We know you have questions. We have your answers.
*These responses cover most but not every scenario. If you have additional questions or want to discuss your individual case, feel free to contact Curry, Pearson & Wooten P.L.C. We are here to help you.
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My wife and I are getting divorced, and I am concerned about a fair custody agreement—do courts usually favor the mother?
In the last century, courts and judges have often given mothers unquestioned full custody and left fathers in the dust when it comes to custodial arrangements. These cases were based on antiquated psychological studies that led to a legal presumption known as the tender years presumption. This legal mindset—backed by science at the time—assumed that children under the age of sixteen would be harmed if they were taken away from their mother’s care.
Of course since then, science has concluded that children benefit most from equal contact and relationships with both parents. Arizona is one of the few states that has custody laws that support that theory, so your odds at being granted equal custody are good if it is in the best interests of your child. While reaching a co-parenting agreement with your ex-spouse can be challenging at first, in the end, everyone benefits—especially your child.
Another antiquated notion that is fortunately being abandoned over time is that a child’s father should bear the brunt of financial support, both spousal and child. Courts now place a higher priority on ensuring that both parents share the financial burdens fairly.
Seeking Joint Custody? Avoid Court and Reach an Agreement With a Mediator
With the shift toward co-parenting, the methods used to reach these agreements has also shifted. Unlike sole custody, both parties are looking to benefit, so going straight to court can automatically put an air of aggression over the proceedings. Discussing a joint custody and co-parenting agreement can often be solved amicably with a mediator outside of court, which can help your custody agreement get started on the right foot.
For help and advice regarding your child custody matters, our Phoenix family law attorneys can help ensure that your role in your child’s life remains equal and active—contact us today for a free consultation.
My daughter has said that she does not want to live with me, but she is very young and has been confused by the divorce process—will I lose all custody of her because of this?
The weight a court places on a child’s custody wishes depends on several factors, but usually, your child’s wishes will not make or break your bid for custody.
When courts consider custody, there are two primary factors that are considered before all the rest. First, the child’s adjustment to their home and school life is examined. For very young children, moving to a new school district may not impact their lives much at all. New friends can be made, and scholastically, younger children have an easier time adjusting to new teachers and activities. Older children may be more established in sports, extracurriculars, and social circles, so a custody arrangement may be carefully designed to accommodate their life.
The other primary factor considered when determining custody is a child’s own needs. Many children require regular doctor visits or other medical appointments, so a custodial agreement will need to be reached that accommodates those needs, including special care for disabilities or other special needs.
Your concern about your daughter’s wishes is valid, but it is not likely to ruin your chances at a fair custody arrangement. Her age and maturity will be considered, and typically, very young children are not able to make informed decisions on such important matters. Some exceptions where a child’s wants are more heavily weighted involve matters of domestic violence and other criminal record issues.
For more information about child custody matters in Arizona, contact our Phoenix family law attorneys today by filling out our online contact form or calling our downtown office.
My partner and I are seeking to have our marriage annulled; how will custody of our daughter play out?
When a marriage is annulled, it brings about several complications due to the fact that the marriage was never seen as legally valid. One of the primary concerns many parents face is that any children they share may be at the center of tricky custody battles at the result of being born to parents who were never legally wed.
Fortunately, Arizona has some rather forward-thinking laws when it comes to children born outside a legal marriage. Children born to parents of any relationship status are protected by the same guidelines, and if a child has been born out of wedlock, parents will have equal custody of the child once paternity has been determined.
The “presumption of paternity” clause is what can confuse many couples, but it is much simpler than the tricky legalese makes it seem. All you need for paternity to be established outside of marriage is one of the following:
- A birth certificate signed by both the mother and father (the most common method)
- A notarized statement acknowledging paternity signed by the mother and father
- A genetics test showing 95% or greater probability of paternity
- The child was born no more than 10 months after the annulment of the marriage.
Generally speaking, it is easier to prove paternity following annulment than deny it; the burden will lie with the presumed father to prove otherwise.
You may even be able to hammer out the details of child support and custody during your annulment hearing, which can help make an already overwhelming process just a bit easier. If you are seeking to annul your marriage in Arizona but are concerned about what may happen to your children, you do not need to navigate the process alone. The Arizona family law attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten are here to help you; call us today at 602-258-1000 to receive the support and guidance that you need.
My son is not married to the mother of his child, and they are no longer together—how can I guarantee that my grandchild will be able to visit me?
Grandparents’ visitation rights are commonly overlooked, but often a very important topic to discuss. Grandparents that live locally often contribute a great deal of time and money to raising their grandchildren, and develop very strong relationships.
As a grandparent, it can be very difficult when your grandchild’s parents separate. You may fear that you have no legal rights to visit the child since you are not one of his parents, but fortunately, the law recognizes the important role that a grandparent can play in a child’s life.
If you are met with resistance when you discuss visitation with your grandchild, you may be able to request court-ordered visitation. Courts allow this when the child’s parents have been divorced for three months, one of the parents has been missing for three months, or if the child was born to parents who were not married.
The court is primarily interested in the wellbeing of the child, so many things will be considered in your bid for visitation rights. Your existing relationship with the child is the primary concern, followed by how visitation will affect the child’s quality of life in the short and long term. If one of the parents is denying you visitation rights, the court will also consider their side of the story.
In order to request court-ordered visitation, you will need to petition in the child’s county of residence. If you have questions about how to file this petition, or further questions on your rights as a grandparent in Arizona, call our Phoenix family law attorneys today at 602-258-1000. Our experienced child custody lawyers are here to help you navigate the tricky waters of divorce and child custody—call us now to get the answers that you are looking for!
My wife and I are divorcing on good terms, so we would like to avoid litigation and are considering pursuing divorce mediation in Scottsdale. Are there any cost or time benefits associated with this method?
Today, more and more married couples are deciding to separate in an amicable manner, and are looking for a way to proceed with divorce in a manner that does not pit each spouse against each other in traditional litigation.
Mediation is not for every couple, but if you have both decided that you would like to remain on good terms and have a clear-cut idea of how you want to divide your assets, property, or parenting duties, it may be a good choice for you.
The good news with mediation is that it generally costs far less than carrying out a divorce in the Arizona court system. When a couple commits to mediation as a way of ending their union, they are generally in agreement on most key issues in their divorce, and simply need a medium to discuss their wishes in a legal setting.
This also means that the process is much quicker, as couples do not need more time to argue over details of how to proceed. In legal settings, time is money, so mediation is often a win-win for spouses who simply wish to end things in a clean, friendly manner and move forward.
Choosing an experienced Arizona divorce mediator will help ensure that your experience is as fast and cost-effective as possible. A professional that is well-versed in mediation will be able to meet both your needs and the needs of your spouse in an efficient, painless manner. If you are seeking a skilled mediator, contact our Scottsdale family law attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten, PLC today. Call 888-929-5292 or 602-258-1000 for a free consultation now.
I have recently filed for divorce in Arizona, and my spouse is planning to move to a different state. Will this negatively affect our custody hearing?
In very bitter and high-conflict divorces, gaining child custody can turn into a “power play” of sorts. While some parents use custody to gain leverage in divorce proceedings, many parents become so consumed with what they believe is best for the child that they do whatever they feel is necessary to make that happen.
It is not uncommon in Arizona divorces for one spouse to move out of state. Many parents become concerned that should that happen, the spouse in the different state may gain an advantage in a custody hearing should that state has different rules.
In 1980 the United States passed a law, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), which dictated that the home state of the child has jurisdiction over establishing the custodial agreement. This is to prevent parents from “forum shopping,” or finding a state that will offer a more lucrative custody order that may conflict with the initial ruling.
The PKPA also states that taking a child across state lines to gain custody or restrict parental visitation is a federal crime. If after your Arizona child custody hearing your spouse does move out of state, his or her visitation with your child must follow the guidelines expressly laid out in your Arizona custody agreement. Should your spouse take your child out of state against the custody order, he or she could possible face felony charges under the Fugitive Felon Act.
Your children mean the world to you, and a divorce and custody agreement should not compromise your legally named visitation rights. If you are concerned about your spouse moving across state lines, contact the Phoenix child custody lawyers at Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 866.929.5292.
What should I do with our credit cards if I’m getting divorced in Arizona?
Responsibility for debt, including credit card debt, is divided in a divorce much like property. However, credit cards can represent some unique difficulties, especially if both spouses used the card or if you held a joint account.
Because Arizona is a community property state, you can be held responsible for paying off credit card charges your spouse made during the marriage. This may even be the case if the credit card account was not in your name or was set up as a joint account. Because so much depends on your individual situation, you will need to work with your spouse and your Phoenix divorce lawyer to determine how that debt will be handled in your divorce.
Keep in mind, however, that most credit card companies will continue to hold you responsible for any money owed on an account attached to your name. Even if the court has ordered that your spouse pay that portion of the debt, you could be subject to collection actions if your spouse fails to make those payments.
If you are getting divorced in Arizona and need help separating assets, reach out to a friendly and experienced Phoenix family law attorney today at 1-888-929-5292 for guidance. We understand that divorce is often a difficult and confusing process, and we are here to stand by your side from beginning to end.
If you would like to learn more about who we are and what we do, please also request your completely free copy of our helpful book Arizona Family Law - How to Handle Tough Issues in Tough Times.
What happens to my personal injury settlement in an Arizona divorce?
Although, in some ways, community property laws make some things a lot simpler, determining what is and is not community property can still be a complex and daunting process. And something like a personal injury settlement awarded during a marriage is an excellent example of how confusing this can become.
For the most part, how your personal injury settlement is classified in the divorce will depend on the types of damages you were awarded and how that money was handled afterwards. For example, damages for lost wages might be considered community property, but damages for pain and suffering might be considered separate property. Additionally, if you later used part of that settlement to pay off the mortgage or invest in an account you both own, that money may now be considered community or commingled property and divided in the divorce.
If you are concerned about commingled assets or need help separating assets in an Arizona divorce, seek the advice of a skilled professional. Call Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 1-888-929-5292 to speak with a Phoenix divorce lawyer who can help. We’d be happy to meet with you in a completely free, no-pressure consultation to discuss your divorce concerns.
If you are interested in learning more about how a Phoenix family law attorney can help you and your loved ones, we invite you to take a look at our FREE book Arizona Family Law – How to Handle Tough Issues in Tough Times. Just give us a call or fill out our online contact form to request your copy today.
What’s the difference between community and separate property when you’re getting divorced in Arizona?
As a Phoenix divorce lawyer, I know how important it is to address dividing property during a divorce. If you’re getting divorced in Arizona, you’ve probably heard the terms “community” property or “separate” property thrown around. Arizona is what is known as a “community property” state, which essentially means that you and your spouse are each entitled to half of the income and assets accumulated during your marriage. Anything that was yours before the marriage generally remains yours if it was kept separate throughout the marriage.
- Community property includes income, real estate, vehicles, furnishings, etc. that you obtained during your marriage.
- Separate property includes any property that was inherited, you received as a gift, or that was yours before the marriage.
Although it should be straightforward, it can get complicated when money or items fall into a “gray area” between community and separate property. This is usually referred to as “commingling,” and a good example of this might be a bank account that was yours before the marriage, but now contains income earned during the marriage.
If you need help dividing property after a divorce in Phoenix, speak with an experienced Phoenix family law attorney with Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 1-888-929-5292. We would be happy to meet with you in a complete FREE, no-pressure consultation to address your divorce concerns.
We are also offering a completely FREE copy of our helpful book Arizona Family Law – How to Handle Tough Issues in Tough Times, which you can request by giving us a call or using the online contact form on this page. Thanks for stopping by!
Is alimony the same thing as child support in Phoenix?
These two terms are often confused, and many people believe that these payments are the same thing or are combined. However, alimony (called “spousal support” in Arizona) is different from child support, and the payments are decided separately during your Phoenix divorce.
What is Child Support?
Child support is a court-ordered, periodic payment from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the purpose of supporting and raising the child or children. In some cases, child support may be ordered in shared custody.
What is Alimony?
Alimony, referred to as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance” in Arizona, is a court-ordered, periodic payment from one spouse to another during and/or after a divorce. These payments are designed to help divorced spouses support themselves, especially if that spouse lacks job skills or has been out of the workforce during the marriage.
Many factors figure into who pays spousal support to whom, how much is paid, and for how long. If you need more specific information about spousal support, child support, or divorce in Arizona, speak with an experienced Phoenix divorce lawyer today at 1-888-929-5292. We’d be happy to schedule a completely free, no-obligation legal consultation to discuss your concerns.
For more information about divorce and other family legal issues, please request your FREE copy of our helpful book Arizona Family Law – How to Handle Tough Issues in Tough Times. Just give us a call or fill out the online contact form on this page. Thanks for stopping by!