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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Military Divorce

While military divorces are not more complicated than civilian divorces, there are particular divorce procedures and requirements that apply to U.S. service members and their spouses. These differences may pertain to support payment compliance, service of process, residency or filing requirements, or the distribution of military pensions. The following is an outline of the laws that govern the divorce of U.S. servicemen and women.

Military Marriage Statutes

Both state and federal laws govern military divorce. For instance, federal rules may govern where divorcing spouses end up in court or how military pensions are shared, whereas state laws may govern the issuance of alimony and spousal support. The exact state laws applicable to a divorce depend on the state in which the divorce is filed.

Jurisdiction

Before a court may award military members or their wives a divorce, it must have “jurisdiction,” or the authority to hear the case. Generally, a person’s place of residence determines the court’s jurisdiction over them. However, for military personnel, jurisdiction may be the place where the person holds legal residence, even if the service member is stationed somewhere else.

Residency, Filing Requirements, and Proceedings Stays

Numerous states have decreased or removed the residency requirement in military divorces, allowing service personnel or their wives to petition for divorce in the state where they are stationed, even if they are not legal citizens.

In general, military members and their wives can petition for divorce in one of three states:

  • The state of residence of the filing spouse
  • State in which the service man is stationed.
  • The state in which a service member asserts legal residency

The reasons for divorce, including property division, child custody, and child support, are defined by the state where the divorce is filed. As a result, the specific conditions of a divorce will change based on that particular state’s laws.

It is important to note that active-duty service members have certain protections against court proceedings. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), for instance, service members are protected from default judgment and can apply for a “stay” — a temporary halt — of any civil action, including child custody proceedings, initiated against them during active duty or within 90 days of their release from active duty.

This stay is in place so that service members can devote their time and attention to defending the nation while still being subject to court orders or verdicts while they are unable to appear in court. If a servicemember desires a delay that continues beyond 90 days, he or she may petition the court to grant it, but the court has the discretion to grant or deny any additional extensions.

Pensions and Military Benefits

Like civilian retirement benefits, military pensions are subject to distribution between spouses in the case of divorce. Depending on the jurisdiction, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) permits state courts to recognize military retirement money as either sole or communal property. While the USFSPA does not specify a method for distributing retired pay, the amount is often established and distributed in accordance with state regulations.

In addition, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) pays the former spouse’s portion of military retirement immediately if there were at least 10 years of marriage and 10 years of military service overlap (known as the 10/10 rule).

However, regardless of the length of the marriage, a court may sanction an offset payment to a military spouse who has been married for less than 10 years. In such a case, payment would come from the retiring spouse, not DFAS.

In addition to pension benefits, spouses of former military personnel are eligible for full medical, commissary, and exchange privileges following a military divorce if they meet the following criteria:

  • The couple was married for 20 years or more
  • At least 20 years of service are credited toward the service member’s retirement compensation.
  • There was at least a 15 year overlap between marriage and military duty

Matrimony and Child Support

There are particular restrictions regarding spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support in the military. The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that a service member’s family support obligations continue after a divorce or separation.

A court may enforce spousal and child support obligations in a number of ways, including by:

  • Court-order
  • Garnishment
  • Willful or Unwilling Allotment
  • A court may also mandate the paying spouse to retain life insurance to cover child or spousal support payments for a predetermined amount of time.

Consult a Lawyer Regarding Your Military Divorce

Because a military divorce needs understanding of laws that do not apply to civilian divorces, it is prudent to consult with a divorce attorney who has experience handling military divorce matters. An expert, local divorce attorney can assist you understand the many laws that may apply to your situation, your rights as member of the armed forces, and more.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Divorce And Business Ownership

Eric and Ariel reached the terrible choice to divorce after 19 years of marriage. Ariel’s profession of collecting and selling various collectibles began before their marriage. However, now that she is getting a divorce, she is concerned about the future of her business. Will it be divided between her and Eric, or does she retain sole ownership as she owned it before to their marriage? Well, it depends.

A business will be evaluated as an asset in the case of a divorce. Whether it will be shared depends, among other things, on state rules, whether the business is considered marital property, and whether a prenuptial agreement is in existence. Learn more about divorce and company ownership by reading on.

Define Conjugal Property

The key determinant of whether an enterprise is subject to property division is whether it is classified as marital or separate property. The term “marital property” refers to the joint property of a married couple, which is more complicated than it may appear.

First, state rules influence the definition of marital property, which is typically community property or property susceptible to equitable division. Second, how the property is handled and even what happens to it throughout a marriage might influence how it is finally classified.

Community Property versus Equitable Distribution in Business Ownership upon Divorce

A divorcing couple must first establish whether they reside in a community property state or an equitable distribution jurisdiction. In states with community property, practically all property acquired during a marriage is considered joint property, while property owned prior to the marriage is considered separate. Obviously, the law is seldom straightforward, thus exceptions exist. Gifts and inheritances received by one spouse during a marriage are regarded separate property; however, combining them with communal property can alter their status.

In states with equitable distribution, the partition of property is less easy because a judge decides how it should be shared. Obviously, state laws establish specific standards about how property should be split. Additionally, the concept of equitable distribution is that property is divided “fairly” but not necessarily evenly.

When Is a Business Marital Property In the Context of Divorce?

The business will be considered marital property if the couples are co-owners. However, this is not the only method in which a business might be considered marital property. If a business was established after the marriage, it is likely to be regarded marital property.

Sometimes, businesses created by one spouse prior to marriage are not considered marital property. However, this is not always the case. For instance, if the non-owner spouse made contributions to the firm throughout the marriage, it may still be considered marital property. It is vital to remember that “contributed” can refer not just to direct contributions of time to the business, but also to caring for the home while the business owner ran the company.

Using a prenuptial agreement to safeguard business ownership

A prenuptial agreement is the greatest approach to ensure that a business is not subject to property division in the event of a divorce. Occasionally, a spouse may start a business after the wedding, in which case it would be impossible to include it in a prenuptial agreement. However, it is possible to obtain a postnuptial agreement to define business ownership, which is similar to a prenuptial agreement except that it is executed after the couple is married.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Inheritance and Divorce

Learn whether a court can divide your inheritance in a divorce.

Not necessarily. For purpose of divorce, the law usually categorizes property as either “marital” or “separate.” As a general rule, marital property is subject to division between the spouses; separate property isn’t. This is true whether you live in a “community property” state (like California), which divides property on a 50-50 basis, or an “equitable distribution” state (like New Jersey), which apportions property based on what the court believes is fair under the circumstances.

Is My Spouse Entitled to My Inheritance in Divorce?

That depends on a number of factors, including where you live. Each state’s divorce laws will govern how to address inheritance, in community property states and equitable distribution states as well.

In the overwhelming majority states, an inheritance is considered separate property, belonging exclusively to the spouse who received it and it cannot be divided in a divorce. That holds true whether a spouse received the inheritance before or during the marriage. But in a state like New Hampshire, for example, courts may consider an inheritance to be divisible in a divorce (unless you can persuade a judge that it shouldn’t be).

Now here’s the rub—although your state may initially view an inheritance as separate property, your actions can change it into marital property. Sometimes that happens intentionally in what is called a “transmutation of property.”

An example of an intentional transmutation of property from separate to marital is where a spouse inherits a house, then puts the other spouse’s name on the deed. The spouses move in and share the costs of living there. In that scenario, if a divorce rolls around, the inheriting spouse would be hard pressed to convince a judge that the house was never intended to be marital property.

But let’s say the inheriting spouse never puts the other spouse’s name on the deed, and neither spouse lives in the house during the marriage. At some point down the road, however, the non-owner spouse contributes to improvements which increase the house’s value. At the time of divorce, a judge might determine that—although the house itself may not be marital property—the increase in value specifically due to the improvements is a part of the marital estate, and thus subject to division between the spouses.

The most common example of converting an inheritance to marital property is when the inheriting spouse “commingles” (mixes) the inheritance with marital assets. This can be intentional, but often it happens by mistake. For example, Uncle Zeke passes on and leaves you $10,000 in his will. After you and your spouse break out the bubbly and toast the kindly gentleman, you put the money in an existing savings account that’s in both your names, and which either of you can access at will. If you did that because you wanted to share the inheritance money with your spouse . . . great! Mission accomplished.

But if you thought that putting that money in the joint account was just for convenience, and that it would always remain yours alone, you may have put yourself behind the proverbial eight-ball. By commingling the inheritance with marital funds, you’ve likely converted it into marital property. You can make an argument to the court that this was never your intention, but you’ll have an uphill climb.

Can I Claim My Ex’s Inheritance Received After Divorce?

Sharing a spouse’s inheritance after divorce is a nonstarter, unless your divorce judgment specifically addresses that topic.

That said, there is a situation where an ex-spouse’s post-divorce inheritance could come into play. If you’re receiving spousal support (alimony) or child support, you might be able to petition the court to increase the support amount, based on that inheritance or any interest income the principal is making.

Courts usually allow modification of support—both up and down—for a variety of reasons, such as a job loss, a spouse or child becoming disabled, or a spouse’s substantial pay increase (again, depending on the laws in your state).

You’d first have to see whether your state views an inheritance as a potential basis for a modification request. If it does, you may have viable grounds to seek an increase in support. Of course, this is going to depend in large measure on how significant the inheritance is. Your best bet for success is when the inheritance has substantially enhanced your ex-spouse’s standard of living.

 

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Different Types of Separation

What does the term “separated” mean? Discover the distinctions between trial separation, permanent separation, and legal separation.

When it comes to marriage, separation is not synonymous with divorce—even if you have a court-ordered “judgment of separation.” Separation is when you live apart from your spouse but remain legally married until you obtain a divorce judgment. While a separation does not terminate your marriage, it does affect your financial obligations to your spouse until the divorce is final.

Separation is classified into three types: trial, permanent, and legal. In the majority of states, only one of the three (legal separation) alters your legal status—but all three have the potential to impair your legal rights.

Separation of Trials

If you and your spouse feel the need for a break from the relationship, one option is to live apart while deciding whether to divorce—a process known as “trial separation.” Legally, little changes during a trial separation—all applicable marital property laws remain in effect. For instance, a court will consider the money you earn and the items you purchase during the trial separation to be property acquired by a married person. This frequently means that you and your spouse jointly own the property (depending on your state’s property ownership laws).

If you and your spouse separate but intend to reconcile, it’s a good idea to write an informal agreement outlining the separation rules. For instance, your trial separation agreement may address the following:

  • whether you’re going to continue sharing a joint bank account or credit cards.
  • how you intend to budget your expenditures
  • who will continue to reside in the family home
  • how you intend to split expenses, and
  • If you have children, discuss how and when you will spend time with them.
  • If you decide to divorce, you may be able to use this trial separation agreement as a template for a marital settlement agreement.
  • If you and your spouse agree that reconciliation is impossible, your trial separation becomes permanent.

Permanent Distancing

If you live apart from your spouse with no intention of reconciling but are not divorced, the law considers you to be permanently separated.

How Separation from Your Spouse Affects Your Rights

Depending on the local law, a permanent separation may alter the property rights of spouses. For instance, in some states, assets and debts acquired during a permanent separation are considered to belong exclusively to the spouse who acquired them. Once a couple is permanently divorced, each spouse assumes sole responsibility for any debts incurred. Similarly, spouses who divorce permanently lose their right to any property or income acquired by the other.

Why Does the Date of Final Divorce Matter?

Due to the fact that spouses’ rights to each other’s property and obligations to pay debts change significantly as of the date of a permanent separation, spouses frequently argue bitterly about the precise date of their permanent separation. For instance, if your spouse left in a huff and spent a month sleeping on a friend’s couch, but you did not discuss divorce until after the month passed, the date the separation became permanent may be unclear. That means that if your spouse earned a sizable bonus at work during that month, you may be able to argue that you are entitled to a portion of the bonus.

If you move out of the house and do not anticipate a long-term reconciliation with your spouse, reconsider going out or spending the night together just for the sake of old times. If you reconcile briefly, you risk changing the date of separation and becoming financially responsible for your spouse during a time when you believed you were solely responsible for your own.

After you have legally separated from your spouse and reached basic agreements regarding your joint assets and debts, you are not required to divorce immediately. You may choose to remain married for a variety of reasons, including avoiding disruption of your children’s lives or retaining insurance coverage. Or, in some cases, preserving the status quo is simply more convenient than pursuing a divorce. On the other hand, you may decide to divorce as soon as the paperwork is finalized, or when the required separation or waiting period in your state expires.

Is Separation Required Prior to Divorce in My State?

Certain states’ laws require spouses to separate before a divorce can be finalized. State laws governing required separations vary in detail—for example, many states require spouses to live “separately and apart” for a specified period of time before the court will accept a divorce petition (formal request), while others do not require separation until after the petition is filed. If you file before meeting the requirements for separation, the court may dismiss your case. Other states may require spouses to live apart during the divorce process.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Wanting to Be a Lawyer? These Qualities Will Help You

With every job, certain traits and qualities will help you succeed. Whether it be schooling, training, or having a natural position ability, the more merits you possess that are specific to your job, the better you can be.

A lawyer is no exception to this. There is more to just knowing the rules of law to be a successful lawyer. Your divorce attorney in Scottsdale has some advice for those who are wanting to become a lawyer.

Excellent Communication Skills

A lawyer must be able to deliver high-level communications. Good lawyers are also excellent listeners. Part of the job will be to stand up for your client, sometimes speaking for them. Public speaking skills will help aide any time you are in front of a judge, jury, or entire courtroom.

Your communication skills do not stop at verbal communication. Being able to clearly and persuasively write will be a strong asset too. There will come moments when you must draft challenging legal documents. Those documents must be as concise and easy to read.

Research Skills

There will be a lot of research happening behind the scenes before you really begin moving forward with your client. Why? Because you should know the ins and outs of the entire situation, including past examples from old cases.

The more research you can do, the better it will be for your legal clients. Having good research skills will help this process go quicker and smoother, and ensure you are getting accurate and concise information.

People Skills

No matter how much you excelled at school, you need to have people skills to be a successful lawyer. Your job revolves around people’s day to day lives. You may have to speak on behalf of a client, be face to face with the opposition, or just having to stand up in front of a large crowd.  Having good people skills will benefit you as a lawyer.

Problem-Solving Skills

Having excellent problem-solving skills is vital for a lawyer. There will come moments when you may need to be creative in finding a solution or the answer you need. Being able to think on your feet and quickly assess a situation and find a solution will be critical for a lawyer.

Perseverance

A good lawyer sticks with it until the end, no matter what, even if it ends up being a losing battle. The job can get exhausting after a while, but a successful lawyer is in it for the long haul.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Prenups are in Higher Demand Among Millennials

Millennials are a lot more likely than their parents to require a prenuptial agreement prior to walking down the aisle. This generation also has fewer qualms about getting a prenuptial than their parents’ generation, according to the latest survey data from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”). The AAML found that more than half of attorneys polled recently said that more millennials have requested prenuptial agreements. Only a small 2 percent of lawyers said that they had seen a decrease in millennial prenups.

A Rising Trend

Unlike their baby boom parents, millennials are less likely to view marriage through rose-colored glasses. Millenials are getting married later in life on average compared to their parents. Not only are millennial soon-to-be-married couples older, they have also had time to accumulate significant assets that they will not want to lose in case of a subsequent divorce.

Interestingly enough, it’s the millennial women who are driving the rising trend among would-be spouses demanding prenups. In the past, a prenup involved an often-wealthy groom asking the bride-to-be to sign an agreement. Prenups were more common among families with money, but now individual wealth can be the deciding factor.  This is particularly true in technology and startup companies where one spouse-to-be has accumulated significant stock and stock options prior to marriage.

What Millennials Want to Protect with Prenups

It was the norm for prenups to once protect inherited wealth. Not anymore, at least not significantly with the millennial generation. What millennials want to protect the most with a prenup is intellectual property, according to Bloomberg. Rather than protecting the family farm against a divorce, millennial spouses want to protect software, apps, songs, films, or screenplays. Interestingly, most of these assets are not even in existence when the couple gets married. What millennials really want is to protect future assets, especially creative ideas, from divorce proceedings.

Millennials included in the AAML survey responded that the most common reason for getting a prenup is the “protection of separate property.” The other two factors that mattered the most were spousal support or alimony and the division of property.

After intellectual property, millennial couples also increasingly include real estate holdings in the agreements. The “millennial prenups” are rather new. However, millennials can specifically request a prenup agreement that includes potential assets from a divorce attorney in Scottsdale.

Taking Stigma Away from Prenups

As millennials start requesting more prenups from their partners, the stigma surrounding such agreements could soon largely disappear. It used to be that couples didn’t want to discuss assets before getting hitched. It’s possible that millennials are learning from the mistakes of their parents, who were more likely to divorce than their own parents. Perhaps getting married later in life makes couples cognizant that not all marriages last a lifetime, but sometimes only a decade, or less.  Moreover, for couples who do not have children, the property disposition during a divorce can be even more important.

However, millennials do not need to worry about divorces like their parents did. The divorce rates are actually in decline nationally. It’s definitely a sign of changing times, or rather, being aware of the facts when getting married.

Many experts do agree that prenuptial agreements in general can be healthy for couples getting married. These agreements can protect individuals against acrimonious and expensive divorce proceedings later in life.  It set’s the couple’s mutual expectations early in the marriage, and no illusions are in place about what happens years later in the event of divorce.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Covenant Marriages and Divorces in Arizona

Arizona offers two types of marriages for residents. There’s the standard marriage that a good majority of residents get into. The state offers another form of marriage called covenant marriages. These covenant marriages are different in their legal nature. Unlike with the regular marriages, spouses also need to meet different requirements to later get a divorce. This article will briefly explain what covenant marriages in Arizona are, and how to get a divorce under the laws governing this type of marriage.

What is a Covenant Marriage in Arizona?

A covenant marriage is defined as a marriage between a man and a woman in Arizona. This category is available as an option for those who wish to get married and is not a replacement option for the standard type of marriage offered in the state. However in covenant marriages, the two parties enter into the marriage only after signing a written legal declaration stating the intention to enter into a covenant marriage and that they have satisfied certain requirements through premarital counseling provided by a member of the clergy or a licensed marriage counselor.

The legal statement is binding on both parties and strict rules govern how the spouses in a covenant marriage can later get a divorce. Unlike with regular marriages, where separating spouses are not required to cite the reasons for wanting a divorce, separating spouses in a covenant marriage do. Those entering covenant marriages should expect to stay highly committed because legal separation or divorce can be difficult to later achieve.

Dissolution of a Covenant Marriage

The specific reasons under which a court may grant a divorce for a covenant marriage are listed in Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 25-901 to 25-906. There are actually only eight scenarios that legally satisfies valid grounds for an Arizona divorce in a covenant marriage:

  • Cheating or infidelity;
  • One spouse abuses drugs, alcohol or another addictive substance;
  • The other spouse has committed a serious crime that could result in a life sentence or the death penalty;
  • One spouse has abandoned the family and has not been home for at least a year;
  • One of the spouses have committed a sex crime, mainly sexual assault, against a related person;
  • The spouses have been living separately for at least two years and do not intend to live together again;
  • The spouses are legally separated (different from divorce) and have been for at least a year;
  • Both spouses strongly want a divorce.

The courts do not grant divorces in covenant marriages unless the parties specifically qualify for relief under any of the above listed statutory mandates.

Getting a Divorce in a Covenant Marriage and Child Custody

Because divorces under covenant marriages are granted under very specific qualifying specifications, separating spouses must get Family Law help in Scottsdale. The proceedings can be complicated if the spousal dispute includes the custody of children and if there are complex debt or property issues involved. Furthermore, prenuptial or postnuptial contract agreements could further complicate things.

If you are in a covenant marriage, it is not impossible to get a divorce. Consult with a qualified lawyer who specializes in covenant marriages

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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

What is the Difference between Divorce and Legal Separation in Arizona?

In Arizona, there are two ways to formally and legally remove your estate from your spouse: divorce and legal separation. It’s important to understand that these are two different processes. Legal separation is not another term for divorce. While there are certain overlapping legal similarities between the two, it’s important to understand that these are two different things. Read below to find answers to commonly asked questions about divorce and legal separation in Arizona:

What is the Difference between Divorce and Legal Separation?

Obtaining a divorce means that the marriage is legally dissolved, with all assets separated, and both spouses legally become single people capable of remarriage and child custody rights are legally established. In contrast, a legal separation does not dissolve a marriage. The spouses will be technically still married to each other, but also judicially separated. However, like with a divorce, virtually all assets and debts are typically separated between the two spouses. But unlike in a divorce, the spouses cannot claim to be single persons for any legal reason nor can they remarry.  Most people pursue Legal Separation to maintain valuable health care coverage, among other reasons.

Why Seek Legal Separation Instead of a Divorce?

Legal separation may be suited for some people over a divorce for several reasons. Most spouses who do not want to divorce due to religious reasons or personal convictions can still undergo legal separation to judicially extricate oneself from a spouse. Spouses that want to live apart but without getting a divorce can obtain a legal separation.

Some people prefer to legally separate rather than divorce in order to keep valuable health insurance benefits of a group plan. As mentioned above, legally separated spouses are still considered married, and thus can benefit from continued spousal health insurance coverage. Similarly, those who have been married for less than 10 years can continue to receive social security benefits on their spouse’s federal benefits following a legal separation, unlike with a divorce in which such benefits are completely terminated for the lower earning spouse.

If you need to formally cut all legal, civic and other ties to a spouse, then you will need a divorce.

Grounds for Divorce or Legal Separation

Arizona is a no-fault state. It does not matter who did what to whom, or who cheated with whom.  Therefore, for both divorce and legal separation, you don’t need to show any reason for divorce to a court. If one spouse desires to divorce then the court will grant the divorce. Similarly, spouses do not need to prove a reason to get a legal separation. Claiming that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” is reason enough to obtain a Decree of Legal Separation as long as the other spouse does not object.  Only one of the two spouses must desire the divorce.  The person who “wants to hang on” cannot prevent the legal divorce from ultimately taking place.

What if One Spouse Insists on a Divorce?

Unlike in a divorce, legal separation is only granted if one spouse does not object. If one spouse wants a legal separation but the other wants a divorce, the court will convert the case and grant the divorce. Because a spouse can object, it’s important to discuss and make sure this is what both parties want. Consult with a local divorce attorney in Scottsdale to discuss your options.

What if the Legally Separating Couple has Children?

Child custody issues for legally separating couples are handled similarly to a divorce by Arizona courts. The courts will always prioritize the needs of the children. A family court will also determine parenting time and parental responsibilities.  You will receive formal judge imposed custody orders from the Court under either scenario.

What Happens to Marital Assets and Debts When a Couple Legally Separates?

Asset and debt separation for legal separations are also handled similarly to divorces. A court will make the determination.   Usually, the date upon which the original Legal Separation or Divorce Petition is “served” on the receiving spouse is the date that the community terminates.  Put another way, any salary or paychecks received after the date of service will usually be the earning spouse’s sole and separate property.  Exceptions apply, however.  Please consult seasoned legal counsel on all of these issues.

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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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