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

Phoenix Arizona Family Law Blog

Adding stepparents to the family

Co-parenting after a divorce is not always easy. This is especially true after one or both exes remarry. Arizona residents might appreciate tips for navigating divorce, children and new relationships.

Figuring out where a new spouse fits into a family structure can be difficult. Stepparents must be mindful about boundaries, and parents must accept that stepparents are part of a co-parenting arrangement. Typically, it is appropriate for a new spouse to be involved in decisions regarding everyday life even if not included in major decisions. This is because a stepparent is likely to be around for much of a child's daily life.

Hiding assets in divorce is illegal. Do you suspect your spouse?

The decision to divorce is a personal issue that typically doesn't come lightly. If you have decided to sever marital ties in court, you likely understood ahead of time that you would have to resolve certain matters pertaining to property division and, perhaps, child custody, if you're a parent.

With regard to property division, Arizona operates under community property laws. This means the court will typically split marital assets 50/50 in divorce. If you notice your spouse acting odd concerning financial matters, it might warrant further investigation, especially if you suspect that you have a hidden asset problem on your hands.

DNA testing to establish paternity in Arizona

Judges in Arizona and around the country will generally rely on DNA evidence to determine paternity, as the results of these tests are incredibly accurate. DNA tests are usually ordered to identify the biological father of a child in child support cases, but they may also provide crucial evidence when fathers are seeking custody or visitation rights. When alleged fathers in Arizona refuse to cooperate by providing a tissue sample for DNA testing, the Office of the Attorney General may get involved to compel them to do so.

The results of DNA tests can be used to establish paternity years after a child is born. Rock star Mick Jagger and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs were both identified as the fathers of children born out of wedlock in this way. When paternity is established years later, child support may be awarded retroactively. In Arizona, up to three years of retroactive child support can be awarded.

When one spouse wants to keep the home in a divorce

When Arizona couples get a divorce, one person might want to keep the family home. This could be because the parent wants the children to be able to go on living in the house instead of dealing with the upheaval of living in a new place. It could simply be because the person is attached to the house. However, it is important to make sure that the other spouse is agreeable to being bought out and that keeping the home is affordable.

First, it is necessary to get the value of the home and what percentage of that value each person owns. There could be additional costs, such as taxes related to title transfer Couples should decide who will pay these as well as how one will buy out the other. A common way to resolve this is for one spouse to take additional assets that have a value equal to that of the home.

Arizona divorce: Marital problems that often prompt it

If you browse current self-help book lists, you'd likely find hundreds, if not thousands of choices related to marriage. No two Arizona married couples have exactly the same relationships, but many spouses can relate to other people's experiences. You may have a relative, friend or co-worker who has recently gone through or is currently preparing for divorce. If you talk to them about their situations, you may find that certain issues were problem factors in their marriages.

Regardless of whether you've been married five, 10 or even 30 years, at any given time you might encounter challenges in your relationship. Whether you're able to resolve a particular problem and move on together depends on various issues. If you determine that a particular problem has caused irreparable damage in your marriage, you may be one of many who decide to file for divorce in an Arizona court. In such circumstances, it helps to have a strong support network in place.

Non-custodial parents should track support payments

In situations where people are co-parenting children in Arizona, the non-custodial parent is likely to be granted generous visitation rights. The non-custodial parent should pay attention to the details of the visitation schedule and follow it closely. He or she should also keep up with and track child support payments and keep the best interests of the child as the main priority.

Visitation schedules are taken very seriously by Arizona courts. If circumstances arise in which the non-custodial parent cannot adhere to the schedule, he or she should begin by communicating with the custodial parent to see if something can be worked out. In situations where a parent has supervised visitation, it's a good idea to create a routine that the kids can rely on during visits. Because supervised visits are often limited in terms of time, a routine can be helpful to maximize interaction and bonding.

Necessary documents for child custody hearings

During child custody hearings in Arizona, the family court judge has to determine what type of child custody arrangement is best for the children. Parents who have to attend such hearings should make sure that they submit the necessary documents with their petitions to the court to best prove their case. They should also bring copies of these documents to the hearings.

One type of document that is important for child custody hearings is phone call logs. Both parents should maintain a record of all of the phone calls that take place between the non-custodial parent and the children. The phone log should detail when and how often the calls took place and the duration of the calls.

Scenarios in which parenting plan modifications may be necessary

As a parent, your primary focus likely includes taking every possible measure to protect the interests of your kids. If you and the other parent are no longer married, you likely placed a significant portion of your focus on reaching an acceptable parenting plan with their needs at heart during your divorce.

However, circumstances can change, and there may come a time in which you may wish to revisit your current child custody plan and pursue adjustments. While modifying a parenting plan can be a complex process, there are a variety of scenarios in which such a change may become necessary.

The deadbeat label shouldn't apply to everyone

Parents in Arizona who fall behind on child support payments may not be doing so on purpose. However, they may still be labeled a deadbeat by the state or by others who don't fully understand why they aren't keeping up with their financial obligations. It is important to note that individuals of either gender could fail to make child support payments or otherwise make an effort to raise their children.

Those who are struggling to make their child support payments could ask to modify their current support orders. The amount of a support payment is largely determined by a parent's income. Therefore, if an individual experiences a loss of income, it may be reasonable to pay less to a custodial parent each month. Failing to make at least partial payments could result in spending time in jail or not being able to get a passport.

How to co-parent after a divorce

Even after divorce, Arizona parents of minor children generally must maintain a co-parenting relationship. This can be challenging, but it is important to the well-being of their children that they try to avoid conflict. Some parents may struggle to communicate after a divorce, so they might settle on a method that does not require them to talk to each other, such as email or text. There are also online tools that parents can use for scheduling and other custody and visitation-related communication. Children should never be used to carry messages back and forth.

Both parents should try to maintain some consistency for their children. They are unlikely to agree on every aspect of parenting, but general expectations in both households should be similar. It can help if the child has the same bedtime and the same rules around homework. While it can be difficult, parents should avoid making negative remarks about one another in front of the children. Parents should also try to be flexible and keep one another updated about any changes in the home or schedule.

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