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The Respondent's Role in an Arizona Uncontested Divorce

In an Arizona divorce, the bulk of the work (ex. preparing documents, dealing with the Court Clerk's office, paying the filing fee, keeping track of when to file additional documents, etc.) falls on the spouse that files for divorce, also known as the Petitioner. However, while it isn't a deal breaker, in many states including Arizona, the cooperation of the non-filing spouse, or Respondent, can simplify the divorce process quite a bit. For example, if the Respondent will accept service of divorce papers, the Petitioner can avoid having to pay the Sheriff or a private process server to formally serve the Respondent. Additionally, if the Respondent will sign the Decree, the Petitioner should be able to avoid going to court to finalize the divorce.

Serving Your Spouse in Arizona

Whether you file your divorce by consent or default, all Arizona divorces start out with the Petitioner filing a Petition with the Superior Court Clerk's office in the county where either spouse lives. The second step, which is serving your spouse, is often where most Petitioners get an idea of how cooperative their spouses will be. The two easiest ways to serve your spouse--in-hand delivery or 1st Class U.S. Mail--require the Respondent to sign an Acceptance of Service in front of a Notary Public.

However, if your spouse will not sign an Acceptance of Service, you may serve him or her by Certified Mail with a green return-receipt requested and restricted delivery. The post office will help you complete the slips for this type of service and the fee should be under $10.00. This still requires some degree of participation on the part of your spouse since he or she must be willing to sign the green return-receipt when the mail carrier delivers the divorce papers, and since the Petitioner must request restricted delivery, only the Respondent can sign for the divorce papers. If the Respondent is not home when the mail is delivered, the postal carrier will leave a slip in the box for the Respondent to take to the post office to sign for the paperwork there later. The Petitioner then signs an Affidavit of Service, attaches the signed return-receipt to it, and files both with the Court Clerk's office.

If your spouse will not sign an Acceptance of Service and also will not sign for the paperwork if it is sent by Certified Mail, that's a pretty good indicator that your spouse is going to be uncooperative in the divorce process. You will probably need to make arrangements for service through the Sheriff or a private process server, and most likely, divorce by default will be the best way for you to finalize your divorce.

Arizona Consent Divorce vs. Default Divorce

Uncontested divorces in Arizona are either consent divorces or default divorces. With a consent divorce, the Respondent must be willing to sign some divorce paperwork in front of a Notary Public and pay a response fee, but the divorce can be finalized without either spouse having to attend a court hearing. With a default divorce, on the other hand, no response fee is required and the Respondent only needs to sign a receipt for the divorce papers when the post office delivers them (or sign nothing at all if service is made by a Sheriff or private process server), but the Petitioner will have to go to a court hearing to finalize the divorce.

Encouraging the Respondent to Cooperate in a Consent Divorce

Consent divorce won't work for everyone. Unless your spouse is willing to do all of the following, you should choose a default divorce:

  1. Pay a response fee of approximately $200-$300
  2. Sign documents in front of a Notary Public
  3. Pay notary fees of approximately $5-$40

The main perk of consent divorce is that the Petitioner won't have to attend a hearing to finalize the divorce. For some Petitioners avoiding a court hearing is extremely important and may make it worth it for the Petitioner to go above and beyond to convince the Respondent consent. In particular, some Petitioners may:

If it won't be possible to secure Respondent's cooperation in the divorce process, don't worry. You should just plan on a default divorce. Many Petitioners even prefer a default divorce, especially if going to a brief divorce hearing is likely to be less of a hassle than getting the Respondent to sign paperwork and pay a response fee.

If you initially received consent divorce paperwork from DivorceWriter, simply log in to your account and switch to default paperwork in the DivorceWriter online interview. You'll have the option to have the paperwork e-mailed to you, sent to you via Priority Mail, or both at no additional charge.

How to Complete an Arizona Default Divorce

While a consent divorce is easier for the Petitioner in terms of not having to worry about whether the Respondent will do his or her part, it will require the Petitioner to go to a court hearing to finalize the divorce. Your DivorceWriter filing procedures include all you need to know about going to your divorce hearing, including sample testimony and tips to help your hearing go smoothly.

Once you've filed for divorce and served your spouse, Petitioner must do the following to finalize your default divorce:

  1. Wait twenty-one (21) days after either the Acceptance of Service or Affidavit of Service has been filed with the Court Clerk's office.
  2. File an Application and Affidavit for Default and Request for Default Hearing.
  3. Attend a brief divorce hearing and leave the courthouse with a signed Decree.
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