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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

Howell Decision

Howell Decision

Howell v. Howell.

On Monday, May 17th, 2017, The United States Supreme Court ruled on the case Howell v. Howell, a case The Law Office of Matthew Randle has been following closely and wrote about earlier.

The case was based on Mr. Howell and Mrs. Howell’s 1991 divorce. The couple was litigating their divorce within 1 year until Mr. Howell’s retirement from the military. In the end, the couple’s divorce decree specified that Mrs. Howell would receive half of his military retirement pay. But in 2005, was awarded VA Disability pay that reduced his retirement by $250, which reduced Mrs. Howell’s monthly portion by $125. Claiming that her personal property interest in the retirement had been wrongly reduced Mrs. Howell went back to court, where she argued that, even if Mr. Howell’s retirement pay had been reduced, she should still receive half of what his retirement pay would have been without the disability benefits. The Maricopa Superior Court, Arizona State Appellate Court, and the Arizona State Supreme Court all agreed with her, but on May 15, 2017, the US Supreme Court reversed, siding with Mr. Howell.

What is the Howell decision ruling based on?

The ruling was largely based on the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, a 1982 federal law governing the disposition of military retirement pay in divorces, and Mansell v. Mansell, a 1989 Supreme Court case interpreting that statute.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act makes clear that state courts can divide up “disposable retired pay,” which it defines as the service member’s retired pay, minus any portion of that pay waived in favor of disability benefits. And in Mansell v. Mansell, the court ruled that the act does not permit state courts to treat retirement pay that has been waived to receive veterans’ disability benefits as something that can be divided.

Howell v. Howell

The justices agreed with Mr. Howell and his argument that his VA Disability Pay was non-divisible, even after the divorce decree was finalized. The Court explained that under federal law state courts simply lack the authority to divide up Mr. Howell’s disability benefits, even if it means that Mrs. Howell winds up receiving less money than she might have originally. Further, the Court clarified that the state courts can’t get around the restrictions imposed by federal law by characterizing the award to Mrs. Howell as an order to Mr. Howell to “reimburse” her for the money that she no longer receives.

Justice Breyer opinion on the Howell Decision

In his opinion, Justice Breyer acknowledged that the federal statute and today’s ruling could make things harder for former military spouses like Mrs. Howell. Explaining the potential implications of this ruling Justice Breyer suggested that, going forward, state courts can try to account for the possibility that a veteran could later waive some part of retirement pay in favor of disability benefits through some other community property or support offset.

Important note for retired service members and their former spouses is that this case does not impact those who are retired and receive VA Disability compensation for being rated 50% disabled or more. Because of the Concurrent Benefit program, which we wrote about here, a retired service member who is both retired and rated at 50% or more, will receive BOTH amounts in full (VA and Retirement). As such the former spouse’s portion of a community property award would not be reduced by electing VA Disability pay.

Contact Randle, Palmer, & Bernays for legal help today

As always, it is of the utmost importance that if either party in a divorce is eligible for any Military or VA benefits you hire counsel that understands and knows the rules so that your rights are protected. The Law Office of Randle, Palmer, & Bernays is considered a Subject Matter Expert in this area and is here to help you through the tough times.

Absent Parents

Absent Parents

Absent Parents.

Sadly, many single parents or other family members are raising children without the help of one or both biological parents. Often a non-biological parent is filling the role of an absentee biological parent but cannot legally make decisions or choices because they aren’t the biological parent.

Despite the prolonged absence, complete lack of involvement, or zero financial help, those absentee parents still have rights to the child, and the only way to fix that is through court-ordered severance of parental rights.

Absent Parents

Many people are scared or unaware of how to proceed with cutting off the legal rights of an absent parent. Sometimes the fear of “stirring the pot” or “fanning the flames” keeps them from taking action. Other times the worry is that the child support obligations or arrears will be wiped away if rights are severed.


  • Absent parent: If a parent has been absent for 6 months or more, the law allows the other, more responsible parent, to petition to terminate parental rights.
  • Not just parents can terminate: in fact, anyone with an interest in the well-being of a child can attempt to terminate one or both parents’ rights.
  • Step-parent: If there is a step-parent who has been there for the child, acting as the parent in every way and wants to adopt, your case is even stronger. How the child views the stepparent is very important and the Court will take that into consideration. 
  • Grandparents: If a grandparent or another (non-step-parent individual) wants to adopt a child, both parent’s rights have to be terminated first.
  • Child support: many competent parents are hesitant to terminate another parent’s rights because there are child support orders in place. However, termination of parental rights does not necessarily absolve an absent parent of financial responsibility.  The Court can still order a terminated parent to pay child support.  Giving up parental rights specifically to avoid child support does not sit well with the Court.  So no one should be afraid to terminate another parent’s rights due to fear of financial loss.  

Is the other parent of your child largely absent? Are you raising a child without the help of one or both biological parents? Are you or someone else filling the “parent” role for a child who would be able to adopt them? Severing the parental rights of one or both biological parents is a complicated process, one that should be done with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. Call us for a free consultation today at (520) 327-1409.

How to gain legal rights to a child that isn’t yours biologically

How to gain legal rights to a child that isn’t yours biologically

How to gain legal rights to a child that isn’t yours biologically.

We often get inquired about how a person gains legal rights to a child that isn’t theirs biologically. The answers aren’t simple, nor are they straightforward. In this blog, we will do our best to provide you with a simple overview of a complex area of the law. This will help you learn how to gain legal rights to a child that isn’t yours biologically.

In Arizona, there are only really two ways to gain legal rights over a child that is not yours legally; Adoption and Guardianship. Each option has a very specific set of requirements and procedural steps that must be followed or the Court will not grant the requests. While many issues can be handled without an attorney, these are complex matters that are best handled with the assistance of someone experienced and knowledgeable about the processes. Here at RPB Law, we pride ourselves on our ability to accurately and honestly assess each case and its likely outcomes. NO ATTORNEY CAN GUARANTEE AN OUTCOME, and if you meet with someone who says they can, you should be very wary and see that as a red flag.

To be clear there are some additional methods within the Juvenile and Family Law arenas for achieving legal rights to a non-biological child, such as In Loco Parentis and/or Grandparents Rights, but those are very specific situations that will be covered in a future blog…

gain legal rights to a child that isn't yours biologically


Adoptions permanently turn over the rights and responsibilities of caring for a child over to someone or a married couple who are not the biological parents. Adoptions are not revocable. They are permanent. Anyone who wants to explore an adoption needs to know that any and all parental rights must be severed before an adoption can take place.

One of the most common adoption situations we see here is when the biological mother/father has remarried and they want to have the step-father/mother the legal father/mother of the child. In this situation, if the biological father/mother is in the picture at all, even if they aren’t the greatest, the adoption is unlikely to be successful unless the biological father/mother agrees to it. It should be additionally noted that even if the biological parent wants the adoption to happen, which includes their parental rights being terminated, the consent to adopt documents have very specific requirements, and have to be more than just a notarized statement.

Another Potential Adoption Situation

Another common situation we see regarding potential adoptions is when grandparents or extended family members who have taken guardianship of a minor may feel like a guardianship is not permanent enough and may want to take over the parenting role completely. Again, the parents’ rights need to be terminated before any potential adoption can take place.

We have recently experienced an influx in consultation s regarding same-sex couples wanting to adopt following the Supreme Court s’ recent recognition of same-sex marriages. This is an area of particular difficulty, primarily because adoption laws in Arizona have not quite caught up with the Supreme Court Decision validating same-sex marriages. This has resulted in some confusion in the Courts about who can adopt. As the statutes currently read, “Any adult resident of this state, whether married, unmarried or legally separated, is eligible to qualify to adopt children. Husbands and wives may jointly adopt children.” The same statute later goes on to say, “If all relevant factors are equal and the choice a married man and woman certified to adopt and a single adult certified to adopt, placement preference shall be with a married man and woman.” Clearly Arizona law remains incredibly discriminatory against same-sex couples when it comes to adoption.

Finalizing an adoption can be a difficult and complicated process that requires a lot of paperwork being assembled and anything missing can draw out the process unnecessarily. Hiring an attorney to handle it can be a huge help and will streamline and simplify things.


Guardianship is when a third party is allowed by the Court to be responsible for a child, i.e. obtain medical care, make educated decisions, provide a home, food, care, and support for the child. There are two types of Guardianship under Arizona law. The first, Under title 14, which governs probate, wills, trusts, etc. and the second under title 8, which covers Juvenile law and Department of Child Safety cases. Functionally these two types are very similar. The differences are more about how the Guardianship gets put into place and how it ends if it ends.

Title 8 Guardianship

Guardianships can be a great alternative to a dependency (DCS case) or termination of parental rights. The parents’ rights remain intact but basically are handed over to a third party until the parent can step back in. All the while the child is in a safe and stable home with someone willing and able to care for him/her. These guardianships are handled under title 8 because they arise out of a Juvenile Court case (dependency/DCS case) and are not necessarily voluntary, which means they don’t require the parents’ consent.

Ending a title 8 guardianship is not up to the parents, rather it is up to the Court that granted it. The involuntary nature of the Title 8 Guardianship means that a parent would have to go before a Juvenile Court Judge and prove that he/she is capable of being a fit and proper parent and that he/she had remedied the issues that caused DCS involvement.

Title 14 Guardianship

The more common type of Guardianship is a Title 14 guardianship, these are voluntary and most often are accomplished with parental consent. A common situation for these is when a military parent is deployed and need a 3rd party to exercise parental rights of a child while they are deployed. These guardianships are generally temporary in nature and serve to ensure a child has proper legal supervision during a parent’s absence or inability to provide appropriately for the child.

The voluntary nature of a title 14 guardianship means that it can be revoked at any time by the parent. The Title 14 Guardianship is perfect for military families where the only parent or both parents are being deployed and grandparents or aunts/uncles need to step in to take care of the kids until the parent(s) return. This could also be useful in situations where the parents are deported or imprisoned.

Setting either of these types of guardianship in motion is difficult, and the efforts involved are very complex. Walking someone through the procedures and requirements in depth is too boring to discuss here, which is why consulting an attorney who knows how to handle these cases is vital.

Contact us to help you understand how to gain legal rights to a child that isn’t yours biologically

If you or someone you know is facing a situation where guardianship is an appropriate option, contact us ASAP for a FREE CONSULTATION (520) 327-1409 or via matt@rpbtucson.com.

Link to child custody

Grandparents’ and Third Party Rights in Arizona

Grandparents’ and Third Party Rights in Arizona

Third Party Rights in Arizona

Circumstances often arise requiring someone other than a legal parent to care for a minor child or children. Grandparents are often required by circumstances to care for their grandchildren. Aunts and uncles often care for their nieces and nephews, and sometimes family friends are required to step in to care for friends’ children or children’s friends. Without the proper court orders, a third party caring for a minor child lacks the authority to consent to medical care, enroll the child/children in school, or apply for benefits on their behalf.

Grandparents Rights in Arizona

In Arizona, there are a number of different mechanisms for grandparents, relatives, or other third parties to gain placement and legal decision-making authority (formerly called custody) over a minor child. Depending on which route you choose, you may have to file in a different court, and different legal standards apply. In this post, I will discuss the simplest methods for obtaining third-party custodial rights: Signing a Power of Attorney, and Title 14 Guardianship. In a later post, I will outline Arizona’s In Loco Parentis statute, and discuss filing a Juvenile Dependency case.

Third Party Rights in Arizona

Power of Attorney – The simplest way for a parent to grant a third party the ability to consent to medical care and enroll a child in school is by executing a valid power of attorney. The Power of attorney form must comply with A.R.S. §14-5104, must explicitly lay out the custodial rights being conveyed, which cannot include the right to consent to marriage or adoption, and most importantly expires after six months. A parent’s signature on a power of attorney must be notarized to be valid, and a power of attorney is revocable at any time through another notarized statement.

A valid power of attorney is a helpful temporary means of conveying custodial rights in the short term but does not do much good if a third-party is attempting to protect a child from abuse or neglect, or if a parent is not on board with third party custody.

Title 14 Guardianship

Unlike a power of attorney, a Title 14 Guardianship does not expire. However, there are several important factors for the third party like grandparents to consider before filing for a Title 14 Guardianship to obtain rights.

  1. A Title 14 Guardianship requires the consent of the parents, or if the parents are not available to consent that the parents be served with the Petition and not object.
  2. Prior to a Title 14 Guardianship being ordered, the proposed guardian is required to complete several fiduciary trainings online
  3. After a Title 14 Guardianship has been entered, a parent can revoke the guardianship at any time by filing the proper documents with the Probate Court. After a parent has filed to revoke consent for the guardianship, the Probate Court will set the matter for a hearing, and the guardianship will be dismissed. Even if the guardianship is in the best interest of the minor child/children, the Probate Court has no power to keep a guardianship open once a parent has withdrawn consent.
  4. Title 14 guardians must file an annual guardianship report with the Probate Court, updating the court on the status of the minor child/children who is/are subject of the guardianship.  

The best options for Grandparents to get rights

Title 14 Guardianship is a good option in situations where the parent’s consent, or where there are no legal parents able to care for a child. Probate self-service forms are available at https://www.sc.pima.gov/

If you have any further questions or need help with the process, please call our office at (520) 327-1409 to schedule a consultation. Here is a link to the Grandparent’s rights page

5 Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Hiring an Attorney

5 Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Hiring an Attorney

5 Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Hiring an Attorney.

The process of hiring an attorney is intimidating and overwhelming for most. We often spend a large portion of a consultation talking about the reasons NOT to hire an attorney, much less us. One of our mentors gave us a piece of wisdom we still follow today, he said, “This might be the 900th client for you, but it is likely the 1st attorney for your client.”

We take very seriously the real-life impact these matters have on our client’s lives. While many lawyers will tell someone that they are not their therapist, we understand that nothing in family law comes without emotional baggage.

The reality is that most people don’t think very highly of lawyers, and in many cases that is for good reason. We have spent considerable time evaluating why people dislike lawyers, and what we can do to try and shift that for our clients.

Some of the basis for the bad feelings about lawyers has to do with WHY you need a lawyer, and that is not something we have much control over. The simple truth is that lawyers come into peoples’ lives when bad stuff is happening. Lawyers don’t plan people’s birthday parties, they help when things have gone sour. Bankruptcy, Wills, Car Accidents, Divorces, Contract Disputes, all reasons a lawyer would need to help you, and all negative situations at the core.

5 Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Hiring an Attorney

The most common issues when dealing with a divorce attorney

The things that we hear most often about bad experiences with lawyers center around two specific areas; First, poor customer service, Second, poor expectation management. At RPM Law we have taken a head-on approach to deal with these two areas so that our clients can feel better about the process, regardless of the outcome in court.

In order to address customer service, we have focused our team on regular communication with our clients. Far too often we hear horror stories about the lawyer that took the money and then couldn’t be reached for months on end. Not only is that a problem ethically for the lawyer, but frankly it is a sure-fire way to never earn a referral or business from people in the future. We have found that a little customer service goes a long way in maintaining the positive relationship we have with our clients. If you don’t believe us, go check our reviews on Facebook or Google, our clients will tell you how hard we work to ensure they are satisfied with our efforts.

Bad customer service with a divorce attorney

The idea of expectation management is something we take as seriously as customer service. All too often we hear from people that a lawyer assured them that the case was a slam dunk, or that they could get them ownership rights to the moon. It may sound ridiculous, but no more so than the idea that any attorney could predict or promise the end result in any case. The plain fact is that if your case goes to trial, the judge will decide the outcome, and no lawyer can or should tell you they know how that will come out. When someone asks us what the odds are for a favorable outcome, we flat refuse to answer. It is far better to be honest with someone upfront than to over-promise a result. We prefer to have integrity in all we do, and lose potential clients, than to sell someone beachfront property in Yuma so we can make a few quick bucks.

In the end, the military background that this team was built around guides us in everything we do. We believe in giving the facts to our clients, however unsavory or unpleasant they may be. We prefer to be respectful to people, even the other side, because we only have one reputation, and it isn’t for sale.

We regularly get referrals from people we were on the opposite side of in a case. It is one of the biggest compliments we receive when someone says, “You kicked my buddies butt all over the courtroom last year, but you did it respectfully, so when I asked him for guidance in my situation, he sent me to you instead of the person he hired”. That happens all the time, and we are grateful when it does because it reaffirms for us one of the guiding principles of this team – “Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do”

5 Questions to ask before hiring an attorney

So without further rant – Here are the 5 questions everyone should ask an attorney before hiring them to deal with your case.

1. What areas of law do you practice, and how much experience do you have in those areas?

The reality is that few lawyers “do it all” anymore and for good reason. When someone calls or comes into our offices with a question in tax law, they may as well be speaking Russian to us. We know little to nothing about that very complicated and intricate area of law, and hiring us to handle a matter in that area would not only be wasting your money but likely would leave you in a worse place than when we started. If a lawyer can’t or won’t give you a straight answer about this, it should be a GIANT red flag for you moving forward.

2. Do you know the lawyer on the other side of the case, and if so what do you think of them?

The legal community is small, and most of us have worked opposite each other on a case or two at a minimum. While we each have our own flavor and style, as a general rule being cordial and respectful to each other should be the standard, not the exception. Most legal issues are full of bad feelings, to begin with, adding two lawyers who want to stick it to each other because of some previous grudge is a recipe for disaster and big bills. We don’t always have great interactions with the other side of a case, and frankly don’t always have a great relationship with some of our colleagues, but as a general rule, we do our best to keep the case focused on our clients, and the interactions respectful.

3. Can I meet your staff?

One of the worst kept secrets of the legal profession is how much of the workload is carried by the support staff in an office. The truth is that you will be speaking with the staff at least as much as the lawyer, if not more. This isn’t a matter of you not being a priority, it is a matter of bandwidth and efficiency. There is one of me, 3 paralegals’ and a receptionist, if your question can be answered by one of them, it will. If a lawyer isn’t willing, or excited to introduce you to the staff, something is amiss. We are beyond proud of the team we have built here at RPM Law. Andrea, Sarai, Stephanie, and John are the backbone of this operation. Often the lawyers are in court for 6 to 7 hours a day, who do you think handles everything while we are out?

4. How do your fees work?

his is probably #1 for most people when they come in to meet us for the first time and we understand why. The complexity of various fee structures is something for a future blog, but this much is clear… If a lawyer can’t tell you what to expect, how to minimize costs, what could increase the costs, how the fee is structured, and what your options are for payment, then you should run for the hills. Even in the most complex matters, we can give you a reasonable estimate of costs, areas of potential savings, and areas that may increase the costs.

5. Do I like this person?

When speaking to potential clients I often compare lawyers to ice cream. The basic ingredients are pretty much the same, but the flavors are varied and diverse. We all went to law school, passed the bar exam, have the same rules to follow, and practice in the same courtrooms, but, our flavors or styles run the gamut. At RPM Law we have 3 attorneys on staff, each with their own style or flavor. Matt is more aggressive, the picture of a type-A personality. Andy is more measured and tactical, years of being an officer and helicopter pilot in the military trained him to carefully evaluate each angle before charging. Julia is more gentle, aware of the emotions and impacts involved, as someone who focuses much of her practice in the Juvenile Court, she is keenly aware of the impact these matters have on families and kids. For some people Matt is too loud, Andy too reserved, Julia too sensitive, there is no right or wrong, simple preference, and taste. Contested legal matters will take their toll on you, even if you win, if you hate the lawyer representing you it won’t matter the outcome, you will be bitter and disillusioned at the end. On the other side of things, many times you won’t get everything you hoped for, but if you felt well represented, heard, and respected by the person representing you, you will be much more at peace when the process is over.

Having trouble finding the right attorney, give Randle Palmer & Bernays a call today!

At the end picking and hiring the person who will represent you and tell your story in court is an important and emotional process. This list is hardly the be-all-end-all, but it is a start. Going into a consultation should feel like you are interviewing the attorney, inspecting their practice, and ensuring that they are the right fit for you in your time of need.

We hope in this article about 5 Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Hiring an Attorney we have answered your questions.

If you or someone you know is facing a family law, juvenile law, misdemeanor criminal, or traffic law issue; reach out to us today for a FREE consultation.

Phone: 520-327-1409
Email: matt@rpbtucson.com

Please see our Testimonials page

Projects try to reduce conflicts that lead to military divorce

Projects try to reduce conflicts that lead to military divorce

Projects try to reduce conflicts that lead to military divorce.


According to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, the divorce rate for military families has steadily increased since 2001. In contrast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the civilian divorce rate has shown a decline over recent years. In Arizona and elsewhere, stresses related to service duties can exert additional strain on a marriage and can play a central role in the decision to seek a military divorce.

military divorce

In an effort to help military spouses reconnect after a deployment or active duty, several programs have been developed. These programs are intended to help spouses and their children find ways to interact outside of the normal stresses of everyday routines. One program involves families spending time in a cabin without distractions such as television to help facilitate communication and family togetherness. 

Programs related to military divorce

Some of the programs offer marriage counseling and classes for handling finances and finding ways to cope with life outside of military duties. Along with the difficulties of reintegrating into civilian life, many service members face challenges posed by injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. It can take up to a year for an individual to re-acclimate to family life and improve relationships with family members.

These programs are not a cure-all for every family, however. Many couples cannot work through the problems that plague their relationship, and they come to the conclusion that a divorce is the best option for their situation. Arizona residents who have decided to seek a military divorce may be best served by consulting with an attorney who is experienced in military regulations regarding these family law proceedings in order to reach the best settlement agreement.

Number of “grand-families” increasing across America

Number of “grand-families” increasing across America

The number of “grand-families” increasing across America

A recent report from Generations United, a national group focusing on “intergenerational collaboration” between kids, young adults, and older adults reveals that the rate of children being raised – at least partially – by grandparents and other relatives is on the rise. These so-called “grand-families” are often formed by trauma affecting a nuclear family, such as divorce, incarceration of one or both biological parents, abandonment, or even death of one or both biological parents.

The grandparents in these situations step in to raise the children, sometimes to help the kids avoid going into the foster care system. The Generations United report emphasizes the very important role that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren. 

For example, children raised in grand-families (instead of in the foster system) have:

  • Better overall health
  • More stability
  • Increased sense of belonging
  • Fewer mental health issues relating to trauma (like anxiety, depression and behavioral problems)
  • A sense of permanency
  • Greater cultural identity

The number of "grand-families" increasing across America

Arizona grandparent rights when it comes to grand-families

Arizona state lawmakers recognize the important relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. That’s why there is a law on the books – Arizona Statutes Annotated 25-409 – that allows third parties (like grandparents or other relatives) to petition for physical custody or legal decision-making authority or visitation rights.

It isn’t an easy road to get custody or visitation since the law presumes that it is in the best interests of a child to remain with his or her parents. The onus is on the grandparent to prove otherwise.

If you, as a grandparent or other relative, want to pursue an action for custody or visitation rights, you’ll need to make a very persuasive argument as to why your request should be granted. The help of an experienced family law attorney can make a huge difference in your case.

We hope you have gained insight into The number of “grand-families” increasing across America.

Grandparent’s rights

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