You’re contemplating a divorce, then you’ve probably been wondering what the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage looks like. Here’s how you need to go about filing a divorce petition in the state of Arizona!
A caption goes on all motions, pleadings, and discovery papers in the family law case so it can be identified quickly. At the top of the first page of the Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage is the caption, which contains the following information:
- Name, address, and telephone number of the person filing the Petition, and attorney information if represented by counsel.
- Arizona Superior Court for the county where filed.
- Parties: Petitioner (Plaintiff) and Respondent (Defendant)
- Case number (a number assigned by the court to identify this case; starts with one or two letters, such as FC or FN.)
- Atlas number when assigned (when there are minor children, then an Atlas number is assigned to this case by the child support enforcement agency).
- Title, which is “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) with Children” or “Without Children,” as the case may be.
When the Petition for divorce is filed, the court clerk will provide an official case number. A divorce Petition in Arizona, and the other family law pleadings, is always filed with the county’s Superior Court. Except for the title (for example, “Petition,” “Motion,” “Notice of Hearing,” “Certificate of Service,” and the like), the caption for your divorce remains the same throughout the case. Once the divorce case is filed, the court must be notified of any change of address or contact information.
Divorce Petitioner’s Statements Made Under Oath
When filing a petition for the dissolution of marriage in the state of Arizona there are a number of statements that will need to be answered on the document by the person requesting the divorce, known as the petitioner. Each of these must be filled out truthfully and as accurately as possible.
- Petitioner provides detailed personal information about both parties: full names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security Numbers, occupations, and the length of time that each party has been domiciled in Arizona.
- Petitioner provides the date and place of the parties’ marriage.
- Petitioner states under oath that “this marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. I also state that the conciliation requirements under Arizona law, either do not apply or have been met.” If the parties had a covenant marriage, and the Petition must make additional allegations, or assertions.
- Petitioner states that one party or the other, or both parties, has been domiciled in Arizona for at least 90 days prior to filing the Petition. If a spouse is in the military, then stationed in Arizona for 90 days prior to filing the Petition is sufficient.
- Petitioner provides detailed personal information about all children under the age of 18 who were born to or adopted by the parties. Each child’s name, address, Social Security Number, and date of birth are disclosed.
- Petitioner states whether the wife is pregnant or not and, if pregnant, when the baby is due to be born and whether the husband is the father.
- Petitioner states whether the parties have or have not arrived at a custody and parenting time agreement over the children.
- Petitioner discloses information about the parties’ property and debts, starting with property acquired during the marriage.
- Petitioner states what property should go to which spouse. Including bank accounts, real estate, household furnishings and furniture, retirement funds, motor vehicles, and any other property.
- Petitioner discloses the debts incurred during the marriage, and which spouse should be obligated to pay each debt.
- Petitioner may request spousal maintenance for a party or allege that neither is entitled to alimony.
- In the prayer for relief, the Petitioner asks the court to issue orders to dissolve the marriage, restore a party’s former name, order spousal maintenance (alimony), order child support, order insurance and health care expenses for the children, order which party will have the right to claim the children as dependents for income tax purposes, and award custody. On custody, Petitioner may ask for joint custody (shared custody) or for sole custody with reasonable parenting time for the noncustodial parent, or with supervised parenting time, or no parenting time. Petitioner also asks the court to assign each party his and her separate property, and that the community property be fairly divided between them. On community debts, the Petitioner asks that the court “order each party to pay community debt as requested in the Petition, and order each party to pay any and all other community debts unknown to the other party.” The petitioner may specifically request that the court issue other orders as well.
- At the end of the Petitioner’s statements is his or her oath and verification: “I, the Petitioner, being duly sworn and under oath, state that I have read this petition. All the statements in the Petition are true, correct and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief.” The Petitioner signs and dates the Petition, which is followed by the notary public’s acknowledgment and official seal and stamp.
Filing the Divorce Petition with the Superior Court Clerk
Once the petition for dissolution of marriage has been completely filled in the next step is to file the petition with your local superior court clerk. Make sure you write down your case number and atlas number as they need to be added to any subsequent court papers moving forward. Always copy the case number and atlas number and the parties’ names exactly as they appear on the original Petition for Divorce.
The current Superior Court filing fee for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Arizona is $321.00. The fee for a Response or Initial Appearance in Dissolution is $256.00. The same fees apply in a legal separation and an annulment. To file the Divorce Petition, you need to surrender the original and be ready with at least two copies. The Clerk of the Superior Court stamps and keeps the original, stamps one conforming copy to be served on the defendant, and returns one conforming copy to the Petitioner. Once the Respondent is served with the Petition and summons, there is a minimum waiting period of 60 days before the court may order the marriage dissolved. In practice, though, the earliest a final decree will issue in an uncontested divorce is more likely to be three to four months. In a contested case, the divorce may go on for a much longer period of time, perhaps over a year.
Summoning the Respondent in a Divorce
The respondent in a divorce is the person who receives the divorce papers from the one requesting the divorce, or the petitioner. The summons contains a caption mirroring the Petition’s caption. The summons also contains standard language telling the Respondent (or defendant) that a Petition of divorce has been filed against him or her and that the 20-day period for responding has begun to run. The Petitioner needs to provide an address where the Respondent can actually be located by the process server for service. That may be a home address, work address, or any other address that could work.
What Does the Response to a Divorce Petition Look Like?
Also under oath, the responsive pleading to the Petition is titled the “Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) with Children” or “Without Children,” whichever the case may be. Essentially, it is a mirror image of the Petition but includes the Respondent’s facts and prayer for relief. The Respondent may request sole custody, for example, whereas the Petitioner requested joint custody.
“Certainly no one wants to go through a divorce, but I am so grateful to my attorney, Robert Howard and the rest of the team at Stewart Law Group for their care, support, and professional legal work in resolving my case. From the very beginning, I was provided with resources that educated me about the process, protecting my interests, and relieving a great deal of fear and anxiety. I received sound advice at every step, and communication was great! I would recommend Robert Howard and the Stewart Law Group to anyone who finds themselves faced with the end of their marriage.”