Law Offices of Matthew S. Schultz, P.C.

Phoenix Arizona Family Law Blog

Does absence really make the heart grow fonder?

You have probably heard people say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, which just means that two people in a romantic relationship will care more about each other if they have to spend time apart. But is that really true?

While it may be in some cases, studies have actually found the opposite. Couples who live apart for an extensive amount of time -- especially military families in which one person is deployed -- tend to get divorced more often. That time apart does not seem to make them care more about each other. Instead, it erodes the strength of the marriage.

After divorce, the value of time with kids goes up

Spending time with your children is one of the most important things that you can do. Even if you don't accomplish anything -- a major way that adults gauge how valuable their time was -- it still shows the children that you care and that you love them. Committing to spending time with them can help them mature, adjust and form relationships outside of the home -- and, one day, with their own children.

Some parenting experts say that you should really look at this time like currency. It's valuable, and you only have so much. Make sure you spend some of it on them. Constantly engaging in adult pursuits may seem natural, but spending time with them doing the things they love is invaluable.

Joint child custody decisions more common today

Divorced fathers in Arizona may have a better chance of getting equal custody of their children than they did in the past. Many divorce lawyers have noticed that courts are regularly awarding parents joint custody, and fathers are being treated as equal parents. In the past, it was more common for mothers to get custody while fathers were awarded visitation.

Though joint physical custody is only recently becoming the norm, joint legal custody has been common in family courts for much longer. Joint legal custody means that both parents have an equal right to make decisions for their child. This means that even if a dad sees his child every other weekend, he still has an equal right to choose the child's doctor or decide whether the child can go on a field trip.

What will happen to your shared property during divorce?

As you embark on the path to divorce, you may understandably feel lost and fearful of what is to come. This is especially the case if you and your spouse have amassed a substantial amount of assets or high-value assets over the course of marriage.

However, the more you know about how property division works in Arizona, the more prepared you can be when it comes to dealing with informal negotiations or a divorce trial. Here is what you need to know about the distribution of property during a divorce proceeding in the Grand Canyon State.

Including life insurance in divorce negotiations

When Arizonans decide to get divorced, they might have to deal with property division, spousal support, child custody and child support. Once they have worked out agreements about each of these issues, they might also want to think about life insurance in case the higher-earning spouse dies following the divorce.

A higher-earning spouse who will be making alimony payments to the lower-earning spouse after a divorce might learn how long he or she will likely have to continue making the payments from his or her attorney. A lawyer may make an educated guess about the duration that the payments will be made. The spouse who will receive the payments might want to negotiate with the payor spouse for him or her to purchase term life insurance for the total amount of alimony over its duration. If the payor spouse dies, the recipient will then still receive the money that he or she would have received during that time through alimony.

Understanding child custody and temporary guardianships

Every child custody case in Arizona is different with its own unique challenges. The key is to ensure the child's best interests are served. In some instances, the child will be turned over to a temporary guardian. Understanding temporary guardianship is key.

There are many reasons why a temporary guardianship might be needed. If a parent must travel for work, needs a medical procedure or has issues that must be addressed, a guardianship will place the child in the care of a responsible person. First, the need for temporary guardianship must be established. A single parent might need a guardianship. It could also be needed if there is shared custody and there are concerns with the other parent.

Negotiating a parenting plan after divorce

People in Arizona who decide to divorce may struggle more with reaching a child custody agreement than with other important parts of the end of a marriage, including negotiating property division and spousal support. Many parents fear that they will lose their close connection with their children after a divorce and are troubled by their thoughts of co-parenting with their former spouse. However, parents know that handling the divorce sensitively is important to protect their kids' emotional well-being. There are a number of successful parenting schedules that people can use to share custody after the divorce is finalized.

Many people prefer joint custody as close to 50/50 as possible, depending on each parent's employment schedule and lifestyle. Some families may be better suited to one parent having primary custody and the other having an extensive visitation schedule. Each family can find the option that works best for their lives; the most important element is typically retaining the parent-child bond, but this can take place in different ways. Families with 50/50 custody may choose a week-switching schedule where the child spends one week with one parent and the next with the other parent.

Multi-million-dollar art collection in high-asset divorce

Arizona is a community property state, which means that all property and debts acquired during marriage belong to both spouses. When couples file for divorce in a community property state, each spouse is entitled to half of all community property. By contrast, many other states operate under the principle of equitable distribution, which means that marital assets should be split fairly but not necessarily 50-50.

Regardless of the state laws governing the property of spouses, divorce can become extremely complicated when the couple owns many assets. For example, one high-asset divorce filed in New York has been pending for over one year, as the husband and wife continue to fight over an art collection worth millions of dollars. Other things at issue in the divorce are business secrets and expensive real estate.

Helping children cope with divorce

Once parents have decided to end their marriage, their most pressing concern is often the well-being of their children. Many parents rightly worry that their decision to divorce will negatively impact the lives of their children.

The good news is that divorce doesn't have to be a horrible experience for children if their parents handle their feelings appropriately. Children are most often worried about how a divorce will change their daily experiences. By addressing their fears directly and always considering the best interests of the children, parents in Arizona can be assured that their children will emerge from a divorce with a better outcome.

What to expect when spousal support is on the table

Spousal support is not an automatic part of divorce. This may concern you, or it may provide relief, depending on your circumstances. Whether you are hoping to receive alimony or fighting to avoid it, having a general understanding of how a spouse may qualify for support is the first step toward your goals.

When an Arizona family court judge rules in favor of alimony, it is usually because there is a discrepancy between the financial statuses of the divorcing spouses. If you earn considerably more than your spouse, you will have to face the fact that your divorce order may include an obligation for you to provide support. If you earn considerably less than your spouse, you may have cause to pursue a fair amount of support in your divorce order.

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