Does It Matter Who Files First for a Divorce in Arizona?

From a purely legal standpoint, it generally does not matter who files for a divorce first in Arizona. However, from a personal standpoint, it may, depending on the situation and the needs of those involved.

Below, we will point out some of the specific things to consider if you are debating whether you or your partner should be the one to file the initial divorce petition.

What to Consider in Filing for Divorce First

  • There are cost differences in filing versus responding – In fact, it’s more expensive to file an initial Petition for Dissolution of Marriage ($338) than a Response/Answer to Dissolution ($269). While this may seem like a minimal difference to some, it’s also generally more expensive to prepare the Petition, as it can require more of an effort to detail all of the marital holdings (versus just responding to these details).
  • The filing is public record – When a Petition is filed with the court, the matter becomes public record, meaning anyone can see who initiated the divorce proceedings. Although this may not matter in some cases, in others, people may have very strong feelings about being perceived as the one who got the ball rolling on the divorce. So, again, it is something to keep in mind if you want to file for divorce but you may be reluctant to be publicly noted as the Petitioner.
  • There may be impacts on the property division process – Who filed for divorce first won’t typically matter in terms of how the property is divided, but it can be important for those who want to officially set a date on which earned property is no longer going to be considered marital property. For instance, people who may be starting a business, receiving some income, etc. may want to file for divorce first, prior to receiving the new asset or income so that it remains separate property.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to filing for divorce first or waiting to be the respondent, the bottom line is that it’s best to consult with an attorney who can advise you of your best options, based on your circumstances and needs. There can be strong strategic reasons to be the petitioner or the respondent in different cases, and a lawyer can help you make the decision that will protect your interests moving forward.

Contact a Scottsdale Divorce Attorney at the Law Office of Karen A. Schoenau

If you are ready for divorce, you can rely on Scottsdale Divorce Attorney Karen Schoenau for honest answers, effective representation and the best possible outcomes to your case.

To receive professional advice and learn more about how we can help you, schedule an initial consultation with Attorney Karen Schoenau. You can set up this meeting by calling 480-467-3435 or by emailing us using the drop-down contact form at the top of this page.

From her offices based in Scottsdale, Attorney Karen Schoenau represents clients throughout the metropolitan Scottsdale area, including Scottsdale, Mesa, Surprise, Maricopa County, Pinal County, Gila County and throughout the state of Arizona.