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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Legal Guardianship in Arizona

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In Arizona, an adult may obtain legal guardianship over a minor or an incapacitated adult with approval from a court. The person for whom a guardianship is established is known as the ward. Legal guardians have specific responsibilities including providing their wards with protection, support and care. Have questions about obtaining legal guardianship in Phoenix or Scottsdale Arizona? Contact Canterbury Law Group’s Guardianship Lawyers today.

What Is Guardianship?

Guardianship is an appointment made by the court for a specific entity or individual to make personal decisions and provide care for an adult who is incapacitated or for a minor.

The title given to the person to who a guardian is appointed in the above process is known as a ward.

A ward is an adult who is unable to communicate or express reasoned decisions for themselves to protect their own interests and welfare because of some physical or mental condition. Similarly, minors are made a ward because they cannot legally take those decisions for themselves.

Who Serves As A Legal Guardian?

An entity (for example, a private fiduciary holding a license to act as guardian for someone and receives payment for such a service) or an individual may serve as a guardian of an incapacitated adult or a minor. Usually, a public fiduciary does not act as a guardian on behalf of a minor.

In the case of a minor, the court will appoint a person who will act in the minor’s best interests. A guardian may be nominated by a minor ward who is 14 years in age or older.

Any competent person may be appointed guardian for a person who is incapacitated. Although the law states a list of priorities for this appointment, the court may appoint someone with a lower priority if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the ward. The highest priority will go to someone who has already had guardianship in another county or state. Then from highest to lowest the priority includes the adult nominated by the ward (if the court thinks the ward has the capacity to make an intelligent decision), a person nominated in the ward’s power of attorney, the spouse of the ward, an adult child of the ward, the wards parent, a person who was nominated in a Will or any relative who the ward has lived with for more than six months.

Before being appointed as a guardian, the individual is required to provide background information to the court, such as previous occasions the person acted as a guardian on behalf of someone, any felony history, and other information.

Establishing Child Guardianship In Arizona

In the state of Arizona, a “Consent Guardianship” gives parents the written consent option to grant legal authority of a child to a non-parent. This also allows for the withdrawal of consent and the authority of Guardianship. Also, this also means a non-parent cannot petition for Guardianship if contested by one of the parents. In a situation like this, the non-parent may attempt to establish custody of the child through what is known as a “non-Parent Custody” position. Contact Canterbury Law Group today if you are seeking a Consent Guardianship in Arizona.

Who Grants Legal Guardianship?

In Arizona, the legal guardianship of a minor will be granted by a probate court or a juvenile court. You may think of probate courts as places that oversee proceedings of probate and administering wills. However, these courts also appoint guardians. It is a requirement of Arizona law that individuals wanting to obtain legal guardianship over a minor to give the minor child’s parents and/or custodian a 60-day notice before the filing of a petition for guardianship. Furthermore, an individual wishing to obtain legal guardianship over a minor child must have to prove to the court that the guardianship is in the best interest of the child. When petitioning for the guardianship of an adult, the petitioner also must file in probate court as well. He or she must notify the proposed conservators of the ward, any adult children and current guardians.

How Is Guardianship Appointed?

A guardian may be nominated by any interested person who files for the appointment of a guardian with a court. Additionally, it may be nominated by a Will. An adult who is incapacitated or any person concerned with the welfare of said incapacitated adult may also petition the court for a finding of incapacity and the appointment of a guardian. You can download the forms for obtaining the appointment of a guardian at: https://superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/ and then clicking on “self-service center” and on “forms.”

Notice of the place and time of the hearing has to be personally served on the potential ward and specified by statute given to the other persons, who include the alleged incapacitated person’s spouse, adult children, parents, anyone currently serving as a conservator or as a guardian or anyone who has custody and care of the person as long as anyone else who asked to be notified and if it is the case there is no one to give notice then the closest living relative will be given notice.

An adult ward named in a petition of guardianship must be represented by an attorney. The ward may also choose to use an attorney with who the ward has a professional and established relationship. Or the court may appoint an attorney on behalf of the ward. The court also must appoint a court investigator and a physician who must submit reports to the court prior to the date of the hearing, after conducting an interview with the potential adult ward. The potential ward is, of course, to be present in person at the live court hearing.

For a minor guardianship, there is not a need for a report from a physician, and no attorney is appointed on behalf of the minor. Additionally, the minor’s parents, in this kind of guardianship must give their written consent to the appointment of a guardian on behalf of their minor child.

In certain circumstances, the court may appoint a guardian temporarily for a specific period or a specific purpose.

When Can Guardianship Be Granted?

Guardianship may be granted by a probate court ifs the parent of a minor child left instructions in their last will and testament. This is known as a “testamentary appointment.” Furthermore, an individual may petition the court for legal guardianship in a case where the court has decided to terminate the parental rights of the ward’s proposed parents. A court may grant legal guardianship when an incapacitated adult requires supervision and care.

How Long Does Guardianship Last In Arizona?

Guardianship may last until a minor child reaches the age of legal adulthood which in the state of Arizona is 18 years old. Usually, if guardianship is objected to by the parents of a minor child and their parental rights have not been terminated, they may petition the court for a guardianship termination, even if they consented previously.  Guardianship is also terminated upon the death of the ward.

Guardian Duties

The responsibilities and powers of a parent are like those of a guardian. A guardian may make personal choices for the ward relating to living arrangements, social activities, education and the withholding of professional or medical care, advice and treatment. The guardian must always ensure the decisions that are made that serve the ward’s best interest. The guardian must always ensure the ward is living in an environment that is the least restrictive in which the ward can remain safe.

The guardian also must submit a written report to the court on an annual basis on the date on the anniversary of the guardian’s appointment. This report must contain information on the living and health conditions of the ward as well as an up to date report from the ward’s physician.

Can You Avoid Appointment Of Guardian?

Often if the adult has executed a valid Mental Health Care Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney for the end of life decisions, a Living Will, it may be that a guardianship is not needed. All these forms can be found under Life Care Planning at https://www.azag.gov/. An adult may only appoint an agent under the power of attorney if the adult is competent enough to understand the power of attorney documentation. Even if the adult successfully completes the living will and powers of attorney, they could still be subject to a guardianship proceeding. If someone thinks the person nominated to be the health care power of attorney is not acting in a way that is in the best interests of the incapacitated person, they can file a guardianship petition with the court.

Two Types Of Legal Guardianship In Arizona

There are two kinds of guardianship a person may petition the court for. However, they are different, and each has specific requirements to be met.

Title 8 Guardianship

  • You do not need the consent of both parents, but Title 8 Guardianships are more difficult to obtain.
  • Against the parents’ wishes, someone may apply for guardianship if they think it is not in the best interest of the child to remain with a legal parent (e.g. the parents are abusing drugs or alcohol or the children).
  • Juvenile court grants the guardianship.
  • These guardianships are permanent meaning the child will remain in your care until they are either 18 years old or the guardianship is revoked by a court order.
  • There will be a hearing when attempting to obtain a guardianship. There will be evidence and testimony involved if a parent disagrees with the guardianship. The court may appoint a person to represent the child and make recommendations to the court as to what the best interests of the child are.
  • These guardianships are also more difficult to terminate. Whoever wishes for a termination of the guardianship, must file a petition to do so. Once again, a hearing will be set, and testimony will be taken to determine if it is in the best interests of the child to terminate.

Title 14 Guardianship

  • Although easier to obtain, Title 14 Guardianships must have the consent of both legal parents. The only exception to this is if a parent is deceased or their rights have been legally terminated.
  • These are often used for short term guardianships. For example, if a parent is vacationing, out of town, working or during times of deployment abroad.
  • The probate court grants the guardianship.
  • The guardianship can be ended at any time by the legal parent. It is virtually impossible to prevent them from ending the guardianship.
  • The legal parent must request through the court revocation of the guardianship and a hearing is then scheduled.

What Type Of Guardianship Is Best For Your Situation?

Guardianships are often complex and complicated especially when a legal parent contests the guardianship. You will want to consider the situation carefully before filing for the guardianship of a child. If you are aware both parents want only a temporary guardianship and both are willing to give consent to this, you will want to file a Title 14 Guardianship.  Even with the consent of both parents but you require the guardianship to stay in place for an extended period, then you’ll want to file a Title 8 Guardianship. If both parents are non-consenting, you have no option and indeed are required to file a Title 8 Guardianship.  There are no guarantees that you will prevail at court.

How Long Does The Guardianship Process Take In Arizona?

This is dependent on the kind of guardianship you are filing and whether you have the consent of the parents or not. Both Title 14 and title 8 move very quickly indeed if both parents give their consent. It may even be completed within the time frame of just one month. However, if a parent does not give consent, understand there may well be multiple hearings scheduled together with evidence gathering and investigations. This can all take several months or a year to complete and assemble. Therefore, it is very likely you will not have guardianship immediately. In the case that you believe this is an emergency, you can request the court put in place a guardianship that is temporary until all the other steps are completed for it to become permanent.

Do You Need An Attorney To Obtain Guardianship?

If you have the consent of both parents and you are good at handling paperwork, you should be able to accomplish this on your own. However, if you are not especially detail-oriented and one of the parents is not consenting, it is highly recommended you speak with an attorney who has dealt with both Title 8 and Title 14 guardianships.

Non-Parent Child Custody In Arizona

In Arizona, Arizona Revised Statute §25-415 entitled “Custody by Non-Parent define who and how a non-parent can gain custody of a child that is not theirs. A non-parent can file a petition in the County Superior Court where the child permanently lives or is currently located. The petition must include detailed facts that support the Petitioner’s right to file the petition, and they have an obligation to provide notice to all the following:

  • The parents of the child.
  • A person with visitation rights or Court ordered custody.
  • The child’s Guardian ad Litem or guardian.
  • An agency or person that has physical custody of the child or who claims to have visitation or custodial rights.
  • Any agency or person who has previously appeared in the action.
  • The Court will summarily deny the petition unless it discovers the Petitioner pleadings establish all the following are accurate and true:
    • The person who files the petition stands in loco parentis to the child.
    • It would be “significantly detrimental” to the child to remain or be placed in the custody of either the living legal parents of the child who wishes to obtain or retain custody.
    • A Court of competent jurisdiction had not approved or entered an order concerning the custody of the child within one year before the person who filed the petition under this section unless there is a reason to think the child’s current environment may seriously endanger their physical, moral, emotional mental or moral health.
  • Or if any single one of the following applies:
    • One of the legal parents is deceased.
    • The legal parents of the child are not married to each other when the petition was filed.
    • And when there’s a pending proceeding for Dissolution of Marriage or for Legal Separation of the legal parents at the time of the petition being filed.

There is a “rebuttable presumption” available if a person other than the legal parent of the child is seeking custody that it is in the best interest of the child to award custody to the legal parents because of the psychological, emotional and physical needs of the child to be reared by the legal parent of said child. To rebut this presumption, the non-parent Petitioner must chow “clear and convincing evidence” that the awarding of custody to the current legal parent is not in the best interests of the child. Additionally, the Superior court may grant a person who stands as loco parentis to a child. This would include grandparents and great-grandparents, who meet the requirements of: Arizona Revised Statute §25-409 – this assures “reasonable visitation rights” to the child on a finding that it is in the child’s best interest to receive visitation and that any of the following are true:

  • One of the legal parents has been missing for at least three months or is deceased.
  • The legal parents of the child are not married to each other at the time of the filing of the petition.
  • There is a proceeding that is pending for Dissolution of Marriage or the Legal Separation of the legal parents at the time the petition was filed.

A grandparent or great-grandparent who stands in loco parentis to a child may want a proceeding for Visitation Rights with a child. They must file a Verified Petition in the county where the child has been found or is a permanent resident. Click Grandparent’s Rights to learn more about the options available for Grandparents Visitation. For a free initial consultation contact us by email or call The Canterbury Law Firm for an appointment, today!

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. You can contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

Sources

  1. State Bar of Arizona. “A Guide to Guardianship and Conservatorship.” State Bar of Arizona, www.azbar.org/legalhelpandeducation/consumerbrochures/aguidetoguardianshipandconservatorship/.
  2. Redsteer, Andrine. “Legal Guardianship in Arizona.” LegalZoom Legal Info, 21 Nov. 2017, info.legalzoom.com/legal-guardianship-arizona-21520.html.
  3. “Quick Guide to Guardianship Types in Arizona > My Modern Law.” My Modern Law, 12 Jan. 2018, mymodernlaw.com/quick-guide-to-guardianship-types-in-arizona/.

Speak With Our Guardianship Lawyers in Arizona

Contact Canterbury Law Group today if you need an experienced child custody lawyer or guardianship lawyer in Phoenix or Scottsdale, Arizona to help with your case. Our experienced family law attorneys will work with you to achieve the best outcome for your situation. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-744-7711

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What to Think of Before Marriage – Should You Get a Prenup?

Prenuptial, it isn’t the most pleasant conversation to have while planning out your wedding. For many cases though, a prenup is essential to have. For others though, they can just as easily do without one.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that predetermines someone’s property holdings before marriage. The purpose is that someone is ensuring the disposition of the property in case the marriage ends in divorce. Not only that, but it also protects one spouse from the other spouse’s debt if they have any prior to marriage.

How do you know you should get a prenup before marrying? It varies couple to couple, depending on their financial situation, investment account levels, and anything one feels that it should belong to them regardless of whether the marriage survives. However, there are a few important guidelines to consider.

If you’re wondering about prenuptial and other legal matters around marriage, contact your divorce lawyer in Scottsdale for information.

A Prenup Can Usually Speed Up the Divorce Process

Although you don’t enter a marriage with the intent of getting divorced, it can be beneficial to know that a prenup can speed up the process just in case. Without one, you’re likely to spend months in the courtroom discussing legal matters, marital property allocations, and having to decide who gets what.

By signing a prenup, you won’t have to go through the fighting and arguing over the property. Instead, you can simply the matter and move on with your life a lot quicker.

You Can Reach a Fair Deal

Unless your divorce is uncontested and mutual and the two of you can easily agree on who gets what, deciding who gets certain properties from the marriage can be time-consuming, challenging, and frustrating. This is when a divorce can get real ugly quick.
A prenup, if deemed valid by the Court, saves you from all of this. The legal document helps you and your spouse reach a fair arrangement in case of a divorce, usually in a swift and rapid manner.

Protects You From Debt

In today’s world, debt is more common than ever. Signing a prenup can protect you from your spouse’s debt that he or she incurred before the marriage. The legal document will outline what happens with the debt if a divorce occurs. If the debt was not your debt, to begin with, it could save you a lot of money in the long run.

The Downside to a Prenup

One of the most obvious downsides to a prenup is the lack of romance they instill. They can cause issues in a relationship. The partner being asked to sign a prenup may feel like the other partner may not trust him or her. This lack of trust could continue and end up damaging the relationship beyond repair.

Another reason is that many feel a prenup is basically a plan for heading to an ultimate divorce. When someone asks for a prenup, they may not believe the marriage will last. Again, this can cause issues in the relationship, whether or not the person asking for the prenup believes this.

Before asking for a prenup, seriously think about whether or not your situation needs one. Asking for one when the other partner doesn’t agree on it could end up being a deal breaker before the wedding even happens. Prenups provide protection and help settle the worst case scenario, but they can also bring up unpleasant feelings and you may lose your fiancé.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

6 Ways to Help Your Kids Cope Through a Divorce

A divorce is not something you plan for when getting married. Unfortunately, many families face divorce at some point. Going through a divorce can be highly stressful for both parties involved, children especially.

Every divorce will affect kids in some way, whether it be through sadness, anger, frustration, or even worrying. However, as their parents, you can help your children cope with the divorce process so that they use this as a growing experience.

Talking with your divorce lawyer in Scottsdale will help to give you the best advice for your situation. There are also the following top six tips that you can use to help your children cope with a divorce.

Inform the Kids of the Divorce

It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it is essential to talk to your children about the divorce. They’ll need to know that mom and dad will be living apart. Explain why you made this decision and that it was never caused by them. Keep the conversation appropriate for the age, temperament, and maturity of the child. Stay positive, stay optimistic—do not drench the children in negativity.  To the contrary, tell them they have a new optimistic life ahead.

Let Them Speak

It’s important that kids can express how they feel in these types of situations. This will mean the parents, both if possible, sit down and listen to them and acknowledge their feelings. If they are struggling, help them put how they feel into words.  Provide the children with counseling if needed.  They must repair their internal feelings immediately to avoid long-term emotional scarring.

Be Their Support System

Although you’ll have so many things going on in your life with a divorce, it’s crucial that you remain a strong support system for your children. Be there for them, talk to them, ask what will help them feel better.  Do NOT complain about the divorce, or your spouse, or the lawyers or the court—these kids have enough to deal with if you must vent, do so with capable adults, not your own children.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

If your children see you upset or stressed out, it will start to seriously affect them. As their primary emotional support system, trying to be as calm and collected as possible will be more beneficial in helping your children cope with the divorce. Approaching the situation angry and frustrated will only get them agitated.  Vent your deeper feelings on your own time, in your own space, and not within the sight line of your kids.

Be Kind to Each Other

Kids hear, see, and remember almost everything. You would be shocked to walk in their shoes for 24 hours.  If they see you and your partner actively arguing, or if you’re speaking poorly about your life partner when they’re not around, there’s a good chance that they’ll pick up on these things. Being kind and civil to each other will help prevent putting your kids in a difficult situation, or feeling like they need to choose sides.  Take the high road.  Stay silent when the kids are in the room and handle your “adult business” only with adults in the room.

Reassure They Are Loved

In the end, it’s important to reassure your kids that they are always loved by both parents no matter the divorce outcome. Explain the new living arrangements and express that while you’re with one parent, the other parent still loves them.  Money and property rights come and go, your children are the bedrock of your life today and into the future.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Five Ways to Keep Your Marriage Alive and Well

There is absolutely no doubt that sustaining a healthy marriage is a challenging feat. Having said that, there is a myriad of things that you can do to maintain a happy and flourishing marriage. Divorce attorneys in Scottsdale recommend considering the following points about maintaining a lively and happy marriage.

Find your bliss

While you and your spouse love each other, you (and only you) are the one driving your happiness. Thus, you should never place that responsibility on your significant other. Take time to understand what makes you happy and what makes you tick.

Take it one day at a time

You should be both honored and ecstatic to be in a loving marriage. As a result, it takes work (on a daily basis) to maintain that fire. It’s important for the two of you to take a few minutes out of each day to express your affection towards one another. Whatever you both deem as intimate should be brought to the forefront each and every day. Ultimately, you should think of this as a daily practice.

Be in the same lane

One of the most critical components of a relationship is making sure that you’re both on the same page when it comes to a variety of issues/topics. Rushing into an engagement without similar outlooks can lead to trouble.

At times, divorce is the answer

While some people refuse to admit that divorce is the best solution, others understand if/when it’s necessary. After all, there really is no reason for everyone to be upset. Think about how much happier people would be if you removed yourself from the equation.

Other times, divorce is not the answer

It is absolutely critical to understand the difference between employing divorce as a means to avoid conflict and a way to legitimately make a situation better. Don’t be one of those people who gets divorced for all of the wrong reasons.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Leading Reasons for Divorce in New Marriages

If you’re in a marriage that’s less than three years old, you’ll likely experience any of the following signs that, of course, may not seem like such a big deal, to begin with.  Over time, these signs can emerge to more serious family issues.  Pay attention.

During the onset of a marriage, you may still be infatuated with each other or may be too deeply in emotional love to see any signs of things going south. Having said that, divorce attorneys in Scottsdale recommend paying attention to the following red flags in order to avoid a potentially catastrophic situation.

You Think You’re Too Good

While it may seem like a funny thought that you think you’re too good for your spouse, dissatisfaction over time will lead you to make mistakes that you may end up regretting. Take another look at your spouse’s great qualities instead of only focusing on the negative.

You Feel Constrained

Do you feel like your marriage is holding you back from achieving your potential? If you feel like you’re being tied down, chances are you’ll seek out opportunities to break out of the cage when your spouse’s back is turned.

Lack of Communication

Communication isn’t just about speaking with one another. Communication is also about understanding each other clearly and learning more about what makes each person tick. Take some time to understand the difference between talking and truly communicating.

Expectations From Each Other

For many people, marriage is the next step in the great cycle of life. Having said that, this is not the case for everyone. When two individuals get married, they have expectations from each other and the relationship. Sometimes, these expectations aren’t mutual and end up distancing two people. This goes back to our previous point about the utmost importance of communication.

Difference in Cultural Backgrounds

Differences in family members, friends, and religious beliefs may seem cute at first. However, all it takes is a few months of suppressed ideas and opposing thoughts to create real problems in a marriage.

Trust

Think about whether or not you really trust your spouse. If you find their behavior suspicious, that could be a serious red flag. Trust is an integral part of any marriage. If you can’t trust your spouse, your marriage will not survive in the long haul.

Incompatible Personalities

Both of you and your spouse may be two perfect individuals who are just entirely imperfect for each other. If you have nothing in common, it may be a better option to date other people and cut your losses.  You only can get one journey on this planet, make the best of it while you’re still healthy, attractive and have other options.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Why January Sees a Surge in Divorce Filings

The holiday season is in full swing right now. Everyone expects a great start for the New Year, especially families. However, come January, we will also see a rise in divorce filings, according to data from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”). During the months of January in the past several years, AAML data shows between a 25 to 30 percent increase in divorce filings nationwide. This trend isn’t confined to the US either. Researchers have observed it in the UK as well.

In other words, one in five couples gets a divorce in January after the holidays. What could be driving this trend and should married couples be worried? How can family law help in Scottsdale assist in a post-holiday divorce? Read below to find out:

Driving Forces Behind Post-Holiday Divorce Filings

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly one cause for why people file for divorce so soon after the holidays. It could be that most people want to start a new year with a clean slate. If the marriage has been experiencing severe problems in the past year, then it makes sense to start the New Year with a divorce and hope for the best in the future.

The holiday season itself could be a driving force behind the divorce. Families get together for important events like Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means staying together, often with extended family, in the house without that many excuses to leave. Instead of bringing people together, the holidays can also exacerbate problems that drive people toward separation. The holiday time can exert pressure to present a happy face and pretend that everyone in the family is doing fine. It can take a toll on the psyche.   Many spouses see January as their first real time to flee the marriage without doing so during the holiday crush.

The holidays can also make financial problems worse, one of the main reasons behind the divorce. People spend enormous amounts of money shopping for the holidays, throwing holiday parties and enjoying vacations. When the final credit card bill arrives, marital fighting ensues, and the marriage is broken beyond repair come January.

Reasons Not to Rush a Post-Holiday Divorce

Anger and tension can be high when the holidays end. But like all things in life, it can be unwise to rush towards a divorce according to marriage experts and even some divorce lawyers. In states like Arizona, divorce can be expensive and protracted because courts are overwhelmed with so many cases. Besides, Arizona is a community property state, where all assets acquired during the marriage are presumably distributed equally, despite the income levels of each spouse. Contesting such distributions in court can prove costly in time, treasure and emotion.

It’s best to consider alternatives before rushing to separate from a spouse. For example, divorce lawyers in Scottsdale can help you and your spouse mediate differences in marriage. The couple can consider the possibility of divorce and see how assets may be divided before going to court. It’s best to negotiate a separation without contesting everything in a full-fledged litigation. A temporary legal separation is also an option for those who don’t want to divorce, who want to continue to be on each other’s health insurance and other issues.

Instead of rushing to file for a January divorce, think about the end game. What will happen to kids, pets, or elderly dependents? What about finances for the rest of the year and health insurance? Consult a lawyer regarding all of this before going to divorce court.  You can confidentially consult that lawyer in December, January or any other month of the year. Don’t rush—instead be smart, prudent and calculating to maximize your property recovery and your emotional health.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Same Sex Divorce in Arizona

Same sex marriage has finally become possible in Arizona, after the landmark Oberfell vs. Hodges Supreme Court ruling in 2015. Arizona’s prior definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman” was struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. In another two cases, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedgewick gave favorable ruling recognizing rights of same sex couples as the same as rights of heterosexual couples.

While this is all good news for the LGBTQ community in the state, not all marriages survive, and that includes same sex marriages. Some marriages inevitably end in divorces.  If you are seeking to divorce your same sex spouse in Arizona, you can discuss legal options with our firm.

In September 2017 the Arizona Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling in McLaughlin v. Jones which now mandates that same sex female co-parents be granted identical legal and custodial rights in a divorce between a same sex female couple.

Rights of Divorcing Same Sex Couples

In Arizona, same sex couples now have the same rights as heterosexual  couples when divorcing. The separating couple will also have the same obligations when dividing property and paying alimony or child support. Child custody will be determined the same as in the case of hetero couples, with priority given to the child’s health and wellbeing.  It no longer matters which Mother “carried the baby to term” when allocating rights to both Mothers in a divorce.   This is a significant shift in the legal landscape as of late 2017.

Residency Requirements

Arizona’s residency requirement applies to same sex couples just like any other couple. At least one party of the divorcing couple must have resided in the state for 90 days at least before filing the divorce papers. This can be a somewhat difficult requirement to fulfill for same sex couples who may have recently moved. Because federal law now recognizes same sex marriage in all 50 states, you will have to check with your local divorce attorney on the jurisdictional time limits in your state.

Grounds for Divorce

Arizona does not require couples in non-covenant marriages to provide any grounds for divorce when filing a case. As same sex couples fall into this category, the only ground required is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. One spouse can successfully claim so even if the other doesn’t want to divorce. In case either one of the spouses wants to live apart, it’s possible to file for a legal separation as well.  Some people pursue legal separation so that they can remain on each other’s health insurance after the fact.

Child Custody

Determining child custody in a contentious divorce can be as difficult for a same sex couple as it is for any couple. Because of the 2017 McLaughlin decision, the requirements, rules, and the family law that apply to hetero couples apply equally to same sex couples.  As always, it’s strongly recommended for the couple to resolve custody disputes amicably with the aid of a mediator if possible. It’s best to negotiate shared parenting time in advance with the help of lawyers instead of going to battle in front of a judge.

Same sex couples in Arizona have no reason to believe that a divorce case will be handled much differently than divorce cases for heterosexual couples. If the divorce is particularly contentious, then getting advice from an experienced attorney will be a must. You will have to consult with a family law expert to learn more about child custody.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Some Facts about Arizona’s Adoption Law

Arizona allows any adult to adopt a child. Parents, grandparents, step parents, or non-related individuals can file a petition to adopt a child in the state or from outside the state. Here are several legal facts about Arizona’s adoption laws:

Adoption Eligibility

Arizona allows married, unmarried, and legally separated adults to legally adopt children. A married wife and a husband can jointly adopt a child. However, an unmarried couple may face certain legal restrictions when jointly adopting. It’s recommended to consult with local family law help in Scottsdale if you are an unmarried person with a partner who wants to jointly seek adoption of a child.

Adoption for Same Sex Couples

In Arizona, couples in same sex marriages can adopt children either individually, or as step parents. The law is unclear on whether same sex marriage couples can jointly adopt a child. The law could change soon, so it’s highly recommended to seek legal help if you and a same sex partner are seeking joint adoption.

Child’s Eligibility for Adoption

A child must be below the age of 18 to be adopted in Arizona. Also, the child must not be an illegal immigrant alien in the state when the adoption petition is filed. Foreign children can be adopted as long as they are not present in the state as an illegal alien defined by state law. Importantly, the child has to be free in legal terms to be adopted. The term refers to custody arrangements. The child’s birth parents, if present, must formally give their consent for the child to be adopted. If the birth parents are deceased or if their rights have been terminated by a court order, then this consent form is not necessary.

Foreign Adoptions Follow the Hague Intercountry Convention

All foreign adoptions in the U.S., including in the state of Arizona, are conducted according to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The original country the adoptee comes from must also be a part of this Hague Convention for an adoption to take place. It should be noted that the U.S. bans adoptions from some countries, like Russia, even if these countries are party to the Hague Convention. Foreign adoptions can be a lengthy and expensive process. You should speak with a lawyer who knows immigration law to petition for a foreign adoption.

Non Relatives Require Court Certification

If the to-be adoptive parent is unrelated to the child, as an aunt or a stepparent, then the adult must obtain a court certificate to show eligibility. These certifications follow what’s called a “home study” carried out by an approved adoption agency in the state, an official from the Arizona Department of Economic Security, or a court officer. The study will involve an assessment of social, financial, and other qualifications of the prospective adoptive parents.

Birth Mother’s Husband’s Consent is Necessary

Arizona maintains that a married birth mother’s husband must give consent to the adoption. If the birth mother is married, her spouse must give consent even if he is not the biological father of the adopted child. If the biological father is not married to the mother, he must be notified of the adoption before it takes place. The biological father will be given 30 days to respond to the notification with paternity action.

Adoption, in general, is a straightforward process but some factors can complicate it. You must seek help from an experienced attorney to make sure the process goes smoothly.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Grandparent Rights in Arizona

Grandparents form an important part of extended families. In some families, grandparents are like another set of parents to children. Most grandparents care deeply for their grandchildren. If a child’s parents or guardians are failing in their duties, the grandparents might wish to step in and help.

In Arizona, grandparents can legally seek custody of grandchildren or visitation rights under the statutes A.R.S § 25-409. A grandparent must go to family court for these rights, and these petitions are carefully reviewed by a judge. The court decision will be based on what’s legally called the “best interests of the child.” Therefore, grandparents who want legal custody, visitation rights, or seek to adopt a grandchild should consult with Family Law help in Scottsdale.

How Can Grandparents Get Visitation Rights?

If a child’s parents deny the grandparents visitation rights under any circumstance, the grandparents can file a petition in court in Arizona. The court will consider the petition if the following conditions are true:

  • The child’s parents were never married.
  • The grandparent is the parent of a deceased or missing (for at least 3 months) parent of a child.
  • The petitioning grandparent is the parent of a non-custodial parent of a child, where the child’s parents are divorced and have been for at least three months.

If the above conditions are not met, it’s unlikely the court will consider the petition. Exceptions may be granted in the case of extraordinary circumstances, such as abuse. These considerations fall under the child’s best interests category.

Eligibility of the Grandparent

Grandparents petitioning for custody are required to meet certain eligibility criteria as set by Arizona law. The requirements go as follows:

  • The child’s legal parents should be deceased, in the process of getting divorced or legally separated, or were never married
  • For the grandparent to get custody of a child, then remaining in the parent’s custody must be detrimental to the child’s well-being.
  • The grandparent must be able to be “in loco parentis” to the child, meaning that the grandparents will provide the same care and support as a parent.
  • The custody of the child should not have been decided in the previous year (exceptions are granted in cases where the child could be harmed).

If the above eligibility requirements are not met, then the petition will be dismissed.

How Does an Arizonian Court Determine the ‘Best Interests of the Child’?

Under Arizona law, a court must consider “all relevant factors” when determining the best interests of the child. In family law, there are actually five statutory factors that courts always consider when approving a petition. Here are those factors as follows:

  • The relationship the grandparent has with the child in historical terms
  • The reason that the grandparent is petitioning for visitation rights
  • Why the parents may have denied the grandparent visitation rights
  • The impact of visitation on the child’s life or activities if the court grants the grandparent visitation rights, depending on the amount of visitation the petitioner seeks
  • If a parent, or both, are deceased, the benefit grandparent’s visitation will have on other extended members of the family

When Can Grandparents Petition for Visitation Rights

Grandparents can go to the family court directly for visitation rights. If the parents are getting a divorce or are in the middle of a custody battle, then a grandparent can sometimes file the petition as part of the divorce or custody proceedings. Consult with a lawyer for more specifics on when to file.

Grandparents can also formally adopt a child, but these types of petitions are subject to a different set of laws. Your family lawyer will be able to assist you in explaining these laws.

Grandparent Rights in Arizona

Grandparents form an important part of extended families. In some families, grandparents are like another set of parents to children. Most grandparents care deeply for their grandchildren. If a child’s parents or guardians are failing in their duties, the grandparents might wish to step in and help.

In Arizona, grandparents can legally seek custody of grandchildren or visitation rights under the statutes A.R.S § 25-409. A grandparent must go to family court for these rights, and these petitions are carefully reviewed by a judge. The court decision will be based on what’s legally called the “best interests of the child.” Therefore, grandparents who want legal custody, visitation rights, or seek to adopt a grandchild should consult with Family Law help in Scottsdale.

How Can Grandparents Get Visitation Rights?

If a child’s parents deny the grandparents visitation rights under any circumstance, the grandparents can file a petition in court in Arizona. The court will consider the petition if the following conditions are true:

  • The child’s parents were never married.
  • The grandparent is the parent of a deceased or missing (for at least 3 months) parent of a child.
  • The petitioning grandparent is the parent of a non-custodial parent of a child, where the child’s parents are divorced, and have been for at least three months.

If the above conditions are not met, it’s unlikely the court will consider the petition. Exceptions may be granted in the case of extraordinary circumstances, such as abuse. These considerations fall under the child’s best interests category.

Eligibility of the Grandparent

Grandparents petitioning for custody are required to meet certain eligibility criteria as set by Arizona law. The requirements go as follows:

  • The child’s legal parents should be deceased, in the process of getting divorced or legally separated, or were never married
  • For the grandparent to get custody of a child, then remaining in the parent’s custody must be detrimental to the child’s well-being.
  • The grandparent must be able to be “in loco parentis” to the child, meaning that the grandparents will provide the same care and support as a parent.
  • The custody of the child should not have been decided in the previous year (exceptions are granted in cases where the child could be harmed).

If the above eligibility requirements are not met, then the petition will be dismissed.

How Does an Arizonian Court Determine the ‘Best Interests of the Child’?

Under Arizona law, a court must consider “all relevant factors” when determining the best interests of the child. In family law, there are actually five statutory factors that courts always consider when approving a petition. Here are those factors as follows:

  • The relationship the grandparent has with the child in historical terms
  • The reason that the grandparent is petitioning for visitation rights
  • Why the parents may have denied the grandparent visitation rights
  • The impact of visitation on the child’s life or activities if the court grants the grandparent visitation rights, depending on the amount of visitation the petitioner seeks
  • If a parent, or both, are deceased, the benefit grandparent’s visitation will have on other extended members of the family

When Can Grandparents Petition for Visitation Rights

Grandparents can go to the family court directly for visitation rights. If the parents are getting a divorce or are in the middle of a custody battle, then a grandparent can sometimes file the petition as part of the divorce or custody proceedings. Consult with a lawyer for more specifics on when to file.

Grandparents can also formally adopt a child, but these types of petitions are subject to a different set of laws. Your family lawyer will be able to assist you in explaining these laws.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Understanding Parenting Time under Arizona Law

Parenting time is established via binding legal documents when spouses with children divorce. The goal of parenting time is to provide children quality time with both parents even when the parents no longer live together. Children are afforded the opportunity to spend time and build a healthy relationship with both parents. Read ahead to better understand parenting time under Arizona law:

Is Parenting Time Different from Custody?

Yes, the two are not the same. Custody largely establishes living arrangements for the child with one or both parents. Parenting time determines how much time a child can physically spend with a parent who no longer lives with him or her. The purpose of parenting time is to ensure that a child has contact with a parent even following a separation.

Parenting times are decided along with custody orders, so the two are related. Scheduling parenting time is an important part of a custody arrangement. The child will predominantly live with one parent even in cases of joint custody. So parenting time will ensure the other parent has enough time with the child to a reasonable extent. It’s important to note that it will be the child’s needs that the court will consider first when setting parenting time, not the parent’s desire to spend time with the child.

How is Parenting Time Granted?

A family court will determine or review parenting time set forth in a custody agreement. Under Arizona law, a parent has the right to have contact with a child in a reasonable manner following a divorce. However, parenting time is always subject to modification by the court. A judge can limit or outright deny parenting time if there’s any indication that the time spent together could harm the child in a physical, psychological, emotional or an immoral manner. To fully understand your right for parenting time, seek family law help in Scottsdale or your local area to have an attorney look at your case.

How Long Can Parenting Time be?

The length of parenting time granted will vary depending on the age of the child and stage of development. For example, a father may not be granted lengthy parenting time visits with a newborn or a mother with an older teen son. The time is largely decided on a case by case basis.

The courts and parents are also expected to follow certain guidelines set forth by higher courts and counties. If you live in Coconino, Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal or Yavapai counties in the state, there will be established guidelines for parenting time to follow. The Model Parenting Time Plans published by the Arizona Supreme Court are also intended to assist parents in establishing workable schedules. If the parents don’t agree on a schedule, the court will provide one.

Is Parenting Time Limited to Parents?

No. There are some cases in Arizona where grandparents or similar family relatives can seek parenting time with a child in a case.  However, a non-parent can only seek parenting time with a child if the child’s parents have divorced or if at least one parent is deceased or missing for three months in the least. The non-parent seeking parenting time must be considered a parental figure by the child to be granted such rights.

As mentioned before, parenting time is largely granted on a case by case basis. Your attorney is the best source for information about parenting time for your situation. Every case is unique.

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