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What determines who has custody of a child

TLDR: factors such as living situations, finances, mental health, and emotional connections play a role in custody battles. The entire purpose of a custody battle is to ensure children live in a safe environment after divorce. You’ll have to prove your ability to care for all of your child’s needs if you plan on becoming the custodial parent.

What determines who has custody of a child

Marital problems are never a pleasant thing for any parties involved. Things become even trickier when children are a part of the picture. While you two work out your problems, your child or children still need to be fed, clothed, and protected. Coming to an agreement on these various factors is difficult for most couples experiencing a divorce. In these situations, a court must step in.

The battle in what determines who has custody of a child

Battling for custody of your child is no easy task. Throughout the process, you’ll be forced to prove your capabilities as a parent. Failing to do so can result in you losing total custody of your child. No one wants that to happen, so it’s crucial to educate yourself about what determines the final decision in a custody case.

Whether you’re going through a custody battle or will be soon, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find tons of information about what determines who has custody of a child during a legal battle over custody.

What determines who has custody of a child

For starters, the prominent factor judges use to determine which parent gains custody is finance related. Without enough monetary income, you can’t support a child. So, it’s essential to show proof that you can support your child. Another critical yet controversial factor is the parent-child bond.

This refers to how strong of a relationship the child has with one or both parents. Your child’s well-being is the most important thing when going through a divorce. By allowing children to stay with the parent, they feel comfortable with, healthy development is assured.

The parent’s mental health is also vital. Children who live in chaotic environments tend to develop bad emotional habits. By allowing children to go with the parent most mentally equipped to handle them, their odds of success later in life are much higher.

Finances are also significant; children need a balance of shelter, food, clothing, and other accommodations. It would be unwise for a judge to grant sole custody to a parent unable to financially support the child.

Making your custody battle go as smoothly as possible

Custody battles can be very nasty in terms of the bickering back and forth between both parents. To increase your odds of winning as much as possible, you need to have all your information organized. Be prepared to present financial statements, mortgage/rent documents, criminal records, and more.

All of this will be used to make the final decision on which parent gains custodial custody.

People Also Ask

Q: What factors influence child custody?
A: Finances, mental health, living conditions, and children’s well-being are all factors that impact custody decisions. The judge presiding over your case will use a combination of these factors to make their final ruling.

Q: What should you not do during the custody battle?
A: Some of the things you should avoid getting into when going through a custody dispute include: verbal arguments, physical altercations, arrests, and neglected child support payments.

Q: Who is most likely to get custody of a child?
A: The fittest parent will receive custody of the child. Previously, children under the age of five were given over to their mothers. Things have changed now.

Understanding what determines who has custody of a child

Use all of the information in this article to make your custody battle as favorable to your position as possible. Take heed to all the warnings and tips we’ve given you. As long as you do so, you’ll be able to present a solid case to the judge.

For more information on getting legal defense in your case, contact Randle Palmer & Bernays today.

Divorce. What is best for the children?

Divorce. What is best for the children?

Divorce. What is best for the children? Divorce is not only challenging for the two people involved in the relationship, but it can also take a significant toll on your children.

While children often can pick up on the tension between their parents, studies indicate that a whopping 80% of children who experience a split between their parents when they are young, do not show any signs of being negatively impacted by the decision.

How divorce affects children of a certain age

On average, children aged 6-10yrs old are least affected by divorces; however, children aged 1-2yrs old’s seem to be the most affected. Every marriage goes through its good times and bad times; however, when children become involved in the equation, the stakes become even higher.

If you’re someone who is currently experiencing issues in your marriage and are considering divorce, it’s crucial that you think about what is best for your children and not just the two parents involved.

There are several aspects to a divorce that must be considered to ensure that both parties are satisfied with the end results, while also making sure that your children aren’t affected adversely by the whole ordeal.

The good news is that if you are trying to get a divorce, you can do a few things to make sure your children feel safe and loved while you and your significant other split up.

Every child handles divorce differently, while some children enjoy both parents being the home regardless of whether they fight all the time or not. Some children understand the dynamic between their parent’s relationship and can pick up on signs that there may be unhappiness looming. This is why it’s so important to speak with your children about how they feel when going through a divorce so that you can make sure everyone in your home is happy with whatever decision you two decide to make.

Below, we’re going to give you some helpful tips and information that you can use to get a divorce from your partner in the most amicable way possible.

Figuring out what’s best for your child during a divorce

One of the significant factors that impact children during a divorce is the custody arrangement that goes into place once the divorce is finalized. If your child has a great relationship with both parents, a custody arrangement will likely have little to no effect on them.

However, this can change in situations where a child may have a stronger relationship with one parent as opposed to another.

Divorce. What is best for the children?

Your divorce dynamics will also play a huge role in determining how well your child reacts to the split. For example, some couples are able to separate without any bad blood or bickering during the process. If this fits your situation, the good news is that you will likely not have to worry about your child experiencing any adverse side effects after you and your partner decide to do a split.

If you and your significant other have been having problems for quite some time now, the odds of your child being able to pick up on the tension between you two is very high. If your child is coming to you and asking questions about why “mommy and daddy” are arguing, the odds are they are able to sense all of the hostility between you two. In this circumstance, it can be beneficial to sit down with your child or children so that both of you can explain to them exactly what’s happening in order to get their input about how they would feel in the event of a divorce.

The good news for those out there dealing with marital issues is that a new phenomenon known as joint physical custody or JPC is slowly but surely on the rise within the United States. Joint physical custody is essentially “equal opportunity” parenting as both guardians are required to share equal splits for their children in terms of child support, housing, and the overall amount of time that each parent gets to spend with them.

Making the split happen

Once you’ve spoken with your child about the decision that you and your partner are about to make, you can proceed with the official court hearings so that you can make your divorce final.

Every divorce hearing is different, given that each couple will have unique elements to their situation that may not apply in other circumstances.

It’s best that you speak with a family attorney anytime you plan on getting a divorce so that they can give you advice on the best steps to take with your case on an individual basis.

People Also Ask

Q: Can divorce ever be good for a child?

A: According to statistical data, about 80% of children who experience a divorce can adapt without showing signs of any negative impacts on their social abilities, school grades, or mental health. This commonly happens when a child has developed a strong relationship with both parents.

Q: How do I help my kids through a divorce?

A: There are many things you can do to make the divorce process much easier for your children. This includes things like offering support during the separation process, maintaining good health, help them verbalize how they feel about the entire situation, and encouraging an atmosphere of honesty with your child.

Q: At what age does divorce affect a child?

A: Research shows that children’s worst age to experience a divorce is between the ages of 6-10. Alternatively, the best periods for a child to experience separation are between 1-2yrs old.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to handle a divorce while also considering your children’s feelings and emotional state, it’s time for you to make it happen. Before filing for a divorce, ask yourself these two questions: “Have I noticed any odd behavior from my children since my partner, and I have decided to split?” and “What is my child’s relationship like with both my partner and me?” These questions can be used as litmus tests to determine whether or not divorce is right for you.

Further reading: A self-help guide to best practices for parents getting divorced where children are involved.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us

How to get legal guardianship of a child?

How to get legal guardianship of a child?

How to get legal guardianship of a child?

Becoming the child’s guardian is a very daunting and time-consuming task; before you become the guardian of a child, you need to become informed about the entire process. To become the child’s guardian, you first need to file a petition; then, you need to get a letter of consent from the child’s parents. Some judges will want to conduct interviews at your home in addition to checking your criminal background before granting you guardianship rights. To make sure you handle the entire guardianship process correctly, you should consider consulting a family law attorney to help you.

How to get legal guardianship of a child?

If you’re currently going through a messy divorce battle with your spouse, chances are you will be trying to obtain legal guardianship of your child once all of the hearings and court appearances are done. Custody battles can be very tricky and often involve several aspects that all play a significant role in helping the presiding judge decide which parent will receive superior guardianship privileges.

However, in instances where the child’s well-being is in apparent jeopardy by one parent, your odds of gaining sole guardianship over your child are very high. You need to get a few essential documents in order before going into the courtroom to face the judge to be sure that you have the highest odds of winning the case.

For those out there who have been trying to gain legal guardianship over their child, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’re going to give you a detailed breakdown of all the crucial details you need to know about approaching your upcoming custody battle.

Gaining legal guardianship over your child

Before you can gain guardianship over any child, you first must sign a petition that clearly outlines your interests and reasoning behind wanting to become a guardian. A letter of consent from the child’s parents will also be required before you are granted full guardianship rights over the child in question.

After the petition is filed, the court will proceed to arrange interviews with you, and in some instances, they will also want to interview the child and their parents. In most cases, the courts will also want to conduct a home visit, criminal background check, and inspection for the person requesting guardianship to ensure they are suitable for parental oversight.

 

If you’re a parent who wants to give up guardianship of your child, that is very possible; however, you must follow a very particular process in order to do so. When choosing a guardian for your child, you need to make sure that they meet the following requirements:

  • Able to physically fulfill their responsibility
  • Has to be of legal adult age
  • Must be able to spend adequate time with the child
  • Must be financially stable enough to care for your child

As long as the person meets all of these requirements, you will be able to appoint them as the guardian of your child. It would help if you kept in mind, there are instances in where the legal parents of a child will reject your request for guardianship.

In this event, guardianship will only be granted if the situation meets the following criteria:

  1. The parents have had their parental right terminated, or they have abandoned their child
  2. A judge finds it in the best interest of the child to remove them from the parent’s custody
  3. The current parents give consent

Being a child’s legal guardian is no easy task. If you plan on claiming sole guardianship of a child, you need to be ready to spend a lot of time with them and prepare yourself for the financial obligation that becoming a guardian entails.

After you win the case

After you’ve filed the petition, write the letter of consent, and complete all of the requirements outlined by the judge, you will be able to achieve a favorable outcome in your guardianship case. If you have any questions about the process of obtaining guardianship over a child, don’t be afraid to ask questions as it will help make the entire process much easier.

Make sure you find the correct probate court in the county in which the child lives or where any prior child custody orders have been filed. As long as you’ve made sure that becoming a guardian is something you are ready for, you can go through the entire process quickly.

It’s always advised that you speak with a family law attorney before getting into any guardianship hearings just so you can make sure all of your T’s are crossed and I’s dotted.

People Also Ask

Q: Can one parent give guardianship to another person?

A: Yes, if you feel as if you cannot meet the basic living demands of your child, you can go to the court and file a guardianship transfer order. Keep in mind, guardianship over a child only lasts until the child reaches the legal age.

Q: Can I file for guardianship without a lawyer?

A: In most cases, you do not need to contact a lawyer in order to ask a judge to be appointed the guardian of a child. You can obtain all of the necessary paperwork to file for guardianship from your local courthouse.

Q: How much money do you get for guardianship?

A: As of 2014, the average yearly salary for a court-appointed guardian was about $30,000. The requirements to become a point appointed guardian to differ between districts and states; this is something you want to keep in mind before applying to become one.

Conclusion

All of this information can be used to help you ensure that you get a favorable motion granted in your efforts to gain guardianship over a child. Before starting the process, you need to ask yourself these two simple questions: “Am I really ready to become a child’s guardian?” “Am I financially able to support a child?” Once you answer these questions, you will have a clear idea of whether guardianship is right for you or not.

If you need further advice on how to get legal guardianship of a child, please contact us

You may find this article  to seek help on Short-Term Temporary Guardianship helpful

What is default judgment in a child custody case mean?

What is default judgment in a child custody case mean?

What is default judgment in a child custody case mean?

A default judgment in a child custody case is a decision made by a judge in favor of one party due to the inaction of the opposing party. In a child custody battle, if a defendant fails to respond to the inquires of the court within enough time, a default judgment can be granted in favor of the plaintiff.
Child custody cases are some of the most challenging cases for many judges around the country to handle. This is due primarily to the very personal nature and often hostile courtroom environments that these types of cases produce. If you’re someone going through a child custody battle, it’s essential to know all of your case’s possible outcomes so that you can prepare yourself to gain the upper hand in the judge’s eyes.

A default court judgment is basically the final option for child custody cases in which one party has not responded to a court inquiry in enough time ad outlined by the appointed deadline. Another settlement option that you’ll have the ability to accept is an agreement; an agreement means that both parties have concluded on a final means of resolution for a case.

Depending on the relationship between the two parties involved in a child custody case, coming to an agreement or settlement in which both parties are satisfied can be nearly impossible. In this instance, a default judgment is likely to happen.
To help you better understand exactly what a default judgment is and how to avoid one if you’re the defendant in a child custody case, we’re going to provide you with a detailed breakdown below.

What does it mean to get a default judgment in a child custody case?

After the defendant and plaintiff’s initial court appearance in a child custody case, the defendant will have 21 days to respond to the initial court inquiry with either a complaint or summons. If a defendant in a child custody case fails to take either action within 21 days, the plaintiff has the ability to request a default ruling.

In the event that the judge grants a plaintiff’s default ruling request, the plaintiff will be required to appear at a short court hearing to get the final custody order approved. Once approved, the plaintiff will receive a custody decree which finalizes the battle between both parties.
As a plaintiff in a child custody case, a default ruling is one of the best decisions you can ask for because it means that the defendant essentially didn’t put up a fight.

How to set yourself up for the best possible outcome in your child custody case

If you’re the defendant in a child custody case and want to avoid a default judgment at all costs, you need to make sure that you respond to any court inquiries which may come your way after the initial hearing. As long as you submit some sort of response within the allotted amount of time, you will be able to dispute any claims the plaintiff throws against you.
If you’re confused about any of the details in your child custody case, mainly, you should contact a reliable family law attorney to help you.

People Also Ask

Q: What is a motion of default judgment?
A: A default judgment is any judgment made in favor of one party due to a failure to act on behalf of another party. You will often see default judgment rendered in favor of the plaintiff when a defendant fails to respond to a summons or other court order.

Q: What happens after a motion for default is filed?
A: The defendant will be given the ability to set aside the default judgment, and the judge must honor it. In this case, a new hearing will be scheduled and the court clerk will mail both parties a notice of the new hearing date.

Q: What happens if I don’t pay my judgment?
A: If a party fails to pay their judgment, the amount of the initial judgment amount will increase on a daily basis. The amount of interest a party pays on a judgment they have not fulfilled will increase by 10% each year.

Conclusion

Now that you know precisely what a default judgment is, use it to prepare better your case against the judge on your first child custody hearing. Ask yourself what some of the most prominent points you have to make against the other party to increase your odds of winning your child custody battle are.

Arizona Divorce 101 – How Does it All Work?

Arizona Divorce 101 – How Does it All Work?

Arizona Divorce 101.

One of the questions most often asked when someone walks into our offices to pursue a divorce is; “How does this all ACTUALLY work?”.  The more we are asked this question, the more we realize that there is a lack of plain information for the average person wanting to know about the basics of divorce in Arizona.

So we will attempt to put it all together here, in a nutshell, so that someone who wants to understand the basics, the ideal timeline, the requirements, can walk away better informed.

Here at Randle Palmer & Bernays, we do not want to have clients hire us who in fact do not need our services. We regularly send people away with the “self-service” forms the court provides (they charge $10,  we do it for free) if the matter they are facing is straight-forward and can be handled without the help of an attorney. We do not subscribe to the “every case would be better if a lawyer was involved” theory, rather, we prefer to maintain our credibility and integrity through every action, even if it means we do not get hired.

This brief outline is not meant to substitute for legal guidance and is not legal advice. It is meant to give a general road-map of the process. Depending on the complexity of your situation a divorce can be finalized in as little as 61 days in Arizona or can stretch on for over a year in the worst cases.

In that vein, please see this fairly straight-forward explanation of the divorce process in Arizona. essentially the Arizona Divorce 101.

The Basic Principles in Divorce:

  • Arizona is a purely no-fault divorce state, which means that neither spouse has to prove blame or responsibility to end the marriage. The only question that must be answered is whether the marriage is “irretrievably broken”, which simply means that there is no chance that the spouses want to continue the marriage. A.R.S. §25-312 (Unless it is a covenant marriage)
  • Arizona is a community property state. This means in short, each party is “owner” of half of everything acquired during the marriage. Real property, retirements, debt, etc… A.R.S. §25-211(There are some exceptions).
  • When it comes to the kids; The Court is supposed to design a plan “that maximizes their respective parenting time. The court shall not prefer a parent’s proposed plan because of the parent’s or child’s gender. A.R.S. §25-403.02

The Minimum Requirements:

  • One party must have lived in the County they file in for the previous 90 days consecutively.
  • If there are children in common (the parties are the biological parents) the children must have resided in the County of filing for at-least 6 months prior to the date you file.
  • Because Arizona is a “no-fault” state all that must be “proven” is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”, which simply means that there is no chance that the spouses want to continue the marriage.

The First Steps:

In order to begin a divorce in the state of Arizona, one of the spouses (the Petitioner) must file a Petition with the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county of residence of either spouse (filing fees vary from county to county). The petition asks the court to legally end the marriage and to issue the orders that are necessary to deal with the spouses’ property, debts, child support, custody and alimony. Generally, the court will not give a spouse anything that isn’t requested in the petition.

When the petitioner files the petition he or she must also file:

  • Summons
  • A Notice of Right to Convert Health Insurance
  • Preliminary Injunction
  • Notice to Creditors
  • Domestic Relations or Family Court Cover Sheet

If there are children involved the Petitioner must also file:

  • Affidavit Regarding Minor Children
  • Order and Notice Regarding the Parent Information Program

The Petitioner must create three copies of the aforementioned forms.

  • The original must go(be filed) to the Clerk of the Superior Court
  • The next to his or her spouse
  • The final copies are for the Petitioner’s records.

Notice to the Other Party:

The Constitution guarantees that in both the 5th and 14th Amendments that a person be given notice before a lawsuit can be filed against them. This applies in divorce actions: In order to let your spouse know that you are filing for divorce, copies of the above forms (the summons, the petition etc.) must be served within 120 days of the filing of the petition.

The other party is not “on notice” and thus the divorce action isn’t really “live” until one of the accepted forms of service has been completed and the notice of such is filed with the Clerk of the Court.

To Respond or Not to Respond:

This is where the road begins to fork; The Respondent has 20 days to respond if they live in the same state the petition was filed in and 30 days if they live out of state.

If the Respondent does nothing, you can, and should, file for a default. Provided the Respondent has been appropriately served, and they do not respond, your petition will likely be granted in its entirety and the divorce will be done. This is subject to some specific rules and requirements (like most of the stuff in this process).

However if a response is filed, the case will move forward to the next steps.

The 60 Day Waiting Period

In the state of Arizona, a divorce cannot be granted until at least 60 days have passed since the petitioner served his or her spouse. Once this waiting period is over, if both couples agree on the terms of the divorce, or if proceeding by default, then the divorce can be finalized rather quickly. However, if the couple cannot agree on the terms, than the case will go to court and a judge will settle the terms.

Curveballs and Detours

TEMPORARY ORDERS: Because some cases require significant research, negotiation or, in the worst cases full-blown trials, the court can establish “rules” for the in-between times. This is done at a “mini-trial” where the court hears evidence and argument and then decides things like: Parenting Time, Child Support, Spousal Maintenance (alimony), who stays in the home, who pays the bills, etc. These rules last until a final agreement, order, or decree is in place.

CHILD INTERVIEWS: In some cases it is appropriate to ask the Court to have the child(ren) interviewed to ascertain how they feel about things. Please note that the Court is not obligated to allow this, and generally decides based on the age and maturity of the specific child.

Mediation

In any case where there are minor children involved the Courts generally require that the parties attend mediation to try and work out an agreement on issues specific to legal decision making and parenting time ONLY. No agreements are required, but as a general rule the case will go much smoother in the long run if the parties can agree on at least a few things during this process. Mediation is done without the lawyers or judge. A trained mediator works with the parties in a neutral environment to maximize the potential for agreements to be made.

Disclosure & Discovery

The rules that govern the divorce process outline the very specific things that each party can ask the other party to provide in the way of information and documents. Many of these things are mandatory to provide, such as a financial affidavit, and depending on the issues involved, this process can be very complex and significantly stretch out the length of the divorce.

Setting For Trial

When all the disclosure/discovery has been completed, or is very close to being completed, the case can be set for a trial. When this happens the Court will set a date for the trial and some other specific events. These are:

Settlement Conference

This is a meeting between the parties, their lawyers, and a neutral 3rd party (usually a Judge Pro Temp) where the issues are worked on and any agreements are put on the record to narrow the scope of what will be argued at trial.

Final Pre-Trial Conference

This is a short hearing in front of the Judge where the issues for trial are nailed down and any last minute administrative details are worked out.

Trial

This is largely self-explanatory but trials can last anywhere from an hour to several days depending on the complexity, amount of issues, evidence to be presented, witnesses, etc.

Final Decree

This is the piece of paper (several pages actually) that finally outlines the terms, conditions, and rules of the divorce moving forward. The decree details property division, child support, spousal support, parenting time, legal decision making, returning maiden names, terms for future enforcement or changes, and any other final or binding orders.

If you have questions or think it may be too much for you to handle on your own, call us for a FREE consultation at (520) 327-1409 today.

Read more on divorce in Arizona 

Staying For the Kids

Staying Together For the Kids

Staying Together For the Kids, We often hear from clients that the reason they are still in a bad marriage is “for the kids”. While the logic is understandable, the reality is that this is actually much worse for everyone involved, especially the kids!

The experts agree that what children need and want more than anything are stability and calm. If the “normal” state of the home is chaos and fighting the damage can be long-lasting and much worse than working through a divorce.

However, creating a “new normal” where the marriage ends, but so does the cycle of anger and venom, can significantly improve the quality of life for everyone in the family, ESPECIALLY THE KIDS!

If you are in an unhealthy marriage and are looking for a better way for everyone involved, give us a call today for a free consultation at (520) 327-1409

 

Staying Together For the Kids

Here are important links to both Child Custody and also Child Support

Here is a link to a great article on Staying together for children

The 10 Documents You Need to Gather to Prepare For a Divorce

The 10 Documents You Need to Gather to Prepare For a Divorce

Prepare For a Divorce.

When someone is considering ending a marriage, they often start by gathering the information they think they need…

Even with the best of intentions, most people don’t get the things they will actually need to provide to either their lawyer, the other party or the Court. Some lawyers would have you believe that the information you need to gather is a secret, or is a matter of their specific expertise, and that just isn’t true.

We want to take the mystery out of the process, so with that in mind, here are the 10 most important documents to gather in preparation for a divorce. This list is not all-inclusive, nor is it exhaustive, but it is the minimum you should gather to give the case an easy start.

Prepare For a Divorce

1. Financial Documents in Divorce

Specifically – proof of income from all sources, completed tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and K-1 forms, for the past two (2) calendar years, and year to date income information for the   current calendar year, including, but not limited to, year-to-date pay stubs, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest,  trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, recurring gifts, prizes, and spousal maintenance.

  1. Proof of court-ordered child support and spousal maintenance actually paid in any case other than this one;
  2. Proof of all medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums paid for any child listed or referenced in the petition;
  3. Proof of any child care expenses paid for any child listed or referenced in the petition;
  4. Proof of any expenses paid to private or special schools or other particular education needs of a child listed or referenced in the petition; and
  5. Proof of any expenses paid for the special needs of a gifted or handicapped child listed or referenced in the petition.

2. Property Paperwork for divorce

Unless you and the other party have entered into a written agreement disposing of all property issues, or no property is at issue, each of you must provide to the other the following information:

  1. Copies of all deeds, deeds of trust, purchase agreements, escrow documents, settlement sheets, and all other documents that disclose the ownership, legal description, purchase price and encumbrances of all real property owned by either party;
  2. Copies of all monthly or periodic bank, checking, savings, brokerage and security account statements in which either of you has or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date the information was provided to the other party;
  3. Copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing the value of all pension, retirement, stock options, and annuity balances, including Individual Retirement Accounts, 401 (k) accounts, and all other retirement and employee benefits and accounts in which you have or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements are available for this time period, the most recent statements or documents that disclose the information;
  4. Copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing that cash surrender value, face value, and premiums charged for all life insurance policies in which either party has an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to filing of the petition and through the date of the disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements are available for this time period, the most recent statements or documents that disclose the information;
  5. Copies of all documents that may assist in identifying or valuing any item of real or personal property in which you or the other party have or had an interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition, including any documents that the party may rely upon in placing a value on any item of real or personal property.
  6. Copies of all business tax returns, balance sheets, profit or loss statements, and all documents that may assist in identifying or valuing any business or business interest for the last two (2) completed calendar or fiscal years with respect to any business or entity in which any party has or had an interest; and
  7. A list of all items of personal property, including, but not limited to, household furniture, furnishings, antiques, artwork, vehicles, jewelry and similar items in which any party has an interest, together with the party’s estimates of current fair market value (not replacement value) for each item.

3. Debts

Unless you and the other party have entered into an agreement disposing of all debts issues, you will need to provide the following information:

  1. Copies of all monthly or periodic statements and documents showing the balances owing on all mortgages, notes, liens, and encumbrances outstanding against all real property and personal property in which the path has or had in interest for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of disclosure, or if no monthly or quarterly statements are available during this time period, the most recent statements or documents that disclose the information; and
  2. Copies of all credit card statements and debt statements for all months for the period commencing six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition and through the date of disclosure.

4. Health/Dental/Vision Insurance Plans

With premium breakdowns for all plan options.

5. School Records

This is specifically for the kids common to the parties.

6. Employment Records

(to include your schedule, length of employment, position, etc.).

7. Text or Email

Communication With the Opposing Party

That would benefit you. Remember that this sword cuts both ways, and the Court is far from stupid, they have seen the old “only show 1/2 of the conversation” trick and the other party will likely bring the whole record.

8. Any Police Reports, Orders of Protection or Court Records

 

Concerning you, the opposing party or children. Domestic violence, abuse, neglect, etc.

9. Disclosure of Witnesses

You will need to provide the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witness whom you expect to call to trial, along with a statement fairly describing the substance of each witness’s expected testimony. You have to provide this information to the other party at least sixty (60) days before trial unless a different deadline is ordered by the court.

10. Continuing Duty to Disclose

You have a duty to make additional or amended disclosures whenever new or different information is discovered or revealed.

Here is the link to the main divorce page

Additionally, here is a link to Divorce in Arizona with children

Benefits, Are They Community Property?

Benefits, Are They Community Property?

Arizona Community Property.

If you or your spouse are a retired service member that is divorced or divorcing, I have some news for you: in Arizona, the benefits that are received for military retirement can, and likely will be divided, in part, between you and your (soon-to-be) former spouse.  That is because Arizona is a Community Property State, which in a nutshell means that any property interest acquired by either spouse during the time of the marriage belongs to both people and divorce can be split in half. 

“But what does this have to do with military retirement?” I’m glad you asked. Retirements and pensions are viewed by Arizona as property during a divorce…  I can see you connecting the dots:  If retirement is property, and that “property” was acquired through military service while we were married, then each party can claim a property interest in the retirement.

Arizona Community Property

If you did not know about this before, this news may be a bit troubling, but I have some good news that is disguised as a headache. Just like every time you or your spouse dealt with S-1 (Admin clerks), nothing that the military does is simple.  The benefits that you or your spouse, do, or will eventually, receive as a retired Veteran can be: Military Retirement Benefits; TSP disbursements; Medical Retirement; VA Disability Compensation; Temporary Early Retirement; Super Secret Squirrel Hush Money,…the list goes on. 

Just like there are many ways for Uncle Sam to say, “thank you for your service”, the Arizona Courts have many ways of telling you that you and your former spouse need to share those benefits.  Division of Community Property-as I spoke about earlier-, Spousal Maintenance (commonly known as alimony), and Child Support.

Understanding Community Property

The importance of exactly how, and what, you get paid cannot be understated, as is fully understanding what an Arizona Court can order that you pay. While Federal and State laws provide protections for the spouses of Veterans (i.e. community property interests in retirements), there are also laws that protect Veterans from losing their much needed and hard-earned benefits. 

If you don’t know what laws affect your various benefits from the military, a slick lawyer could have you sign away benefits that you are rightfully entitled to.  Additionally, if you and your lawyer don’t understand the complexities of Military benefits and how Arizona and Federal laws treat each benefit, you won’t be able to protect your rights and claims to them.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Matthew Randle know how the laws treat your benefits, what you will need to pay, and how to protect your claims to them.  Call us at (520) 327-1409, schedule a consultation, and see how dedicated we are to protecting your interests.

Here is some more information on Arizona Community Property

Here is the main page on divorce in Arizona

Complex Family Law Issues Within Military and Veteran Families

Complex Family Law Issues Within Military and Veteran Families

Veteran Family Law Issues.

We will discuss the various sociological, psychological, and legal matters that can face current and former service members and their families.

A class that focuses on the myriad of issues that face current service members, veterans, and their families. Dissecting the psycho-social and legal implications of military service on the individual service member and those in their families. From Military and VA benefits to DV and Divorce, someone who has or is serving brings forth significant differences from the average family law participant. With the current studies demonstrating that less than 1 in 100 United States citizens have a direct relationship to someone who has or is serving in the military, and less than 1% of the population ever serving, the vast majority of people have little understanding of the challenges and implications of military service.

Veteran Family Law Issues

Understanding Military and Veteran Family Law Issues

Learning Objective #1 – Become familiar with the psycho-social challenges associated with military service and reintegration to society after service.

Learning Objective #2 – Become familiar with the various areas military service can and does intersect with the courts.

Learning Objective #3 – Become familiar with the various resources and options available when military-related issues show-up in your work.

List of presenters

  • Matthew Randle, Esq – Former Army Medic (1998-2003) owner and founder of The Law Office of Matthew Randle, which focuses on family law.
  • Andy Meshel, Esq – Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, UH-60 Helicopter Pilot, Partner/Attorney at The Law Office of Matthew Randle, which focuses on family law.
  • Moderator – TBD – Likely Paul Bennett

Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay

Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay

Retirement and Disability Pay.

Most people who served or are/were married to someone who served, have heard that you either draw Military Retirement Benefit or VA Disability Compensation. The basic principle behind this is that you cannot double-dip from both money pots. As such, especially in light of the fact that someone can “waive” their Military Retirement (which is taxable) and get VA Disability (not taxable) instead, to get a couple of extra dollars, most people choose the tax-free VA money as soon as it is an option.

The Supreme Court Case

In Arizona, this issue has turned into a major area of concern. Recently the US Supreme Court heard a case from Phoenix where the voluntary election of VA Disability pay reduced a former spouse’s payments from her community property share of her ex-spouses Military Retirement.

While we wait for the Supreme Court to decide what rights a former spouse has in this situation to be compensated for this “loss” of money the question remains, what can someone claim as sole and separate property when dividing Military and VA benefits in a divorce.

All of that being said, Recent policy changes at the federal level have changed the rules; A relatively new program called Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) now opens the door to receiving both your full military retirement pay AND your VA Disability pay if you qualify… To make it EVEN BETTER, it is an automatic benefit. You don’t have to apply or jump through hoops, if you are eligible, you get it.

Retirement and Disability Pay

Eligibility for Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay

You must be eligible for retired pay to qualify for CRDP. If you were placed on disability retirement but would be eligible for military retired pay in the absence of the disability, you may be entitled to receive CRDP.

Under these rules, you may be entitled to CRDP if…

  • you are a regular retiree with a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater.
  • you are a reserve retiree with 20 qualifying years of service, who has a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater and who has reached retirement age. (In most cases the retirement age for reservists is 60, but certain reserve retirees may be eligible before they turn 60. If you are a member of the Ready Reserve, your retirement age can be reduced below age 60 by three months for every 90 days of active service you have performed during a fiscal year.)
  • you are retired under Temporary Early Retirement Act (TERA) and have a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater.
  • you are a disability retiree who earned entitlement to retired pay under any provision of law other than solely by disability, and you have a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater. You might become eligible for CRDP at the time you would have become eligible for retired pay.

Deal with concurrent retirement and divorce at the same time

This benefit can really change things if you are divorced or getting divorced. This extra pay could cause a wrinkle in the property division portion of any divorce where one spouse is eligible for these benefits. The reality is that your ex-spouse and his/her attorney will probably try to take as much of these benefits as they can under current state laws.

If you or your ex is seeking Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) and/or Child Support this increase in income can cause further complications. While military retirement division is an issue of property rights in Arizona, Spousal Support and Child Support both consider the parties’ gross monthly income, and as such, this program can cause the calculations to change significantly. This is something that in many cases can and will be looked at retroactively and someone may be entitled to arrearages and back-payments in certain scenarios.

Unfortunately, few Judges, and perhaps fewer attorneys, understand the complex relationship between Arizona Family Law and the myriad of different military benefits that you or your ex-spouse may be eligible for. If you don’t have an attorney that understands your specific benefits, you might sign away your money or your ex’s attorney might be able to persuade the Judge to order you to pay money that you shouldn’t have to.

For Legal Help with Disability pay and Concurrent Retirement contact us today

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Matthew Randle know how the laws treat your benefits, what you will need to pay, and how to protect your benefits. We will make sure that you keep the benefits that you have earned. Call us at (520) 327-1409, schedule a consultation, and see how dedicated we are to protecting your interests.

More information on retirement and disability pay

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