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Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

Understanding the rights of unmarried fathers

The rights of unmarried fathers have often been compromised when it comes to their involvement in the day-to-day lives of their children. In recent times, however, fathers' rights have evolved and that has led to the "tender years' doctrine" of yesteryears-which said that a mother should have custody of a young child-taking a back seat. As a result of this development, there have been great advances in bridging the gap that historically existed between unmarried fathers and children born out of wedlock.

A landmark event in this direction was when the United States Supreme Court ruled that unmarried fathers have parental rights, too. The ruling was a result of the multiple petitions that were filed against the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which terminated the parental rights of unmarried fathers when the mother chose to place the child for adoption without the consent of the father. According to the court, the biological link between the child and the father gave that father the right to establish a substantial relation with the child and to be an integral part of the child's upbringing.

Ease divorce challenges with strong legal representation

Marriage can be tough, and when the challenges of legal relationships become too much, some Arizona residents decide to go through the divorce process. A divorce breaks the bonds that unite two lives together and allows them to resume their separate existences. But, a divorce is about so much more than an ending; it is about setting up a new beginning for the individuals and their families.

Because divorce can introduce uncertainty into the lives of the parties and their kids, it can be incredibly stressful. Concerns may range from being able to afford a residence on one's own, to where their children will reside, to whether they will be able to secure financial support from their ex. Completing a divorce and coming out on the other side with one's life not just in tact but actually thriving is the goal for many who engage in the process.

Does every divorce yield an alimony award?

Alimony can be a long-term legal commitment that exists between two people who were formerly married. In Arizona, both men and women can be ordered to pay alimony to their exes, and those alimony payments can take on different forms and can last for different amounts of time. However, not every divorce results in an alimony award because not all marriages have one spouse who is financially dependent on their ex.

Alimony is only necessary when one party to a divorce will be unable to provide for themselves in the wake of their marital dissolution. A person who stopped working decades earlier to raise the parties' children may be ill-prepared to enter the workforce once their marriage is over, and it is in these types of situations that alimony may be appropriate. However, if both parties have careers and are financially capable of meeting their own post-divorce needs, alimony may not necessary.

Mistakes, fraud can lead to false paternity results

As past posts on this blog have noted, paternity is an important legal concept when it comes to preserving a man's parental rights. If a man is not legally recognized as a child's father, then he may lose opportunities to secure custody and visitation with his child, or to stop an adoption if the child's mother chooses not to keep the child. Paternity can be established through a variety of different genetic tests.

As with all medical procedures and assessments, problems can arise when genetic material is submitted for paternity testing. In some cases, genetic material may be tampered with in order to change the results of a paternity assessment. In other situations, mistakes made by labs or during collection processes may affect whether a man is proven to be a child's biological parent.

Celebrity divorces takes years to resolve

Though the notoriety and financial benefits of celebrity may appeal to some Phoenix residents, few individuals would actually like to live under the spotlight of Hollywood fame. Celebrities are subjected to a level of scrutiny that may cause some to flee for more normal existences, so they don't have to see every misstep of their lives played out in the news. One former celebrity couple has made the news for years as they have attempted to end their highly publicized marriage.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were married in 2014 but Jolie filed for divorce just two years later. The partners share six children, and each has accumulated significant wealth over the span of their Hollywood careers. As of the new year, Pitt and Jolie had still not finalized their divorce and remained technically married; this changed just recently when a judge bifurcated their legal dilemma.

Custody, emergencies, and parents' rights

Child custody is a complicated legal issue that can be treated very differently depending upon the needs and circumstances of an Arizona family's situation. Because of this, it is important that individuals discuss their independent custody questions with their family law attorneys.

Past posts on this blog have discussed the differences between joint and sole custody, as well as legal and physical custody. Parents may share custody of their kids, but that does not mean that each will see their children each and every day. In fact, based upon a schedule that works for them, parents may have their kids several days per week, while their former spouse has them the other days.

Can a spouse really claim half of their ex's wealth in a divorce?

Property questions that arise during divorces in Arizona can be tricky and their outcomes can be influenced based on how couples acquired and maintained their property and wealth. For this reason, individuals who have questions about how their assets will be divided during their divorce should talk directly with their attorneys.

Arizona is a community property state. This means that most of the property that individuals acquire after their marriage will be considered jointly owned by both spouses. For example, if after five years of marriage a couple buys a new car, that car will be considered the property of both of the partners in a 50/50 arrangement.

Legal representation for child support disputes

There is no question that having a child is a major event in the life of an Arizona resident. From the moment that a person finds out they are going to have a baby, they may change the way they approach living their life. They may take fewer risks and make better choices. They may spend less money on themselves and begin investing in ways to build a solid life for their child.

Once a child is born, however, a parent must come to terms with the fact that they will have to share that wonderful little being with another person: their child's other parent. When parents are in stable relationships, this may not pose a problem. However, when parents end their relationships, many problems can arise with regard to how they will care for their kids.

Death and the end of an alimony award

Not every person who goes through a divorce will be able to achieve self-sufficiency once they are on their own. Those who require permanent, ongoing support may be disabled in some way, or may be of an age where they are unable to relearn a trade and find employment. As readers of this blog know, alimony can take on many different forms and can be subject to different terms based on the needs of the parties.

When permanent alimony is awarded, it is because the receiving spouse lacks the ability to provide for their own financial needs. While their alimony award may end if they remarry or if a significant change in circumstances improves their financial prospects, it will generally last until they die. This may be true even if their former spouse dies before them.

How can interference impact a father's rights to see his kids?

Ending a relationship can cause significant changes in the way that two parents choose to co-parent their children. Aside from the upheaval of having to live in separate homes and potentially shuttle their children from residence to residence to comply with the terms of their custody agreement or order, Arizona parents may have to overcome differences between them in order to serve their kids' needs. When parents choose to use their children to antagonize each other, parental interference may become an issue.

A father who has limited time with his child may suffer parental interference if his co-parent is intentionally late to drop off times or when the child transitions between the parents' homes. When one parent makes it more difficult for the other to effectively use the time that they have with their child, they may be in violation of their child custody plan and may be sanctioned for their actions.

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

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