As common as divorces are in the United States, the process can be complicated, stressful, or even overwhelming. In fact, mental health experts have gone so far as to say that divorce is just as stressful, if not more, than the death of a spouse. It’s not surprising, then, that many people find themselves at a total loss as to where to even begin in the divorce process. From a legal perspective, there are several important steps to immediately consider, and others to keep in mind moving forward with a divorce. The right attorney is crucial to help navigate the individual through the process one step at a time.
Before Filing for Divorce in Arizona
Step 1 – Carefully Think Through Your Decision
Before filing any paperwork with the courts, clients should spend time reflecting on the state of their marriage and the best course of action. For some partners, counseling and communication can allow for reconciliation and a renewed commitment to one another. Only when you feel that you have exhausted reasonable possibilities should you move forward with the divorce process.
Step 2 – Plan Things Out
If you are not already separated, you’ll need to consider financial arrangements. Make sure that you have full access to your funds in order to pay bills, hire legal representation, and gather information about the debts and assets of you and your spouse.
Step 3 – Hire an Attorney
Don’t go it alone. Remember, you’re going through a difficult time, and the last thing you want is for important documents or deadlines to fall through the cracks. Neither do you want to sign off on something that could potentially harm you in the long run. Hiring an attorney to provide sound legal advice will help alleviate some of the stress caused by a divorce.
Filing for Divorce in Arizona
If you have a reputable divorce attorney on your team, the two of you will walk through the following steps together:
Step 4 – File the Case
In order to get the ball rolling, you must file a petition to dissolve your marriage, along with a few other required documents that your attorney will complete with you.
Step 5 – Serve the Documents
If you’re the case petitioner (the one filing for divorce), you’ll need to have a process server or an Arizona sheriff deputy serve the divorce documents to your spouse. If you have been served with divorce documents, you’ll need to hire an attorney and respond within an established response deadline.
Step 6 – Gather Evidence
Once a petition has been filed and served, and after a response has been filed, both you and your spouse will enter into the discovery process. Here, you and/or lawyer will work to gather evidence pertaining to proof of income, debts, and assets of yourself and the other party. In instances where children are involved, the discovery process may also include obtaining information about the custody arrangement that is in the children’s best interest.
Step 7 – Attempt to Settle
Next, you and your spouse (along with your attorneys) will have the opportunity to attempt to resolve your case by a settlement. This often involves written proposals and mediation.
Step 8 – Court Trial
If you and your spouse are unable to come to a settlement agreement, a judge will need to intervene. All contested issues will be presented to the judge, and he or she will render a final decision.