To Initiate Your Case
Documents Needed To Initiate Your Family Law Case In AZ
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Get the documents you need to start a divorce, modify child support, register parenting time changes and other family law paperwork needs to initiate your case in Arizona. All of your documents are drafted and reviewed by a licensed attorney, ensuring you are covered while not paying the full price of retaining lawyer instead.
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Once confirmed that you have met the requirements for an annulment, the process begins with the completion of a Petition for Annulment. This paperwork includes data sheets, summons, injunctions, health insurance conversions, and possibly creditor notifications. Each part is put in a packet of information that is submitted in triplicate to the court.
Once the forms are filed and processed by the clerk, two copies will be returned to you and you are then required to inform your spouse through a registered process server. After papers have been served, you and your spouse will then attend the necessary court proceedings to determine if the dissolution of marriage qualifies for annulment. If it is approved by the court, the court will then issue a Decree of Annulment. If it is not, the next option is to file for divorce. You can complete and file your own documentation through the court process with the help of an attorney.
While the Arizona Judicial Branch provides state divorce forms, it is important to know that many counties have their own and may also have different requirements. There are two main paths to select from for divorce in Arizona:
- Dissolution of marriage with children
- Dissolution of marriage without children
From there, it is then important to know if the divorce will be contested or uncontested by the other spouse which will then determine the necessary forms to file. Once the proper petition and supporting documents are filed with the clerk of the court, if one spouse has not yet signed the paperwork or is contesting the divorce, the paperwork will need to be served. The recipient will then have the opportunity to respond to the petition. While processing this paperwork, both spouses will need to collect financial information that includes assets, debts, and income.
If child custody is involved in the proceedings, couples should be prepared to provide information on child custody, parenting time, and child support. This may be submitted through a Parenting Plan, which will outline the time the child will spend with each parent as well as which parent has legal decision-making responsibilities for the child. Financial information will need to be provided through submission of an Affidavit of Financial Information along with a Child Support Worksheet.
Attorneys can provide guidance as you complete each step of the divorce proceedings.
The process for legal separation begins with filing a Petition for Legal Separation in the Superior Court in your county of residence. When completing your petition, you will need to consider whether children are involved. The petition will lay out the division of property and any spousal support that will be a part of the separation. Disagreements will be addressed during mediation or litigation.
When filing a Petition for Legal Separation of a relationship that involves children, filers must also be ready to submit documentation for child support, a Parenting Plan that addresses custody, parenting time, and legal decision-making rights. Filers must also complete a parenting education program.
Any agreements the couple wishes to have enforced through legal measures during the separation process will need to be outlined ahead of time. This can be accomplished with forms and court documents. An attorney will help oversee the paperwork and process to ensure all information is included and accounted for.
When spouses separate and children are involved, petitioning for mediation may be required. Petitioning for mediation will enable you to arrange structured opportunities for both parents and their legal representation to discuss the terms of custody, legal decision making, and parenting time outside official court proceedings. Couples can also arrive at an agreement on topics like division of property, spousal support, and more without the need for litigation.
It is important to understand that mediation for parenting issues does not end in a legal determination, but instead results in guidelines that are agreed upon by the parents. The final legal determinations will be processed in the court through the divorce, annulment, or separation litigation. Although mediation is not legally binding, it is important to have legal representation throughout the process to help with proper documentation for the courts.
When a parent fails to abide by court orders that establish the rules for child custody, visitation, child support, and more, the party who wishes to pursue compliance may file a Petition of Enforcement. With the petition, the agreed Parenting Plan and any other necessary documentation can be submitted to the Superior Court in the county of residence. This will initiate an action to summon the infringing parent to appear in court. It is important that there is a trail of documentation to help prove the other parent has not met the terms of the Parenting Plan. Prior to submitting a Petition of Enforcement, an attorney should help you compile the necessary evidence needed to hold the wrongful party accountable for their obligations.
A Petition to Establish will help guide parents through several important decisions that must be made when ending a relationship involving children via separation, divorce, or annulment. The petition establishes the paternity of the child and determines who may access legal-decision making capabilities, parenting time, child support, and vital records. Not only are these the components required in the Parenting Plan that is required in many Arizona counties, but they are legal obligations of both parents. When one parent does not acknowledge parental responsibilities, a Petition to Establish creates legal recourse to enforce those obligations. An attorney will oversee the process to be sure the petition is complete.
When one or both parents believe it is important to change the legally standing court order regarding the parents’ child, a Petition to Modify should be submitted to the Superior Court. The petition will be submitted with the established court order and the standing Parenting Plan. The statements included in the petition must be grounded in fact and not circumstance, so it is important to gather supporting documentation to prove any situations that may have prompted the change.
While many petitions focus on negatives, this petition is also used when both parents agree that schedule changes, school changes, and housing changes are necessary. Any situation that affects the residence, financial support, or environment of the child should be considered. The court will make a decision according to the best interests of the child.
It is important to note that whenever custody changes are made, so too are financial support decisions. Therefore, both parties should be prepared to share financial information. Unless agreed upon by both parties, the petition will be followed by a hearing to establish the new guidelines.
Sometimes referred to as a Petition to Stop Income Withholding Order, a Petition to Stop payment is necessary when a party wishes to cease child support or alimony payments. This petition should be filed approximately 90 days prior to the end of the obligation period. This form should also be used when there are changes to custody through court order, the spouse receiving support or the child have deceased, the case has been dismissed, or the obligations have been paid in full.
The petition will be submitted to Superior Court and will reference the original order that required the payments. Documentation of payments, court rulings, and other legal evidence should be collected to support the petition. The guidance of an attorney will confirm the likelihood of success in petitioning.
Technically speaking, a prenuptial agreement only needs to be signed by both people who are marrying. It becomes binding at the time of the marriage. However, a prenup must be crafted correctly and can be voided for many different reasons including unreasonable terms, lack of or inaccurate asset disclosure, or the terms are outside of public laws or policies. Because of this, it is important to use the guidance of an attorney to craft prenuptial agreements. In cases of marriage dissolution, this document will be submitted to courts as a part of the trial process.
A person moving to Arizona who has a child custody order will need to register their foreign order or decree. This establishes the terms of the out-of-state order in the legal bounds of Arizona. Orders and decrees must be accompanied by authenticated copies of the court documents from the originating jurisdiction. Once these documents are secured with the help of an attorney, the parent establishing residency in Arizona will submit a Notice and Affidavit of Filing Foreign Decree. These will be submitted to a clerk of family court who will then process the filing and provide the documentation that must be supplied to the other parent.
The process is similar for transferring a spousal support order. Neither child support nor spousal support orders are able to be modified or enforced if they are not properly registered or domesticated in Arizona.
Whether you are just beginning your case or your case has already ended and you need to make modifications, we are here to help. Our services ensure you have the correct documents and that you are not only submitting them correctly, but in a way that best protects you and your family.