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

Phoenix Arizona Family Law Blog

Coping with visitation rights are denied.

When a parent is denied visitation in Arizona, this experience is almost always devastating. Whether the denial originates from the court or a bitter ex-spouse, it can prove equally difficult to bear. At the same time, it can be easier to seek redress from an embittered ex-spouse acting on their own and without judicial approval. This type of illegitimate action is far too common and far too devastating to family relationships.

The family court system only rarely denies parental visitation and this measure is generally only used to protect children from physical or emotional threats. If a person is denied child custody or visitation by a family court judge, regaining rights may well be a simple matter of following the judge's clear, consistent instructions. For example, a judge might require a parent to receive substance abuse treatment or attend court-mandated parenting classes. Child support and child custody are generally regarded as separate matters in family court.

What to do when you can't pay child support

"Deadbeat parents" is a common term thrown around in the media for anyone unable to afford their child support payments. But the reality is that most parents that are unable to meet their child support payments are not doing so out of neglect or ill will. In many cases, low-income parents in Arizona and across the country are simply unable to afford the child support payments required by the court.

Unfortunately, it's a common occurrence for many custodial parents to not receive some or all of the child support that is due. According to the United States Census Bureau, only 45.3 percent of all custodial parents receive the full amount of child support due each month.

Are you eligible for spousal support? How much will you get?

One of the most important aspects of any divorce is what this step will mean for your financial future. As you know, the end of a marriage will signal significant changes, and it is in your interests to pursue a settlement that allows you to protect your stability over the long term. One way you may need to do this is by seeking a fair spousal support order. 

If you believe you could have a rightful claim to spousal support, you would be wise to learn more about how alimony works in Arizona divorces. When you understand the factors that go into determining spousal support, it can help you pursue a final order that is sustainable and allows you stability in the future. If you are the lesser-earning spouse, you likely have a claim to this type of support.

Setting a suitable parenting schedule

When parents in Arizona decide to get divorced, their children can get understandably upset. Children can be uncomfortable with drastic life changes, especially if these changes mean that they'll get to spend less time with the people they love the most. One of the better ways to ease children into this transition is for parents to set up a solid parenting schedule that accommodates the children's needs.

There are several things parents can do when establishing a parenting schedule in order to make things easier for the children. To begin with, parents should take into consideration any special needs the children might have that might impact their everyday lives. Accordingly, parents will be able to plan ahead and make sure the children are as comfortable with the arrangement as anyone could ask of them. Parents might benefit from asking the children what they want and involve them in the process of establishing the schedule, but this only works if the children are old enough to get involved in this tough conversation; otherwise, it is better for the parents to tackle this topic on their own.

Introduction to the child's best interest standard

Nearly all courts in Arizona base their child custody decisions on the best interests of the children involved. Many factors are used to determine which living situation caters to those interests, including parenting ability, consistency, the age of children and safety. When going into court, it's crucial for parents who want custody to show that they are involved in their children's lives and are willing to do what's necessary to promote their well-being.

Judges almost always look for ways to maintain a living arrangement that the child is used to. This includes going to the same school and spending time with the same friends. Toward that goal, judges also want both parents to be involved in the lives of children whenever possible. Even of one parent is granted sole custody, visitation arrangements will usually be made. The best interests of the child will be put above the sole desires of either parent.

The rich take a different approach to divorce

Jeff Bezos and his wife had assets worth about $137 billion at the time that they announced their divorce. Therefore, their divorce is going to look different than the ones most Arizona residents might go through. The most important question that will need to be answered is how the couple will divide their joint assets. In Washington, they are divided 50/50, which means that each would walk away with about $65 billion.

That assumes that there was no agreement entered into before the divorce took place. However, reports indicate that there was no prenuptial agreement and that is not clear if any postnuptial agreement was created. While there were rumors that Jeff Bezos was having an affair before the divorce, it is unlikely that it would factor into the final divorce settlement. It is also unlikely that hidden assets are going to be a problem in this case either.

Will my ex or I be allowed to relocate with my child?

Most parents want whatever is best for their children, ahead of their own needs. However, if you're a parent who decides to divorce or to end your relationship, your definition of what is best for your kids may differ from your ex's. You might even find it difficult to put your own personal issues with your ex aside.

If you choose to move out of state, it may be for a valid reason – you're relocating for work, for example. However, if your ex is unable, unwilling or unwelcome to move, it might negatively affect the relationship he or she has with your child and your current custody order. Courts may allow relocating a child, but it depends on several factors.

Parents should remove emotions when it comes to custody disputes

Couples who have children together but are splitting up may have to deal with the stresses of a child custody battle. In Arizona, this can be among the most trying parts of a divorce case. Even if the couple was never married, child custody and child support may have to be determined by a family court. Ideally, the parties involved will work together to develop a co-parenting plan that works for them and for the children.

Often, though, emotions are too strong, or the couple simply cannot come to an amicable resolution. Courts in nearly all states recognize that the father's role in raising a child is as significant as the mother's, but a lot of children still end up living primarily with their mothers. Regardless of the specific circumstances, parents can take steps to minimize the stresses of the custody process and make it easier on the kids.

National laws regulate states' handling of child custody matters

Parents in Arizona who are divorced from or were never married to the other parent of their child may wonder how child custody matters are handled when they live in different states. Across the country, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA, is used to determine which state's courts have jurisdiction over a particular custody issue. Previously, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act of 1968 was used to establish jurisdiction over custody matters. Forty-nine of 50 states have adopted the newer law although Massachusetts continues to debate whether the revisions should become state law.

The revised child custody legislation was designed to comply with other later legislative approaches to family law and to improve the clarity of its provisions. For example, the legislation includes mechanisms to arrange visitation schedules across state lines and to vary jurisdiction over a case when necessary. In addition, the law complies with the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act passed in 1980, which had several provisions contradicting and superseding the earlier 1967 law.

Divorce property division and the marital home

Couples in Arizona who decide to divorce may face difficult decisions about the family home, especially when children are involved. One of the most obvious ways to handle real estate in a divorce is to put the home on the market. The mortgage can be paid off with the proceeds, and the remainder can be equally split between both partners. While selling the home is often the simplest answer, this can be a difficult choice.

Many people feel a deep sense of attachment to the marital home. They may be particularly concerned about leaving the home entirely if they have children who have grown up in the house and are upset about the divorce. If one spouse is going to remain in the home after the divorce, it can significantly affect the outcome of the overall property division process. The spouse remaining in the home will often need to buy out the former partner leaving. This can often be done by exchanging other assets, but it is more difficult when the home itself is the most valuable asset held by the couple.

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