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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Grandparent Rights in Arizona

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

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

How Can Grandparents Get Visitation Rights?

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

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

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

Eligibility of the Grandparent

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Can Grandparents Petition for Visitation Rights

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

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

Grandparent Rights in Arizona

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

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

How Can Grandparents Get Visitation Rights?

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

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

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

Eligibility of the Grandparent

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Can Grandparents Petition for Visitation Rights

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

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

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Find a Divorce Mediator in Arizona

A divorce mediator is a neutral third-party that tries to facilitate legal negotiations between spouses who are getting divorced. If you and your spouse cannot come to conciliatory terms on your own, you may require the services of a divorce mediator.  Some spouses conduct the mediation with just a mediator and no lawyers (3-way mediation), and others bring their own lawyers to aid their representation in front of a private mediator (5-way mediation).

Hiring a divorce mediator is not the same as hiring an attorney. A divorce mediator has the interests of both spouses in mind. That’s why your divorce lawyer in Scottsdale cannot typically act as a mediator; the lawyer will always act on your behalf, and the same goes for the other party’s lawyer as well. Divorce mediators listen to both parties, assist positive communications, and try to get the divorce negotiations going.

Here is a list of qualities to look for when finding a divorce mediator in Arizona:

Neutrality is Very Important

The purpose of hiring a divorce mediator is to level the playing field and make the talking table less hostile and aggressive. So make sure the person you hire is absolutely neutral. That means no friends, family, colleagues or divorce lawyers. The divorce mediator will act as an advocate, but not a legal advocate. All responsible divorce mediators encourage spouses to hire divorce lawyers separately to review any legally-binding agreements.  Mediations can be one day or a series of days.  Both spouses may want to consult their own privately retained lawyers before, during or after mediation sessions.

Search for Mediators who Offer Flat Fees

No matter what, you will both have to pay for a divorce mediator. Good divorce mediators understand that the financial costs of divorce are high, and offer affordable rates. Ideally, find a mediator that charges only a flat fee for all services provided. Avoid the ones that charge various additional fees. Divorce mediation in Arizona can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000. The spouses can split the costs.  This is usually far cheaper than heavily contested litigation with lawyers on both sides.  Even if mediation ‘fails’, you will be far better equipped to enter the court system against your spouse with your separately retained legal counsel.

Choose a Mediator who Knows the Law

Divorce mediators do not have to be lawyers, but they typically are and are always knowledgeable about the law. It’s best to choose one of these mediators so he or she can help you both make informed decisions regarding the separation process. During negotiations, an educated mediator will be able to make suggestions according to the established law. You can then have these suggestions run by your lawyer to see if they are in your best interest.

Strong and Stable Communication is a Must

Divorce mediators typically excel in communication. However, communication goes both ways. If you are, for any reason, uncomfortable communicating with the divorce mediator, it’s time to look for a new one. Mediators must encourage fairness with the other spouse and act swiftly to diffuse problematic situations. Without the proper manner of communication, a divorce mediator will not offer many benefits to you.   You can walk out, your spouse can walk out, and in some cases, the mediator will terminate the session if he or she believes that a final mediated settlement is not achievable.

It’s best to hire an experienced divorce mediator who has been doing this job for years. Many private litigation attorneys practice divorce mediation part-time. You might also consider a full-time divorce mediator who can dedicate full attention to your case. The problem with divorce lawyers acting as mediators is that lawyers are used to battling for a client, not acting as a neutral party. So, hire a neutral mediator and hire a lawyer separately to watch out for your best interest in the negotiations.  As noted, some parties elect to conduct 5-way mediations: (1) Husband (2) Husband’s legal counsel (3) Wife (4) Wife’s legal counsel and (5) the Mediator.

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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

Understanding Parenting Time under Arizona Law

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

Is Parenting Time Different from Custody?

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

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

How is Parenting Time Granted?

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

How Long Can Parenting Time be?

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

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

Is Parenting Time Limited to Parents?

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

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

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Protect Yourself against Creditor Harassment in Arizona

If you are far behind on a loan payment, you can expect the collection calls to start. However, if the collection calls are very frequent and disrupt your life, or the calls are threatening in any manner, then it can be considered harassment. Many indebted Arizonians face harassing calls and other harmful collection efforts from creditors. Here are several steps you can take to stop the abuse.

Try to Negotiate with the Creditor

The easiest and cost-free solution you can take is to try to negotiate with the creditor to settle the debt. Instead of not picking up the phone, in which case the creditor will find other ways to reach you, or ignoring calls, talk to the creditor directly. If your finances are too tight to pay back your loans, discuss it with your creditor and you may be able to come to new terms. Depending on your negotiating skills, and the creditor’s willingness, you may be able to get a payment extension, a reduced interest rate or a waiver or both.

If the creditor is particularly abusive, it is probably best not to engage should the behavior gets worse on the part of the creditor.

Call a Lawyer Immediately

It’s highly recommended to call a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale or your local area to put a legal stop to harmful third party collection efforts. There are attorneys who specialize in providing relief to those who suffer from abusive creditors. No matter how much you owe, creditors cannot harass you as a part of their collection efforts. There are both federal and Arizona state laws to protect debtors against harassing creditors.

Protection is granted to consumers under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The law outlines personal rights when it comes to debt collection practices. You can consult with a lawyer to find out whether any of your rights under FDCPA has been violated. The lawyer will be able to tell you if the behavior you have endured from the creditor can be considered a legitimate collection effort and what remedies you may have under the FDCPA.

You Can Sue if You are a Victim of Abusive Practices

If you know that you have been subjected to illegitimate collection efforts or practices that can be considered harassment, you can sue the creditor in question with the help of an attorney. The collection practices in question may be considered a violation of either state or federal law.

Harassment, in general,  that involves constant phone calls, multiple phone calls on the same day, auto dialing calls and calling without leaving messages can be considered unfair practices. If the debtor calls your friends, family, employer or another third party regarding your finances, then it is a violation of the law.  Other common creditor harassment practices include the use of threats, such as a threat to call the police on you, charging even more in addition to the debt such as late fees, not validating the debt or continuing to contact you after you have clearly stated your intent to refute the debt. If you have been subjected to any of these, you can take your case to court.

Additionally, filing for personal bankruptcy can relieve you of harassing debt collection efforts literally overnight.  Speak with a seasoned bankruptcy attorney to evaluate your many options. Call us at 480-240-0040 for more help on these issues.

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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

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

When you file for bankruptcy in Arizona, you are bound by state as well as federal laws. Before you file for bankruptcy, you need to know whether you actually need to. Most people who are deep in debt opt to file for Chapter 7, which provides a certain degree of debt relief, asset protection and management of existing debt. However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can only be used once every seven years. So, you really need to know whether you want to file for bankruptcy now or seek alternative solutions.

When it comes down to it, it will be up to you to decide whether you should file for any form of bankruptcy. A credit counselor may be able to help you. Before you make up your mind, here are several tips on filing for bankruptcy in Arizona:

Take Advantage of Arizona’s Exemption Laws

Arizona’s Exemption Laws allow a certain degree of protection against repossession of assets by creditors who have provided unsecured debt. For example, if you are neck deep in credit card debt, you don’t need to fear that the credit card company might show up and demand your house or car. Credit card debt is mostly dischargeable under Arizona law. Likewise, if you want unwanted collection calls to stop, you can simply do so by informing the creditor that you have filed for bankruptcy. Consult an attorney in your local area, for example, a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale, to know whether you can benefit from exemption laws and avoid filing for bankruptcy, or hastily seek to file.

Income may Only Qualify You for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your household income must be below the state median income for households of your size. If you fail this “means test,” you may have to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Moreover, a bankruptcy judge can later examine whether your income is sufficient to repay debt under Chapter 13, rather than file under Chapter 7.

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have to repay your existing debt in part under a strict household budget. Your finances will be closely watched by a court-appointed Trustee. If you fail to meet any of the court-mandated obligations, then the Chapter 13 filing could later result in sanctions or “conversion” to another type of bankruptcy under the code. Having competent legal counsel at your side at all times is critical.

Moving on with the Proceedings

If you have made up your mind to file for bankruptcy, you will have to go to a court at the zip code you have lived in for at least 91 of the past 180 days. If you haven’t lived at your current address for this amount of time, you should use the court relevant to your old zip code address. Expect most of the proceedings’ paperwork to be distributed through via snail mail. With or without counsel, you will have to go to the bankruptcy court in person at least once. Go online to find information about your court and to download important documentation.  Appearing in a federal court house is often easier to digest with a competent licensed attorney by your side.

Cost

There are a number of fees associated with filing for bankruptcy in Arizona. In addition to paying for a lawyer, you will have to pay fees for things like mandatory pre-filing credit counseling, filing forms, making copies, and other similar tasks. Fees for different things will vary. For example, getting counseling can cost between $25 and $100.  Costs can be as little as $400 for preparing documentation. However, hiring a lawyer may cost as much as $5,000.  Every case is different.  Be careful agreeing to the “lowest cost” bankruptcy attorney who later calls you demanding thousands more in fees to continue with your case.  Like anything in life, lowest price does not mean highest value.   

If your income is too low, some of these costs may be waived off or you might only have to pay a portion of the fees. Filing for bankruptcy is not free, so do expect to pay as you go through the federal proceedings.

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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.

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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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