Dissolution of Marriage/Divorce begins with the filing of a “Petition for Dissolution.” Once a “dissolution proceeding” concludes, then the marriage is considered to be “dissolved” in Arizona. The more common term that is used is “Divorce.” In Arizona, the only grounds that are recognized for formalized divorce are “irreconcilable differences” or “irretrievably broken.” Arizona is what is known as a “no fault” state. This means that the courts do not determine which spouse was at fault for the divorce (i.e., which spouse is the “bad guy”). All that is required is that one party believes that the marriage is broken.
In Arizona, if a divorce is “uncontested” this means that the non-filing spouse did not file their “Response” to the “Petition for Dissolution.” Once this occurs, the judge can enter a “Default Judgment.” A second way for an uncontested divorce to occur is when the responding spouse simply contacts the filing spouse and they enter into a “Marital Settlement Agreement/Consent Decree.” In essence, no “contest” or proceeding takes place in court.
In Arizona, a “Contested Divorce” occurs when one spouse is challenging the Petition for Dissolution. When they “contest” (i.e., “fight”) the Petition, they do so by filing an actual “Response” with the court. Even though a Response may have been filed, this will not prevent a Consent Decree/Marital Settlement Agreement from being able to occur in the future. The most usual course of a divorce is that a Response is filed, and the parties later work out a Settlement Agreement with their attorneys. This almost always will occur once “Discovery” has taken place (which details all of the assets held by the parties). If no Settlement can be reached, then a case normally will proceed to a “Trial,” which occurs in front of a judge and not a jury in Arizona.
Contact us or call The Cantor Law Group at (602)254-8880 immediately for a free initial consultation designed to provide helpful information regarding “Dissolution of Marriage/Divorce” as it applies to your individual situation.