Divorce

& Family Law Attorneys in Arizona

infographic: top reasons people get divorced

Divorce can be emotionally devastating.  You are ending what may be a years-long marriage, and what almost certainly represented the hope of something more. Getting un-married can also be financially devastating.  Also, you may have given up your job to care for children or your home while your spouse worked.  Even if you did work, your spouse may have made more than you did, providing the majority of support.

When you go your own way, you may find yourself scrambling to find a job, worried about how to afford your own place, and having to buy new furniture and other household items.  If you have children, you may not have the means to support them on your own.  Plus, you may now have to worry about health insurance and car insurance.  Perhaps you need to get your own cell phone plan.

A Mesa divorce lawyer can help you protect your rights and fight for a settlement that allows you to continue living the type of life to which you were accustomed and to provide for yourself.  An experienced divorce attorney will get you the results you seek.  Call and set up a free consultation with one of our Arizona family law attorneys today.

In addition, a divorce lawyer can help you fight for a fair division of assets, an alimony settlement and child support that helps you provide for your children.

Divorce Law Services in Arizona

CHOOSING A DIVORCE ATTORNEY IN ARIZONA

Arizona custody attorney
Choosing a divorce attorney is an important part of a successful divorce.  It seems like many people are looking for a “bulldog” attorney or an attorney who is aggressive, a fighter, and no nonsense.  When our Arizona family law staff hear this (and we often do), it makes us shudder.  Talented attorneys, like those on our staff at My AZ Lawyers, don’t need to unnecessarily fight or sling mud in order to achieve a successful outcome to a divorce.
We are by no means saying that our attorneys won’t vigorously represent our client, we just know that as divorce attorneys we must separate feelings and emotions in order to achieve the best outcome for our clients.  Additionally, our family law team has represented thousands of people in Arizona who were filing for divorce.

THE MY AZ LAWYERS DIFFERENCE

The exceptional results that we get are due to our knowledge of not only the Arizona family laws, but also to the fact that we are in front of the same judges case after case.  Therefore, with all of the face time that we get in front of these judges we get to know their preferences and stances on the multitude of family issues.  Additionally, our large staff make notes of not only the judges but also of the many opposing attorneys that we face. Our attorneys and staff compile all of these notes which gives our clients an upper hand when filing a divorce in Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and Tucson, Arizona.

ARIZONA DIVORCE TERMS AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

ANSWER: 

Divorce is the legal dissolution of marriage. Once your divorce decree is finalized, your marriage is officially over. About 50% of first marriages end in divorce, with that percentage increasing for subsequent marriages. Arizona is a community property state, meaning both spouses have rights and obligations for most debts and assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the paperwork. Divorce usually also involves splitting up these assets and determining child support and custody.

ANSWER: 

You can always proceed with a legal matter in pro per, or without an attorney. For couples who are splitting amicably, this may be a viable option. If you have only been married a short while, you don’t have significant assets, and you don’t have children, your case may be relatively simple enough to file without an attorney. If you foresee a custody battle, want to request child support or alimony, or have significant assets to divvy up between you and your ex, you may want to hire an attorney.

ANSWER: 

Your attorney should hopefully be more knowledgeable about family law and court procedures than you are. They will also be able to file documents for you electronically, whereas you may be required to file your documents in person at the courthouse. While you may be able to file a divorce on your own, it could cost you more in the long run if your assets aren’t split favorably and you end up with years of alimony and child support payments. If your spouse has an attorney and you don’t, you are entering the proceedings at a huge disadvantage. If you have an attorney and your spouse doesn’t, you will have the advantage. Hiring an attorney when your spouse also has one ensures you are at least on an equal playing field.

ANSWER: 

To divorce your spouse, you will be required to file a divorce petition and have it served on your spouse. In Arizona, your spouse has 20 days to respond to the petition. If your spouse agrees to all the terms of the divorce, they can file a consent decree. They can also simply not respond at all. If this is the case, your next step is to file a request for default. The court will order the divorce under the terms of the petition you filed.

ANSWER: 

Paternity needs to be established before a father has the obligation or right to pay or receive child support and have visitation with the child. Getting the results from a paternity test should only take a few business days at most. However, if the parents of the child in question aren’t on good terms, they may need to get paternity testing through their local child support office. This will need to be court-ordered and will take much longer than a voluntary paternity test.

ANSWER: 

Physical custody is having the child live with you, while legal custody is decision-making authority on behalf of the child. Both legal and physical custody can be classified as sole or joint. Sole custody means only one parent has that type of custody, while joint refers to both parents. It is possible for custody agreements to be sole legal custody with joint physical custody, or vice versa.

ANSWER: 

If the parents can’t agree during mediation or informally on how much child support is to be paid, the court will have to decide. The guidelines for calculating child support can vary by jurisdiction, circumstances, and can even be left up to a judge’s discretion. The judge will have tables showing an acceptable range for support payments based on the case details. Factors the judge will consider include the needs of the children (healthcare, education, etc.), the paying parent’s income or ability to earn an income, the needs and income of the custodial parent, and the child’s lifestyle before the parents divorced or separated.

ANSWER: 

A legal separation, unlike a divorce, doesn’t legally terminate the marriage. It is an option commonly utilized by couples who aren’t completely sure yet that they want to divorce, or for those who can’t afford financially to divorce. You can still ordered to pay alimony during a separation, and child support and custody orders will be put in place if minor children are involved. You will still legally be married after a period of legal separation.

ANSWER: 

Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you don’t need to have a specific reason to file divorce.  You can cite “irreconcilable differences” on your divorce petition.

ANSWER: 

You will first want to consult attorneys to learn your legal rights and steps you will need to take on a case-specific basis. You will need to tell the attorney what you want out of the divorce and parenting order so they know how to draft your petition. Your paperwork will be filed with the court and will need to be served on your spouse. Your spouse will either respond with their own demands, or the judge will issue a default ruling based on your petition. You may  need to attend parenting classes, mediations, or go to court.

ANSWER: 

While your spouse won’t be financially penalized just for having an affair, you may be compensated for extravagant purchases by your spouse leading up to the divorce. Lavish gifts for a mistress, gambling expenses, and other fraudulent attempts to dispose of marital property can qualify as marital waste. The purchases must have been made with the intention of defrauding their spouse while divorce was imminent.

ANSWER: 

One parent can’t simply flee the state to avoid paying child support. The custodial will still be able to collect child support due to the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (RURESA). One way the custodial parent can enforce support is by registering their current child support order with the county where the other parent moved. In this method, the noncustodial parent has the opportunity to argue to the court that their child support should be lower. The custodial parent can also move to enforce the order in their home state, and the court will notify the courts in the other parent’s new state to withhold their wages to pay the child support. The parent won’t have the opportunity to argue that their support should be lower, but their new state may choose to withhold less than the ordered amount from their paychecks. They will still be liable for the unpaid balance in their home state.

ANSWER: 

Arizona is a no-fault divorce state. That means that in most cases, the fact that your spouse cheated is of no benefit to you. However, if you had a prenuptial agreement, it may be affected by your spouse’s cheating. Many prenuptial agreements are invalidated because of infidelity, or the victimized party will be entitled to more assets in the divorce. You will likely need to prove the infidelity in the court in this situation.

ANSWER: 

Alimony was originally intended to be spousal support the husband pays the wife after a divorce. Times have changed, and alimony can go both ways now. If one spouse earns far more than the other spouse, the court will be more likely to award alimony. The length of time the spouse is required to pay alimony will depend on how long the couple was married before divorcing. Other factors the court will consider are if one spouse sacrificed their career or education for the sake of the other spouse’s career or education. This includes staying home from work to raise children, allowing the other spouse to focus on their career.

ANSWER: 

A guardian ad litem is a neutral third party appointed by the court to represent the interests of the child in a custody matter. One or both parties can be ordered to pay the expense for the guardian ad litem. Having a guardian ad litem assigned to your case will likely extend your case 90-120 days to allow time for the guardian’s investigation.

My ARIZONA Divorce Lawyers

The attorneys at My AZ Lawyers in Glendale have the experience and training to help you through the divorce process and to fight for the settlement you need.  Our family law lawyers at My AZ Lawyers have experience and dedication.  Furthermore, our divorce attorneys serve clients in Glendale, Mesa, Gilbert, Avondale, Tucson, Phoenix and Chandler.

Additionally, a Tucson family lawyer can help you not only with the financial aspects of your divorce, but also the logistical details.  An attorney can help you work out a custody agreement and help you with the details of keeping your last name, among other things.  Having an experienced family law team on your side can make all the difference.

Contact My AZ Lawyers today to find out how our divorce attorneys may be able to help you work through this difficult transition and ensure that you have what you need to start again.  

ARIZONA DIVORCE MYTHS UNCOVERED

Myths and Truths Regarding Getting Divorced Arizona

Divorce Myths and Fallacies

Our Experienced Arizona Family Attorneys set some wide spread false statements straight.

DIVORCE TRUTH:

While cheating on your spouse may hurt your relationship with far more people than just your spouse, Arizona is a no fault divorce state. Your infidelity will have no impact on your divorce (unless you are in a covenant marriage, or have a prenuptial agreement with an infidelity clause). Adultery will have no impact on custody unless the adultery has a direct negative effect on the child’s well being- e.g., the parent is inappropriately intimate with the affair partner in front of the child, or the child is a frequent witness to the affair partner’s drinking problem. Otherwise, the court will start with the assumption that 50/50 custody is best for the child, regardless of either parent’s adultery.

DIVORCE TRUTH:

There is no requirement that you get divorced in the same state in which you were married. Each state has different residency requirements, or the minimum amount of time you must live in a state before you are eligible to file divorce there. In Arizona, the residency requirement is 90 days for a divorce. However, a child must reside in the state for 6 months before Arizona has jurisdiction over child custody and support matters.

DIVORCE TRUTH:

Arizona is a community property state, meaning everything acquired during a marriage- even 401K’s and retirement account savings- are divided between the spouses upon divorce. A 401k will be divided using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO. Determining how much each spouse is entitled to out of a 401K can be complicated, and is best left to an experienced family law attorney.

DIVORCE TRUTH:

Alimony is decided based on many factors, and gender isn’t one of them. The court will look to factors like each spouse’s income, the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the earning potential of each spouse, any relevant physical and mental health conditions, and if one spouse made sacrifices in their own career for their spouse during the marriage. Nowadays, a divorcing woman shouldn’t count on alimony, and should also consider whether she may be required to pay her husband alimony.

DIVORCE TRUTH:

The second time is not generally the charm when it comes to marriage. About half of first marriages end in divorce, but approximately 67%, or ⅔ of second marriages end in divorce. Approximately 73% of third marriages end in divorce.

DIVORCE TRUTH:

You can actually request a for-cause modification once per year. If a child is in danger, a custody modification hearing can be held more often than once per year. A spouse can be granted a modification if they sufficiently prove they have experienced a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. However, many divorce orders, like spousal support, are non-modifiable.

DIVORCE TRUTH:

When one spouse is ordered to pay debts in a divorce, this only has authority in the divorce courts. If the spouse ordered to pay debts fails to do so, or files bankruptcy and discharges the debt, the divorce court doesn’t have the authority to stop creditors from pursuing the other spouse. For example, the husband is ordered to pay the couple’s credit card debts in the divorce. The husband later files Chapter 7 bankruptcy and discharges the credit card debt, as to his name only. The credit card company will then likely pursue collection from the wife. If the balance remains unpaid, the credit card company may obtain a judgment against the wife and even garnish her wages.

DIVORCE TRUTH:

Child support and child custody are two separate matters, although the amount of support paid can be affected by the amount of custody each parent has. There will be nothing in your court orders that gives you permission to deny the other parent visitation because they are behind on child support. In fact, if you do deny visitation to a parent in arrearages, they can use evidence of this in future custody proceedings. This would be a factor used against you in deciding the best placement for the child.

You have plenty of methods of recourse against a parent who is behind on child support besides denying visitation. Many parents will have a garnishment set up, so the support comes directly out of the paying parent’s wages. While most garnishments are limited to 15-25%, wage garnishments for child support arrearages can be as high as 65 percent. You can also petition the court to place a lien on the parent’s property, or revoke that parent’s driver’s and occupational license.

DIVORCE TRUTH:

There is no legal preference between mother and father- all custody decisions are made keeping the child’s best interests as the top priority. The court will look at a variety of factors, like the parents’ and child’s schedules, each parent’s living arrangements, whether each parent has a new partner and children and their relationship with the child, and even the child’s preferences when they reach a certain age.

DIVORCE TRUTH:

Quite the opposite- approximately 95% of divorce cases are settled out of court. Divorce litigation is costly, time-consuming, and stressful, which is why only 5% of spouses actually complete their divorce that way.

Do I Even Need A Lawyer? Can’t I Handle My Own Divorce?

When any marriage ends, the results will forever change your future.  The stakes in a divorce are far too high to take a do-it-yourself approach. Though filing without an attorney can be done, it is not recommended.  The Arizona marital dissolution process and the paperwork associated with it are more complex than they may initially seem.  Keep in mind, once a divorce is finalized, for most practical purposes, it is done.  Make sure professionals are handling such an important process. 

If you choose to forego an Arizona family lawyer and choose to fend for yourself, you are running a risk of not getting everything you are entitled when seeking a dissolution of marriage.  The ramifications of a divorce done wrong are too heavy to take such a risk. Making the smallest error or overlooking what a you may think is a minor detail or unnecessary paperwork can have catastrophic consequences on your divorce.

By handling all aspects of your dissolution, our experienced family law attorneys strive to reduce the stress and uncertainty you may be experiencing. While you tend to the care of your children or take care of yourself, our family law team attends to every legal detail of your divorce.  We strive to provide the best customer service to ensure that the orders you receive are clear, concise, and enforceable.  

Phoenix | 480-833-8000
Tucson | 520-441-1450

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