Families are a source of many legal issues. From divorce to child custody to domestic violence. If you have questions, we at The Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp have answers. Here, we review a few of those questions and answers.
Should I File for a divorce or legal separation in Arizona?
In Arizona, there is little difference between legal separation and divorce except that in a legal separation, at the end of the term, you are still married so you cannot remarry until you are divorced. Legal separation still requires a court order on things like spousal support, child support, child custody/parenting time, division of assets.
So, whether you should file for a divorce or legal separation depends on whether or not you want to be completely free to remarry. Some people choose a legal separation due to religious concerns, others choose it because they aren't emotionally ready for the divorce or want to see if the relationship can rekindle during the separation.
Will It Help My Divorce if I Prove My Spouse Cheated on Me?
Today, in most states including Arizona, adultery doesn't play a huge role in Arizona divorces because most states are no-fault states. You can file for divorce simply because the marriage is irretrievably broken – other states use other language like irreconcilable differences. The only time adultery may make a difference in the divorce is if you had a postnuptial agreement that had provisions regarding adultery. For example, the postnuptial may state that if one spouse cheats, the other spouse gets such and such in a divorce.
Adultery plays a role in a divorce, too, if you had entered into a covenant marriage. To dissolve this marriage, you would need to prove adultery (or another specified grounds for divorce).
Does Arizona Recognize Common Law Marriages?
Arizona does not recognize Common Law Marriages.
Who Can File for Divorce in Arizona?
Either spouse can file for divorce in Arizona so long as one spouse has lived in Arizona for a minimum of 90 days before filing.
How Long Does it Take to Finalize a Divorce in Arizona?
The length it takes to finalize a divorce depends first if it's contested, and if it is, how complex the legal issues are. When a divorce is not contested and there are no children and very little in the way of assets, the divorce can be finalized quickly – within three months. Contested divorces can take 6 months to a year, if not longer.
Will I Get Spousal Maintenance? Do I Have to Pay Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support or alimony, is not as common as it once was. Arizona courts consider many factors, including:
- the length of the marriage
- each spouse's age
- each spouse's earning capacity
- children and their ages
- contributions made by each spouse
- existing prenuptial agreement.
Even if you are awarded alimony or if you are ordered to pay it, it is usually set for a certain amount of time and can later be modified.
What is Parenting Time in Arizona?
Parenting time in Arizona is a relatively new term to describe the amount of time children spend with each parent. Parenting time is outlined in a parenting plan, where things like transportation, vacation, and holiday time are all discussed. The plan is court-ordered, so each parent must follow it. Modifications are allowed by court order.
Who Will Get Child Custody?
Typically, in Arizona both parents have some kind of child custody – it's determined by what's in the best interest of the child. One parent may get primary physical custody or both parents may have joint custody where parenting time is split 50/50 or to the extent it's possible.
In some cases where both parents are not fit, grandparents could fight and win custody of the child.
Do I Have to Pay Child Support? Will I Get Child Support?
You may get child support or you may be required to pay child support. It depends on who has primary physical custody and how much each parent is able to financially contribute.
How is Child Support Calculated in Arizona?
The Arizona Supreme Court has a formula that courts use to determine the amount of child support. Each spouse's monthly gross income is added together. Then, things like medical, dental, and vision insurance, educational costs, child care, other expenses are determined. Then the court considers other child support obligations, including the parenting time each parent has with the child. From this information, each parent's child support obligation is determined.
How Are Assets Divided in Arizona?
Only marital assets are divided during a legal separation or divorce in Arizona. Anything not considered marital assets is not touched. Arizona divides marital assets under community property law. Under this doctrine, any property or assets purchased or otherwise acquired during the marriage is marital property regardless of who bought it or whose name is on it. Typically, marital assets are divided equally between the spouses.
What Types of Assets are Divided in a Divorce?
Assets that become part of community property in a marriage, and as such, is subject to a 50/50 divide upon divorce include things like:
- the home
- vacation homes
- home furnishings
- financial assets
- privately owned business
- retirement accounts
Do I Have to Prove Paternity to Get Custody?
When you are married, it's assumed the child is yours. When you are not married and your name is on the birth certificate, there is no question about paternity. It's when you are not married and your name is not on the birth certificate or when married but another person contests paternity that paternity matters. To get custody in either of these two situations, paternity must be proven.
How Will Domestic Violence Affect My Divorce in Arizona?
Because Arizona doesn't require proof of fault, a victim of domestic violence doesn't need to prove it. If the abusive spouse is convicted of domestic violence – either against the mother or the child, then this will impact child custody. To a lesser extent, it can also affect asset division and spousal support.
Can I Keep Children Away from an Abusive Parent? Will I Get Custody if I've Been Charged with Domestic Violence?
When determining child custody, courts must consider eleven specific factors as outlined in the law. Two of these factors involve domestic violence:
- whether or not there has been domestic violence or child abuse; and
- whether or not either parent was convicted of falsely reporting child abuse or neglect.
You are less likely to get custody if either of these factors applies.
Who Should I Contact if I Need a Family Law Attorney in Northern Arizona?
Family law can be complex, and the process and results can be highly emotional even traumatizing. We at The Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp understand this. We are compassionate and empathetic. We are also thorough and persistent. We will fight for you and your best interests. Contact us today to schedule a consultation if you are thinking about a divorce, want to pursue child custody, and/or the family law matter may involve domestic violence.