You have just received your spouse's divorce petition. Although you knew that the petition would be coming at some point, you still find yourself struggling to come to terms with the reality of it in this very moment.
Getting a divorce in Arizona can certainly be complicated and overwhelming emotionally. However, it is critical that you move forward with the marital dissolution process in the most forward-thinking and logical manner possible. Here is a rundown of what you need to do as soon as your soon-to-be ex-spouse has delivered his or her divorce petition to you.
Your responsibility as a divorce petition recipient
If your spouse has delivered a divorce petition to you, he or she is the petitioner. Meanwhile, you are the defendant or respondent. This means it is your responsibility to respond to the petition during a particular time frame, typically around three weeks.
The process may make more sense if you think of a divorce petition as a lawsuit, where your spouse is essentially suing you. You have to submit your response to your spouse's allegations as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you will end up losing your right to state your position regarding issues such as child custody and property division.
What all do you need to include in your divorce petition response?
The answer to your future ex's divorce petition should acknowledge that you received the divorce petition. In addition, you will need to state whether you agree or disagree with your spouse's petition. Specifically, you can explain how you feel about your future ex's statements regarding your marriage and about you both individually. You can also detail how you feel about his or her proposals regarding spousal support, child custody and property division.
What happens if you do not respond?
If you choose not to respond to the marital dissolution petition, the court will most likely assume you agree to the terms of the divorce that your future ex established in his or her petition. In this situation, the court will enter a default in your divorce case, which means you no longer have the right to argue about any aspect of the divorce. If a court ends up entering a default against you, you can still request that the court remove it, although providing legitimate legal reasons for making this type of move will be necessary.