Response to a Petition for Dissolution (of a Covenant Marriage) With Minor Children

What is a Response to a Petition for Dissolution of a Covenant Marriage With Minor Children?

This document is your opportunity to respond to the Petition for Dissolution of a Covenant Marriage that was filed by the other party, known as the Petitioner. Arizona will grant dissolution of a covenant marriage only when one of the following is true:

  • You and your spouse were granted a separation and have been separated for one year or
  • The Petitioner (your spouse ) can prove that the Respondent (you):
    • Committed adultery
    • Abused drugs or alcohol, to such an extent that the marriage became intolerable
    • Assaulted the petitioner, any children or other family members
    • Abandoned the petitioner for  one year, and refused to return
    • Was sentenced to death or imprisoned for a major felony or
    • You and the Petitioner agreed to a divorce.

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What are My Options for the Response?

As the Respondent, you must respond to allegations of fault. You have three choices of how to respond:

  • Counter petition grounds (stating, for instance, that the Petitioner committed adultery)
  • Deny the grounds
  • Admit to the alleged grounds

The process is simplified if you have both agreed to a separation and have been separated for one year or more. But you will still want to respond to any allegations in the Petition, present your own allegations (if you have any) and bring up any other issues you would like the court to address. The Response is your first opportunity to tell your side of the story and protect your interests in the divorce.

How Long Do I Have?

You have 20 days to file a response if you live in Arizona. If you live outside the state, you have 30 days. It’s important to remember these time periods begin the day you were served and include weekends and holidays. If you do not file within the stated period, the Petitioner may then file an Application for Default, asking the court to grant every request in the Petition.

Are you thinking of not filing a Response at all?  Learn why we advise you to file a Response.

Things to Consider While Creating Your Response Document

Some attorneys and people representing themselves in family court will draft a response by admitting or denying each point of Petition. We recommend you affirmatively state 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 to leave yourself room for changing your position. Later, you can change and refine your position.

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