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How Does Divorce Impact My Bankruptcy Case?

By: Alex Coomer


November 24, 2020

©Alex Coomer Law, PLLC, All Rights Reserved.

It is a sad reality that financial stress is a major cause of marital problems.  Similarly, marital stress or living within an unhappy marriage can lead to bad financial decision-making and debt. Either way it goes down, bankruptcy and divorce law often overlap.  When these sad and difficult situations occur, there is a complex interplay between two different types of law that generates a lot of confusion.  This FAQ article seeks to provide very basic information and help you understand the issues when divorce and bankruptcy overlap.

Disclaimer — Both divorce and bankruptcy are complex fields of law in their own distinct forms. And, when these two areas of law mingle together, it gets even more complex.  Therefore, if you are presently going through or contemplating both divorce and bankruptcy, it is highly advised that you seek legal representation immediately.   

What is community debt and community property? 

To understand the interplay of divorce and bankruptcy, it starts with a simple understanding of community debt and community property.  

Arizona is a community property state. This means that any property (other than gifts or inheritances) you and your spouse acquired during the marriage belongs equally to both parties and any joint debts incurred during the marriage are the equal responsibility of both parties. It does not matter whether one spouse worked during the marriage and the other did not. Community property includes real property, personal property, money, stocks and bonds.

All debt incurred during the marriage, no matter by whom, is generally considered to be the community debt of both parties. This is true even if the debt was incurred for purchase of an item that only one of the parties uses.  As with community property, generally, debts owed by one party prior to the marriage remain a separate debt of that party and do not become transformed into a community debt just because the parties got married.

If I am contemplating filing for bankruptcy AND divorce, should I get divorced before, after, or at the same time as my bankruptcy case?  

This is a very difficult question to answer and there is no one set answer to this question.

 The best strategy for you and your family here will depend on the nature of your debts, assets, and relative level of cooperation you have with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.   As there are many variables to consider here, there is not one conventional strategy that fits most people.  

With the understanding that every case is different, here are some important things to keep in mind in terms of timing, logistical issues, and costs of the two legal processes.  

If you file your bankruptcy case prior to divorce, you will be able to lawfully double your exemptions pursuant to the bankruptcy code as a joint-filing couple.  This could be meaningful to your family if, for example, you own fairly nice furniture (worth more than $6,000) that you do not intend to divide equally or if your family owns a single vehicle that has substantial equity (between $6,000 and $12,000).    

If you file your bankruptcy case prior to divorce and wish to only hire one attorney to represent both debtors to save on fees and costs, there are serious ethical considerations regarding conflicts of interest to consider in this situation.  As such, you can really only consider filing for joint bankruptcy with one attorney prior to divorce if the parties are amicably divorcing and without controversy on splitting of exempt marital assets.  Keep in mind that non-exempt assets will be frozen when filing for joint bankruptcy before getting divorced. Only exempt property will be eligible for division between the spouses.

If there are disputes about finances leading into the bankruptcy or disputes over property, it is not advised for one attorney to represent both parties in the bankruptcy.   In this case, like your divorce case, it would be advised that the parties retain separate counsel and file separate bankruptcy cases in conjunction with divorce litigation that splits exempt marital assets.   

One of the worst steps to take is filing for bankruptcy in the middle of divorce proceedings without consulting with qualified lawyers. In most cases, filing for bankruptcy will put the divorce proceedings on hold and may only continue once the bankruptcy case is completed or if a divorce attorney files a motion to move forward with the legal separation.  In these situations, communication is king.  It is critical to keep all attorneys up to date with all relevant developments, including financial stress.  

Don’t forget that community debt acquired during the marriage becomes joint debt, even after the divorce was finalized. The divorce will also lead to the apportioning of the debt between the two spouses. As such, the creditors may still go after the spouse who did not file for bankruptcy and demand debt payments. Therefore, it is advisable that two separate filings be done after the divorce to keep creditors from pursuing one of the spouses.

My ex-spouse owes me money and I got notice that he/she is now filing for bankruptcy.  Can my ex-spouse discharge alimony or child support payments owed to me in bankruptcy?   

No.  Alimony and child support are considered priority unsecured debt.  Alimony and child support are a special form of debt.  This type of debt is paid first by debtors under repayment plans in Chapter 13 and cannot be discharged at all in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  

If you receive notice that your ex-spouse has filed for bankruptcy and you are listed as a creditor, you have rights that you should understand.  If you have questions, concerns, or want representation to protect your rights, it is highly advised you consult with a creditor lawyer immediately upon learning of the bankruptcy filing by your ex-spouse who owes you money.   

Can my ex-spouse discharge personal loan debts that they owe to me from prior to our marriage?  

Yes.  If you loaned your spouse money at some point prior to marriage, this is considered unsecured non-priority debt.  If your ex-spouse files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and lists this loan correctly, this type of debt can be discharged by the borrowing party. 

What if he/she promised me over and over that he/she would pay me back?

Unfortunately, a subsequent promise to repay does not change anything in a bankruptcy case.  Barring some unusual exception, such as your ex-spouse committing fraud, personal loans given prior to marriage will be dischargeable debt.  


Disclaimer: The information in this web site is not intended to provide legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship; but is intended for general education and information purposes only. Laws change periodically, therefore the information in this site may not always be accurate. It is imperative that you seek legal counsel in order to determine your rights and obligations under the law and based upon your specific circumstances.

Alex Coomer Law, PLLC is a debt relief agency and helps people file for bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code. The material and information contained on these pages and any pages linked to from these pages is intended to provide general information only and not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction before relying on any of the information presented here. You are advised that the acts of sending e-mail to or viewing or downloading information from this website does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

© Copyright 2020 – Alex Coomer Law, PLLC – Tucson Bankruptcy Attorney.

What is the average cost of a divorce lawyer?

What is the average cost of a divorce lawyer.Divorce settlements are tricky and have to be undertaken with caution. Due to the sensitive and volatile nature of divorce hearings. It’s crucial to find a lawyer divorce lawyer like Randle Palmer and Bernays to assist you during the process. When looking for a reputable divorce lawyer to help you, there are several things to consider.

First, you need to make sure the divorce lawyer you hire has verifiable experience. Many divorce lawyers claim to know what they’re doing. However, only a few of them actually do. To safeguard yourself from the fakes, you’ll need to do a little research.

Going online and comparing the reviews of divorce lawyers in your area is a great way to begin. Aside from making sure your selected divorce lawyer has relevant experience. You also need to inquire about their pricing.

Like with any legal battle, divorce cases can get very expensive. So, to learn more about the average cost of a divorce lawyer, continue reading.

What is the average cost of a divorce lawyer?

For starters, most reputable divorce lawyers charge a modest $250 per hour for their services. But, keep in mind this is just the average number according to statistical data. The exact amount of money your divorce lawyer costs will vary depending on several factors.

Some of the variables that impact the cost of your divorce lawyer include:

  • Length of your settlement
  • Settlement amount
  • Working hours involved

There are other factors that may impact the cost of your divorce lawyer. But, those are purely situational. So, if they affect you, you’ll know about it. Trusted divorce lawyers like Randle Palmer and Bernays will discuss your case’s details before giving you a quote.

The location also impacts the cost of a divorce lawyer. Certain regions and zip codes just have higher legal costs than others. In total, you can expect to pay between $10,000-$15,000 for a completed divorce settlement. If you’re concerned about choosing the right divorce lawyer, read the next section.

Finding a divorce lawyer like Randle Palmer and Bernays to help you

To make sure you’re hiring a reliable divorce lawyer like Randle Palmer and Bernays, go online and compare reviews. Prior customers tend to leave accurate assessments of their previous experiences. So, you can use them to determine if the divorce lawyer you’re interested in is right for you or not.

You should also reach out to all of the divorce lawyers you’re interested in hiring. When you do, ask them about the prior experience and see how it may benefit your case. Once you do those two things, you should be able to make an educated decision about which divorce lawyer is right for you.

People Also Ask

Q: How much does it cost to retain a divorce attorney?
A: you can expect to pay about $1,000-$5,000+ for a divorce lawyer retainer fee. You’ll need to contact the exact divorce attorney you’re interested in hiring for a more accurate estimate.

Q: How can I afford a divorce lawyer?
A: if you can’t afford a divorce lawyer, don’t worry because several options are available. Use the following tips to get a divorce lawyer if you can’t afford one: free lawyer consultations, reach out to your city courthouse or try small claims court.

Q: How long does it take for someone to get divorced?
A: for cut and dry divorce settlements, most are resolved in 4-6 months. But, any complications in the case can extend this time drastically.

Understanding what is the average cost of a divorce lawyer

Now, you know the average cost of hiring someone like Randle Palmer and Bernays to help handle your divorce case. Take your time and do research to find out about comparable divorce lawyers in your area.

Should I tell my divorce lawyer everything?

Should I tell my divorce lawyer everythingTLDR: when going through a divorce proceeding. You should always tell your lawyers everything about your marriage. Doing so builds a strong case in your favor that increases your odds of winning. Some of the most important things you should tell your divorce lawyer include emotional and physical abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, and mental health problems.

Divorce proceedings can be tricky and complicated. When going through court proceedings, you always want to mesh things out with your divorce lawyer. While it may be uncomfortable, you have to tell your divorce lawyer everything. Keeping secrets from your lawyer while going through a divorce makes you susceptible.

The purpose of a divorce lawyer

The entire purpose of a divorce lawyer is to help you win as much as you can in your case. So, it makes your odds of winning high. You need to divulge all of the information possible about your marriage. When battling a divorce, it’s all about building a solid case.

There are many things you should inform your divorce lawyer about. To learn more, continue reading.

Should I tell my divorce lawyer everything?

There are a few critical pieces of information that you need to make sure your divorce lawyer knows. Remember, everything you tell your divorce lawyer is confidential. But, there are some situations in which your divorce lawyer will expose personal information.

Here are some instances in which your divorce lawyer will expose intimate details about your case:

  • The client sues their attorney
  • When seeking legal advice from other attorneys
  • To prevent a client from getting more legal trouble by committing future crimes
  • To avoid severe bodily harm or death

These are all circumstances in which a divorce lawyer can legally discuss your case’s details with other people. Now, it’s time for you to learn about all the things a divorce lawyer needs to hear from you.

No holding back when speaking to your divorce lawyer

There is nothing you should hold back from your divorce attorney. To make your case as strong as possible, tell them all the following details:

  • Present or past sexually related infidelity
  • Emotional or physical abuse
  • Alcohol, drugs, or addiction that lead to financial mishaps
  • Behavioral changes mental problems that can endanger children

By releasing all of this information to your divorce lawyer, you’ll have high odds of winning your case. Don’t exclude any of the details surrounding these events. The more you leave out, the weaker your case will be.

Handling a divorce properly

Divorce cases are all about proving your side of the story. At no point in time should you try to make up lies about your marriage. You always want to be able to prove whatever story you present to the judge. A reputable divorce attorney will help you do just that. So, as long as you tell the full truth. You won’t have much to worry about.

People Also Ask

Q: What should I not tell my divorce attorney?
A: Unless you intentionally want to lose your case. There isn’t much you shouldn’t tell a divorce attorney. Divorce attorneys need to know everything about your case. This helps them create the most effective defense.

Q: Is it better to get a lawyer for a divorce?
A: yes, especially if you can’t come to an agreement on divorce terms with your spouse. A divorce lawyer will help you formulate an actionable plan to win your case.

Q: What not to do when going through a divorce?
A: When going through a divorce, there are several things you shouldn’t do.

Understanding the answer to, Should I tell my divorce lawyer everything

We’ve covered the most essential facts and information you need to know about handling a divorce. Use this article as a guiding manual to make your court hearing go favorably. Following our advice will lead to a decision in your favor. Contact Randle Palmer & Bernays today for more information.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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The information contained in the Randle Palmer & Bernays website website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as tax or legal advice on any subject matter. Randle Palmer & Bernays provides legal advice and other services only to persons or entities with which it has established a formal attorney-client relationship.