Written by Canterbury Law Group

5 New Year’s Resolutions for a Happier Marriage

A new year means a fresh start for many. It’s a chance to begin something new, whether or not you have been working at it for years before.

A new year can be just what some couples need, especially if the word divorce has come up in the past. There are New Year’s resolutions you can make that focus on you and your spouse to work at your marriage and fix any issues that have been bothering you.

Even after working at your resolution to help your marriage and it’s still not working, there is always your divorce lawyer in Scottsdale to help you evaluate your next path. Before that though, try some of the following New Year’s resolutions for couples who want to work at a happier marriage.

Have More Date Nights

A healthy marriage is one in which the couple spends time together with just the two of them. Regular date nights are a way to ensure that you have that quality time.

Date night could be anything from sending the kids off on a sleepover and having a movie night at home, to going away for the weekend to your favorite destination. Either way, the purpose is to spend alone time with your spouse.

Turn the Phone Off

Smartphones can quickly become an issue in a relationship. If you spend more time browsing your phone than you do talking with your partner, there’s a good chance an issue will come up, if it hasn’t already.

Have times during which you turn your phone off so that your attention is on your spouse and family. Don’t think that you can multitask and talk with your spouse while on your phone. It just doesn’t work that way.  The phone will alienate your spouse and your children.  Put it down for the night and focus on your spouse and kids.

Show How Much You Care

Sometimes, all a marriage needs to keep it on track is for the partners to show each other that they still care. It’s easy to forget that we still need that attention and affection after many years of marriage. We may know that our spouse loves us, but if they don’t ever say it and show that they do, that confidence can quickly fade away.  We’re all vulnerable and need affirmations of love and respect from our spouse.

Work on Communication

Communication is key in any relationship, especially in a marriage. Many fights could be avoided if the couple would properly communicate with each other.  Good communication should include when things are negative as well as when they are good. Your partner should be able to sit down and talk through any problems he or she may have, and vice versa.

Grow Your Passion

The longer you’re together, the easier it is to let the passion between the two of you fade away. Not only that, many start to lose their passion for their everyday activities in general. When that passion fades, it’s hard to be happy.  The average healthy couple who does not divorce is romantically together only 11 times a year! That is not a lot for most couples, but consider making a mutual goal to be together at least once a month to stay the course and make the marriage last for 20, 30 or 40 years or more.

Make 2019 a year that you and your partner grow your passion between the two of you, and with life. Remember why it is that you are with each other and focus on that. Take trips that will boost your passion and reignite that connection all over again. Fuel your passion for your own life by getting back into the things that you love.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Holidays and Parenting Time in Arizona

The end-of- the-year holiday season is typically the biggest time of the year for many families to get together. If the parents are divorced, the Christmas season could bring forth new disputes. It’s very important to protect children from any sort of drama during the holiday weeks, especially when they expect to spend their school vacation enjoying themselves. In Arizona, the divorce decree usually also includes a separate parenting time plan that lays out who time is shared over the holidays.

Holiday Parenting Time Under Arizona Law

The family courts in Arizona have a statutory requirement for divorcing couples with children to provide a holiday schedule. Under A.R.S. §25-403.02 (C), this plan must include a “practical schedule” for how parenting time is allocated during the holidays. There should be specifications for with whom the child would reside, how the child should be transported, and a reconciliation method in case disputes arise.

Parents should specifically arrange a parenting time plan for the year-end holidays. Unlike other vacation times, the November-December period involves many public holidays, seasonal celebrations, and family gatherings. The child might require transportation more so than during other long holidays like the summer vacation. It’s highly recommended that divorcing parents get family law help in Scottsdale to come up with a reasonable plan.

Organizing a Parenting Time Plan for the Holidays

Very generally speaking, parenting plans during the holidays can be developed in three primary ways. First, some parents agree to have the children for Christmas every other year. For example, mom could have the kids for Christmas and Thanksgiving during even years, and dad during the odd years. Some parents divide holiday time evenly during the day. For example, the kids would spend Christmas mornings with mom and the evenings with dad. Other parents designate certain holidays for themselves. For example, the kids may spend every Thanksgiving with mom and Christmas with dad.

Of course, parenting plans can be adjusted according to different religions and cultures. Adjustments can also be made depending on the vacation time the parent gets. However, it’s very important to have the holiday season planned ahead and in writing. The arrangements are ideally made months in advance unless it’s already specified during the finalization of the divorce. But practical concerns do arise every year, so ex-spouse’s with children should make arrangements early.

Be Specific with the Details

More importantly, divorcing parents must make sure the parenting plan is highly specific. For example, separating parents may decide to give mom the kids for Christmas during even years. But that’s a very basic provision. Is “Christmas” limited to just Christmas day? Will the children require transportation from parent to parent? On which day and at what time will the kids be dropped off and picked up again? These specifics should be handled in the parenting plan.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Family Law and Child Custody Information

Determining the custody of a child when divorcing is not easy. Child custody and the related laws are largely determined by state law, though certain federal policies may apply. Here are some basic facts to know about child custody if you are filing for a divorce:

Working out the Custody of a Child

There are two ways to decide which parent gets custody: by trial or private mutual negotiation outside of court. Some parents who divorce amicably can discuss among themselves regarding with whom the child may live after the divorce, and who can visit and when. Divorcing couples can also hire a third party mediator to ensure that these discussions go well. If the parents are unable to reach a mutual agreement, then the case would go to trial where a judge (not a jury) will decide custody and visitation rights.

Types of Custody

There are different types of custody family courts grant.

Physical custody: Also known as “parenting time”, this is the type of custody that decides which parent the child lives with majority of the time. Courts usually grant physical custody to both parents on a joint and equal basis absent parental fitness issues. 

Legal custody: Also known as “legal decision making”, if the court has already appointed a physical custodian, then the other parent might get legal custody. It’s the right of a parent to make decisions about the child’s welfare, education, health, religion even when the child is not living with him or her.

Joint custody: This is an arrangement where the child spends equal amounts of time with both parents following a divorce. There are both proponents and detractors of this type of custody. It’s ultimately something the divorcing parents have to decide. Getting joint custody requires showing cooperation between the divorcing couple and the willingness to make decisions about the child’s welfare together.

Split custody: If the divorcing parents have multiple children, the court may decide to “split” up the custody of the children among the parents. For example, if there are two children, the court may grant custody of one child to only one parent. Courts, however, do not usually separate siblings in this manner.

To determine the type of custody best suited for your case, you will need an attorney’s help. Hire a local attorney from your county, for example family Law help in Scottsdale if you live in Arizona.

Unmarried Parents

Not only divorcing parents need to decide the custody of the child. There are different laws that determine the custody of the child if the parents are unmarried. Most states have laws requiring the granting of physical custody to the biological mother of the child as long as the mother is fit to be a good parent. Unmarried fathers often do not get custody of the child, but Fathers are typically preferred for custody over other relatives like grandparents, or prospective foster or adoptive parents.  Unmarried parents can sometimes be awarded 50/50 custody.  Every case is different. 

How Custody is Granted

The courts take into account various factors when granting custody. Mainly, the court will decide which parent is best suited to be a child’s main caretaker. The child’s wellbeing is always considered above the desires of the parents or others who have filed for custody.

Different states evaluate the “best interest” standard differently. But, most take into consideration the mental and physical fitness of the parents, the child’s relationship to parents or others in the household, the need for a stable home, religious or cultural issues at play, the child’s treatment at the hands of parents, possible history of abuse, and so on. If the child is old enough, his or her wishes will also be taken into consideration.  Each state has different rules of how old a child must be before his or her ‘wishes’ regarding custody will be heard by the Court. 

The parents in any case should hire a good attorney to prove to the court that they are the most fit to be the child’s primary caretaker. It will be up to you to protect your parental rights, as the courts will prioritize the child’s.

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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