Friday, August 31, 2012

Maintain your records

In most Family Law matters at some point you will need to prepare an Affidavit of Financial Information.  This is essentially a snap shot of your financial status at that point in time, providing your monthly living expenses, your monthly income, and your debts.

You must also include a copy of your last several paycheck stubs, showing your gross and net income, and deductions.  Often the information must be deciphered, to identify what a particular deduction is for, i.e., health insurance, life insurance, short or long term disability, 401(K) or other retirement, etc.

You must also attach copies of your prior three years tax returns.  My suggestion would be to include your W-2's, especially if any of the returns were joint returns, so your annual income can be more readily identified.

Maintaining your personal records in an orderly manner will assist you when you have to prepare an Affidavit of Financial Information.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Beware of Delay

Many clients wind up being unsuccesful in obtaining the relief that they desire from the legal system due to their delay in initiating action.

Statutes of limitation are laws which impose a deadline by which you must take action.  Unfortunately it can also happen that a ruling from one of the two divisions of the Arizona Court of Appeals establishes a precedent that the plain reading of a particular statute, or the facts and circumstances of a different fact pattern, would seem to cry out for a different result.

Family Court judges take an oath to follow the law in their rulings, even though their personal beliefs as to the result from a particular matter or fact pattern may differ from the rulings of an appellate court.  The only relief would be an appeal to a court of appeals, hoping for a change in the law.

The lesson is to not sit on your rights, or causes of action, as delay may result in an unfavorable result.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Take care of thiose who depend on you

Unfortunately many of us put off preparing our wills, or other estate planning tools until it is too late.

A young couple, especially one with children, should at the very least have prepared wills, and the supporting power of attorney documents, to protect one another and their families in the event of an accident that incapacitates them.

Young parents should reflect upon who they wish to care for their children in the event of a common accident.  They should also determine who would best protect the financial resources of the children.  This might be the same person, but then it might not be, and it is imperative that a couple discuss these important issues.

If you are in a common accident, your medical powers of attorney should reflect whom you would want to make medical decisions on your behalf.  Think these things through and talk about them between yourselves.

We all think that accidents will only happen to "the other guy".  Planning ahead can only make the circumstance better for your children, and extended family.  It is important to let your wishes be known, in writing.  That's what a will can do for parents of children under 18.

Friday, August 10, 2012

When you want to call or meet with your attorney

It happens to all of us.  We finally have the opportunity to speak to someone so we can have our questions answered.  Then the burning questions, the information we have been so anxious for, simply flies from our minds.

Do yourself a favor, and write those questions down.  Then not only will you have your answers, but you will get them in an orderly fashion, without having to search your memory.  And by the way, this little tip can save you fees, expediting your time with your attorney, or his or her staff!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Coming changes to the language of cases involving children

The State legislature has made some important changes to the words we use when the parties to a dissolution have common minor children.

Effective January 1, 2013 we will be talking about "legal decision making", "joint legal decision making", "sole legal decision making" rather than a designation of "custody", and much of the language we have used in family law matters will be changing.

We attorneys will be studying the changes to prepare for the future, and how to best represent our clients.

Friday, June 15, 2012

How does the court determine Custody in the State of Arizona

The Court looks at several factors when determining Sole or Joint Custody.  They are as follows:

1. Whether or not the parents can agree on joint custody
2. If there is no agreement, why. Is it reasonable or is it influenced by another issue that does not involve the best interest if the child(ren).
3. Can the parents cooperate in making decisions regarding the child(ren)
4. Is it logistically possible?
5. What do the parents want?
6. The are the wishes of the child(ren)?
7. The child's relationship with other family members or other people that may affect by the child's best interest.
8. Child's adjustment to home, community and school.
9. The health of  parties, this includes mental health.
10. Who will allow frequent and  meaningful contact.
11. Who has been the primary caregiver.
12. Has there been any coercion of duress in obtaining an agreement.
13. Have the parties taken the parenting class.
14. Has there been domestic violence or child abuse as defined in 25-403.03.

When the court rules on custody, they have to make specific findings based on the above to justify their ruling.

See our website at for further information or to request an appointment.

Source: A.R.S. 25-403.01 and 25-403

Friday, June 8, 2012

What is custody in the state of Arizona?

1. Custody means who make the legal decisions regarding the minor child(ren). These are education, religion and medical decisions.
2. Sole custody means one parent makes all of the decisions.
3. Joint custody means both parents makes the all of the legal decisions with the other parent.
4. This is not how much time each parent spends with the child(ren).
Source is A.R.S. Section 25-402

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Basic tips when going through a divorce.

1. No matter how mean or unreasonable your future ex-wife or your ex-husband is being you always want to be nice as you can be. It makes you look better in court especially if you have young children because you have to deal with this person for the rest of your life whether you like it or not because you will be co-parenting.

2. Do not blog about your divorce, or discuss your situation on any social networking site, including Facebook, Twitter or Myspace. The posts can be used against you in court and create animosity between you and the other parent.

3. Be careful when talking over the phone to the future ex-spouse. You may be recorded and those recordings can be used against you in court. The other person does not need to inform you, nor ask your permission.

4. If your future ex-spouse offers parenting time that is not scheduled, take it, unless you absolutely can not because you are working and would just have to place them with a babysitter. If you do not take the children whenever you can, it will look bad in court.

5. Be an open book with all information. If the ex-spouse asks for a documentation and you are the only person that has access to it, then give it to them. If you hide something you are at risk for paying for the other party's attorney's fees.

6. If you and the future ex-spouse are living separately, make sure you keep in contact with the children's teachers and doctors. You can not rely on the other party to provide that information to you. You have to go after the information yourself.

7. Be careful when texting and emailing the future ex-spouse because they can be printed and be used against you in court to show either inappropriate behavior or to show that you can co-parent the children.