Contested Divorce Lawyer for Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Mesa

Proudly serving clients in Phoenix and the surrounding communities, including Scottsdale, Queen Creek, Peoria, Surprise, Goodyear, Avondale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, and Gilbert


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The legal term for a divorce is dissolution. When the parties agree on all aspects of a dissolution, the divorce is uncontested. Frequently, however, the parties disagree on issues such as debt and property division, child support and/or custody, and spousal maintenance. It is in these situations that an experienced contested divorce lawyer can be helpful.

Divorce Attorney Ronald ThomasIf you are facing a contentious divorce (as the petitioner or the respondent), you likely may be looking for the best divorce lawyer for your case. One who is not afraid to vigorously represent clients. If this is your situation, I invite you to call me.

As a Phoenix contested divorce attorney with over two decades of legal experience, I have the knowledge and skills to vigorously represent clients in highly acrimonious dissolutions. If you are facing a contentious divorce, call Thomas Law Office at (602) 788-1395 to schedule a consultation to learn more about how our firm tenaciously advocates for the rights of our clients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Arizona divorce cases can involve a range of issues that are commonly contested by the parties involved. Some of the most frequently disputed matters include:

  • Property Division. Arizona is a community property state, meaning that assets and debts acquired during a marriage are generally considered to be owned equally by both spouses. However, determining what constitutes community property and how to divide assets and liabilities is often a source of contention in many divorce cases.
  • Child Custody. When divorcing spouses have children, determining custody arrangements can be a highly emotional and hotly contested issue. Arizona courts determine custody based on what is in the best interests of a child, which may involve considering factors such as parenting skills, history of abuse or neglect, the child’s relationship with each parent, and many other factors.
  • Child Support. When one parent is awarded primary physical custody of a child, the other parent is typically required to pay child support. Disputes frequently arise over how much child support should be paid and for how long. This can be compounded if one parent believes the other parent’s income or expenses are being misrepresented.
  • Domestic Violence. If a divorce involves a history of domestic violence, this can complicate many aspects of an Arizona divorce case, including property division, custody, and even the divorce proceedings. In some cases, it may be necessary to pursue a protective order to ensure the safety of one or both parties and any children.

Arizona divorce cases can be difficult and emotionally charged. It is critical for individuals going through a highly contentious divorce to seek the guidance of an experienced Phoenix divorce attorney who can help work toward the desired outcome.

Filing the Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court initiates a dissolution.  The filing party is the “petitioner” and the other party is the “respondent.”

Once those documents are filed, they must be formally delivered, or “served,” to the respondent.  The respondent is required to file with the court and serve to the petitioner, within a specified time, a response to the petition.  A party wishing to contest a divorce must file a Response to the Petition for Dissolution.

If an individual is served with divorce papers in Arizona, he or she generally has 20 days from the date of service to file a written response with the court.[1] The response should be filed with the court that is handling the divorce case, and a copy should be served on their spouse or their spouse’s attorney.


If additional time is needed to file a response, it may be possible to file a motion for an extension of time with the court. This motion should be filed before the twenty-day period has expired, and should explain why the individual needs additional time and how much time is being requested. A judge may grant or deny the motion, depending on the circumstances of a case.


It is critical to take the 20-day response period seriously and to consult with an experienced Arizona divorce attorney as soon as possible after being served with divorce papers. As a Phoenix divorce lawyer with over twenty-five years of legal experience, I help clients understand their legal rights and options in contested divorces, as well as prepare a response crafted to protect their interests.

[1] Instructions: How to respond to divorce papers, Maricopa Superior Court, (If process was served outside of Arizona, a Respondent has 30 days from the date of service to respond.)

If a respondent fails to timely file a response, he or she may waive, or lose, the right to contest the divorce.  The petitioner may ask the court to enter the respondent’s default, which means the court will decide the case without the respondent’s participation.  Should the court enter a default against a respondent, legal strategies are available to possibly “vacate,” or void, the default and provide the respondent with an additional opportunity to file a response and contest the divorce.

Once a respondent files a response, the court may require the parties to attend an Early Resolution Conference or a Resolution Management Conference in an attempt to reach an agreement on the contested issues.  If the parties cannot agree, the court will set a trial date.  After the Response is filed, the  dissolution case then enters the discovery process, which includes depositions, written questions called interrogatories, and document production.  During this phase, the parties gather evidence regarding disputed issues. The dissolution becomes final after the parties settle the contested issues, or post-trial.


What Should I Do If I Am Involved In A Contested Divorce in Arizona?

When an individual is involved in a contested divorce in Arizona, there are several steps that can be taken to protect their rights and interests, including the following:

  • Hire An Experienced Arizona Divorce Lawyer Who Handles Contested Divorces. An experienced attorney in highly contentious divorce proceedings will have an in-depth understanding of laws and regulations surrounding divorce in Arizona. They can help clients navigate complex legal issues, such as property division, spousal support, and child custody. As a Phoenix contested divorce attorney, I can help you understand your legal rights and options, negotiate with your spouse’s attorney, and tenaciously seek the outcome desired by a client in court (if necessary).
  • Gather Critical Documents. To prepare for an Arizona divorce case, it is critical to gather financial documents, such as bank statements, tax returns, investment and stock statements, as well as documentations related to debts.
  • Focus On Communication. While it may be difficult, it is vital to maintain open lines of communication with an ex-spouse, especially if children are involved. If possible, it may be advantageous to come to an agreement on key issues such as property division and child custody, which can help reduce the amount of time and expense involved in a divorce case.
  • Prepare For Court. If an individual is unable to come to an agreement with a spouse, a case may proceed to trial. It is important to be prepared for court by attending all hearings and providing your divorce attorney with all relevant information and documentation.
  • Look Out For Your Well-being. Contested divorces can be stressful and emotionally draining experiences. It is important to take care of yourself by seeking support from friends and family, as well as other professionals (if needed).

Schedule A Consultation With An Experienced Phoenix Contested Divorce Lawyer.

As a contested divorce lawyer serving Phoenix and the surrounding communities, I understand that divorce can be contentious and complex.  I zealously advocate for clients and provide personal attention and care to successfully resolve their contested dissolutions.

If you are facing a contentious divorce involving property division, child custody, support, or other disputes, we invite you to call our office at (602) 788-1395 to schedule a consultation.

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Serving Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Paradise Valley, Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, and the Greater Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan Area