From a legal standpoint, it usually doesn’t matter in Arizona who files for divorce first. Arizona follows a “no-fault” approach, meaning that if one spouse wants a divorce, they don’t have to provide evidence that the other spouse did something wrong to justify ending the marriage. They can simply begin the process.
In Arizona, whether you are the one initiating the divorce process and completing the initial paperwork, or if you are receiving the paperwork, it doesn’t really matter. Both parties have the task of responding to the divorce petition. However, you might find some advantages to being the first one to file, as it can provide certain benefits with the help of a skilled divorce attorney. Let’s explore some of these potential advantages.
Initiating the Process
If you decide to file for divorce, you will take on the role of the Petitioner. As the Petitioner, you will fill out paperwork called a petition to ask the court to legally end your marriage. Your spouse, on the other hand, will be named the Respondent, as they have the option to file a response to your petition.
It is important to note that in Arizona, being designated as the Petitioner or the Respondent does not have any legal implications or advantages.
During the court proceedings, the Petition is likely to include specific requests or demands for the Judge to address matters such as property, debts, and financial support. In cases involving children, the petition will also cover issues related to decision-making, parenting time, and child support details.
Remember, the purpose of this information is to provide a general understanding of the roles and process, and you are encouraged to seek professional legal advice for specific guidance.
Strategic Advantage of the Petitioner
There’s actually no legal necessity for you to be the one to initiate the divorce proceedings, particularly if both you and your spouse are on the same page about wanting a divorce. However, there is one possible advantage if you initiate the divorce process and your spouse doesn’t respond within the given time frame – you may be granted a default divorce. The good thing about this is that the divorce judgment will follow your initial petition, ensuring that your requests are likely to be granted.
Filing first also allows you to gather necessary documentation, such as financial records (as outlined in our Arizona divorce checklist) and evidence before your spouse has a chance to do so. This can give you a strategic advantage when negotiating terms.
By filing first, you get to enjoy what is effectively a home-field advantage if your spouse is not living with you and is located where divorce rules favor them. If you can have the case heard close to where you reside rather than across the state or nation, it will also be simpler for you in terms of travel and logistics.
If you initiate the divorce, it can also help you secure some of your assets and lower any debt you might otherwise have to incur. It’s important to think about who files for divorce first if you have a partner who spends carelessly or who you suspect would try to sell off assets and keep the proceeds so they can’t be divided during the divorce.
When you do, a preliminary injunction will be issued by the courts. This might assist you in reducing your obligation to any communal debt as well as prevent them from selling shared property. Your spouse will be responsible for paying any debts they accrue after the papers are served, not you.
Do you need to consult a lawyer to file?
The divorce paperwork may be obtained from the county where you reside. Fill them out according to the instructions. If you’d like, you can submit your divorce documents independently. However, you can get assistance from a lawyer or a document preparer if you are unsure of how to begin and need to ensure that everything is done correctly.
If you’re feeling concerned about your assets and what your ex might do, it usually indicates that your divorce won’t be a straightforward and uncontested one. There’s a possibility of significant conflicts arising. In such situations, especially when children are involved, it’s a good move to begin working with an attorney as soon as possible.
Is there ever a situation where you wouldn’t require a divorce attorney at all? Well, if your divorce is uncomplicated, with no assets or children involved, and both you and your spouse are in complete agreement on the proceedings, then you can manage without an attorney. Bear in mind, however, that these cases are quite uncommon.
To File or Not to File?
If you’ve reached a point where you believe your marriage is beyond saving and you have no desire to reconcile with your ex, it might be worth considering filing for divorce. Although it may not necessarily offer any legal benefits, it could grant you the advantages mentioned earlier.
Are you worried that your spouse might be attempting to hide money or sell belongings to make some extra cash? Do you feel they might intentionally accumulate significant debt, knowing that you’ll be responsible for half of it if you choose to file for divorce after they’ve spent the money? In that case, it could be a wise decision to be the first one to file.
Contact an Arizona Divorce Attorney
No matter whether you currently stand as a petitioner or respondent in the divorce process, ensuring you have the right legal representation is crucial.
Here at Goldman Law, LLC, our team of attorneys is dedicated to assisting you through this challenging time. We can thoroughly review your case and address any concerns or queries you may have about the divorce process in Arizona. We invite you to reach out to us at (602) 698-5520 today for a confidential consultation.