Going through the divorce process can understandably be confusing. After all, it is essentially akin to going through a lawsuit. If you have little to no experience with the legal system, dissolving a marriage can seem extremely complicated from step one.
The first part of the process of which you must be aware is the filing of the divorce petition. After one spouse has filed it, this document is served to the other spouse. If your spouse was the one to file the petition, you must prepare to file a response quickly during this type of family law proceeding.
Serving the petition
If your spouse wants a divorce, he or she has to serve a petition on you, along with any requests he or she has for temporary orders. This phase is service of process.
Once service has been completed with the help of a professional process server, you have what Arizona calls a 60-day cool-off or waiting period. This is when your separation date is officially established, which is critical in the event your future ex tries to start accruing large amounts of debt unbeknownst to you.
In addition, during this time, neither you nor your spouse can legally take your children to another state. You also cannot throw away or sell any property or borrow against any of your property. Arizona law also makes it illegal for you to remove your spouse from an auto, life or health insurance policy.
Responding to the petition
If you have received divorce papers, you are the respondent. You have the right to file an answer to this petition, where you state that you either agree or disagree with your future ex-spouse's claims in the document. If you fail to file this response within 20 days, your spouse may ask the court to enter a default.
The next step of the family law proceeding of divorce is the discovery phase, where you start exchanging documents so that you both understand all of the issues you will be trying to resolve. This step is very complicated. However, a knowledgeable attorney in Arizona can walk you through it and help ensure that you have all of the information you need for making informed decisions at the divorce negotiation table.