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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Annulment in Arizona

Are you wondering if you are eligible for an annulment? Learn about the grounds for annulment in Arizona and how to obtain one.

Annulment is a frequently misunderstood legal concept, owing to the fact that popular culture and religion have promoted divergent and frequently erroneous views of what an annulment is in family law.

This article discusses “civil annulments,” as opposed to “religious annulments,” which can be granted only by a church or clergy member and have no legal effect on your marital status.

Annulments and divorces are similar in that they both establish marital status. However, the critical distinction between them is that divorce terminates an existing, valid marriage, whereas annulment simply declares that what everyone believed was a marriage was never actually one. An annulled marriage never existed in the eyes of the law.

Arizona’s Grounds for Annulment

There are several circumstances in which you may petition an Arizona court to annul your marriage:

  • One of the parties was married to another individual (bigamy).
  • The parties are blood relatives.
  • At the time of the marriage, one of the parties was a minor and did not obtain the consent of a parent or guardian.
  • One of the parties, or both, lacked the mental capacity to marry.
  • Both parties lacked the physical ability to marry.
  • At the time of the marriage, one or both parties were intoxicated.
  • The parties lacked the intent to enter into a marriage contract, either one of them or both.
  • The parties failed to obtain an official marriage license in a timely manner.
  • Instead of marrying each other in person, the parties used a proxy (substitute).
  • One of the parties committed fraud in order to obtain the consent of the other party to the marriage.
  • The one party used coercion (legally referred to as “duress”) to coerce the other party into agreeing to marry.
  • The parties have not engaged in sexual relations or one of the parties has refused to engage in sexual relations.
  • One of the parties fabricated information about his or her religion.
  • One of the parties omitted information about his or her previous marital status.
  • One of the parties planned to violate a premarital agreement in secret.

How Can I Obtain a Court Order Terminating My Marriage?

Due to the fact that annulment actions are heard in Arizona’s superior (trial) courts, you must file your paperwork at your local courthouse. By court order, an Arizona superior court judge can declare a marriage null and void and annul it. The “plaintiff” (the party seeking annulment) should file an annulment petition, and the defendant should respond. Additional documents may be required, and both parties must adhere to the rules governing service of process. Both will be summoned to appear in court, where the court will hear testimony, consider written submissions and applicable law, and issue an order.

Because annulments have significant financial and custodial consequences, it is critical to consult with a lawyer prior to proceeding.

Certain individuals fear that if their marriage is annulled, the paternity of their children will be questioned. Technically, this is correct. Due to the fact that an annulled marriage is invalid, the children born of the “marriage” are illegitimate, as if they were born to single parents. This, however, is a technical distinction with little practical significance, as Arizona law provides that “every child is the legitimate child of its natural parents and is entitled to support and education in the same manner as if born in lawful wedlock.” Thus, all children in Arizona receive the same level of protection and support regardless of their parents’ marital status, whether they are divorced or never married. While that statute does not affect parental rights, the courts in Arizona have also determined that parents of children born outside of marriage have co-equal custody of their children once paternity is established.

In Arizona, a presumption of paternity is created (a strong legal assumption that the alleged father is the biological father) if any of the following are true:

the father and mother were married within the ten months preceding the child’s birth, or the child is born within the ten months following the marriage’s termination by death, divorce, or annulment.

  • Genetic testing establishes at least a 95% probability of paternity.
  • A birth certificate is signed by both the mother and father of an unmarried child, or
  • Both parents sign a notarized or witnessed statement acknowledging paternity.
  • Thus, the majority of children born out of annulled marriages in Arizona are almost certainly covered by a paternity presumption. If a father wishes to contest this presumption, he must establish his paternity through “clear and convincing” (very strong and substantial) evidence.

Additionally, the Arizona court hearing the annulment case will determine parentage and enter custody and child support orders.

Because an annulled marriage is legally regarded as never having been valid, courts in the majority of states lack the authority to award alimony or divide property or debts. This is because there cannot be a marital estate without a valid marriage. However, Arizona is unique in that it has a more generous statute. According to Arizona law, when a marriage is annulled, the courts must divide the property between the spouses.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Top Reasons for Divorce

Before you consider divorce, be sure to speak to the Scottsdale divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group to discuss your case and options. A divorce lawyer can act as both a legal counselor and sounding board during this life-changing decision. Although there are many variables and unique reasons for divorce, we have included the statistically top reasons people file divorce in the U.S.

  • 1. Lack of communication. A successful relationship requires constant communication. Distance in a marriage is created quickly if you don’t share your feelings.
  • 2. Finances. If money becomes a consistent topic of disagreement, the road to divorce is almost inevitable.
  • 3. Feeling constrained. Some feel that marriage is holding them back from achieving goals and taking opportunities. If your partner can’t support your dreams, then they may not support the marriage.
  • 4. Trust. Trust is one of the leading factors in having a successful relationship and marriage. Your marriage is unlikely to survive if you do not trust your significant other.
  • 5. Expectations from each other. When expectations aren’t met, it can put a huge strain on the relationship.
  • 6. Your spouse doesn’t understand / fulfill your needs and desires. Everyone has different needs and wants. A successful partnership requires going the extra mile to fulfill a spouse’s needs and wants.
  • 7. Religious and cultural differences. Religious beliefs and cultural values can cause conflict, which affects the way you live your life and raise your children. This situation is often a deal breaker.

Consider the three most common reasons for divorce to determine whether or not your marriage can be saved.

Adultery or having an extramarital affair

When one person seeks fulfillment of their physical or sexual needs outside of the relationship, this can spell the end of the relationship. It’s extremely difficult to regain trust after a partner feels betrayed.

Extramarital affairs cause between 20% and 40% of marriages to fail and end in divorce. This is one of the most frequently occurring reasons for divorce. The reasons people cheat are not as black and white as our rage would have us believe.

Along with differences in sexual appetite and a lack of emotional intimacy, anger and resentment are frequently cited as underlying reasons for cheating.

Oftentimes, infidelity begins as an apparently innocent friendship. It begins as an emotional affair and develops into a physical one.

Infidelity is a leading cause of divorce. Apart from living apart for more than a year and subjecting your partner to cruelty, this is also one of the legal grounds for divorce (mental or physical).

Financial difficulties

Money makes people amusing, as the proverb goes, and it is true.

If a couple is not on the same page about how their finances will be handled, it can result in disastrous consequences.

Why is financial incompatibility a leading cause of divorce? According to divorce statistics, a “final straw” reason for divorce is a lack of financial compatibility, which accounts for nearly 41% of divorces.

Everything from divergent spending habits and financial goals to one spouse earning significantly more money than the other can wreak havoc on a marriage. Additionally, differences in the amount of money each partner brings to the marriage can result in power struggles between the couple.

Money has a profound effect on everything. It has an effect on people’s lives. Clearly, money and stress appear to be inextricably linked for many couples.

Financial difficulties are one of the leading causes of divorce, second only to infidelity as the primary reason for divorce.

Inadequate communication

Communication is critical in marriage, and an inability to communicate effectively and quickly results in resentment and frustration on both sides, negatively affecting all aspects of the marriage.

On the other hand, effective communication is the bedrock of a healthy marriage. When two people share a life together, they must be able to communicate their needs and understand and attempt to meet their partner’s.

Yelling at your spouse, not conversing enough throughout the day, and making derogatory remarks to express yourself are all unhealthy modes of communication that should be abandoned in a marriage.

Additionally, when couples stop communicating with one another, they can feel isolated and lonely and eventually lose interest in one another. This can result in the relationship’s demise.

Poor communication is one of the leading causes of divorce in 65 percent of cases.

While practicing mindful communication to correct age-old marriage mistakes can be challenging, the effort required to improve and save your relationship is well worth it.

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. Delay may result in limiting your options. 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. Hit the ground running on your marital dissolution and consult with the legal professionals at www.canterburylawgroup.com or call 480-744-7711.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

It’s a strategic decision whether to file for divorce before your spouse does, and one you might be able to avoid if you can file an uncontested divorce.
Is it important who files for divorce first when it’s time to end your marriage? It may be able to: When it comes to deciding some issues in a divorce, the non-moving spouse (the spouse who does not file for divorce) may be at a disadvantage.

Why Is It Important to File for Divorce First?

One (or both—more on joint filing later) spouse must file a divorce petition with the court to begin the divorce process. The petitioner is typically referred to as the “petitioner,” while the non-filing spouse is referred to as the “respondent.”

If you know there’s no way to reconcile, filing first may provide you with some strategic advantages, such as:

The location of the court is your choice. The petitioner gets to choose the jurisdiction (place) for the divorce procedures as long as the petitioner follows state and municipal regulations about where a divorce can be filed. Many states have a residence requirement in place to prevent either spouse from filing for divorce in a state or county that favors one spouse over the other. In Michigan, for example, the filing spouse must have lived in the state for at least 180 days and in the filing county for at least 10 days before the court will consider the divorce petition. (Michigan Comp. Laws, Section 552.9 (2021)) If your spouse files first and lives 100 miles away, you’ll have to travel to their courtroom for any divorce-related matters, which will take more time and money than if you filed first in the court closest to you.

Control over the divorce’s progress. The spouse who files for divorce usually has a little more say in how quickly the divorce proceeds. By filing first, you’ve started the process at your leisure, while your husband is forced to answer according to the court’s schedule. You’ll then have time to plot your next move while your spouse is working on a response.

The opportunity to make a good first impression. The petitioner’s statement concerning the grounds (reasons) for the divorce is included in the original divorce filing. The claims in the petition will be the court’s first exposure to information about the case—and if you file first, it’s up to your spouse to change the court’s first impression.

The first chance to place a temporary order. Before notifying the other spouse of the initial divorce petition, the spouse who files first might seek the court for temporary orders. These orders may place restrictions on what each spouse can do with marital finances or property, provide protection for one spouse against the other, award temporary child custody, or provide temporary child or spousal support. Non-filing spouses will have the opportunity to respond to any requests for orders, but they must do so before or at the same time as their petition response. Non-filing spouses can’t get their own temporary orders until they’ve responded to the petition.

Furthermore, the petitioner will be the first spouse to submit their case at trial in many courts. Being the first to speak at a trial isn’t always advantageous: it allows the opposing side to hear your arguments and prepare a rebuttal.

Should I Hire a Lawyer?

In some circumstances, both spouses can come together and make difficult divorce-related decisions without the assistance of an attorney or going to court. There’s no need to hire an attorney if you know you won’t be able to work things out with your husband. However, you may wish to employ an attorney to assist you in negotiating with your spouse or his or her counsel.

Even if you opt to handle your divorce on your own, you can still seek legal advice. An attorney can assist you evaluate if filing first would be advantageous in your instance during a consultation.

Is it always the case that one spouse files first?

Depending on your state’s rules, you may be able to file a “joint” divorce petition (also known as an uncontested or collaborative divorce in some jurisdictions), which implies that both spouses agree to the divorce as well as all divorce-related matters. The couple drafts a divorce settlement agreement and attaches it to their petition. In many states, an uncontested divorce is more efficient than a contested divorce, saving time, money, and relationships.

The following details must be included in your divorce settlement agreement:

  • the reason for the divorce (grounds)
  • each spouse’s portion of the filing fees at the court
  • how you’ll split up your marriage assets and debts
  • whether one spouse will pay spousal support, and if so, how much and for how long

Which spouse will be the primary caregiver for any young children (custodial parent)?

  • a timetable for the non-custodial parent’s parenting time or visitation, and
  • the amount of child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent

In most states, the court will approve a divorce if both spouses agree to all of the terms in writing. When minor children are involved, the court may ask the judge to carefully scrutinize the terms before approving them. Nonetheless, the court will allow the custody and support arrangements as long as they are in the best interests of the children.

Mediation Can Assist You in Filing a No-Fault Divorce

Divorce mediation is one option to avoid the headache of deciding whether or not to file for divorce before your spouse. You and your spouse meet with a neutral professional mediator to resolve the issues in your divorce, either in person or online. You will have a written settlement agreement to present to the court at the conclusion of a successful divorce mediation, and you will be able to proceed with an uncontested divorce.

If either spouse disagrees with any of the divorce terms, the case becomes contested, and the pair must follow the state’s contested divorce procedures.

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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

5 Divorce Mistakes to Stay Away From

Sure, every divorce has unique attributes that make the experience different for each person. Having said that, there are a myriad of mistakes we find to commonly observe during a divorce. If you’re even considering divorce, divorce attorneys in Scottsdale recommend the following critical advance checklist to help you avoid these unnecessary issues.

 

Settlements That Assume Status Quo

One of the main goals of a divorce is to establish an “equitable split” of assets, which requires an understanding of your current situation and true market valuation of all your assets. At times, this necessity to focus on the present state of affairs can result in an analysis that doesn’t take into consideration potential future events. Unfortunate events can occur at any point after a divorce and may include things like job loss, disability, health changes or asset depreciation.

Complications can always arise when it comes to paying for college when a settlement agreement focuses too heavily on the maintenance of the status quo. For example, if college costs are to be split based on salary, what happens if/when you or your spouse lose your job? Unforeseen future events can put you in a difficult situation and pay for a large expense (e.g. maintenance, college tuition) you hadn’t previously planned for.

When negotiating your divorce settlement, remember to consider what might not be the same in the future. You will want to speak with your attorney or financial adviser about considering these potential changes.  There are many moving parts and you should trust seasoned legal counsel to navigate you through the process.

Unrealistic Lifestyle Expectations

Divorce means there is no longer one household, but two households.  The standard of living is likely to drop for both parties post-Decree.   Difficult decisions about who should keep the house, or if it should be sold, have emotional, practical, and financial implications for both parties for years to come. Housing is just one of numerous lifestyle decisions faced when a divorce takes place. Unfortunately, too many divorcees expect to live a similar lifestyle in divorce, including for their children. This is a false reality—both parties are still making the same money, but now two roofs and two sets of bills must be paid.  Quite often, there is simply not enough money to go around for anyone to live the same, let alone better after the divorce.

Avoiding The Details

Facing the logistics of a divorce can be exhausting, especially if it’s a complicated situation (which it usually is). Lengthy legal proceedings require you to reveal the details of your life. At the same time, you’re asked to gather a large amount of data and information to support negotiations, and this usually doesn’t end just because the divorce comes to a close.  Get ready to gather documents and disclosures the likes of which even your worst mortgage refinance would have ever taken.  It’s a reality and part of the process.

Lack of Financial Literacy

One of the main reasons these rampant mistakes occur during a divorce is that both parties lack even a basic financial education. Modern financial literacy is generally learned through experience rather than in school. Take time to educate yourself so you don’t run into problems.  Better still, hand the entire process over to a seasoned professional who has handled hundreds of divorces before yours ever began.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

The Role of Parenting Coordinators in Arizona Child Custody Cases

Arizona Rules of Family Law, under Rule 74, allows judges to appoint a parenting coordinator in divorce and child custody cases. So what exactly is a parenting coordinator? How will having one affect the case? Are parenting coordinators good for children? This article will touch on these questions and briefly explain how parenting coordinators could benefit (or not) from a family law dispute.

What are Parenting Coordinators in Arizona?

Recently, many states have begun to appoint parenting coordinators in child custody cases. Arizona has had a parenting coordinator rule since 2011, and it was amended in 2016. A parenting coordinator, in simple terms, is a third party appointed by a judge to resolve or alleviate disputes between parents fighting for child custody. Many types of professionals can be appointed as a parenting coordinator. Usually, a child psychologist, a therapist or even a family law attorney is appointed a parenting coordinator.

In Arizona, parenting coordinators have what’s called “quasi-judicial” authority. This authority is limited under the law. Parenting coordinators cannot actually change how legal decisions are made in the child custody case. However, parenting coordinators have the authority to step in and resolve some disputes arising from conflicts not specified in the court-approved parenting plan.  Both parents must agree to use a PC for each one year term assigned by the judge.  If at any time the other parent does not want the PC term to renew, the PC concludes their term and is no longer involved.   

What do Parenting Coordinators Do?

It’s important to understand that parenting coordinators cannot change any clauses in the parenting plan. But other things that parents disagree with, which are not explicitly stated in the plan, can be resolved with intervention from the parenting coordinator.   Think of a PC as a referee—hired by the court—to keep the case out of court ideally.  

Parenting coordinators, for example, can step in and help when parents disagree about pick up and drop off locations of kids when sharing joint custody. Parenting coordinators can also resolve other problems with regards to holiday scheduling, meeting dates and times, and after-school activities. The law allows parenting coordinators to resolve disputes related to personal care, health, school choice, discipline and managing problem behavior in children.

Parenting coordinators, however, are not judges and their authority to solve issues are limited by law. Therefore, it’s still highly recommended to get Family Law help in Scottsdale if you and your ex cannot civilly agree on how the kids are taken care of. It’s best to have a parenting coordinator and a lawyer present during the case. If you want to change the parenting plan, it will require the assistance of a family lawyer and go to court by formal motion to the judge.  

Why Have a Parenting Coordinator?

Divorcing parents can disagree on many things from serious issues like children’s health to minor problems like how to cut a child’s hair or ear piercings (it happens). Parenting coordinators can step in and restore sanity to a situation when parents are unable to negotiate peacefully.

The alternative to having a parenting coordinator is time-consuming litigation. When parents are fighting over an issue related to custody or the parenting plan, finding a court resolution to the issue involves modifying existing court orders. Doing so means that both parents have to undergo costly litigation that could take months or years.  Therefore, having a parenting coordinator is more cost and time effective—so long as both parties agree to the formal one-year appointment of a PC.  

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Alimony Factors in Arizona

Alimony is the former name for what’s now called spousal maintenance. Alimony is financial assistance that the court orders one spouse to provide another spouse when a marriage ends. One spouse must request spousal support for the court to issue an order compelling the payments. There are several factors that a court takes into account when determining alimony. The court first examines certain qualifying factors to determine if one spouse even can procure alimony and then and only then decides how much and for how long.   There are no juries in Arizona family court, only a sitting judge.  So whether you like it or not, one person, in a black robe, will someday make a big decision on how much and how long your ex-spouse may or may not be paid upon divorce.

The Need for Spousal Maintenance

The court first decides whether one spouse actually qualifies for spousal maintenance and whether the other has the means to pay, before ordering maintenance be paid. A spouse may request alimony if he or she does not have enough property after marital distribution to provide for oneself, or is somehow unable to find proper employment. If one spouse has significantly contributed financially to the other spouse’s education, then alimony can be requested by the spouse who contributed. The court will look at the other’s spouse’s financial situation as well. A divorce lawyer in Scottsdale can help you file an alimony petition.

Duration of Marriage Affects Alimony

The longer the separating couple has been married, the higher the chance for alimony for one spouse may be. Generally speaking, if married less than 5 years, procuring maintenance from the wealthier spouse can be a challenge, or impossible. Once one hits ten years or more, the ability to obtain maintenance for some period of time appears to jump significantly.  If you have been married 30 years or more you can almost guarantee that someone is going to be paying spousal maintenance to the other.

The law of Arizona specifically states to take the duration of marriage into consideration when setting alimony. However, the law does not specify the ideal duration or a minimum duration. So even a spouse that was married for just a week can technically request alimony.  As noted, however, marriages of short duration rarely qualify for a payout.

Can Alimony Be Granted to Unfaithful Spouses?

The short answer is yes.  This is a common question for some divorcees. Understandably, a spouse may not want to pay alimony to another who has been unfaithful throughout the marriage. So, some spouses may prefer to have such spousal misconduct be a factor in determining alimony. However, in Arizona, divorce is not granted based on spousal misconduct. Arizona is a no fault jurisdiction.  Thus, couples can file for divorce in Arizona without providing a reason. If one spouse contests the divorce, the other spouse only has to show to the court that the marriage is broken beyond repair. Marital misconduct is not legally relevant to the divorce proceedings, and therefore will not play a role in any alimony fight. Unfaithfulness on one side does not lead to automatically denying alimony for that spouse, nor does the court demand the cheating spouse to pay the other. The same applies for dissolution of covenant marriages.  Long story short, while he or she may have cheated—he or she may still get paid by the Court depending on your income and length of marriage.

Prenup Roles in Alimony

A prenuptial agreement is an optional private contractual agreement that spouses enter into before marriage. When a couple divorces, a prenup is upheld for the most part if all provisions are in accordance with the law. If one spouse has agreed not to seek alimony in a prenup, the court will often uphold this in divorce proceedings. However, the court may rule otherwise if the spouse that needs alimony could end up in a welfare state without spousal maintenance. Arizona law allows courts to decline the validity of prenups if one spouse could end up in dire financial need following divorce.

Determining alimony is affected by many factors. Consult with a competent divorce lawyer to secure alimony as you desire, or to defend vigorously against paying it.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Marriage Annulment in Arizona

Marriage annulment is a term many people have heard of, but only a few really understand. Forget about what you may have heard about annulment on TV. There are actually two types of marriage annulments: civil and religious. A religious annulment is granted by a religious institution like a church and its clergy. Civil annulment is granted by a court of law and affects your legal civil status. This article explains civil annulment.

What is Civil Annulment in Arizona?

Civil marriage annulment takes place when a court declares that a marriage is not valid but void. It means that the court legally declares that for legal purposes the couple was never married. It can be confusing, but if what was considered a marriage was not obtained in accordance with legal requirements for marriage in Arizona, the court can annul the marriage. It’s sort of like a court “erasing” a marriage. It is as if the marriage literally never happened.

The Two Types of Civil Annulment

Courts in Arizona classify annulments in two ways as voidable marriages and void marriages. A void marriage is a union that was not valid from the beginning. Arizona has a list of prohibitions for marriage, such as incest, which would make a marriage completely invalid. If a biological brother and a sister got married, this is not a marriage that the state recognizes as valid, and therefore would incur in a void annulment.   There are several other methods by which a marriage can be deemed void and you should consult a family law attorney for more details.

A voidable annulment is where one party can seek an annulment from a court. For example, if one spouse was deceived into marrying the other, the wronged spouse has the right to request a voidable marriage annulment.  Deception grounds can include, for example, failure to consummate the marriage by one partner refusing to ever have sex with the other spouse at any time after the ceremony.  Again, consultation with legal counsel is critical before you seek annulment.

Is an Annulment Any Different from Divorce?

Getting a divorce involves going through often-lengthy court proceedings to formally end a marriage. The important difference between divorce and annulment is that in the case of the former, the courts recognize the marriage as valid, and thus to end it there must be divorce proceedings according to the law. Annulments do not require going through lengthy court proceedings. Once a judge declares a marriage invalid, it’s no more.  It typically can occur far faster than a conventional divorce litigation.

It should be understood that not all annulments are quick and painless. There are very specific grounds under which a marriage can be annulled.  Absent qualification for such a remedy, your case will be diverted to a conventional divorce resolution like everyone else.

What are the Grounds for an Annulment?

Under Arizona law, there is a list of “void and prohibited marriages.” Any marriage that falls in this category is not recognized by the state as valid. Arizona prohibits marriage between parents and children, between grandparents and grandchildren, between whole or half-blood brothers and sisters, between first cousins (but only under certain conditions), and between uncles or aunts and nieces and nephews. Same sex marriage was also once considered “void and prohibited”. However, recent Supreme Court rulings have changed that. Same sex marriage is now legal and the law of the land.

There are other reasons a spouse can request an annulment, such as fraud, deception, coercion, intoxication (when getting married), underage marriages without parental consent, mental illness, “mock” marriages, inability to consummate the marriage, bigamy, and incest. To know for sure if your marriage can be annulled, get family law help in Scottsdale.

If the couple has children, the annulment proceedings will determine which party should be responsible for the children. The court may not recognize certain property as “marital assets” if the marriage is considered void. You should contact a lawyer with specifics to find out how annulment proceedings may affect children or assets. Annulment compared to divorce can generate a significantly different outcome in property allocations in any divorce or annulment scenario.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Common Misconceptions about Divorce in Arizona

We all have our own ideas about divorce. When it comes to the legal aspects of divorce, most people have significant misunderstandings. The legal process to divorce in Arizona is straightforward, but cases that go before a judge can become really complicated. If you are considering a divorce, it’s very important to realistically understand the legal process and consequences. Here is a list of common misconceptions about divorce most Arizonians have:

Does Filing a Court Petition Equal a Divorce?

When you file for a divorce in a court, you are required to file a petition. Some people believe this petition to be equal to a legal divorce. It is not. You are legally divorced when a judge says so and issues a ruling which recognizes the formal Date of Separation. From that day on, your civil status will be officially divorced and single, but not a day before. This date is very important because your income and property ownership (that you retain after the proceedings) only become non-marital property after this date is set by the court.

Can Child Custody be Arranged According to a Prenup?

This is an absolutely inaccurate idea. Prenups can set provisions for things like asset division in a divorce. However, child custody is solely up to a family court to decide. Child custody is largely a matter of public policy that ensures the well-being of a child. That requires judicial assessment of a child’s current living situation. Therefore, having provisions for child custody is highly improper in a prenup agreement. It could possibly render the whole agreement void. To make sure your prenup agreement has no chance of being voided by a court, consult with a divorce attorney in Scottsdale.

Can A Spouse be Ordered to Pay My Attorney’s Fees?

In Arizona, the laws allow for a divorce court to order one spouse to pay the legal fees of the other in whole or part. However, this is very much subject to a judge’s independent review. The aim of these laws is to eliminate any income disparity between the spouses from hindering access to similar legal representation (going to court on “a level playing field” so to speak). However, the judge will see how “reasonable” both parties are. In other words, your spouse will be ordered to pay your legal fees if only the request is evaluated as reasonable and that your positions are in fact reasonable as presented in court.

Is Alimony is Forever in Arizona?

Courts in Arizona typically set alimony for a specific period of time, such as until a child comes of age. The purpose of alimony is to provisionally support a spouse in need. But alimony is not financial life support. If the receiving spouse dies, remarries or cohabits with another, then alimony can be terminated.   Generally speaking, the longer the duration of the underlying marriage, the longer the potential duration of payout on spousal maintenance.

Creditors will Only Go After the Spouse for Debts He or She Agrees to Pay Off

Arizona is a “community property” state. That means that any debts incurred during a marriage become the presumptive responsibility of both spouses. The actual person who signed the loan agreement may not always matter. This status applies even after a divorce. Your spouse could agree to pay off a credit card loan or the home equity line of credit in the divorce agreement, but you won’t be completely off the hook. If the spouse fails to pay, the third party creditors could come after you. Any agreement in a divorce is between you and the spouse, not the creditor.

Hopefully, now you are a bit more enlightened about what getting a divorce means in Arizona.

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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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