In well over half of my consultations I get asked whether there is an advantage to filing first for divorce in Arizona. The answer is no. The question stems from a fear that it may be socially unacceptable to seek a divorce. Arizona is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that to get a divorce, you do not have to prove that one party or another did something wrong. Understand that the judge who will decide your case has likely seen thousands of divorces before he or she sees yours. It is highly unlikely that the judge will make a judgment call about the person who first filed for the divorce simply because that person filed first. (I would guarantee that the judge will not think that way, but any good divorce attorney will never guarantee what a judge will think or do.)
There are a few things to be aware of if you file for divorce first. If you file first, you are the “Petitioner” in the case and your spouse will be the “Respondent”. In an Arizona divorce court the Petitioner pays a filing fee to the court of $321.00 while the Respondent pays $256.00 when their response is filed with the court. In court the Petitioner is expected to present his/her case first. Some divorce lawyers may prefer to go first or second, a good family law attorney however will be able to present a case well, regardless of the order he/she presents.
If you are facing the difficult decision of whether to file for divorce in Arizona, please call our office at 480.833.1113. We have several experienced divorce and family law attorneys who can answer your questions, and help you decide how best to proceed with your personal case.