Divorce & Annulment Article


Venue: The Importance on Where to File and When to File

A question that might come up before you begin your divorce process, is where and when do I file? This is a very important question, as where and when you file can impact your overall case. Let’s look at a couple of different scenarios.

SCENARIO 1: Husband and his Wife live in Maricopa County. Wife decides to relocate to Pima County without Husband. Wife has lived in Pima County for 4 months. Husband decides that he would like to file for a divorce. He files his Petition for Dissolution and a Motion for Temporary Orders in Maricopa County on May 1st and serves his Wife on May 2nd. Husband finds out that Wife has filed a Petition for Dissolution in Pima County on April 20th. Wife has not served husband yet. Husband, however, receives a Motion to Appear re Temporary Orders from Pima County. What can Husband do to avoid having his case in Pima County?

SCENARIO 2: Husband and his Wife live in Pinal County. Wife decides to relocate to Maricopa County without Husband. Wife has lived in Maricopa County for 1 month with some friends. Husband files his Petition for Dissolution in Pinal County on April 20th and serves Wife on April 22nd. Wife decides she would like to file a Petition for Dissolution in Maricopa County. She files her Petition on May 1st and serves Husband on May 5th. What County will hear the parties’ case?

In both of these scenarios, two petitions have been filed in different counties. It may seem overwhelming and extremely complicated to you when this happens. How is it possible that you could have TWO divorce cases pending? Don’t worry, you won’t continue to have two cases, but there are some steps you should take to protect yourself.

Arizona Statute §12-401 states, “Actions for dissolution of marriage or legal separation shall be brought in the county in which a petitioner is residing at the time the action is filed.” So how does that work when we have two Petitioners, both residing in a different county?

The best argument here is to prove that the Petitioner does not “reside” in the county where they filed. This can be done by showing that the parties were living in a marital residence in the other county, or that the other party has a job in the other county. This argument may work better in Scenario 2, where Wife was only staying with a friend in Maricopa County for 1 month.

Courts have also used the “first to file rule.” This means in Scenario 1, regardless of Wife not serving the Petition upon Husband, she filed first, and therefore, the divorce case would be held in Pima County. The Judge will likely send a notice to Maricopa County directing them to dismiss Husband’s Petition.

So how does one protect themselves to ensure they get to have their case heard in their County? FILE EARLY! Do not wait if you think there is any possibility that your significant other may file in a different county. Also, do not expect to file in any County where you are just “visiting.” If you plan to file in a County, make sure you are actually residing there.

Contributing Attorney: Billie Tarascio litigates family law and domestic violence cases at Modern Law.


Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • I filled divorce last March 2010 and it was dismissed on April 30,2010 then I reinstate last May 2010? When will be the divorce final, from now I did not recieved any answer from the court?
  • My husband was deported to the UK after a conviction for domestic violence. He cannot return to the US. Our marriage is not legal there. Therefore he is not married. Do I have to get a divorce? And if so, how can I serve him when I don't know where he is?
  • I understand that when a divorce occurs, everything accumulated is community property. However, is a disability retirement subject to joint disbursement. My online research gives me conflicting answers. How do the courts interpret this?
  • I have a question regarding The Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act. I retired from the military in 2010 and married my current spouse in 2012. We were not married nor had any relationship while I was on active duty. My question is, if my spouse and I are divorced is she protected under The Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act? Basically is she entitled to any portion of my retirement pay in case of a divorce?
  • I have a covenant marriage with no children and spouse committed several adultery acts. Where is the self service packet to complete? We have been separated 2years and will not be reconciling.
  • Is the self-help booklet available in Spanish?
  • I got married in Morocco, got my husband to U S we have been married for 3 years. One day, he decided to leave and two weeks later, I found out he was filing divorce for domestic violence, I confronted him and he said it was the only way to get his legal status. I hired an attorney and got divorced but not for domestic violence, it was for irreconsiliable marriage. Can he still get a chance to get his green card?
  • My husband and I are in the process of getting a divorce, am I able to purchase a house before the divorce is final?
  • What are Conciliation Services?
  • My husband and I have bad credit so his father put our house in his name because his credit score is better than ours and we ended up with a great house payment. He hasn't paid anything for this house he hasn't never stayed the night in this house please tell me there is something I can do if he decides to sell house. When we found house we all sat down and had an verbal agreement this house is our. What should I do what are my rights? I feel that I may not have a lot of time can I stop him or have everything halted until someone can do an investigation.

STORIES

  • Age discrimination in the workplace. . .
  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .

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