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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Common Questions about Divorce in Arizona Answered

In Arizona, divorce refers to a legal “dissolution” of marriage. You will go through a procedure in court to formally end your marriage. If you are the one who goes to court for a divorce, you will be identified as the “petitioner.” The other spouse will be identified as the “respondent.” Divorce in Arizona is not the same as in other states. Here are some answers to common questions most people have about divorce in Arizona.

Can I File for Divorce Anytime?

Either you or your spouse must have resided in the state for a minimum of 90 days before filing for a divorce at a local Arizona court. That is a legal requirement.  If there are children, they must typically be in the state for 180 days to vest custody jurisdiction, depending on the facts of the case.

Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?

Technically, you can represent yourself in court. However, it is highly recommended to get your attorney from your local area, like a divorce attorney in Phoenix. If you choose to self-represent, the court will assume that you know all the laws and rules pertaining to your case. You will have to follow court procedures on your own. A judge may disallow you to take certain actions if you do not properly follow court procedure. No one at court will be able to give you legal aid because they are barred by law from doing so.

You can seek legal aid if you cannot afford an attorney for your divorce. You can also petition the court to have the spouse pay for your attorney’s fees if your spouse makes substantially more income than you do.  Every case is unique.  

Do I Need to Give a Reason for Divorce?

Not in Arizona. The state has a so-called “no fault” clause, which means neither party needs to give a reason for the divorce. Moreover, the romantic escapades of Husband or Wife will have no relevance in the underlying dissolution action.  The mere desire to get a divorce is enough. In the court, only one spouse needs to claim that the marriage is “irretrievably broken “to finalize a divorce. The only exception is if the spouses have previously chosen a “covenant marriage”. Then, the petitioning spouse must provide ground or reasons for the divorce under state law.

What are A.R.S. and A.R.F.L.P.?

You will see these acronyms in the papers your divorce lawyer in Scottsdale or elsewhere files. The letters stand for particular legal statutes, or laws, in Arizona. A.R.S. refers to Arizona Revised Statutes, and A.R.F.L.P. refers to Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. You can go to the Arizona court or state websites to get access to these legal documents and rules if needed.  Ideally, you simply hire counsel and let them do their job to advocate for your rights in the underlying divorce.

What Do I Do if My Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce?

Too bad.  It’s going to happen anyway.  In cases where a spouse is morally against the divorce from advancing, there is little they can do to stop the case.  At best, the objecting spouse can request the court order a mandatory reconciliation counseling session which typically only pauses the case for 30 to 60 days. If at the end of reconciliation session, the spouses have not come to an agreement to postpone the divorce, the proceedings will go forward. Conciliation meetings are free of charge and rarely derail a case.  

If you have children, then your proceedings will be subject to a wide range of family laws in Arizona. The legal aspects you should consider will depend on the type of custody you seek. For more information, you should contact an attorney in your area.  Your children are your most treasured asset and case strategy and approach to maximize your custody is critical and experienced legal counsel even more important in such instances.  

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Child Custody in Arizona

Custody in legal terms refers to the person a court has appointed as the parent or guardian of a child. The person retaining child custody manages the well-being of that child. The legal custodial parent will have the right to make decisions about the child’s education, religious teachings, and healthcare. There are different types of custody, but courts in Arizona do not favor one over the other. The decisions will be based on what’s ultimately good for the child. If you are a parent currently seeking custody of the child, or if you are already a custodial parent, here are answers to some of the questions frequently asked on the subject:

What is the different between “sole,” “joint,” and “legal” decision making authority?

These are three ways in which a court can grant custody of a child. Sole Legal Decision Making means that one single parent has complete legal custody of the child’s legal decision moving forward. The court has granted this parent the express authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s life. Parents can discuss these issues together, but the sole Legal Decision Making parent will always have the final say.

In contrast, in Joint Legal Decision Making situations, both parents have legal decision making authority over a child. However, in order to reach a final decision, both parent must agree—or divert the case to mediation or back to the court if no agreement can be reached. 

Can the court declare one parent’s rights superior to another’s in a Joint Legal Decision Making case?

No. Generally, when a court grants joint Legal Decision Making authority, both parents have equal rights to make decisions regarding the child’s well-being. No one parent is deemed superior to another. However, in special cases, one parent may get the sole right to make decisions regarding a certain aspect of the child’s life if the court decides it’s the best for the child. You should refer to an attorney to seek more family law and child custody information with regards to your situation.

Is there a difference between legal decision making powers and physical custody?

Absolutely yes.  Legal Decision Making authority relates to granting a parent the authority to make decisions about the child’s wellbeing, e.g. where the child goes to school. Physical custody, also called Parenting Time, determines where the child lives from day to day. A parent can have legal custody, but not physical Parenting Time, although this is rare. If a child is to live with both parents for equal amounts of time, then the court will have to grant both parents joint physical Parenting Time. Some parents may prefer for the child to live in one place without moving around, and have one parent with physical virtually all Parenting Time. But both parents, in this case, can have legal custody as well. Refer to Family Law help in Scottsdale, or your local area, for specific information.  Legal assistance is recommended to navigate these complex legal channels. 

Are court custody orders final?

The court decides custody when the parents cannot agree upon themselves, how to share custody of a child. A court may grant early custody orders when divorce or separation filings are in process. Once the divorce or a legal separation becomes final, the court may make modify prior orders which are dramatically changed at the time of trial. This custody decision by the court will stand, subject to certain exceptions, for at least one year, or upon a showing of a substantial and continuing change of circumstances thereafter.

If you want a custody ruling to be modified after trial, you can petition the court to make changes to the order. You will have to present strong evidence that the changes requested are in the best interest of the child. You are very likely going to need the able assistance of legal counsel at that time. 

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Divorce Tips from Attorneys

Getting a divorce can be a messy affair, financially and emotionally speaking. Contested divorces can be particularly hard on both parties, as experienced divorce attorneys will quickly point out. Divorce has a way of bringing out the worst in even the nicest people. While emotions can play a role, it’s critical to maintain clear emotions when dividing assets in a divorce and reaching a custody agreement if there are any children. Here are several tips for Arizona divorcing couples from divorce lawyers who have seen it all:

Keep Your Feelings out of the dispute

Divorce can be a very emotional affair, no matter how hardened one tries to be during the process. It’s very important to keep personal feelings out of it when dividing assets and negotiating during divorce proceedings. Emotions can unnecessarily complicate the process. You must aim to get the best out of divorce proceedings to ensure your long-term well-being. Getting caught up in petty fights in the moment will not go well for either party.  Let your lawyer do their job, stand back and watch, and ideally everything will be handled.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

According to a divorce lawyers in Scottsdale, some people pay attorneys a lot of money to recover assets that do not matter. For example, it makes no financial sense to get your divorce attorney to send a letter to retrieve a $100 piece of furniture from the ex, especially when attorney letters can cost as much as $500. Divorce can be costly. So wise petitioners pick battles that are worth spending money to win.

Assets in One Spouse’s Name Can be Divided

In divorces, basically everything can be divided between the spouses. This includes assets that are specifically under either spouse’s name. Debt, extra income, royalties, a lottery win—all of these and much more can be divided in divorce proceedings. Divorce attorneys warn clients not to assume that assets under one’s own name are not up for grabs. The only protection against dividing assets is a prenup or a postnup agreement. But these agreements should be handled early on in the marriage.   Even if you signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it could be deemed void by the court depending on the circumstances during which you signed such paperwork. Consult an experienced lawyer to determine your rights. 

Be Careful of Generous Income Reporting Before Divorce

It’s common for people to overstate incomes in credit card or loan applications. A spouse that discovers such generous disclosures of income can present these documents in court in a divorce case. Under those circumstances, the court could assume that you make as much money as you boasted in your loan application under penalty of perjury in a prior loan application, warns a divorce attorney in Scottsdale. On the other hand, if you find similar overstatements by your spouse, you can be the one to use them in court against them.

Take Time to Gather Evidence for the Divorce

Divorce lawyers advise clients not to walk out the door before proceedings begin, unless an abusive situation is present. It’s highly advantageous to stay behind and gather evidence for the divorce, such as photographing assets, property and gathering documents. Make copies of account statements of the spouse as well to present your case with solid evidence once the proceedings begin.

Divorcing is not easy on anyone. But following the above suggestions will help you present the best case in court.  Hiring a seasoned legal professional to guide you through this complex process is self-evident.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Preparing for Divorce in the New Year

The Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group have represented hundreds of clients in Scottsdale divorce cases.  Although every case is unique, there are certain steps that every potential divorcee should take:

  • Do not try to hurt your soon-to-be ex –   Do not let your emptions get the best of you.  Especially if you and your spouse have children together, you need to try to take the higher road and attempt to part on decent terms. The court may frown upon any type of negativity or drastic misconduct against the other spouse. 
  • Confidently know your joint finances – It is estimated that 40% of divorce proceedings are about money. Be well informed in advance about your shared accounts.  Specifically, you should know all online passwords to bank accounts, which accounts have automatic payments and where money is invested, including the names of all accounts, the account numbers and the investment advisors.  Many times one spouse knows everything and the other spouse knows nothing about finances.  The law provides that both spouses be provided 100% financial disclosures while the divorce is pending. 
  • Find a trusted legal team – A lawyer who is knowledgeable in family law in your state can likely get you a better settlement because they understand the state-law nuances and understand local judges’ tendencies and opposing lawyers. If you and your spouse have complicated family assets, you likely need a legal team with additional expertise.  Take into consideration every possible avenue and plan accordingly.
  • Know your future living expenses – Your future financial well-being should be your top priority.  Thoroughly understand your current cost of living before the divorce proceedings start, so you can ask for a fair amount in the divorce settlement.
  • Also remember that anything written online about an ex-spouse will exist forever—when the children are old enough to read.  Although you may be hurt now, you don’t want to hurt your children even more in the future.  Texts and emails can also be used against you at trial.  Think twice before hitting ‘send’ on that nasty message to your spouse. 

The Scottsdale divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have represented women and men, young and old, in their complicated and simple divorce cases.  To discuss your options in a Scottsdale divorce, call today to schedule a consultation.  480-240-0040.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Child Custody Tips for the New Year

During the New Year, many parents strive to improve child custody situations. As authorities in Scottsdale child custody, the lawyers at Canterbury Law Group can offer suggestions to help ensure your success:

Be Actively Involved – Make sure you are able to demonstrate that you are significantly involved in your child’s life by taking an active role in the care, development, and discipline of your child. If the child is young, participate in feeding, bathing, walking, reading, napping and medical care. As they grow older, take part in their educational development and extracurricular activities. Get to know your children’s teachers, doctors, counselors, and coaches. Your ability to demonstrate the extent and quality of time with your child prior to and post separation is critical. If the other parent is interfering with your involvement, document your attempts and the resistance that you are receiving.

Establish a Physical Custody Schedule – If you live separately from the other parent, it is critical that you negotiate a physical custody schedule that accurately represents your long-term goal of shared parenting, ideally before a custody petition or court complaint has been filed. If you currently have a visitation agreement, make every effort not to miss any of your scheduled time.

Promote Involvement of the other Parent – Show that you encourage the contact and active involvement between your child and the other parent. Unless clear evidence shows the child is in danger while in their care, the Family Court will frown upon your interference with the child’s relationship to their other parent.

Provide a Healthy, Stable Environment – Present a safe, nurturing and stable environment. Demonstrate that you provide a healthy environment by maintaining a steady, clutter free home with a bedroom for your child and a safe play space. Provide regular, nutritious meals and keep a record of your grocery receipts. Get those kids to bed early and to school on time.

If you need assistance with your custody or joint parenting plan, contact the Phoenix divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group! We can help ensure the New Year is enjoyable for all.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Tips if Divorce Is Your Resolution in the New Year

If you are considering filing for divorce in the near future, you are not alone. The month of January has long been marked down in the calendars of family law attorneys, including the Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group, as “Divorce Month.” In fact, many firms see an increase in the number of consultations upwards of 30 percent beginning the Monday after New Year’s.

While contributing factors vary, the fact remains that many couples will begin this year with a resolution to end their marriage. No matter the reason, there are many things that anyone looking into divorce for the first time needs to know that will help them get through the process smoothly while protecting their rights:

1. Do not move out of the marital home – If you wish to keep yourself in a good position to obtain a fair custody arrangement and also want to mitigate potential financial burdens, do not pack up and move out of the marital home. This is one of the top mistakes that many spouses continue to make, and it can start you off at a disadvantage out of the gate.

2. Research divorce laws for your specific state – There are very few, if any at all, states that have identical laws regarding the various aspects of divorce. You will want to do plenty of research over areas that you know may come up if you and your spouse decide to split specific to your local jurisdiction.

3. Set up a consultation with an attorney – Even if you aren’t certain you will need to retain an attorney or that you will even end up filing for divorce at all, it is a really good idea to meet with an expert familiar with your state’s divorce laws. Many attorneys and firms offer initial consultations, though even when there is a charge, it is well worth the fee to get accurate information you can trust as you plan your next move.
If you’re looking for a Scottsdale divorce attorney and / or family law attorney, contact us today. Any delay can affect your future and the wellbeing of you and your children.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

3 Reasons to Skip Mediation in Your Divorce

Depending on individual divorce circumstances, the Scottsdale divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group may or may not suggest mediation in divorce. For a divorce mediation to be successful and end in a fair and equitable settlement, several factors need to be present. First, both of the parties should have similar financial circumstances, including equal earnings and relatively equal separate assets. Second, both parties should be equally agreeable to the divorce, and they should have an amicable relationship with one another. Third, both parties should have an excellent understanding of the other party’s income and finances, and have equal access to the other’s financial statements. Finally, both parties need to be equally competent negotiators and be in equal negotiating positions. If any of those factors are not present, the divorce is not a good candidate for mediation. Thus, you should proceed with caution before electing mediation.

If you are considering mediation, here are reasons you should think twice before proceeding.

1. No one is looking out for your interests – it is not the job of the mediator to look out for your interests. Rather, the mediator’s job is to act as a neutral party to facilitate the parties reaching their own agreement. In fact, since a mediator is legally bound to be neutral, he or she cannot alert or advise you if an agreement is unfair. Worse yet, some mediators will subtly push the parties into accepting an unfair agreement simply so they can claim that the mediation was a “success.” This is why you are supposed to retain a divorce attorney to advise you in the background during the mediation process.

2. Mediation can cost as much or more than a traditional divorce – People often choose mediation because they think it will be less expensive than a regular litigated divorce. While it can be, this is frequently not the case. People entering mediation are almost always surprised to hear that they should hire their own attorneys to represent them in the background during the process. Once they hear that advice, much of the appeal of mediation disappears. That is why most people ignore that crucial advice, and proceed with mediation without representation. Another, frequently overlooked aspect of mediation that can end up making it more expensive than traditional divorce is the high risk of an unfavorable marital settlement agreement. Lack of knowledge about your spouse’s financial assets, ignorance of the law, and poor negotiating skills can easily cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars when you end getting less than you otherwise would have if you had retained a divorce attorney. You have not saved money if you negotiate a poor marital settlement agreement.

3. There is no guarantee you will settle your case in mediation – If you do proceed with mediation correctly and hire a divorce attorney to represent you in the background, mediation will likely cost you and your spouse anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 — and you may not succeed in reaching an agreement with your spouse. If you don’t reach an agreement, you may have to start the process over again with traditional divorce litigation. And any money you have spent on mediation will have been wasted, sent down the drain.
To discuss your options in a Scottsdale divorce, call us today to schedule a consultation.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Gray Divorce After 50: The Increasing Importance of a Spouse Finding Employment

At Canterbury Law Group, the lawyers work with leading industry professionals in the Valley and beyond. Not only do we help our clients form impactful relationships that assist in their continued success after case resolution, but The Firm stays abreast of all matters that impact our client’s legal matters before, during and after the case is resolved.

Emerging trends have recognized that Americans aged 50+ and older are getting divorced at a higher rate than younger people. This trend, coupled with increasing life expectancy is leading to more emphasis being placed on the employment of dependent spouses to contribute to their income stream after a divorce.

People 50 and older comprised 25% of all Americans who got divorced in 2014, up from 8% in 1990, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research. Those who quit their marriage late in life can substantially reduce their standard of living and sacrifice their retirement security due to a number of factors. It’s a lot more expensive to live in separate households, and when retirement savings must be divided. Both spouses’ income sources need to be maximized before and after retirement when a divorce occurs.

One Arizona expert witness, Bradford H. Taft, MBA, CMF, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CFLC, Managing Director of Taft Vocational Experts and Chief Career Strategist of Taft Career Group, has provided valuable information for adults choosing to divorce later in life both during and after a case has resolved.

The traditional role of a divorce vocational expert is to evaluate a spouse’s earning capacity, conduct a labor market analysis, and opine on a spouse’s employability and earning capacity for consideration in determining spousal maintenance and/or child support. By providing these analyses and conclusions, vocational experts play a valuable role in the divorce process.

Vocational evaluators who have a strong understanding of the career transition process including how to plan and implement effective job search campaigns, post-divorce, can bring a high level of efficiency in helping a spouse find a new job. This is especially valuable to a spouse who has been out of the job market for an extended period of time and needs to locate employment as soon as possible. No parent or spouse wants to start over—however, a seasoned vocational expert witness can help bridge that gap.

Here are three steps from Taft Vocational Experts to planning and implementing a “Job Search Campaign” that a vocational expert can assist with:

1. Career Assessment and Objective Setting – In the vocational evaluation during divorce proceedings, an expert gathers information and then evaluates a spouse’s education, interests, skills, knowledge, and experience to determine what career options are the best fit. Then they conduct a labor market analysis to assess the likelihood that an individual can get a job, and what they can expect to earn, both immediately and in the long-term. By continuing to work with the individual to focus on career objectives that match their talents and interests, a vocational expert helps the individual to effectively concentrate on a realistic career direction.

2. Written and Verbal Communication – Once the career objective has been established, it’s time to write a resume along with creating other communication tools to broadcast one’s talents and interests to the job market. A vocational expert can help the job seeker create a strong message that shows how their talents can contribute to the success of organizations.

Verbal communications include brief (30 and 60 second) personal branding statements to effectively introduce themselves in networking situations. Preparing for job interviews includes anticipating what questions a prospective employer will ask as well as creating a list of questions that the candidate wants to ask the employer.

3. Effective Sources of Job Leads – After career objectives have been set and communications tools have been developed, the job seeker is ready to use a number of sources to identify job leads. Surveys show that networking to develop referrals into perspective employers is still the best way to find a new career opportunity, so specific emphasis is placed on how to identify referral sources, develop relationships and get introduced to hiring managers. The Internet has revolutionized the job search process, so learning how to use it effectively to research companies, support networking strategies, identify job postings, and submit applications is also important.

By following through to support a spouse in planning and developing an effective job search campaign, the vocational expert can assume an expanded role in ensuring a positive outcome to the divorce process.

If you or a friend are contemplating divorce or going through a divorce case now, consider our lawyers and staff as your top resource to help you garner your best results in such a challenging life transition. Email the firm today at [email protected] or call 480-240-0040 for a complimentary consultation.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Scottsdale Divorce Lawyers Look at Jolie – Pitt Divorce

Recently, the news of Angelina Jolie filing for divorce from Brad Pitt has made headlines around the globe. Together for twelve years and married for two years, this Hollywood couple had become known for their extra-large brood of children, international travels, worldwide philanthropy and being “Brangelina.”

Although the Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group have not worked with the couple, we can acknowledge some important factors in this upcoming divorce.

Community Property – Most states, except those listed as community property states, use the “common law” system of property ownership. In these states, it’s usually easy to tell which spouse owns what. If only your name is on the deed, registration document, or other title paper, it’s yours. If you live in a community property state, including both Arizona and California, the rules are more complicated. Generally, in community property states, money earned by either spouse during the marriage and all property bought with those earnings are considered community property that is owned equally by husband and wife. Therefore, both starlets may have to divide all assets they’ve acquired since being married.

Child Custody – When initially filing for divorce, Jolie asked for physical custody of the couple’s six children and asked that the judge give Pitt visitation. News sources have since reported that Jolie was granted full physical custody of the couple’s children. Pitt will reportedly have visitation rights, the first of which will be monitored by a therapist who then has the authority to allow or deny unmonitored visits. In addition, Pitt will have to submit to random drug and alcohol testing, as Jolie reportedly accused him of having a drinking problem. No matter what your divorce situation is, the transition can be exceptionally difficult on the children. It’s always suggested to try to compromise out of court to avoid tolling legislation with your children.

If you’re looking for a Scottsdale divorce attorney and / or family law attorney contact us today. Any delay can affect your future and the wellbeing of your children.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Scottsdale Family Attorneys at Canterbury Law Group

The Scottsdale family attorneys at Canterbury Law Group handle all types of Phoenix and Scottsdale family law matters including divorce, child custody, paternity, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, spousal maintenance, Decree enforcement, child relocation, father’s rights, mother’s rights and grandparents’ rights.

If you are not sure whether or not you need a family law attorney in Scottsdale, here is an outline of what our lawyers can likely help you with:

  • Divorce – Whether you are considering filing for divorce or you’ve already been served with a divorce petition, it is critical to speak with an attorney immediately to assess your legal rights and take the necessary steps to protect them. Every situation is unique and our attorneys are well equipped to provide you with the tools to make the best decision that suits your particular situation.
  • Prenups/Postnups – Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be smart financial planning tools for all marriages but are especially common in second and third marriages, for business owners and/or when one partner has a large inheritance (received or expected in the future
  • Father’s Rights – Our attorneys are experienced in helping Fathers get fair and equitable treatment by the courts in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Arizona.
  • Child Custody – Typically when parents cannot mutually agree on a child-rearing plan, the court will often establish a plan that both parents must follow concerning the children’s health and welfare. Arizona law requires that the best interest of the child be the lead consideration above any other.
  • Alimony – Spousal maintenance is where one spouse pays the other spouse monthly support payments for a defined term of months or years after the divorce is final to help the less wealthy spouse transition to the next phase of their life and ideally for them to be come self-sufficient.
  • Paternity – When a couple has children without being married, they should still legally establish who the lawful father of the child is, as well as determine what rights and obligations exist toward the child. Get your court orders now, while the child is young—do not wait until later.
  • Relocation – Out of state relocation by parents and children has become a common issue in family law and is taken extremely seriously as it often has a profound impact on all involved. As a result, Arizona has very detailed laws which outline specific requirements and guidelines for cases involving a parent who wishes to relocate the child or to prevent child relocation out of state.
  • Grandparents – Once a grandparents’ rights petition is filed, the court will consider several specific statutory factors to determine whether a court-ordered grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the child. These rights cannot be pursued unless at least one parent is dead or the parents are divorced.

Ultimately, we realize that hiring a Scottsdale family attorney can be a challenging task. Call the lawyers at Canterbury Law Group today to schedule you consultation. 480-240-0040

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