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

  • My question is: Sept 2003 I got married in San Jose, CA. I moved to Phoenix, AZ the same year in July, We had a daughter May 2004, So what Law would my divorce be under? My husband had a house several year before we got married, and till this day Im not on the title of the house or the Cars we purchased during our marriage, Am I intitled to half of anything if I divorce?? I never changed my last name to my married name can that be an issue??
  • I am currently married but we have been living very separate lives since 2011. My spouse has just "married" someone else. I have checked with the courts and there is no marriage certificate filed, however I was informed if they are presenting as a married couple, sent out wedding invitations, etc.. that this still falls under A.R.S. 13-3606(A) Anti-Bigamy Act. I will not be the one to actively pursue divorce as I took sacred vows and getting divorced was not one of them though I will not be difficult if a divorce is presented to me. In the interim what he is doing is wrong so what do I do?
  • we agree on everything just want the divorce. How long will it take? We don't want to wait 60 days we just want ot sign the papers and get it done now.
  • I was married thru the Catholic Church. Got divorced thru the state 5 years ago, but have not gone thru the church to get the marriage annulled. Legally, do I need to do this before I remarry?
  • My husband and I are getting divorced and have 4 children under the age of 12. We have not been able to reach an agreement on custody and temporary orders  included that joint physical custody be granted. In addition, there are "parentling evaluations" scheduled . What is a "Parenting evaluation" and what kinds of questions should I expect? Will there be an opportunity for me to provide the evaluator with inforation? Thank you!
  • I got "married" at age seventeen to, (unknown to me at the time), a person who was in the country illegally. He was a permanant resident who had his residency pulled after recieving three felonies two years prior to our marriage. He was arrested and deported again four years ago. I was to annul the marriage, and also make sure I legally have full custody of our two children. Where do I start?
  • Is there a form to amend a divorce petition i am filing for an annulment but i made a mistake and it turned into a request for divorce judge said i needed to file an amendment
  • My husband & I both agree on the dissolution of our covenant marriage. We have filed with Maricopa County Courts. I need to know if I have the proper forms to include with the standard forms given to me thru the court house.
  • Ex has not paid credit card debt, child support, or ,child medical Bill's per decree. He moved out of state and is refusing to provide current contact information. How can I get decree enforced without knowing current address and how long do I have to enforce.
  • can i get ssi from my x

STORIES

  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • 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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