You need to begin your Arizona divorce proceeding by filing an official dissolution of marriage and paying a filing fee. It’s a good idea to meet with an Arizona divorce attorney before you decide to file, as this will give you a better perspective on how the process works.

You may also need to file additional paperwork when you file for divorce.

This could include:

  • A sensitive data sheet, which includes details about private information for the divorcing parties and their children. This is usually Social Security numbers so that the court has access to this information while shielding it from any public records.
  • Creditor notices, which explains the rights and responsibilities of divorcing spouses when it comes to debts incurred over the course of the marriage.
  • Notice of right to convert health insurance, which refers to a document that each spouse receives detailing both responsibilities and rights, in regards to continuing an existing healthcare insurance policy.
  • Joint preliminary injunction, which is the official court order taking automatic effect as to the Petitioner when the divorce proceedings begin and as to the Respondent upon service of the Petition. This bars either spouse from selling properties, transferring assets, altering insurance policies, or taking other actions that could jeopardize community property.
  • Summons, which is the legal document telling the other party about the filing of the case. It also tells the Respondent that an answer must be filed within 20 days (30 if the Respondent is served outside the State of Arizona), if that other party wants to have input on the case.

The divorce petition, as well as any of the documents outlined above, should be served on your spouse. This ensures that you give proper legal notice to the spouse and also begins the timeline of 20/30 days for his or her response. Service in family law cases in Arizona can be completed by a private process server, registered mail with return receipt,, or by a sheriff’s deputy.  You can also serve informally if your spouse is willing to sign a document called an “Acceptance of Service” which gets filed with the Court.  After service has happened, file a notice of service in the court.

If your spouse does not respond within this 20/30 day period, you can file a default request.  10 days after default is requested, if no Response has been filed or other action by the Respondent taken, you may request a default hearing to take place at least 60 days from the date of service.  At a default hearing, the dissolution will be finalized.

Post-Petition and Response Filing

After both of these events happen, you need to wait 60 days in order to file a consent decree. This is only available if you and your spouse can come to an agreement on all divorce issues. If this is not the case, then litigation begins.  Litigation may only be necessary on certain issues of the parties agree on others.  For example, the parties may agree on decision-making authority and parenting time for children, but disagree on the division of assets or spousal maintenance.

Regardless of whether your matter is contested or uncontested,, you should speak with your Arizona divorce attorney about what happens next.  If it is uncontested, you will want to make sure you have considered all the issues that may be attendant to your divorce.  If contested, how complex a case gets varies from one situation to another, but it could involve expert witnesses, depositions, hearings before the judge, or document requests. When you and your spouse cannot come to agreement on all the issues involved in ending the marriage, having an Arizona divorce attorney represent you is critical.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding How to Begin an Arizona Divorce, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.