Here are some guidelines on how to contest a divorce. When one party initiates a divorce, the other party is served with divorce papers. When a spouse receives divorce papers, he or she must respond. When people do not agree to the divorce terms, it is considered a contested divorce. If you do not agree with the provisions of the proposed allocation of assets and debts, proposed responsibility for children, or terms with respect to financial support, you need to know how to contest a divorce. It is highly recommended that you get assistance from an attorney who specializes in divorce in these circumstances.

Respond to Petition

Once a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has been received, you have 20 days to respond to it (or 30 days if served outside of Arizona) by filing a Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Court. If you fail to respond, your spouse can file for a default divorce. It is important that you speak to an experienced divorce attorney as soon as you receive the Petition so that you can provide a response within the allotted time period. If a default divorce is requested, the spouse must respond to that Petition or the divorce could be granted with the terms requested without your input.

Request a Conciliation Meeting

If you do not want to proceed with the divorce at all, you must request a conciliation meeting. The court will put the divorce proceedings on hold for a period of up to 60 days while the conciliation meeting takes place. After the meeting, if the parties do not agree that they want to postpone the divorce, it will proceed.

Cooling Off Period

In Arizona, dissolution of marriage does not take place until a 60-day cooling off period has transpired. This time period begins the date the Respondent is served with the Petition and runs at the same time as the 20 (or 30) day Response period. This period can be used to your advantage if you are able to spend that time communicating and working with your spouse to try to salvage the marriage. The purpose of the cooling off period is for situations just like this. If one spouse is angry, that person may change his or her mind after having had a chance to cool off.

Preliminary Injunction

A Preliminary Injunction is a temporary court order that applies to couples who are divorcing. The Injunction is in place while the divorce is in progress and ends once the divorce is finalized. It stipulates that neither party can harass the other, that community assets cannot be sold, and that children cannot be taken out of state without permission. There are also restrictions on changing life, auto, or health insurance policies affecting the spouses and children. It is important to know that both parties must abide by these rules or they could face legal consequences. The Injunction also helps protect both parties during a divorce, especially if it is acrimonious.

If you have received a Petition for Dissolution, it is important to contact an experienced family law attorney right away to discuss your options.

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 Contest a Divorce, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Sheri D. Shepard 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.