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Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

High-asset Arizona couples face unique divorce issues

While every divorce in Arizona is unique, a high-asset couple may face challenges in the divorce process that those of lesser means may not. High-asset couples may be business owners, earn significant incomes, hold valuable stocks, own more than one home, have received a substantial inheritance or own valuable assets, such as luxury motor vehicles, works of art or valuable collections. They may also have a prenuptial agreement in place. This may make the property division process more complex.

For example, property division in these circumstances may require the assistance of other professionals. For example, a forensic accountant may be needed, as may someone qualified to appraise the couple's business or experts at valuing the couple's property. All of this ensures that the proper worth of the property is ascertained so that the results of the property division process is fair and appropriate.

What are some DNA tests that can be used to establish paternity?

A child born to unmarried parents in Arizona can still truly be loved by both, even if the parents are no longer in a relationship with one another. However, an unmarried father has to take certain steps in order to legally be considered the child's father. Until legal parentage is established, an unmarried father may not be able to exercise his fathers' rights, including his right to pursue parenting time with his child.

One way to legally establish parentage is through a DNA paternity test. As of right now, this is the most common means for identifying whether a man is a child's biological father.

State Supreme Court to hear same-sex child custody case

As more same-sex couples in Arizona marry and have children, new issues arise should they later divorce. One such issue has made it all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court. The court will hear a case that will determine whether a woman's wife will have the same child custody rights she would have if she were male.

In this case, in 2011 the woman gave birth to a son. She and her wife had previously married in another state in 2008. The child was born via artificial insemination. The identity of the sperm donor was kept anonymous. While the woman was still pregnant, she and her wife moved to Arizona. There, they drafted a joint parenting agreement stating that they decided that each of them would have equal rights to the child. After the child was born, the woman returned to the workforce as a doctor, and her wife -- who had not given birth to the child -- became a stay-at-home mom.

Postnuptial agreements can ease the divorce process

While some Phoenix couples enter into a prenuptial agreement prior to walking down the aisle, many others neglected to take this step. Perhaps they viewed the entire process as unromantic or as a sign that they did not expect the marriage to last. Perhaps they simply got so wrapped up in wedding planning that they never got around to it. However, sometimes one spouse or the other will later regret not having a prenup. Is there any help to spouses in such situations?

Enter, the postnuptial agreement. Like a prenup, a postnuptial agreement is a legally binding contract that dictates what will happen with the couple's marital property should they divorce. This may be especially useful for high-asset couples who have a good deal of wealth to contend with. Postnuptial agreements can address asset division, spousal support and more.

How can paternity be established in Arizona?

Establishing paternity in Arizona is important for a variety of reasons. First of all, once paternity is established, the child's mother will be able to collect child support from the child's father, which could be vitally important to providing the child with the quality of life needed to grow and thrive. Moreover, a man who has been legally determined to be the child's father can seek visitation rights so he can develop a meaningful relationship with the child. Finally, knowing who his or her father is can provide a child with emotional security, as well as a sense of family history, which could be especially important with regards to his or her family's health history.

There are a number of ways paternity can be legally established in Arizona. One is through a Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. Both parents will sign this document, and then it will be filed by the Division of Child Support Services via the Hospital Paternity Program. A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity can be obtained at the hospital where the child is born, and at all Vital Records offices.

Child support may cover more than just the basic necessities

What does it take financially to raise a child in Arizona? Of course, a child must be provided the proper food, clothing and shelter needed to survive, but a well-rounded childhood involves so much more. It entails having an appropriate education, receiving quality medical care, participating in sports, hobbies and other interests and so much more. Therefore, when a person is required to pay child support, they are providing the child with more than just the child's basic needs.

Every state in the nation, including Arizona, has child support guidelines that are used to determine how much child support should be paid. Depending on the state, certain factors will go into determining what this amount should be. For example, the parent's income may be considered as may the child's standard of living and other monetary needs.

What should parenting plans in Arizona include?

Sometimes, despite all of the disagreements that lead to their decision to divorce, parents in Arizona can work together well enough to agree to a parenting plan out of court. However, there are other times when the child's parents have differing views on child custody and cannot agree to a parenting plan.

Under Arizona law, if parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, they each must submit one to the court. Then, consistent with the best interests of the child standard, the court will establish a parenting plan. This parenting plan will allow parents to share the ability to make legal decisions regarding their child and the parenting plan will maximize to the extent possible each parent's parenting time.

Are there any alternatives to monthly spousal support payments?

There are several financial aspects of divorce, some of which can be quite contentious. One of these aspects is alimony, that is, spousal support payments made to the lower-earning spouse from the higher-earning spouse. These payments are often made on a monthly basis. However, either spouse may be or become unhappy with their spousal support arrangements. Having to pay spousal support each month keeps the spouses tethered together, even after their marriage has ended.

This arrangement may leave a bad taste in either spouse's mouth. In addition, the paying spouse may be loath to have to have a chunk of their paycheck going towards their ex each month. Moreover, with monthly payments it is always possible that the paying spouse will fail to make a payment, leaving the receiving spouse in a bad place financially. With all this in mind, Phoenix residents may wonder if there is any alternative to monthly spousal support payments.

Trying to handle child support issues alone can be a mistake

Residents of Arizona may think that since there are child support guidelines and a mathematical formula for determining child support, that everything is pretty cut-and-dried. They may even think that the matter is so simple that they do not need to seek help with regards to their child support issues. However, this couldn't be further from the truth.

For example, in order to calculate child support, a person must be able to understand tax returns and other financial information, as well as be able understand and apply other legal child support issues such as the acquisition of gifts or what happens when a parent takes on a second job. On top of that, a person needs to have a working understanding of Arizona court rules and procedures. As you can see, calculating child support is actually not as simple as it may initially seem.

Research shows more and more Baby Boomers are seeking a divorce

While most married couples in Phoenix envision living a long and happy life together well into their elder years, the fact of the matter is that wedded bliss is not in every couple's future. Some couples will inevitably find that their marriage is irretrievably broken, and will seek divorce. According to the Pew Research Center, more Baby Boomers are getting divorced than ever before.

The Pew Research Center reports that, for adults in the United States age 50 and up, the divorce rate has increased almost two-fold since the 1990s. In 1990, five in every 1,000 married individuals got divorced. However, by 2015 10 in every 1,000 married individuals got divorced. Moreover, for individuals age 65 and up, the divorce rate has increased almost three-fold since 1990. For individuals in this age group, in 2015 six in every 1,000 got divorced.

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