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Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

Building financial protection in divorce

Legal and financial issues can be entangled at the end of a marriage and imperil future finances. Measures can help minimize some of these financial ramifications during an Arizona divorce.

Couples can agree to file for a legal separation which allows them to file joint taxes and remain on their other spouse's health care plans. This is a temporary measure that allows the couple to make plans or to consider whether they should stay together.

State courts conflicted on same-sex parents

Arizona child custody disputes are often complex and may be more difficult when they involve the rights of same-sex couples. State courts are reviewing an Arizona law granting parental rights to a male father and presuming that the male was the biological parent if the couple was married with 10 months of the child's birth.

However, this law may conflict with a landmark 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling validating the rights of same-sex couples to marry. The Court ruled that all states must recognize this right.

Arizona Supreme Court reviews rights same-sex parental rights

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling validating same-sex marriages did not resolve many family law issues such as child custody. The Arizona Supreme Court, for example, recently heard arguments over whether a gay woman undergoing divorce has the same parenthood rights as a man when the child was born during the couple's marriage.

Arizona law provides that a man is presumed to be the parent when his wife gives birth within 10 months of their marriage even if the child was born through artificial insemination. A divorced father may have custody and visitation rights without being linked biologically to the child.

'Virtual visitation' may augment a child custody order

Technology has grown at an outstanding rate over the past decade or so. These days, people in Arizona send emails, chat on Skype, post on Facebook and have their cellphones on them wherever they go so they can make a phone call or send a text whenever they need to. These advances in technology affect nearly every aspect of our lives, including child custody and visitation.

These days, a court can order "virtual visitation," in which a parent uses technology as a means of visiting the child. For example, a parent can email the child, text the child or use video conferencing to keep in touch with the child. Virtual visitation can especially help a non-custodial parent should the custodial parent move away with the child, affecting an existing visitation schedule.

Arizona program helps parents with their child support needs

It may take a village to raise a child, but it also takes money. This means that if a child's parents break up or divorce, one parent may be obligated to pay child support. The state of Arizona recognizes that child support is an important part of raising a child in a stable and healthy environment and provides assistance to help custodial parents and non-custodial parents.

Arizona's Child Support Services program began in 1975. It is a joint federal, state and local service which receives and distributes child support payments from non-custodial parents. It aims to make sure that children receive financial support from both of their parents. It also aims to make families in Arizona more self-sufficient by providing them with the necessary services and resources to promote responsible parenting. Finally, it aims to lower the amount of welfare that comes out of residents' taxes.

What happens when business owners in Phoenix divorce?

Many married entrepreneurs in Phoenix have started a business from the ground up. Some of these couples have achieved great financial success in their endeavors, and, therefore, one of their most valuable assets is the business itself. Unfortunately, just because a couple's business has seen financial success does not always mean that their marriage will be equally successful. And, should they decide to divorce, they must face the question about what to do with their business.

Some couples have had the foresight to execute a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married that addresses how the business would be divided in the event of divorce. However, there are steps divorcing business owners can take even if they never entered into a prenuptial agreement.

'Birds nesting' -- a viable alternative for child custody?

In general, it is assumed that when a couple with children in Phoenix divorces, each parent will live apart, leaving the child with two homes. For some, this means one parent has primary custody and the child will live with them. The other parent has visitation rights, in which the child will spend some time in that parent's home, for example, every other weekend. For others, this means that the parents share joint custody and the child resides approximately half of his or her time in one parent's home or the other's.

However, these are not the only arrangements for child custody. One alternative is known as "birds-nesting." In this arrangement, the child will remain in the family home and it is the parents who will take turns residing with the child. For example, each parent may have his or her own apartment to return to when it is not his or her turn to live with the child in the family home. This means that it is the parents who shuttle back and forth, instead of the child. The purpose of such an arrangement is to provide the child with more stability and less stress.

Studies show shared parenting may benefit children post-divorce

These days it may seem like it is the norm for both mothers and fathers in Phoenix to share custody of their child post-divorce and for fathers to enjoy a certain amount of overnight time with their child. However, this was not always the case.

Forty years ago, when parents divorced it was often assumed that the mother would be awarded sole child custody, meaning that many fathers were lucky to even get regular visitation. However, much has changed since then. Studies performed since then reported that, for the most part, both children and their fathers wanted and even needed to spend more time with one another. Thus came the rise of shared parenting, in which each parent was a part of the child's life and shared responsibility for raising the child.

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.

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