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Domestic Infant Adoption

Infant Adoption - Couple Considering Adopting a BabyAround 140,000 children are adopted by American families each year. While many people choose to explore adopting from a foreign country or through the foster care system, domestic infant adoption is a third option. The first step to understand your adoption choices is to take a closer look at the infant adoption process. What is domestic adoption? How does it work? What are the pros and cons of this form of adoption? Is domestic infant adoption the right fit for your family?

What Is Domestic Infant Adoption?

Domestic infant adoption is a voluntary, permanent placement of a baby for adoption. The birth parents may choose to work with an adoption agency or arrange for private adoption. The match between birth families and prospective adoptive families happens before the baby is born. The adoption process cannot be completed without the assistance of an adoption attorney or a reputable adoption agency.

What Are the Benefits?

  • The adoptive parents can bond with the child from birth instead of after a child is in the foster care system.
  • Birth parents and adoptive parents can choose open adoption.
  • Other children in the family can participate in the adoption process.
  • Increases the possibility that the extended family will bond with the adoptee. 

Benefits of Bonding in the Infant Adoption Process

Being at the hospital (often in the delivery room) is a huge advantage to domestic newborn adoption programs. Bonding with a newborn will aid in the child’s overall development. Studies have shown that bonding with a newborn decreases the risk of disease; boosts immunity against viruses and bacteria; enhanced a child’s IQ; and much more. When an adoptive parent, adoptive sibling, or extended family have the chance to engage in skin-to-skin contact with a newborn, the baby is also more likely to have positive emotional development. 

The bonding experience also benefits the birth parents. They have the chance to see the adoptive parents interact with their birth child. The interaction helps build confidence in their choice of adoptive families and eases their emotions through the rest of the adoption process.

What Is an Open Adoption?

An open adoption agreement varies depending on the wishes of the birth parents and adoptive parents. In most cases, an open adoption means that the prospective adoptive parents can engage in the full pregnancy experience, including providing housing and expenses for a mother during her pregnancy.

After the baby is born, the adoptive family may continue to share letters, photos, and other forms of communication with the birth family. This form of adoption may also include the ability to have face-to-face visits between the birth families and the adoptee. Most modern adoptions are semi-open to open. 

What Are the Benefits of an Open Domestic Adoption?

  • Birth families benefit by keeping in contact with the child after the adoption.
  • The adoption transition is less traumatic for the birth families.
  • Adoptive families have access to important medical history that only a birth parent can provide.
  • The adopted child is less likely to go through an identity crisis later in life.

Can I Close an Open Adoption?

As mentioned before, no two open adoptions are the same. Most of the time, an open adoption is a verbal agreement that allows birth parents and adoptive parents to maintain contact. In this case, the adoptive parents can choose to change the terms of the agreement at any time. The decision to end contact with the birth parents could cause lasting emotional damage to the adopted child. If you are uncertain about allowing the birth family full access, some adoptive families choose a semi-open adoption. This path allows birth parents and their families to receive updates and photos from the adoptive parents without having direct contact with the child.

In some states, legally binding open adoption arrangements are allowed. Be aware that a lawfully binding open adoption is almost impossible to nullify, regardless of the circumstances. The best option for the child is to decide the right fit for your family before the adoption is complete and stick with it unless the adopted child’s safety is in question. Your adoption attorney can help you determine the best adoption plan for you.

What Is the Domestic Infant Adoption Process?

  • Find an adoption professional – It is essential to work with a legitimate agency or attorney to ensure that your adoption is fully legal. Working with an adoption professional also protects you from fraud.
  • Complete a home study – This process is often the most stressful, lengthy part of the process. You cannot adopt a child without this step.
  • Find a birth mother – After you complete the home study process, you can begin searching for an infant to adopt. If you are working with an agency, they will help you find a match. 
  • Choose a pre-placement contact and adoption type – Once a match is found, you will need to determine what kind of adoption you want to pursue—open, semi-opened, or closed. Parents who wish to place their child for adoption must agree with your adoption type.
  • Hospital and placement – Once the birth mother goes into labor, you will travel to the hospital. The birth mother must consent to the adoption after the birth. The birth father should have already terminated his legal rights by this point. 
  • Post-placement and finalization – There is usually a 3-6 month waiting period before the adoption becomes final. These final steps include post-placement visits by the social worker, final legal clearances, and one last court appearance before a judge to finalize your adoption.

Law Firm vs Adoption Agency – Which Is Best for You?

Domestic Infant Adoption - Law Firm Versus Adoption Agency Pros and ConsEach type of adoption professional has advantages and disadvantages. Some adoptive parents can skip the agency matching process by finding their own prospective match, but all families interested in adopting must hire an adoption lawyer. Reputable adoption professionals want the best for everyone involved. They understand that adopting a child is a serious decision, and they will be with you every step of the way. They are a great resource and can answer any questions you have about adoptions in your state. 

Adoption Resources Available

  • National Agencies – Domestic infant adoption agencies provide matching, advertising, guidance, and other services to families and birth mothers across the country. They are a great resource if you would like to adopt a child.
  • Regional Agencies – Unlike national agencies, regional agencies specialize in a particular area, which is good for families who want to adopt closer to home.
  • Adoption Law Firms – Legally, you only need an adoption attorney to complete the process of adopting a newborn. However, they do not have the same matching and support services that agencies have.
  • Adoption Law Centers and Facilitators – Providing little more than matching services, law centers and facilitators can pass adoptive families on to other adoption professionals after the match.

What Is a Home Study?

The home study process is an evaluation used by the courts to determine if a person or couple can offer a stable home environment for a placement (adoptee). All adoptions, regardless of the type, must complete this review. This process includes a criminal background check; a review of your finances; an in-depth look at your relationships; and much more. In the United States, you cannot move on to finding an adoption match until you complete this step. This process is the most stressful part of the process because of its intrusive nature. A successful home study requires you to be prepared and transparent.

Be Prepared in Advance

  • Make sure you have access to all your legal documents – birth certificates; marriage license; medical records; and much more.
  • Prepare each member of the adoptive household to complete an interview with a licensed social worker.
  • Adoptive families will need to pass an extensive state and federal background check.
  • Be prepared to provide character references from friends, family, and co-workers.
  • Prepare your home before the home inspections (Ex: baby-proof the house).

Who Conducts the Review?

A licensed social worker conducts the review of the prospective parents’ life and resources. In addition to collecting information about the prospective parents, the social worker will want to review your support system. The court sometimes assigns the social worker. In some states, you will need to find a qualified professional in your area. Each state or county has a different policy related to who can conduct the home study. Your agency representative or adoption attorney can help you find a home study provider near you. 

What Happens During a Home Study?

The social worker will conduct interviews and inspect your home. The purpose of this process is to determine your motives for adopting and your preparedness for bringing an infant into your life. As mentioned before, this process is time-consuming. It can also be very stressful. At the end of the process, the social worker will complete the home study report.

What Is the Home Study Report?

The social worker assigned to your case will submit a written report outlining their findings. Adoption agencies use this report to create a family profile as part of the adoptive family selection process. State governments and courts require this document to ensure the legality of the adoption placement. Once this report is submitted, you are considered an “active” adoption match. 

Infant Adoption – How Long Does it Take to Find a Match?

The time between activation and matching your family profile with a birth mother is known as your wait time, and it can vary based on several factors. You can increase the chances of a short wait time by being flexible with your adoptee preferences.

Types of Adoption Preferences

  • Race and Gender – If you are only interested in adopting a child of a certain race or gender, your wait time may be longer because your profile will only be shown to prospective birth mothers who match your preferences.
  • Medical History – It’s rare for anyone, including prospective birth mothers, to have a completely clean bill of health. If any medical conditions worry you, such as bipolar disorder, speak with a doctor about your concerns. He or she may be able to alleviate your worries about potential health risks. 
  • Adoption Type – If you intend to pursue a closed adoption, which involves no contact with the birth family, this could significantly increase your wait time. Most birth mothers today are interested in sharing at least some contact with the adoptive family and child, so if you are only interested in a closed adoption, you will not be a match for those situations. It’s preferable that you accept at least a semi-open adoption, which is what about 90 percent of birth mothers are seeking.

Is Domestic Infant Adoption Expensive?

On average, the full domestic adoption costs in the United States may range from $20,000 – $50,000. These costs vary depending on the agency or attorney you select. The longer it takes to find the right match, the more these expenses may climb. There are also court fees to keep in mind. Depending on the arrangement you make, there may be temporary cost-of-living expenses, medical expenses, or other costs related to prenatal care. Like all parents, preparing your home for the arrival of a newborn is also costly. 

Is Domestic Infant Adoption Right for You?

Domestic Infant Adoption - Is it Right for You?It is no secret that choosing to adopt a baby is a huge commitment. No two adoption stories are the same. If you are thinking about completing a domestic infant adoption, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, your search could take a long time. Be patient. Second, there are many fraudulent adoption programs. You can avoid these traps by gathering plenty of information before you commit or exchange money. Third, do not be afraid to ask questions. The more questions you ask, the less heartache you could face in the future. Fourth, do you have enough support? Whether it is your first child or your fifth, adopting a child comes with many unexpected needs. Familiarize yourself with the programs available to get you any additional support. Yes, adoption is hard work, but it is worth it in the end!

If you are considering adopting a child, please contact Randle Palmer & Bernays for a consultation today!

(Further reading on adopting an infant child)

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 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.