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Getting a divorce with children follows the same process as a divorce, with a few extra steps. If you and your spouse agree with how to share parenting time and make decisions regarding the children, a divorce with kids is only slightly more difficult. But Arizona’s laws, rules, and procedures can become complicated if you and your spouse have different ideas with how your children should be raised. It can become even more intensive if child support is also needed and contested.
When a divorce involves minor children you need to consider the following:
Somewhat confusingly, the term “custody” in family law does not exist. The Arizona legislature changed this law in 2013 because of the common misconceptions and confusion surrounding the term. The important thing to remember about “custody” is that the two basic questions to be determined regarding children in a divorce are:
The Best Interest of a Child is a standard by which a court determines what arrangements would be to a child’s greatest benefit, often used in deciding decision-making and parenting time matters.
Legal Decision-Making refers to who makes ‘major decisions’ on behalf of the children. Major decisions include education, medical care and religion. The court can award Sole Legal Decision-making or Joint Legal Decision-making or some combination of the two.
Parenting Time refers to both custody and visitation. Parenting Time outlines where the children live and when they see each parent. Equal parenting time is when both parents have the children for the same amount of time. There are a variety of different parenting time schedules to satisfy these arrangements.
Child Support is a court-ordered payment paid by one parent to the other parent for the financial support of a child. The amount is calculated by Arizona’s Child Support Guidelines, which calculated in a Child Support Worksheet.
The quickest timeline for a divorce is a little more than two months, and it requires both parties to be in agreement. That is because of a 60-day waiting period that is put in place under Arizona law. On this timeline, one spouse files the Petition for Dissolution, the paperwork that starts the divorce. Then they serve the other spouse (when things are amicable, this is done by giving your spouse the paperwork, and having them sign a notarized document that they received it, and this is then filed with the Court. That service date is important because it starts the sixty-day waiting period. At the end of the waiting period, the two of you can file your Consent Decree (and Parenting Plan, if you have children, and a Property Settlement Agreement, if appropriate). These are the documents that divorce you, contain your agreement, and divide your property and decide what happens with your child. Once the papers are signed by the judge, you are divorced.
If you want to stay in the house, you will need to get your spouse to agree to it, and you will need to buyout your spouse’s interest in the house. Unless a disclaimer deed has been signed, your spouse is entitled to half of the net equity in the home. To figure that out, you need to how much your home is worth and what is owed on the mortgage (in some cases, a home equity line of credit or a lien on the home may impact the net equity). For example, if your home is worth $400,000, and there’s $200,000 left on the mortgage, the net equity is $200,000, and you will need to pay your spouse $100,000 to buy out their interest. In most cases, you will need to show you are pre-qualified for a refinance. Most lenders can work with you to include the buyout as part of the refinance.
Before we can divide the marital property, we need to know what property is out there. The primary way we learn this is through disclosure and discovery. Under the rules of procedure, both parties are required to make extensive disclosures of their assets and debts. You can request additional information via discovery—a process that allows you to use different tools to find money. For example, if you believe your spouse is not forthcoming regarding their salary, you can subpoena their employer for their pay history. There are numerous discovery tools—depositions, subpoenas, interrogatories, requests for production, requests for admission, etc. You should speak with an attorney to learn your options regarding discovery and your duties under the disclosure rules.
Maybe, unless an exception applies, you are an owner of the business because it was started during the marriage. Under Arizona law, it does not matter whether your name is on the business because it was started during the marriage, it is part of of the community property and needs to be divided as part of the divorce proceeding. There are a few exceptions: Where the business was inherited or gifted to your spouse or where or a prenup or postnup is in place, then the business may not be community property.
Contrary to popular belief, annulments are not given easily or given out simply because the marriage was of short duration. An annulment is given out when the marriage itself is defective. For example, one spouse was married to another person at the time of the marriage or one spouse was defrauded into marrying the other spouse or you did not intend to get married. You have to meet one of the reasons for an annulment in order to get one.
Arizona is a community property state. This means anything either spouse earned during the marriage belongs to both spouses.
It is possible to fix a bad ruling from the court, but it is difficult. Prior to trial, you were on even footing with the other party—you both had, in theory at least, an equal chance of prevailing.
Some parts of a Court’s ruling are not modifiable, including the division of property and an award of attorney’s fees. While many parts of the Court’s order are subject to modification, some parts are not.
There are four parts of every child custody case. The typical case has four parts to it: Paternity, legal decision-making, parenting time, and child support. Except in unusual circumstances, paternity will only get ruled on once.
Being on the birth certificate doesn’t mean you’re legally recognized as the father. When a child is born to an unmarried mother, only the mother’s rights are automatically established. The father will have to establish his rights separately.
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Any issue or question I have has always been answered. I am super grateful to Jillian because I feel like I have someone by my side 100% of the time.
Throughout this entire process, everyone at the firm treated me with the courtesy and respect that you would extend a lifelong friend, and for that humble gesture I shall remain forever grateful . . .
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I've never met such a passionate, organized, and responsive group of attorneys. Family law matters can be emotionally and legally challenging but this group stands out as the place to go to get great help
The team that works here is professional, timely, and has your best interests at the root of every decision. They work tirelessly and have an amazing array of experience to act on your behalf...needless to say, they’d always be my choice!
Highly recommend this firm for family law disputes. The efforts that they put forth to a case are some of the best that you can get, but they also know how to really work with a client and make it feel like a team atmosphere
I know some of the lead attorneys at State 48 Law Firm, and have complete faith and trust in their knowledge and professionalism. I would trust them implicitly, with my own legal needs.
Excellent team of attorneys. Everyone has a wealth of experience and a great depth of legal knowledge. I would highly recommend this firm to anyone.
I can't recommend State 48 Law Firm enough. They have a great team of experienced attorneys, although I highly recommend Bryce Johnson! He has a wealth of family law knowledge and will fight for you.
I've known and worked with State 48 attorney Bryce Johnson for several years and know him to be a considerate and tactful attorney who fights tooth and nail for his clients. I would recommend State 48 for your family law needs!
Everyone at State 48 Law Firm is great! Jillian Hansen will take the time to educate you about the process while showing empathy for the situation.
State 48 Law includes a very experienced team of lawyers who will work tirelessly for you. I would recommend their team, and specifically Bryce Johnson, to anyone.
During one of the most difficult periods in your life, it is imperative to find a lawyer and a law firm, who can look after your interests.
I’ve worked with this Team before & can’t say enough about their professionalism & constant communication. Highly recommend State48 for anything family law.
Ankita takes her time, is very responsive, and shows that she does care. You don’t usually find that compassion in a lawyer. I can’t thank her enough for helping us through our case and I highly recommended her!
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