UNCONTESTED DIVORCE VS. CONTESTED DIVORCE
Contested Divorce Issues: Motion to Set, Pre-Trial Statement, Response to Petition for Divorce, and the Consent Decree
WHAT IS AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE
The Divorce Guy assists clients who have an uncontested divorce in Tucson and the surrounding areas. In an uncontested divorce, we typically go through a 4-step process and prepare the legal documents and provide case management needed to get you to the final divorce decree. An uncontested divorce is one where your spouse decides to not file a response to the divorce petition. We will file an application for default and the court will then grant the decree of marriage dissolution.
Many clients will start their own divorce process with a “Do-It-Yourself Package.” If you have ever purchased one of these, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the process and completing the forms. Divorce in Arizona is a deadline driven process that is controlled by the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, The Arizona Revised Statutes, and the county guidelines for child support and visitation (if you have children). We can prepare, file, serve, track deadlines and finalize uncontested divorces and we do so for hundreds of uncontested divorces a year.
WE CAN PREPARE YOUR CONTESTED DIVORCE DOCUMENTS
Some clients come into our office believing that they cannot use our services if their divorce is contested. As a certified legal document preparation and case management service, we can prepare divorce documents even if you and your spouse have not yet agreed on the terms of your divorce. For example, we will prepare your Motion to Set, your Pretrial Statement, and your Consent Decree. These are common documents used in a contested divorce.
If the divorce is contested, that means that your spouse has filed a response to the divorce petition with the court and you do not yet have an agreement on terms of the divorce or the divorce itself. It is possible that after your spouse answers the petition you will be able to come to an agreement and we would then file a consent decree. The consent decree is signed by both spouses. The judge will then review the consent decree and make a decision.
We also can prepare your response to the petition for divorce if your spouse is the party who has filed the original petition.
CONSENT DECREE OF DISSOLUTION
Often spouses will come to an agreement at a later point in the divorce process. Or an uncontested divorce may transition into a contested divorce if you and your spouse thought you had an agreement, but it turns out there are still differences between the two of you.
MOTION TO SET AND PRETRIAL STATEMENT
What can also happen in a contested divorce is that once the petition has been filed, you and your spouse are not able to agree on all issues to finalize your divorce. You decide that you must go to trial. Either you or your spouse can request that a case be set for trial. If you decide to make this request, we can prepare the motion to set, meaning a motion to set a case for trial. The motion to set happens after we have filed your petition for divorce, and your spouse has filed a response or answer.
According to the Superior Court of Pima County, a motion to set and certificate of readiness must be filed within 180 days of the filing of the petition for divorce. Trials are generally set within 2-4 months after the Motion to Set is received. Your spouse has 10 days to file a Controverting Certificate if he or she disagrees with any of the information contained in the Motion to Set.
You are also required to submit a pretrial statement. The Superior Court requires a good faith effort to confer with the other party to prepare a Joint Pretrial Statement. However, in cases where there has been domestic violence or if there has not been cooperation for a joint statement, we will file a separate Pretrial Statement.
In the Pretrial Statement we will include information such as the following:
- The estimated time and length for trial.
- The name of the judge assigned to the case.
- Names of the two parties (you and your spouse)
- Names and birth dates of any minor children.
- Date and place of marriage.
- Exhibits to be used at trial and copies of the exhibits for the other side.
- List of witnesses, including name, address and phone number.
- Any facts that have been agreed to by both spouses.
- List of uncontested issues.
- List of contested issues that the judge will hear.
- Detailed proposal for distribution of property and inventory of property and debts.
You will be scheduled for a settlement conference. The settlement conference is with a different judge from your trial judge. If one of the spouses does not appear, according to the Arizona Superior Court of Pima County, the settlement judge can rule that the spouse that doesn’t appear cannot introduce evidence at trial. At the end of the settlement conference, the judge will prepare an order that states any agreements you and your spouse have made during the conference and what issues still need to be resolved at trial.
If there are any issues that are left unresolved, those issues will be presented to the trial judge. If you are the spouse who has initiated the divorce petition, then you will go first and present all of your evidence (including witnesses). Your spouse will have the chance to question you and any of your witnesses. Your spouse will present his or her evidence. Then you will have the chance to cross-examine or question your spouse and any witnesses.
The kind of evidence that can be given to the court at trial is governed by complex rules. As stated by the Arizona Superior Court of Pima County in their instructions for trial preparation for family law cases, the Rules of Evidence “determine what kind of information the judge is allowed to consider. If the judge does not hear or consider certain evidence that you want the judge to hear and consider, it may be that the judge is unable to consider the evidence under the Rules of Evidence that apply to family law cases. Please do not take it personally if the judge does not hear or consider certain evidence you wish to introduce at trial. The judge is just following the law.” After the trial is completed the judge will make his or her decisions and your case will be final. At this point you and your spouse have now terminated your marriage and are considered legally unmarried persons.
The Divorce Guy offers professional legal document preparation services. We have decades of experience preparing documents for divorces in Arizona. By using our service you can avoid the expense of a high priced attorney so that you can focus your financial resources on helping your family make necessary transitions after your divorce. Contact our office today so that we can walk you through the divorce legal document preparation services we offer.