Sad couple deciding to file for divorce.

Making the decision to permanently leave your spouse by seeking a divorce is never easy. Indeed, even if you are angry, frustrated, sad and no longer in love, saying goodbye to the person whom you once loved deeply, and with whom you have made countless memories over the years, can be a painful process. However, in some situations, seeking a divorce may simply be in the best interests of both spouses.

If you are thinking about divorce, you may wonder, “Does it matter who files for divorce first in Arizona?” Legally, the answer is no. Whether you file first will not make any difference regarding any of the legal elements of your divorce. Personally, though, filing for divorce first may be more empowering for you. It purely depends on the case and the needs of the individual.

At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, our lawyers can assist you as you navigate the divorce process. Our goal will be to meet all of your needs and objectives. Contact us today to learn how we can help you in a confidential consultation.

What Should You Consider Before You File for a Divorce?

Again, nothing easy about making the decision to go through with a divorce. However, you should weigh the following important considerations:

  • Your children – If you have children, your divorce will greatly affect their lives. For this reason, it will be important for you to think about where your children will live, how you will support them after the divorce and what the role of you and your spouse will be in regards to your children as everyone moves forward with their lives.
  • Your income, expenses, and budget – Your financial situation will be different after a divorce. It will be crucial for you to have a plan for how you will support yourself – and your children if you have any – after the divorce.
  • Friends and family – A divorce won’t affect only you, your spouse and your children. It will also affect your friends and other family members, too. Navigating social circles and family get-togethers during and after divorce can be complicated. You need to be prepared for potentially challenging situations.
  • Whether divorce is the right choice – Ultimately, you need to ask yourself whether divorce is the right decision for you. Is your marriage really over? Have you considered all other options, including marital counseling? Because of the challenges that lie ahead, you will need to be certain of your decision.

Why Will It Matter If You File First for a Divorce?

Legally, there is really no reason why you need to file for a divorce first, especially if you and your spouse are both in agreement about getting a divorce. One potential benefit if you file for a divorce, and your spouse does not respond to your petition within the required amount of time, is that your divorce could be granted by default. If you receive a default divorce, then the divorce judgment will be aligned with your original petition, which means that you should get what you ask for in the petition.

Another potential benefit of filing for divorce first is that you can decide the jurisdiction where you will file. The petition must be filed in the county of residence of either spouse. So, if you and your spouse are living separately, you can benefit by filing the divorce petition in the county where you are currently living.

How Do You File for Divorce in Arizona?

The process of filing for divorce in Arizona is relatively straightforward. Unless you have a covenant marriage, you will not need to prove fault in order to obtain the divorce. Instead, you can simply state that the marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown. In order to file for a divorce, you must have been a resident of the state for at least 90 days. Assuming you meet this requirement, here’s an overview of the process:

  • File a petition with the Clerk of the Superior Court – The first step is to file a petition for divorce with the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county that you live (or that your spouse lives in).
  • File accompanying documents – At the time that you file your petition, you will also need to file important accompanying documents. These documents include a summons, a preliminary injunction (which prevents either spouse from making major changes to finances), a notice to creditors and a notice of the right to convert health insurance.
  • Serve your spouse – After the above documents have been filed, the next step is to serve your spouse with the divorce papers.
  • 60-day waiting period – Once you serve your spouse with the papers, your spouse will have 20 days to respond to your petition for divorce. Note that a divorce cannot be granted until 60 days have passed from the date that you file and serve the divorce papers.

What Happens After You File for a Divorce?

After you file for a divorce, you will need to ensure that your spouse is served with the divorce papers. The next step is to wait. Your spouse has 20 days from the date of service to respond to your petition. If you and your spouse are in agreement about all issues in your divorce, then you both can submit a Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. This document will set out the various conditions that you agree to. Once a judge signs the decree, your divorce will be finalized.

If you and your spouse are not in agreement about the various terms of the divorce, then the process will be more complicated. You will need to enter into mediation to reach an agreement or set a date for trial. If you do the latter, your case will be litigated, and a judge will decide the ultimate outcome.

How Can a Sun City Divorce Lawyer Help You?

At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, our attorneys can review your case and address any questions that you may have about the divorce process in Arizona. To learn more about how our divorce lawyers can help if you are pursuing a divorce, contact us today. We can provide a confidential consultation.