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What to Do If You’ve Been Served Divorce Papers

Posted On May 22, 2023 In Divorce

When a couple takes that trip down the aisle, they fully expect to continue the journey together, but sadly, life can be a rocky path and some couples find themselves heading in new directions. Whether you knew a divorce was inevitable, or your spouse took you by surprise, it’s important to understand what to do next if you’ve been served with divorce papers in Arizona so you can protect your rights and best interests. Remember, it’s important to keep a cool head and rely on family and friends for support instead of confronting your spouse.

The first thing to look at on the paperwork you were served is the deadline for your response. It’s critical to respond within the time limit on your paperwork. In Arizona, you have 20 days to file a response to a spouse’s divorce petition if you reside within the state. If you’re living outside of Arizona, you have 30 days. The steps you take during that time period can make all the difference in the outcome of your divorce when it comes to the division of assets, child custody, and spousal maintenance. If you fail to respond, the divorce becomes a default divorce and your wishes aren’t considered in the judge’s decisions.

What to Expect in the Divorce Paperwork

First, don’t be surprised or confused by the terminology you’ll find on the paperwork you’re served. In Arizona, the divorce position is called a Petition for the Dissolution of a Non-Covenant Marriage. Inside the packet served by a process server, you’ll find:

  • A petition for dissolution of marriage filed by your spouse
  • A preliminary injunction informing you what you can and can’t legally do in regard to children and property until the divorce decree is final
  • Information about your health insurance rights during and after the divorce process
  • A notice regarding creditors you can use to gain required financial information for disclosure
  • Information about mediation or conciliation court
  • A child support worksheet and parenting plan (if you have children)

Hire a Chandler Divorce Attorney

Though Arizona courts don’t require divorcing spouses to hire an attorney, it’s extremely wise to choose a skilled, diligent attorney to represent your rights and best interests throughout the divorce process. For matters of child custody, parenting time and visitation, and the division of debts and assets, a Chandler family law attorney is your best ally in arguing aggressively for the outcome you desire. It’s best to choose an attorney within the first week of receiving divorce papers. Your attorney will represent your best interests in the following ways:

  • Acting as a go-between for communication and negotiation with your spouse for matters of dividing marital assets and deciding child custody
  • Ensuring that all paperwork is diligently completed and filed in a timely manner in the correct jurisdiction
  • Aggressively represent your best interests throughout mediation, drafting a settlement agreement, or arguing for your desired outcome in court

An attorney will answer all of your questions about the divorce process in Arizona and its impacts on child custody, child support, division of debts and assets, and spousal maintenance.

Have Your Attorney Help You With Your Response

Your Chandler divorce attorney will help you to craft a response to the petition including a counterclaim. Your counterclaim specifies whether or not you agree to what your spouse demands in their petition. Typically, you’ll want to make changes to the proposed settlement, but if you agree to everything you can file a consent decree. With a consent decree, there may be no need for a trial. If you do wish to make changes to the proposed settlement, you’re divorce becomes a contested divorce and your response must include your desired changes and the outcome you’re aiming for.

Once you’ve filed your response, your attorney will help you navigate the Arizona divorce process, including mediation, drafting a settlement agreement if possible, or arguing for your desired outcome in court.

By keeping a cool head and taking swift, carefully calculated actions in response to divorce papers, you can maximize your chances of achieving a favorable result in your case.