Petitions for Conciliation Counseling; Arizona’s Free Marriage Counseling
In Arizona, either spouse may file with their local Superior Court a Petition for Conciliation Counseling prior to or during a pending dissolution action. See A.R.S. § 25-381.18. A Petition for Conciliation Services Counseling is free to file. The purpose of the Petition is to afford married couples free counseling to determine if there is a desire to save their marriage and/or resolve differences.
A few basic requirements must be true before a Petition for Conciliation Counseling can be filed. First, you must be legally married in accordance with Arizona Law. See A.R.S. § 25-101. Next, you or your spouse either have or have not filed a petition for divorce, legal separation or annulment. Finally, you must want to try and reconcile (get back together) or resolve the issues in your case with your spouse.
If a Petition for Dissolution has yet been filed, during a period beginning on the filing of a Petition for Conciliation Counseling and continuing sixty (60) days after the filing of said Petition, neither spouse is permitted to file any action for annulment, dissolution of marriage or legal separation. See A.R.S. § 25-381.18.
Moreover, if a Petition for Conciliation Counseling is filed by a spouse after an action for Dissolution (Divorce) has been filed with the Court, that proceeding will be “stayed" until the case transferred to conciliation court for hearing and further disposition until such time the at least one (1) requested counseling session has transpired.
It is important to note however, that although a dissolution action may be stayed until completion of conciliation counseling, any support of maintenance or custody orders previously issued by the Court remain in full force and effect unless vacated or modified by the parties through conciliation court or expire otherwise on their own terms.
Finally, as to muddy the waters further, after a spouse has filed an action for annulment, dissolution of marriage, or legal separation, if more than sixty (60) days have lapsed since the other spouse was “served" with the same, neither spouse, without the consent of the other may file a Petition for Conciliation Counseling as long as the domestic relations case (annulment, dissolution of marriage, or legal separation) remains pending, unless it appears to the Court that the filing will not delay the orderly processes of the pending action. Id.
The very detailed procedural technicalities listed above may be confusing for some. Therefore, our Firm is proud to offer free consultations on the subject. Contact Ryan M. Reppucci, today to schedule your appointment