In an Arizona divorce case where the parties both reside in this state, the divorce case will usually be filed in the county of the filing party’s residence. The case could be filed in the other party’s residence. But if there are children involved, the proper county is usually the county where the children spend most of their time. If the spouses both reside in Arizona and in the same county, then it usually does not matter which court location the case will be filed in.
For example, in Maricopa County, the case can be filed at any of the court’s four main locations: downtown Phoenix, Northeast Phoenix, Mesa, or Surprise. But the case will be assigned to the court where the filing party or the filing party’s attorney (if the party is represented) is located. This is an important decision to make. The court bases the courthouse to which it assigns the case on the relevant zip code. For example, if you reside in central Phoenix but your attorney has an office in Mesa, your attorney may prefer that you file your case downtown in your own name if your attorney believes that in your particular case you would be better off with one of the downtown judges.
The attorney would then enter a notice of appearance in the case after the case has been assigned to the strategically determined courthouse. Regardless of which Arizona County you or the other party resides in, the case must be filed in the Superior Court. Justice Courts do not have the authority to hear family law cases in Arizona. Nor do Municipal Courts have the legal authority to hear family law cases in Arizona. One notable exception is Orders of Protection. Orders of Protection are known as “restraining orders” in many other states. These restraining orders can be filed in virtually any court in Arizona, Superior, Justice, or Municipal. But if you are filing the case to address custody, parenting time, division of assets, debts, or other such issues, you must file in the Superior Court of the proper county in Arizona.
Is A Jury Trial Permitted For A Divorce Case In Arizona?
A jury trial is not permitted in Arizona divorce and custody trials. The judge will alone decide the issues in your Arizona divorce or custody case. There are a minority of jurisdictions that allow jury trials in divorce custody cases, but most states do not permit juries to get involved in these kinds of decisions. That is unfortunate. Especially in contentious child custody cases, it may be advantageous to one or both parties to have a jury of their peers decide who the better parent is in order to have the majority of the time with the child and the right to make important decisions pertaining to that child.
In Arizona, judges often rotate between the different Superior Court divisions, family, civil, criminal, juvenile, and probate. They do this in part because they can get emotionally drained from presiding over acrimonious custody and child support cases. But by rotating between different divisions, they can become rusty on the laws, rules, and standards that pertain to family law cases. Permitting jury trials would relieve them of much of the burden of making these often difficult decisions, enabling them to remain on the family court bench longer so that their expertise can be used to handle procedural and technical issues that are outside the scope of a jury’s authority.
Juries in Arizona usually consist of at least six people. These people are more likely to give your case a fresh look than a burned-out judge who is jaded and tired of all the bickering and fighting that goes on in family court. They will go to the jury room after the trial and debate among themselves what the best solution is. This committee style decision is often a better process than having one single, albeit learned, individual make all the decisions that will affect your life. But do not be alarmed. Most family court judges in Arizona try their best to make the best possible decisions no matter how sick and tired they may be of having to preside over family court cases.
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