- Helpful Websites
- Filing Requirements
- Filing a Response
- Obtaining a Decree in a Default Matter
- Support Checks
- Family Conciliation Court
Dissolution of marriage is commonly called “Divorce”. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a family law attorney so that you are informed of your legal rights and the important legal issues in your case, such as spousal support, pensions or other deferred compensation, and other property rights. It is your responsibility to know your rights. The following information is provided as a general overview of court procedure and is not intended to replace or give legal advice. The Clerk of the Superior Court is the record-keeper for the court, is not an attorney, and by law cannot provide legal advice.
Supreme Court’s Website re: Divorce/Parenting Issues
State Bar of Arizona Consumer Brochures
Arizona Law re: Divorce
Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure
Arizona Child Support Guidelines Calculator
If you choose to file for divorce on your own, the court will consider you a “Pro Se” or “Pro Per” litigant meaning you are acting on your own behalf without an attorney. To file your case you will need to obtain a packet of forms from a book store, stationery store, chain pharmacy, office supply store, or by clicking on Self-service Forms here or on the Home page of this website. When the forms have been completed and you are ready to file bring the documents to the Clerk’s office either in Bisbee at 100 Quality Hill off Tombstone Canyon or in Sierra Vista, 100 Colonia de Salud (off Hwy 90).
Sierra Vista MAP
BEFORE you complete any forms in your packet: Most court files are open to the public for review. Effective January 1, 2006, Rule 43.G of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure states that the filing party shall omit sensitive data (unless specifically requested by the court) from the documents to be filed in the court. Sensitive data is defined in the rule as: Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers or other financial account numbers. You are encouraged to use the Sensitive Data Form instead of including the information in your paperwork. Wherever the form requires Sensitive Data to be listed, write in “See Sensitive Data Form” and then insure that the information is placed on the Sensitive Data Form. It is also your responsibility to file updated Sensitive Data Forms whenever you have new information needed to supplement the record in your case. The Clerk’s office will maintain the Sensitive Data Form in a confidential manner and it will only be viewed as the rule provides.
Any party who includes “Sensitive Data” in documents filed with the Court, other than on a Sensitive Data Form, does so at that party’s own risk.
The documents required to start your case are:
- Without children
- Petition for Dissolution
- Preliminary Injunction
- With children
- The above forms PLUS
- Affidavit re: Minor Children
- Notice of Health Insurance
You will need to bring the original document and 2 copies. If you request the Clerk to make copies for you it will cost .50 per page. The filing fee of $273.00 is also due at this time. The Clerk’s office accepts cash, VISA or MASTERCARD credit cards, cashier’s checks or money orders. No personal checks are accepted.
If you are unable to pay fees and costs you may ask the court to permit you to proceed by either deferring the fees and costs or waiving them. Get Application for Waiver or Deferral Form. Forms are also available at the Clerk’s office. Bring the completed application with you along with your other documents. Please Note: This application must be reviewed by a judge in order to make appropriate findings and orders and often will mean that you will not be able to file your documents that day.
Once the initial papers have been processed, the petitioning party will need to have his/her spouse served with one set of copies. Your particular fact situation will dictate how this is to be accomplished. Rules 40, 41 and 42 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure (go to page 32-40) governing service on initial filings.
IMPORTANT: The appropriate Proof of Service must be filed with the Clerk’s office. The time period necessary to toll before you can receive a Final Decree does not start until Service has been made.
Filing a Response
It is not necessary to file a response if the respondent agrees with the information contained in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If the respondent disagrees then a written response will need to be prepared by the respondent or his/her attorney and filed with the Clerk’s office. The Respondent has 20 days from the date of service to file a response (30 days if served out of state or after the first publication) and is required to provide a copy of the response to the Petitioner or to the Petitioner’s attorney. The filing fee is $ 204.00. Get Sample Response Forms. Look under “Family Law Forms” and scroll down to the section relating to “Responses”. The heading will need to be changed to reflect that the filing is in the Superior Court in Cochise County.
Obtaining a Decree in a Default matter
After the appropriate time has passed (see Filing a Response, above) and no Response has been filed to contest the divorce- the petitioning party can then file with the Clerk’s office an Application for and Entry of Default (these forms are in your packet). An original and 2 copies are needed. It will be the petitioning party’s responsibility to mail a copy to the Respondent.
In a “no response” matter a set number of days must pass before the Petitioning party is eligible to come to court to obtain a Final Order of Dissolution (Decree). These time periods are:
By personal service, acceptance or waiver of service, certified mail or national courier service: 61 days.
By publication: 91 days from the date of first publication.
It is important to call the Bisbee office at 432.8570 one (1) week prior to you wanting to come in for your hearing. Please have your case number handy. At that time a Deputy Clerk will pull your case file to ensure that all requirements have been met before you can see a judge. The Deputy Clerk will then give you the date and time for your Default Hearing.
At the time you come in for the hearing you will need to bring an original and 1 copy of the final order (decree). For a divorce with children you will also need to bring an original and 2 copies of the Child Support Order and Parent’s Worksheet. Click here for Arizona Child Support Guidelines Calculator. After the judge signs the decree, the Clerk’s office will provide you with one (1) free conformed copy. If additional copies are needed they will cost .50 per page. If you require that a document be certified it will cost an additional $27.00.
State law now requires that child and/or spousal support checks will be issued by electronic means. Paper checks by mail are no longer available. You may choose to receive your payments by Direct Deposit to your bank account or by Electronic Payment Card (EPC) debit card. EPC cards Frequently Asked Questions. You may download the authorization form here: Electronic Payment Authorization Form. If you do not complete and return this form then the Arizona State Disbursement Unit (SDU) will automatically enroll you in the EPC Program.
Family Conciliation Court
The FAMILY CONCILIATION COURT offers the following services: Parent Information Program, Conciliation Counseling and Mediation. These services are for those parents with minor children involved in the following situations:
If the case involves a minor child or children, and is an action for Dissolution of Marriage; Legal Separation; or Paternity with a Request to Determine Custody, Parenting Time or Child Support.
PARENT INFORMATION PROGRAM
Pursuant to ARS §§25-352, both the Petitioner and the Respondent must attend and complete the
Domestic Relations Education of Children's Issues Class (Parent Information Program). The Respondent must register for and complete the course whether or not a "Response" or "Answer" to the Petition/Complaint is filed. You do NOT have to attend the class with the other parent. This is not a parenting skill class. The purpose of the Parent Information Program is to educate parents about the impact of divorce and separation on children, the importance of continued involvement of both parents after family restructuring, and the effects of court involvement on the lives of children and families.
Attendance is required.* (ARS §§ 25-352).
ATTENDANCE AT THE PARENT INFORMATION CLASS IS REQUIRED BY LAW AND BY THIS COURT. IF YOU DO NOT ATTEND THE CLASS, THE JUDGE MAY NOT SIGN YOUR PAPERS AND YOU MAY NOT GET THE THINGS YOU ASKED THE COURT TO DO. THE JUDGE MAY ALSO FIND YOU IN CONTEMPT OF COURT. * If you have completed this class and received a Certificate of Completion in the past, you are not required to attend again unless ordered to do so by the judge.
You must sign up and be registered for the class in advance. You should sign up for the class as soon as you can. The cost of the class for each parent is $30.00. When you call to register and choose a class date, you will be instructed to bring a money order or cashier's check payable to "Clerk of the Court" to class on your scheduled class date.
Who teaches the class ? Parent Information instructors are behavioral health professionals such as marriage and family therapists, social workers, and educators with specialty training and advanced degrees in a behavioral science. They have experience helping families address important issues and resolve problems. Instructors are not attorneys, and cannot give you legal advice.
How do I sign up for the class ? Call the Family Conciliation Court at 520-432-8485 (TDD 520-432-9297) as soon as you receive notice and ask to register for the Parent Information Program. Classes are offered two Saturday mornings per month, one in Sierra Vista and one in Bisbee, from 7:45 a.m. until noon. Classes are filled on a "first come, first served" basis and we encourage you to attend the class as early as possible after your case is filed. Parents usually elect to attend separately; if this is your desire, please advise us when you call to register. You can also let us know if you need special accommodations due to a disability or language need. YOU MUST BE PRE-REGISTERED TO ATTEND. When you attend, keep in mind that proper attire is required in Courtroom - no shorts or tank tops.
How will the court know I have completed the class ? A Certificate of Completion will be issued by the class instructor upon completion of the class. The original Certificate will be filed with the Clerk of the Court, a copy will be given to you, and a copy will be kept on file with the Family Conciliation Court. Please retain your copy in a safe place.
What will be taught ?.. .Effective ways to help your child cope with and adjust to separation, divorce and alternating households. . the importance to children of continued relationships and meaningful time with both parents. . . the developmental stages of children, and what to expect from your child depending on his/ her age. . . the often-confusing ways that children may express their feelings about separation and divorce. . . helpful ideas that can make time sharing and parenting plans work better for your children.
Conciliation and mediation services may be accessed by filing a petition with the Clerk of the Court, or by order of the court.
CONCILIATION is counseling that is provided for those couples who wish to explore ways to increase communication, resolve conflicts and, to improve their marital relationship in the future. Many couples find that conciliation can help them to learn to have a better, stronger relationship. Even couples who later decide to separate often find that this counseling helps to ease the tension and conflict associated with divorce. However, conciliation is only an option when both people want to work on the marriage.
MEDIATION is a private, confidential meeting where parents can explore what is best for the children following a separation or divorce. Mediation provides assistance for parents who are not in agreement regarding issues such as custody, residence or parenting time. The goal of the mediation program is to help parents cooperate together in making decisions about how the children will spend time with both parents following divorce. The mediator will help you address each child's needs in productive ways that may help to resolve these parenting issues in the best interest of the children. Mediation can help parents to communicate more effectively, explore new and creative custody and parenting time options, and work together as parents in ways which can reduce children's pain and feelings of loss during and after divorce. Mediation can also help you learn new ways to understand the problems facing children and to effectively protect them from any conflict that may exist between parents during and after divorce. We hope you will recognize that mediation is a chance to set aside your issues with the marriage and the personal difference between parents in order to make positive, beneficial plans for the physical well-being and emotional health of your children. Even in situations where parents have found past communication difficult because of hurt, anger, or confusion, a skilled mediator can help you to communicate together and reach fair agreements for the sake of the children.