If you are a woman considering a divorce in Arizona, I would like to explain to you many of the questions and considerations you should think about before you go forward with the divorce. There are many different ways to handle a divorce case. When you first come into an attorney’s office to discuss a case, make sure that you have a clear understanding of the objectives you wish to reach. What the hourly rate is and what you can anticipate in the way of fees. Keep in mind that you are going to have to come up with a retainer and unless your husband is willing to advance you money or if you can get at bank accounts you may have to go through the Court process and it may take several months before the Court will order your husband to advance you attorney’s fees. If the community has assets then there is a likelihood that a Court order will advance attorney’s fees. Otherwise, you will have to have a temporary order retainer to have attorney’s fees awarded to you on an interim basis so that you continue to have representation on the case. Child support payments are guaranteed by law. Once a child support order is signed by the Court it becomes effective and child support will be guaranteed through what’s called an order of assignment that will go to your spouse’s employer ordering him to withhold certain amounts of child support during the month. Typically, this is done twice a month if your spouse is paid bi-monthly or each paycheck. It is calculated on a monthly amount.
Spousal Maintenance Laws When Getting Divorced in Arizona
In Arizona spousal maintenance is based on a couple of factors. The amount of spousal maintenance and the length of spousal maintenance varies based upon your particular circumstances. For example, long term marriages where the wife has been a stay at home mom raising the children supporting her husband in his career there is a strong likelihood that the Court will award spousal maintenance or as some folks refer to it – alimony. Spousal maintenance is to assist a non-working spouse or to the spouse who has a significantly lower amount of income to get back into the work force and become self-sufficient. In Arizona we used to have guidelines that the Courts would consider but now it’s based on a number of factors that the Court will look as such as differences in income, how the non-earning spouse contributed to the earning spouse’s education, vocational advancement, etc. Each party will be required to file out a document called an affidavit of financial information or an AFI. That is a complete breakdown of monthly income and a monthly budget or household expenses. Everything from rent, utilities, gas, food, car payment, dry cleaning, donations, church dues…everything you spend on a monthly basis will be compared to the other spouse’s AFI. First, we’ll look at how much your needs are versus your shortfall and look to see what the husband’s income and expenses and how much he has the ability to pay.
The length of the spousal maintenance is an independent part which includes your education, your work history if you’re able to transition easily back into the workforce you may get a shorter duration. Alternatively, if you have very little work experience spousal maintenance will be longer award of spousal maintenance. In many cases, what’s referred to as a long term marriage, those particular spouses get indefinite spousal maintenance or spousal maintenance that would terminate upon your remarriage or death and that will take you into retirement.
Legal custody is very important with the children. We have two types of legal child custody in Arizona. We have joint legal custody which basically means you co-parent, you make decisions together regarding the children’s education, medical, extra-curricular activities and religion – that’s the most common. Occasionally, if parents cannot agree sometimes one parent will be awarded final decision making after reasonable attempts have been made to reach a decision. Also your parenting plan which would include the joint custody agreement may include specific issues regarding that or give you options in the event you cannot reach a decision in terms of going to a private mediation. Potentially, having a parenting coordinator appointed for you to go to when you can’t reach agreements before you go back to Court.
Sole legal custody is typically a situation where one parent is a drug user, alcoholic, has a significant history of domestic violence or acts unreasonably to the point where it’s impossible to co-parent. Then you may be awarded sole legal custody. That is not physical parenting time. Parenting time varies in each case. It can go from what we would refer to as an “equal access parenting plan” which is roughly 50/50 and that may be week on week off. It may be what’s referred to as a 5/2/2/5. Five days with mom two days with dad, two days with mom and five days with dad. Or variations like that. This is all going to depend on the age of the children, your work schedule, father’s work schedule and physical location. Ultimately, doing what’s best for the children.]]>