Are you considering a divorce but are concerned about your children? We're here to help
We serve the following areas of family law practice:
The majority of Arizona residents are affected by family law issues. In order to make the best decisions for your family in a family law case, you will need the advice and guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable advocate.
Arizona family law attorneys work closely with clients going through divorce, child custody and visitation issues, modifications, and other issues. We can also assist with establishing paternity, making legal decisions, prenuptial agreements, and same-sex divorce.
The Various Areas of Family Law in Arizona
Divorce without Involvement of Children
Divorces without minor children have the potential to be less contentious. Even if you are not divorcing because of minor children, you must still address how your property and debts will be divided between you and your spouse. Depending on the facts of your case, spousal maintenance or support may also be an issue.
Divorces without children in Arizona can be contested or uncontested. The divorce process can be relatively quick if you and your spouse agree on how to divide your property and debts, as well as all other issues. If your spouse refuses to sign a settlement agreement, you may have to take the matter to court.
If you and your spouse have been married for a long time and have no children, you may have accumulated substantial assets. We have handled high-net-worth divorces and gray divorces and are ready to help you with your case.
Divorce involving children
If you have children with your spouse and want to divorce, you must address all child custody issues as well as property/debt division and spousal support. In an Arizona divorce with children, legal decision-making authority, parenting time, child support, property division, debt division, and possibly spousal support must all be addressed.
Divorcing with children necessitates the filing of additional legal documents with the court, as well as the fulfillment of other requirements that are not required in cases without children.
Attorneys can help you navigate the divorce process and reach an agreement that resolves all outstanding issues. We are also prepared to litigate on our clients' behalf in contested divorces in order to secure an outcome that protects their interests and is in the best interests of their children.
Establishment and Modification of Child Custody and Parenting Time
While many people believe that child custody only refers to where a child lives, it encompasses much more. A variety of factors are considered by courts when determining child custody and parenting time.
Custody, also known as legal decision-making in Arizona, refers to which parent will have authority over their children's religious upbringing, education, and medical needs. Legal decisions can be made jointly or solely by one parent.
The amount of time the children will spend with each parent is referred to as parenting time. Parents may share parenting time equally, or children may spend more time with one parent, with the other receiving regular visitation.
Legal decision-making authority and parenting time are always decided in the best interests of the children rather than either parent's.
A variety of factors are considered by courts when determining child custody and parenting time. We can help you understand the factors at play and how they may apply to your child custody case. Our child custody attorneys can also assist you and your children in developing a parenting plan.
How To Establish Paternity
When a child's parents are not married, the man is not automatically assumed to be the father. Establishing paternity refers to the process of determining a child's father. It is also the first step in obtaining child support or asserting parental rights for unmarried people.
He will not have enforceable rights to child custody unless he proves his paternity. A mother cannot obtain a child support order against an unmarried father until she establishes that he is the biological father of her child.
Unmarried fathers must establish paternity if they want reasonable parenting time and decision-making authority over their children. Paternity can be established by either signing an acknowledgment of paternity or filing a paternity petition in court.
Following the filing of a petition, the court may order DNA testing of both the putative father and the child to determine whether or not the man is the child's father. Once his paternity is established, the court will issue child support orders, and the father can file petitions for child custody and visitation rights with the help of an attorney.
Child Support Calculation and Modification
In Arizona, both parents are expected to contribute financially to their child's upbringing. If you have a child with someone with whom you do not live, child support may be an issue. In the courts, child support guidelines are in place to determine the appropriate amount of support that should be ordered in a specific case.
In general, child support is calculated by taking into account the number of children involved, the parties' incomes, the allocation of parenting time, the cost to a parent of providing health insurance for the children, the cost of childcare, any special needs a child may have, and other factors.
Child support attorneys can help you calculate how much child support you are entitled to or ordered to pay. If special circumstances warrant it, we can also argue for deviations from the guideline amount.
Divorce for same-sex couples and other legal issues
When same-sex couples divorce, they may face unique property division, custody, and child support issues. Because same-sex marriage has only been legal in Arizona for a few years, many long-term same-sex couples may have amassed substantial assets prior to their marriages.
This can lead to complications during the property division phase of the divorce. Similarly, child custody issues may arise when a child is the biological child of one parent but not the other.
Establishment and Modification of Spousal Support
When you divorce, you or your spouse may ask for spousal support. Even if your income is significantly lower than your spouse's, requesting spousal support does not ensure that it will be granted by the court.
In any spousal maintenance case, the first step is determining whether a spouse is legally entitled to support. When one spouse does not have enough property or earning ability to meet their reasonable needs, spousal maintenance may be awarded.
Spousal maintenance may also be awarded when one spouse contributes to the earning ability or career of the other spouse or makes career sacrifices for the benefit of the other spouse. The length of the marriage and whether a spouse is too old to work will also be considered by the Court.
Arizona law requires the court to consider thirteen (13) separate statutory factors when determining how much and for how long support should be awarded.
Following the determination of entitlement, the appropriate amount and duration of the maintenance or support award must be determined. Because judges have broad discretion on the issue, good, creative lawyering has a good chance of producing a better result.
When a spousal support order is issued, the payor spouse is required to continue making the payments as directed or face being held in contempt of court.
If you believe spousal support may be an issue in your divorce, you should consult with an attorney. We can help you understand the various factors at play and reach an agreement with your spouse.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Contracts
Prenuptial agreements are contracts that are drafted prior to the marriage of a couple. People can enter into postnuptial agreements after they marry. These agreements can be used in the event of a divorce to keep certain types of property separate and to determine whether a spouse is eligible for spousal support.
In order to be valid, an antenuptial agreement cannot contain any unconscionable provisions. The parties must also have fully disclosed their finances and debts to each other and cannot have obtained the other party's agreement through coercion or duress.
People who bring substantial assets into their marriages may benefit from a prenuptial agreement. The agreement can state which assets will remain the sole property of each spouse even if they are used by both during the marriage. If properly drafted, a prenuptial agreement can make property division much easier in the event of a divorce.
Division of Community Property
During the divorce process, determining who will receive what is a common task. Things can get complicated when both parties do not agree to divide assets equally.
In each case, the factors of "separate property" versus "community property" - meaning that both spouses have equal rights to the item - come into play.
Because Arizona is a Community Property state, the courts must divide assets fairly and equally unless a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is established. Real estate (houses and land), business assets, and even debt were all included. This is when the services of an experienced family law attorney are typically required.
Protection and Restraining Orders
Orders of Protection in Arizona are intended to keep subjects from harassing or harming specific people or groups of people.
Another type of Restraining Order of Protection in Arizona is an injunction against harassment. To prevent the restrained party from harassing the protected party, a harassment injunction can be issued against any non-qualifying third party. This is common in divorce cases.
Individuals who violate the order of protection will face criminal charges. Because there are numerous factors to consider when filing a restraining order, it is best to consult with our lawyers to ensure that everything is done correctly.
Adoption and Parental Rights Termination
Adoption is one of our family law attorneys' least contentious areas of practice.
We can assist you in navigating the adoption process, whether you want to adopt a child through an adoption agency, foster care, or a family adoption. We also help with step-parent adoptions and the termination of parental rights for disinterested, unfit, or uninvolved parents.
Our adoption services can help you understand the requirements for adopting a child, as well as whether a home study is required.
Adoption does not require step-parents to be certified. In contrast, the child's other parent must either consent to the adoption or have his or her parental rights terminated.