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Maricopa County Family Law Blog

Preparing for your first meeting with a divorce attorney

You and your spouse may have gone through every possible step to resolve your differences and save your marriage. However, if it is clear that things are not going to work out, you would be wise to take steps soon to protect your rights during the divorce and property division.

Some divorcing spouses feel discouraged and weary by the time they begin divorce proceedings, and this may cause them to make mistakes that cost them dearly for years to come. Seeking legal advice as early as possible after making the decision to divorce can help you to obtain a fair settlement or ruling and create custody decisions you and your family can live with. However, to make the most efficient use of your time and money, it is best to be prepared before your first visit to an attorney.

Follow the money trail if you suspect a hidden asset problem

When you and your spouse mutually decided to end your marriage in an Arizona court, you were really hoping to make it as painless a process as possible. That's understandable, especially because, like most good parents, you simply want what is best for your kids and want to settle your differences, then move on in life. If both sides play fair during property division proceedings, you may be able to achieve those goals.  

However, if you think your spouse is trying to give you the short end of the stick regarding division of marital assets, then not only might your situation become stressful, you might need outside support to help you address and rectify the problem. You would definitely not be the first Arizona spouse to deal with a hidden asset problem; knowing how to pull the plug on such schemes is a first step in the right direction to protecting your assets.  

Thinking about joint custody? Make sure you consider all factors.

During divorce, parents are naturally concerned with how their choice to end their marriage will impact their children. In order to minimize negative effects and allow their children to have a certain amount of continuity of lifestyle, some Arizona parents choose a joint custody arrangement. While not the best choice in every situation, joint custody offers many benefits. 

One of the main benefits of joint custody is the fact that it allows the children to have regular access to both parents. There is clear evidence that children need this opportunity, and it can actually reduce the negative impact of a divorce. However, before you agree to a joint custody arrangement, it is important to consider all factors that could affect your time with your kids and your rights as the parent.

You got divorced: How can you help your kids cope?

You are definitely not the only Arizona parent to divorce in 2018, nor will you likely be the last. Like most good parents, your children's best interests are one of your highest priorities, and you worked hard to come up with a fair and agreeable co-parenting plan that provides your kids with ample amounts of time with both of their parents. You expect to encounter other challenges as well, however, as you and your kids adapt to a new lifestyle.

It's a good thing that spouses can custom-design their post-divorce parenting plans to fit their immediate needs and their long-term family goals. It is also a good thing that, even when the court issues an order regarding custody, visitation or support, it doesn't necessarily mean it is permanent. You can seek modification, as necessary. If you know where to seek support, you and your children can obtain all the help you need to move toward a new, successful future. 

Is an uncontested divorce right for me?

When you think about your divorce, what do you see? Do you see a couple fighting it out in front of a judge? Do you see negotiation sessions that seem never-ending? Alternatively, do you see you and your spouse coming to terms quickly and quietly so you can both move on? If you see the last one, an uncontested divorce may be right for you.

Divorce is often portrayed as this awful thing where spouses fight for months or years on end before coming to terms with which they both can agree. While there are cases like that, the truth is, a lot of couples in Arizona and elsewhere do not want to fight over every little thing. There are couples who do not want to go to court. There are couples who can agree on terms without a lot of help from outside sources.

Worried about co-parenting during summer break?

Coming to terms with divorce as a family is challenging at best, and extremely difficult if all involved parties are not willing to cooperate and work as a team. While you might be looking forward to summer break with your kids, you may also feel anxious because it's your first summer since your divorce. Or perhaps it is your fifth or sixth summer since then, but you're worried anyway because you know your ex always tries to throw a wrench into your plans.  

It likely won't help your kids much if they spend their summer watching their parents fight. Then again, you shouldn't have to sit back and do nothing if your former spouse isn't playing fair. It's better to have a plan of action in mind and to know exactly where to seek support if a problem arises that you can't resolve on your own. Keep in mind, however, several ideas may also be helpful if your goal is to have a low-stress, enjoyable summer with your kids.  

What happens if you need to change your custody order?

The end of a marriage will bring many changes to your life, but for some Arizona families, these changes continue to happen even after the divorce is final. The terms of your custody order may not work for you and your children anymore, but there are ways you may be able to secure the changes you need. 

Securing changes to a custody order is not necessarily an easy process, and there must be valid reasons to seek a change. If you think you need to seek a modification, you might find it beneficial to learn more about valid reasons to take this step.

Negotiating a divorce settlement with your spouse

Dividing property during a divorce may be among the most stressful and contentious undertakings, second perhaps only to child custody matters. Often, spouses find themselves grappling over sentimental items as well as those with the most value. Arizona's community property laws stipulate an equitable distribution of marital property, which does not always mean an even split.

You could go to court and allow the judge to decide how your marital assets will be split between you and your spouse. Many find this impersonal process leaves them with an unsatisfying settlement that is difficult to live with. More recently, couples have tried working together to arrive at a fair division of their accumulated wealth. This may seem like an impossible undertaking, but there are ways to make the process a little easier.

Taking the fight out of child custody negotiations

Throughout history, leaders have often discovered—often tragically—that the opposite of negotiation is war. It’s been said that when there’s no negotiation, when there’s no talking and when there’s no agreement, then there’s war. When it comes to your children, we all want what’s best for them. War is not what you want.

Children are often caught in the middle of divorce and child custody battles. No one should be surprised to hear that children suffer when their parents fight. Studies have found that parent’s bitter fighting harms children more than the divorce itself. An alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation offers a way to stay out of the courtroom and avoid the fighting that often comes with it.