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
Rings and Broken Heart
While it can matter who files for divorce first in Arizona, here’s what to consider if you are thinking of filing for divorce first, a Scottsdale divorce attorney explains.
  • 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 480-209-1918 or by emailing us using the drop-down contact form at the top of this page.

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

Client Reviews
Karen is highly respected in the legal community. She is effective and thorough. Karen just keeps going regardless of the odds.
Karen was extremely helpful setting up my petition for conciliation. She is by far the most knowledgeable attorney regarding the necessary paperwork, how to file the petition and where it has to be submitted. She listened intently when I was describing my situation and intentions. She was very responsive to my questions and request. She is trustworthy and diligent . I would recommend her to anyone having marital issues. Mark
Very high customer/client considerate. We found Karen when we were forced to leave another Phoenix lawyer due to his bad advice and lack of interest to help us. We were in Phoenix for six days from Michigan with nothing happening but a high wasted expense. Karen and her firm took us in and solved our issue with the courts etc. in two and a half days. Karen’s professionalism with us was very cost effective/productive. If we would have found her first, we would have saved thousands of dollars. Her interest for us was very high. She returned every call. She knew every answer to our questions. She did this for us with a death in her family. She left for a funeral and made sure we were treated with the same professionalism from her firm to finish up. I recommend Karen and her firm with very high satisfaction. Our case is custody with one parent in prison. We will return to Phoenix someday with interests for the child and his parent, if needed. Karen will be our top choice. Nolan
Karen and Bonita are wonderful!! I know that the word "wonderful" is used a lot, but the team they make and the work they did for me can only be described as WONDERFUL!! Yes there where ups and downs in my case, but that is the system and Karen along with Bonita guided and taught me as "WE" went through it together. Karen’s easy going manner and her knowledge really helped me with the emotional part of my divorce. I used the team of Karen and Bonita both times I needed to go to court with my ex and had results that were best for my little girl. Some times I did not get what I wanted, but it was what my daughter needed. Looking back at my case, I made the right choice and would do it again in a heart beat!! Jim
Karen was extremely supportive during a very trying time in our lives. She helped me to put things in perspective and think positive when I was overwhelmed. She is very knowledgeable about the laws pertaining to grandparents rights and the rights of the parents and knew how to provide the appropriate laws pertaining to the situation we were in. I am so grateful for her expertise and guidance. She proved to be very aggressive when she needed to be but was also supportive to my and my children. I would recommend her to anyone in a similar situation. Deanna