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Steps to Filing Your Dissolution or Legal Separation Documents

1. Review your documents one last time to ensure their accuracy.
2. Sign the petition in blue ink. There are TWO places. The verification page needs a notary, as well. (Do not sign it until you are in front of a notary. Notaries are found at various locations, including law offices, banks and photocopy stores. There is sometimes a charge for this service. Usually, the bank that you bank with will do this service for free).
3. If there are minor children, sign the Affidavit of Minor Children in blue ink. This page needs a notary. (Do not sign it until you are in front of a notary).
4. Copy each document three (3) times. Staple each individual section (such as pleadings) together.
5. Keep each document in an individual pile. The original document should be on top, with the three copies underneath. Paperclip these four documents together.
6. If you are getting divorced with minor children, you will have nine separate piles paper clipped together. Otherwise, you should have six or seven stacks.

Your stacks should look like this:

Stack #1: Original family court coversheet plus three copies
Stack #2: Original Sensitive Data Sheet plus three copies
Stack #3: Original Summons plus three copies
Stack #4: Original Preliminary Injunction plus three copies
Stack #5: Original petition (signed with blue ink) plus three copies
Stack #6: Original Notice of Your Rights about Health Insurance plus three copies
Stack #7: Original Notice Regarding Creditors plus three copies
Stack #8: Original Affidavit Regarding Minor Children plus three copies
Stack #9: Original parenting information class plus three copies

7. Take these documents to your nearest courthouse. Maricopa County has four different courthouses, the locations of which are in Chapter 1 of this book. Courthouses outside Maricopa County are listed in the Appendix under ?courthouses.? The court clerk will date stamp all of these documents. The court clerk will also assign you a case number. You must use this number when you file subsequent documents with the court. This filing date may become important, because the court uses this date as a starting date for the dissolution or legal separation.
8. Make sure you have your filing fee ready?$321.00 for initial petitions, $256.00 for responses. You can pay by cash, cashier?s check or credit card. (There is a possibility for a deferral or waiver of this fee if you are unable to pay it. Such forms are located online.)
9. The Court Clerk will keep the original copies and will date stamp your remaining copies.
10. Now, to ?start the clock,? you need to serve (officially give a copy) the documents on the other party. The instructions for service are below.

Your Goals, Our Guidance

 

You?re reading this book to save money; you want what is best for your family, even while recognizing that this divorce is necessary. We are here to help you figure out your rights, your issues, your choices and your solutions. We are experienced family law attorneys who have seen first-hand the devastation and damage caused when people act out their emotional issues in a divorce through the legal system. In this chapter, we explain how to conduct your own divorce and when, if necessary, to seek professional help.

We repeat: ?Always take the high road.? That is not always easy, and it may seem impossible while going through a divorce. But this book was written to help you do exactly that: save time, money, and stress. Of course, it takes two people to make agreements, resolve issues and negotiate conflict. Emotional issues from a divorce are better handled outside the legal system, not through an expensive adversarial process that is ill equipped to handle the delicate details of a family in turmoil. We often ask a judge to listen to an hour or two of evidence and then make lifelong decisions for people that he or she has never met prior to that day in court. That may not seem right but it is the only system we have. So, if you want more control over your destiny, keep reading.

Can the mediation reach a custom tailored agreement for me and my spouse?

The relaxed atmosphere of mediation allows for creative settlements that are tailored to the parties’ individualized circumstances. Mediation permits the parties, rather than the court, to control the outcome of their case. The tailored agreements typically result from both parties’ determination of how they will share their children, how they will make major decisions concerning their children, who will pay child support and how much, and how to equitably divide property and debts.

What are the advantages of mediation for my family?

Mediation is designed to help parents focus on the best interests of the children. The mediation process helps the parties remain aware that despite their differences that brought them to the mediation process, they must continue to communicate for the sake of their child. The mediation process will preserve the parties’ relationship, which will benefit the child in the future years. It is also important to recognize future issues that might arise, and put a mechanism in place that will prevent future litigation.

Once an agreement is reached how can I put it in writing?

Once the parties have reached a verbal agreement, Best Law Firm here in Scottsdale can draft a Memorandum of Understanding to memorialize the parties’ agreements that complies with Family Law Rule 69. We can also draft the petition and supporting documents to initiate your case in the court, as well as draft and file the consent decree, parenting plan and property settlement agreement to finalize your case. We can draft all of your documents, from start to finish.

What happens when the parties reach a verbal agreement?

Two persons cannot divorce or legally separate unless, and until, certain paperwork is filed with the court. In Arizona, Family Law Rule 69 requires parties to have a signed, written agreement for it to be binding in the court. In some cases, the parties may not need or want their agreement to be enforceable. In other situations, it is required that the agreement be filed with the court. Here in Scottsdale, Best Law Firm can assist the parties in completing all the required paperwork. We can also draft the necessary decree for your case or other paperwork, such as child support.

How does mediation help us reach agreements?

There is no coercion, and both parties must be in accord in order for there to be any agreements. Often, more than one conference may be needed to resolve all the issues. Family issues invoke a great deal of emotion, and sometimes people need time to think about the process and the decisions that need to be made. There is no rush about this process.

 

Some parties may be able to reach agreements on all issues in one session, while others may require multiple sessions. Additionally, the parties can meet together or individually with the mediator. For example, some parties may wish to sit together at a table with the mediator, while others may prefer to be in different rooms and have the mediator move between the parties, acting as a liaison between the parties. The latter approach helps minimize the emotion associated with meeting face-to-face and promotes progress on the individual issues. Each case is different, and our goal is to find an approach that will work best for your family.

How does the mediator help resolve issues?

The mediator, in an impartial role, will help the parties define the issues, explain the legal process in the state of Arizona and then assist the parties in finding mutual agreements. The mediator’s job is to keep the parties conversing about the issues and help them move toward agreements. To accomplish this, the mediator engages in conversation with the parties to identify issues and possible solutions. Throughout the conversation, the mediator may propose various settlement options.

How does mediation work?

First, the parties must decide that they are able to discuss and consider their issues with each other through mediation. The parties may decide to initiate a free telephone consultation with one of your attorneys. Then, the parties make an appointment and come to our office here in Scottsdale. Be aware that the proceedings are confidential, and nothing can be used in a court proceeding. The success of mediation depends on the attitudes of the parties. It begins with the understanding that each party wants to mediate and resolve their dispute in a positive and calm manner. If either party has an attitude of wanting to “win” or to “hurt” the other person, mediation most likely will not work.

The process begins with an initial meeting, usually lasting one to two hours. The mediator explains her or his role of assisting the parties in resolving their issues. Even though the mediator is an experienced family law attorney who practices law, she is not in her role as an attorney when she is a mediator. Nonetheless, her legal background helps both procedurally and substantially with the mediation process.

How does mediation compare to going to court?

A learned judge once said that no one wins in court. By this, he meant that the family loses control of decisions and that the expense is extreme. So, instead of spending money on two separate attorneys, mediation allows the parties to pay for one mediator to resolve all of the issues in the case. Moreover, even if the parties initially retain two separate attorneys, the court may still order the parties to attempt mediation before there is a trial. Best Law Firm welcomes parties who are represented by counsel, as well as parties who are unrepresented. Attempting mediation before courtroom litigation will save the parties time and money.

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