In these articles, we’ll be focusing on the family law rules and procedures of Arizona, and those procedural rules that are involved in family law cases. By doing so, those who find themselves faced with litigation will have a better understanding of the legal process that must be adhered to, without exception. We have a lot of experience in these matters, and we believe that understanding the legal language of divorce and learning basic procedures can help reduce a party’s stress — and in this instance, knowledge is indeed power.
That is not to say, however, that there won’t be times of frustration. As with any litigation, the family court rules have an engine of their own and can be aggravating, involve delay, and incur expense. By understanding more about the procedural rules, we hope that you can streamline your efforts and achieve the best results possible in your case.
We separate the law into two basic groups, the substantive laws (statutes and case law), and procedural law (court rules). Family law procedure involves the entire body of court rules that direct the litigants, or parties, in the proper use of the judicial system. The procedural rules ensure fairness in the application of the substantive law to all of the parties to the lawsuit.
The court rules are comprehensive. The party is instructed on when, where, and how to file the substantive legal matter before the court. There is a procedural rule for everything a party will need to accomplish on every matter put before the court — including the color and size of the paper to be used. The rules establish who can file a claim or other pleading. How to serve the other party with service of process. What the time limits are for responsive pleadings to the claim. How hearings are noticed. How trials are conducted. How a remedy granted by the court is to be enforced, and so on.
Our Arizona Rules of Family Court Procedure and other rules of civil procedure, govern how divorce, separation, child custody, and all other legal matters are presented to the family court for a final decision and subsequent appeal, if any. Failure to follow the procedural rules can result in dismissal of one’s claim and even sanctions.For criminal matters, the rules of criminal procedure apply.
To further complicate the law of procedure in family law cases, there is an additional layer of local county rules that must also be complied with. You may have heard about a case that was “lost on a technicality.” Well, the procedural rules are the technicalities that can make or break a case, and must be taken very seriously.