Divorce and other family law issues
Divorce is one of our "three Ds" that we use as a stand-in for a host of family law issues. We don't just help people get divorced - we also help them with a variety of other legal problems, such as establishing child custody (in Arizona, we break that down into legal decision-making and parenting time), establishing paternity, establishing child support, and modifying existing court orders. If you are having a problem with any of those things, you should contact us right away!
While we do handle a wide variety of family law issues, there are some things we don't handle. Those things are: adoption and surrogacy, termination of parental rights, juvenile law, third-party custody (including grandparent's rights), minor emancipation, and pre-martial and post-marital agreements. If you need help with one of those things, you can still call us and we will provide you with an appropriate referral, but we won't be able to help you ourselves.
Tell me more about divorce...
Divorce is the legal process people use to end their marriage. It can be pretty complicated, because it involves divided up property (and debts) and figuring out whether one spouse needs to continue to monetarily support the other. As if that weren't hard enough, things get even more complicated when children are involved because we have to figure out who can make important legal decisions for the children, where the children should spend their time, and how much each parent should pay in child support (among other things).
There are also other ways to end a marriage. You might, for religious reasons, want to get a legal separation so you can live as separate people without getting a divorce. You might want to get an annulment, so that your marriage never happened in the first place. Those are both less common that divorce, but they do happen. If you need help getting a divorce, a legal separation, or an annulment, call us!
Our thoughts on divorce:
The point of getting a divorce is to end a marriage. It isn't to punish the other spouse, or to find fault with them, or to show the judge what a mean, nasty, horrible person they are. Mudslinging won't win a divorce case.
Most divorce cases end in a settlement. The parties come together, make a fair agreement they can both live with, and part ways. They go on with their lives, and end up much better off (and less stressed out). That's a win for everyone.
It is hard for spouses to reach that kind of settlement if they are trying to punish each other, or show the world their spouse's faults. That kind of tactic will lead to a judge deciding everything, and you will be stuck with their decision, whether you like it or not. The only winners in those kinds of situations are the attorneys.
Tell me more about paternity...
Everyone knows who a child's mother is, but it is sometimes harder to know who that child's father is. Parents want to establish paternity because doing so determines who a child's father is and what rights that person has. Fathers, especially, need to establish their paternity to make sure their rights are protected. Failing to establish paternity can have severe consequences that a father might learn about too late. Paternity doesn't just happen - it needs to be established in court.
Usually, people who need to establish paternity also need to establish custody (legal decision-making and parenting time) and child support. Fathers might want to do this to make sure they can play a role in their child's life. Mothers might want to do this to make sure their child's father is involved in the child's life and can be a positive role model for that child. If you have a child with someone and don't have any court orders in place, you should call us!
tell me more about modifying orders...
Sometimes, you already have a court order determining custody (legal decision-making and parenting time) or child support, but things aren't working out anymore. One parent might start making bad decisions that aren't in their child's best interest, or both parents might need to change the parenting time schedule because the child has grown up and has different responsibilities at school. A parent might have a new job that better allows them to monetarily support their child, but if nobody asks the court to change the order that parent will still be paying what they did back when they worked at their old, lower-paying job.
If enough time has passed since an order was entered, and if the circumstances are right, you can ask the court to modify your original order to better take your new circumstances into account. If you have an existing court order, but feel like you need to change it to make your child's life better, you should call us!
Our thoughts on children:
The point of any case involving children is to help the court make a decision that is in the best interests of the children. The court won't do what is most convenient for the child's parents - the court will do what is best for the child.
Parents getting into a case involving their children know those children a lot better than the court. Parents don't have to like each other - they just have to learn to work with each other, cooperate, and co-parent until their child is an adult. Parents who can do that will usually get good results in court.
When parents can't work together, it will be up to the court to make a decision it believes will be in the best interests of the children. That is always a hard decision for a court to make, and it could very well happen that neither parent will be entirely happy with the decision.