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Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

Discuss possible child support changes before it is too late

During the summer it can be especially hard for children to think about going back to school. After wrapping up the academic year, kids in Arizona are often more focused on having fun and seeing their friends than they are on preparing to get back into their classrooms in the fall. However, their parents do not have the luxury of putting their lives on hold for the summer. The summer is often a good time for parents to make custodial and financial plans for their kids as they move closer to the coming school years.

For example, during the summer a child may transition out of one school and into another, such as from their elementary school to a middle school or from a public school into a private school. Those transitions may impose new expectations and costs on the child and custodial parent. Rather than waiting until the expenses associated with their new school are upon them, parents may wish to discuss their anticipated support needs with their family law attorneys.

Can an alimony award be changed after a divorce is finalized?

Alimony, also referred to as spousal support, is financial assistance paid from one individual to another. The two relevant individuals were once married and upon their divorce a court of competent jurisdiction provided them an order stating that the payer is obligated to provide certain amounts of money to the recipient for a certain amount of time. Arizona residents may ask for alimony when they bring their marriages to their ends.

However, as anyone who has gone through a divorce knows, life changes course frequently. The alimony award that a payer was obligated to provide to their ex-spouse may suddenly become unpayable or burdensome if the payer loses their job or experiences a different life event that reduces or eliminates their income. When circumstances warrant, individuals bound by alimony obligations may seek to end or change their mandatory payments to their ex-spouses through motions in the courts.

Court orders celebrity parents to find balance with children

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are two of the biggest names in entertainment. When the two married several years ago their union was celebrated by millions of people around the world. However, a few years later the pair separated and divorced, throwing chaos into the lives of their six children.

While most parents in Arizona do not need to work out the overwhelming schedules of celebrities, they may relate to the challenges that Jolie and Pitt have faced as they have attempted to co-parent their six kids. For example, Jolie has relocated to Europe for work with the children, while Pitt holds residence in the United States. Recently, however, a court has ruled that Jolie must ensure that the children have time with their father, as his absence may be detrimental to them.

Can criminal charges affect a parent's child custody rights?

Our readers may be aware that when it comes to matters related to the custody of kids, the best interests of the children will generally guide legal proceedings. The "best interests" standard is subjective and allows courts to craft child custody arrangements that take into consideration the unique familial characteristics that may impact the welfare of the affected children. A number of considerations, including a parent's criminal record, may be reviewed when a child custody matter is being established or modified.

For example, if a parent is found to have abused or otherwise mistreated their children, that parent may have a harder time getting custody than the child's other parent. Additionally, a parent who is incarcerated will be unable to hold physical custody of their children and may be denied legal custody as well due to their limited access to their kids.

Dividing retirement accounts in Arizona

Although many people enjoy their jobs and find meaning in going to work each day, for most a career is simply a path to retirement and financial freedom. Arizona residents hope that if they work hard and save some of what they earn that eventually they will have enough to live off of and to carry them through the ends of the lives. While retirement savings do benefit many people, those savings may be impacted by a divorce.

As readers of this family blog may remember, Arizona is a community property state. This means that the wealth and assets that partners in a marital couple acquire after they wed are considered marital and therefore equally divisible upon divorce. So, for example, if a person saves $1 million in retirement accounts after they are married, that sum may be cut in half and reduced to $500,000 for them if their union ends in divorce.

What is "lump sum" alimony?

Most alimony or spousal support arrangements are structured so that the paying party provides to the receiving party monthly or other periodic payments to satisfy their agreed upon financial relationship. Under this traditional form of alimony, payments by the paying party continue until a stipulated period of time has passed or a terminal event ends the relationship. However, there are alternate forms of alimony, and one of those is "lump sum" alimony.

Lump sum alimony is just what it sounds like from its name. Instead of a paying party sending monthly checks for a long period of time, the paying party provides to the recipient one payment that completely satisfies their alimony obligation. Lump sum alimony can be financially advantageous to both parties, but may not serve their interests in all situations.

Understanding eligibility for child support

Children in Arizona have the right to receive financial support from both of their parents. As such, if their parents are divorced or do not share a home, then one of those parents may be required to provide the child with child support. There are some basic requirements that must be met for child support to be awarded, but readers should talk to their family law attorneys about their specific child support cases.

First, if there is a question of paternity between a child and man, a paternity test may need to be completed to demonstrate the man's responsibility toward the child. Oftentimes when parents are married or residing as a couple both of their names appear on the child's birth certificate; if a child's father is not established, then paternity may first need to be addressed before child support can be awarded.

Helping you assert your fathers' rights

When parents, married or not, part ways, this can impact the children involved. Every family has their unique story; thus, family law issues should be treated specifically to the family going through them. With regards to unmarried couples, there could be an issue of fathers' rights. A mother might be seeking sole custody, proving the assumed father limited visitation rights or no rights at all. A father might seek to assert his parental rights, seeking visitation or custody rights. And in some instances, a presumed father might be attempting to prove that he is not the father of the child, relieving him of any parental responsibilities.

At Wilson-Goodman Law Group, PLLC, our experienced lawyers understands the sensitive nature of family law matters. It is difficult and emotional, as it is an event that could cause an individual to spend little to no time with their child. By exerting your parental rights or taking the time to establish them, our goal is to meet the needs of our client, proving them the custody and visitation rights they desire.

Fathers deserve a fair opportunity to be with their kids

Parents in Arizona understand the special love that can only develop between them and their children. Loving a child is like no other experience, and even when children misbehave and make them crazy, parents would do anything to ensure their kids' health and happiness. This strong connection does not diminish when parents choose to separate or divorce from their partners and create custodial and visitation schedules through which to share their children.

Often, though, it may seem that courts prefer to give mothers more time with the divorcing couples' children. Mothers may appear to receive more judgments of sole physical custody or may be granted the bulk of the time in shared physical custody arrangements. Even if the parents share equally in the legal custody of their children, a father may find that at the end of this divorce his connection to his children is diminished.

Standard of living is an important factor in awarding alimony

When the young partners to an Arizona couple begin their lives in marriage, they may face the challenges that many young people do: expensive housing options, jobs that do not seem to pay enough and exorbitant costs associated with utilities, food and entertainment. Getting by can be challenging when a person is early in their career, but as time goes on many individuals enjoy promotions and the pay increases that come with them to boost the standard at which they live.

Over the course of a marriage, a couple may go from just getting by to saving for retirement, living comfortably and easily supporting themselves and their kids. Their standard of living may be secure, but should the partners to that couple choose to divorce, the economic stability of the partners may come into question. This can be especially true for a partner who elects to support their family at home in lieu of holding down a wage-earning career.

Wilson-Goodman Law Group, PLLC is one of the East Valley's premiere litigation law firms.

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