What is a Response to Petition for Dissolution With Children?
This document is your opportunity to respond to the Petition for Dissolution of a Non-Covenant Marriage that was filed by the other party. In your Response, you can agree or disagree with each of the allegations in the Petition, present your own allegations, and have the opportunity to bring up other issues that you would like the court to address. This is your first opportunity to tell your side of the story.
File this Response Only If…
- Your spouse filed a Petition for Dissolution of a Marriage with Children, and
- You want to file a Response with the Court saying you disagree with something your spouse stated or asked for in the Petition or want to make an appearance in the case to avoid default, and
- You and your spouse have minor (under 18 years old) children or the wife is pregnant by the husband.
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What is It?
The Response outlines whether or not you agree with the allegations in the Petition including your position on the major issues like custody (legal decision making and parenting time) and all of the financial issues.
When Do I File a Response?
If you live in the state of Arizona, you have 20 days from the date of service to file your Response (including weekends and holidays). If you live outside the state, you have 30 days to file a Response.
We do not recommend ignoring the Petition. If you do not file your Response within the specified timeframe, the Petitioner may then file an Application for Default, requesting that the court grant all demands of the Petition. Learn more about the consequences of not filing a response here.
What Do I Do?
If you are not sure exactly how you would like to respond or what you would like to have happen, consider asking for an “equitable” distribution of debt and property.
If you are not sure whether or not to seek spousal maintenance, err on the side of caution and request “reasonable maintenance.”
Then, as you gather for information you can further refine your position.
What Do I Need?
You should have the Petition available for reference when creating your response as well as basic demographic information like your
- Date of marriage
- Information regarding your minor children
You should also have a basic idea about the debts and assets that have been accumulated during the marriage and anything you or your spouse brought into the marriage. Other issues to be aware of include any gifts or inheritance received.
Tips For Filing
Many attorneys will draft a response by admitting or denying the Petition in each paragraph. So if the Petition said, “So-and-so asks for sole legal decision-making,” the response would say, “I disagree with Petitioner’s position.” We recommend you draft your Response more like a counter-petition. Consider affirmatively stating your entire position as opposed to simply admitting or denying or agreeing or disagreeing with what was presented in the Petition. That way your Response can be viewed on its own and not only when the Petition is present.
Also consider keeping the initial Response somewhat vague and general (i.e. “I am requesting an equitable division of assets and debts”) to leave yourself room for changing your position. Later, you can change and refine your position. You may be surprised to learn there are assets or debts you were unaware of when you filed.
Sign in to your Access Legal account to see the professional legal documents you can create today. If you are unsure what assets or debts exist, consider using the discovery requests, also available through your free Access Legal account. There is no charge until you’re ready to purchase a document, and some documents are completely free.