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In Arizona, when a spouse files for divorce, he or she must file a legal document referred to as a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The spouse who files this Petition, known as the Petitioner, must also properly serve notice to the other spouse, who is referred to as the Respondent.

So if you are the Respondent, how should you respond? Here is a guide to responding and important legal information concerning the importance of filing a response:

Timeline for Responding

According to Arizona law, the Respondent must file his or her response within 20 days of receiving the Petition. However, if the Respondent is served outside of Arizona, then the Respondent has 30 days to reply.

Regardless, time is of the essence when a spouse is served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Not responding to the petition in a timely manner can have harsh legal consequences.

The Importance of Responding

If a Respondent fails to file a Response within the proper timeframe, the Petitioner is allowed to legally apply for a default. If a spouse applies for default, the Respondent then only has an additional 10 days to respond. If the Respondent still does not respond, then the Respondent loses his or her right to take part in the divorce, and a divorce may be granted to the Petitioner on all of his or her terms.

No earlier than the 61st day after service of a Petition, if all issues are agreed upon, the parties can file a Consent Decree.

How to Respond

A response to a Petition for dissolution of marriage should admit allegations in the Petition that are true, deny those that are not, and provide notice of additional facts or legal arguments that may be made in the case.

Contact us today at Hallier Stearns PLC to discuss any legal questions or concerns about responding to a Petition of Dissolution of Marriage.