Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

Finding The Right Attorney: Finding an Appropriately Balanced Attorney

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Arizona Divorce Lawyer Discusses How To Find The Right Attorney

Submitted by Attorney Douglas C. Gardner

I have always found photos of the heavy built person with the bulldog on a leash next to the overly stylistic person with the overly dressed up French poodle to be hilarious.  People joke about other people finding dogs that most resemble them.  Throughout my law practice, I have often found that many clients seem to select lawyers who resemble themselves in many ways.  Specifically, people of low morals and ethics seem to be able to find attorneys with low morals and ethics.  Overly aggressive individuals seem to seek out attorneys who will be overly aggressive.

Such behavior can become quickly problematic, as it may be more advantageous to have an attorney who is appropriately balanced.  When I am representing clients in a divorce, I recognize and understand that my clients are normal people, but that they are going through what is most likely the most difficult time in their lives.  Generally clients in divorce cases are struggling financially (which usually occurs even before the divorce starts, and may be part of the cause).  Clients going through divorce cases have to juggle parenting duties that were historically divided between the other parent.  Clients going through divorce have strong emotions that they must work through including the hurt, betrayal, anger, etc.

I feel that when hired as a divorce attorney, my job is to recognize the emotion, but to not get pulled in or effected by the emotion.  I feel that as a divorce attorney I am the legal and logical “Jiminy Cricket” proverbially on my client’s shoulders whispering to them what the legal and logical choice would be and helping them see beyond their emotional choices.  Choices made during a divorce often have life-long lingering effects, and should be carefully considered from the emotional, legal, and logical perspectives before making any decision.

The problem with overly aggressive people seeking out overly aggressive attorneys, or less ethical people seeking out less ethical attorneys, is that instead of an advocate fighting to  help you understand what is best, you may hire a cheerleader that will simply encourage you to act out emotionally without considering the logical and legal ramifications.

Any divorce attorney who has handled more than a few cases has been “fired” by a client.  For me, it does not happen often, but does occur.  I have certainly been hired by many more clients who have fired prior attorneys than I have been fired from.  I have found it interesting that I am usually fired for one of two reasons:  1) being too nice, or 2) being too aggressive.  Whenever I have a client that indicates that he/she is not fully satisfied with my services, I explain to them how we can fix things to make it right, and I discuss with them that they have the option of representing themselves or hiring another attorney (within our firm or from another firm).  It is important for clients to have confidence in their chosen attorneys, so that clients trust the legal and logical advice given.  It is important for clients to have confidence in the strategy (for settlement and/or for trial) utilized by the attorney.

My general preference in any case is to come in nice, and to try and resolve cases amicably through settlement.  I have learned that when I come in too harsh and too strong that it may cause the case to go through litigation unnecessarily.  It is generally easier to get meaner and nastier as the case progresses than the other way around.  Some clients are looking for attorneys that will instantly be on the attack.  While there are certain cases where this is appropriate (such as an emergency cases where emergency orders are needed right away), in general, those attorneys who come on unnecessarily strong at the beginning of a case do so simply to ensure that the case costs much more than it would have otherwise needed to cost.

Even when taking the gloves off, it is important to have an attorney who remains ethical and professional at all times.

If you are involved in a divorce case or other parenting time case involving “legal decision making” (the new word for legal custody), or other simple or complex issues and want experienced legal representation, please call 800-899-2730 and ask to speak with Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.

Increasing Prevalence of Half-Time Schedules

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

By Attorney Kirk Smith

Mothers in the past were typically the parent of first choice when it came to receiving primary physical custody of  minor children. The orders of the court usually allotted more days each week to the mother, rather than the father.  Today most judges in Arizona take a more egalitarian view when it comes to allotting what amount of time each parent should spend with the minor child(ren). Due to this evolution in thinking, half-time schedules between parents are becoming much more prevalent in divorce and custody cases.

A half-time schedule is one where each parent is allowed close to, or exactly one half the amount of time each week or two week cycle, with their child(ren). Half-time schedules can be broken up in various ways depending on the availability and preferences of the parents. Some examples of half-time schedules are; 7-7, 2-2-3, and 3-3-5.

A 7-7 schedule would be one week with mom, then, one week with dad. A 2-2-3 schedule would be two days with dad, then two days with mom, and alternating weekends with mom or dad. So long as the time period in question, which generally would be a week or two week cycle, is split in a relatively even fashion it is considered a half-time schedule.

Good news for any non-custodial parent who is wanting more time with their child(ren) but was afraid that the courts would only give them every other weekend. This is not to say, that if historically speaking, one parent has spent more time with the child(ren) then the other, that the courts won’t look at this factor in making an appropriate decision. None the less this factor alone is not always outcome determinative and will be one of several factors the court can consider.

For a parent wanting to request a half-time schedule from the courts, that parent should keep in mind the age of minor child(ren) in devising which half-time schedule they would like to propose. Studies have shown that younger babies or toddlers need more frequent contact with both parents, whereas, older children can go longer periods without seeing either parent. Consequently, a one week on and one week off schedule would not be the best half-time schedule to propose for a very young child. Under those circumstances a better suggestion to the court might be to propose a 2-2-3 schedule to accommodate the minor child’s(ren) burgeoning emotional needs.

Nothing is ever guaranteed when going to court to resolve disputes between parties. Regardless, a non-custodial parent who has consistently “been there for their children” has a much better chance today, then in the past, of seeing their child(ren) at least one-half of the time.

If you are in need of legal counsel and would like to speak with an experienced family law attorney, please call 800 899-2730  or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com. or www.davismiles.com

TEMPE AND MESA ARIZONA DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW LAWYER DISCUSSES IMPLICATIONS OF FACEBOOK IN FAMILY LAW CASES

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Submitted by Attorney Douglas C. Gardner

When involved in litigation, or even when there is the prospect of litigation, parties should be aware of certain aspects of Facebook, that they may not have ever considered before.

Two competing concepts need to be discussed, and the differences understood.  First, it is beneficial to parties likely to be involved in litigation to not create evidence that may be used against them, and this includes posting to Facebook.  We have all heard many times (hopefully only on T.V.) that we “have the right to remain silent, and that anything we say may be used against us in a court of law.”  Similarly, though not specifically stated when read our Miranda rights, you have the right to not post on Facebook anything that may be incriminating. 

Obviously inappropriate Facebook posts may include any indiscretions, adulterous situations, use of illegal drugs, abuse of alcohol, abuse of the children, etc.  However, even a seemingly harmless post that “I am in Colorado visiting Aunt Jane” may be used as evidence in a contempt case for leaving the state with the children during the pendency of a divorce case.  Be careful what you post.  If you have any hint that you may be involved in a divorce case in the near or even far future, remember that you have the right to remain silent on Facebook also. 

Once a divorce or other family law case has been filed, you cannot now simply close out your Facebook account.  Destroying, hiding, or otherwise disposing of evidence can be a serious crime and result in serious sanctions in your case.  This is often referred to as “spoliation of evidence.”  Once a case has been filed, it is too late to remove problematic posts.  Furthermore, Facebook does not delete your account when you ask to close out your account, as all of your entire Facebook file remains in the computers, and can be subpoenaed if and when needed. 

Even if you are not anticipating a divorce or legal battle, you should always monitor and pay attention to your security settings, limiting who has access to your profile on Facebook. 

If you are involved in a divorce case involving simple or complex issues and want experienced legal representation, please call 800-899-2730 and ask to speak with Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.

 

ARIZONA DIVORCE LAWYER: FATHER’S RIGHTS IN ARIZONA CUSTODY CASES

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Submitted by Attorney Douglas Gardner

 

East Valley Divorce Attorney Discusses Father’s Rights in Divorce Cases

 

 

Arizona has moved forward in terms of Father’s rights recently, which changes how cases should be handled whether you are the Mother or the Father.

 

In the 1970s and 1980s, a typical custody order would have the children reside with the Mother, and Father would see the children on alternating weekends and two weeks during the summer.  As we moved into the 1990s and the 2000s, Father’s rights and Father’s role in raising children received significant attention from mental health professionals, which trickled its way into state laws and into the courtroom practices of judges.  Weekday parenting time to the Father became more common, and alternating holidays, equal sharing of summer and Christmas school recess became more common.

 

Over just the last two years, the Courts have moved beyond this, to much more often awarding equal parenting time when the parent’s live close enough to allow the children stability in school while residing with both parents. 

 

Moving to equal parenting time has its pros and cons.  Many children feel like they live at neither house, but “camp” at both houses and move back and forth.  Other children enjoy the significant relationship with both parents being much more involved.  Equal time parenting plans allow both parents to have their own time as well as parenting time, and can balance the various difficulties  in life including jobs and other responsibilities.  However, Equal time for many mother’s necessarily includes reduced parenting time. 

 

One difficulty often ran into is societal expectations.  While these changes are great for Father’s that want to be more involved, many mother’s feel that the Court has punished them because they are familiar with other families in which the Mother was named the primary parent, and they feel that they are as good or better of a parent than this other parent.  Such comparisons fail to account for the dramatic changes in the law over just the past few years. 

 

While many Father’s enjoy this additional time with their children, some Father’s realize that having the children 50% of the time causes them to be away from work more of the time, as schooling, sick children, and other issues are now falling on their parenting time 50% of the time. 

 

Equal parenting time is not appropriate in all cases.  I still see many cases in which Father or Mother can provide a better life style, stability, safe environment, and other factors and in which we can persuade the Court to award my client’s more than 50%/50% custody.  However, proving that such is the case requires a solid case and a well prepared trial plan. 

 

If you are experiencing legal issues involving custody or other difficult issues, whether as part of a divorce, after the divorce has already been entered, or a custody battle in which the parents were never married, you should have experienced legal counsel on your side. Please call 800 899-2730 and ask to speak with attorney Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.

Calculating A “Ball-park” Child Support Amount.

Monday, July 9th, 2012

 

Submitted by Attorney Karl Scholes

 

I will often have my divorce, or post-decree, clients ask me, “How much child support will I be receiving/paying?” My normal answer to them is a resoundingly, lawyerly, “It depends.”

 

When they press me for a more specific response, I tell them, “Well, we just need to apply the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.” I then proceed to instruct them as to what the Guidelines specify.

 

However, when they push back even more, I tell them, “Oh, you are looking for a “ball-park” calculation. That I can get for you.”

 

The remainder of this article is an explanation on how to come to a “ball-park[1] ” child support calculation.

 

First, one should understand at least a little of the background about child support in Arizona. It is important to understand that Arizona law requires custodial and non-custodial parents to provide “reasonable support” for their minor children. A.R.S. §25-501(A). A parent’s child support obligation has priority over all other financial obligations of the parent. A.R.S. §25-501(C).

 

In addition, the court receives the authority to award child support under A.R.S. §25-320. This statute also makes it mandatory for the court to issue an order of child support as per the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, (unless the court finds that a deviation is necessary… which is a subject matter for another day.)

 

The Arizona Guidelines follow the Income Shares Model, which means that the total child support amount approximates the amount that would have been spent on the children if the parents and children were living together.  The guidelines involve numerous intricacies, and for a full application, one should consult an attorney – who is experienced in using the Arizona Child Support Guidelines – as to how the guidelines apply to each individual case.

 

Second, to get a “ball-park” child support calculation, one must be able to answer the following questions:

 

1.      What is the gross income of both parties? (Note, this issue sometimes becomes complicated, especially if one party is self-employed, has an income that is not easily ascertainable, or if one party is unemployed. Consult an attorney if there are any complications in your case.)

2.      What is the number and ages of minor children involved? (Note, if this factor is complicated, please consult a mental health professional before seeking the advise of an attorney.)

3.      What is the cost of medical/dental/vision insurance for the minor child(ren): The key to this factor is to find the cost for medical insurance for just the minor children. (Note, at times, this factor can be complicated as well. Please consult an attorney if there are any complications in your case.)

4.      What are the monthly childcare costs for the minor children?

5.      Are there any extra education expenses paid for the minor children?

6.      Are there any extraordinary (gifted or handicapped) expenses for the minor children?

7.      How many days, out of a year, will the non-custodial parent have with the minor children?

 

Third, the next step is to plug the numbers from the answers above into their corresponding areas in the Arizona child support calculator, which can be found here:

 

Fourth, once you have plugged in the numbers above into the calculator, it will dispense a number under the heading “Child Support Obligation to be paid by____________”. This is where you will have your “ball-park” child support number.

 

If there are complications in your child support case, or to get an exact child support calculation, contact a family law attorney who is experienced in using the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.

 

If you are in need of legal counsel and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please call 800 899-2730  or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com. or www.davismiles.com


[1] While a “ball-park” calculation of child support may be important for purposes of settlement, or setting expectations, one should note that a full child support calculation should be done by an attorney who is experienced in using the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.  

 

 

A Financial Benefit to Paying Child Support

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Submitted by Attorney Kirk Smith

 

There is a general discontent among those who must pay child support. The consensus among them is not that they are unwilling to financially support their children; but rather, that they seemingly overcompensate the primary physical custodian for the expenses of the children, as these expenses fall appreciably lower than the child support they owe. Notwithstanding this perceived inequity, there is some consultation for child support obligors, as their tax liabilities generally decrease due to paying child support.

 

When child support is calculated each parent will be obligated to pay a specific percentage of the total amount calculated. How this plays out typically is that the primary physical custodian will pay nothing directly to the non-custodial parent, but the non-custodial parent will pay a specified sum each month to the primary physical custodian. For the purpose of this discussion do not get caught up in the fact that the primary physical custodian typically pays nothing directly to the non-custodial parent despite being allocated a percentage of the child support obligation.

 

An example of how these percentages might be allocated is; the primary physical custodian would be obligated to pay 20% of the total amount of child support calculated and the non-custodial parent would be obligated to pay 80% of the total amount of the child support calculated.

 

The family law courts will use these percentages under Number 27 of the Appendix of Arizona Revised Statutes 25-320, to determine the allocation between the parties of the dependent tax benefit, for the years following the divorce or separation.

 

Number 27 of the Appendix of Arizona Revised Statutes 25-320 states;

 

All the federal and state tax exemptions applicable to the minor children shall be allocated between the parents as they agree, or, in the absence of their agreement, in a manner that allows each parent to claim allowable federal dependency exemptions proportionate to adjusted gross income…To implement this provision, the proportionate share of the combined adjusted gross income of both parents is rounded to the nearest fraction with a denominator no larger than 5 (i.e. 1/2, 1/3, 2/3, 1/4, 3/4, 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, 4/5).

 

Applying this statute to the above example, and assuming that the parties have only 1 child, the non-custodial parent would receive the dependent tax benefit 4 out of the next 5 years. Looking at the years following the divorce or separation, 80% of 5 years is four years. The percentage then used to determine each parent’s child support obligation is also used to determine who receives the dependent tax benefit each year.

 

Figuring out who receives the dependent tax benefit can become more complicated with multiple children between the parties, however, the aforementioned principles still apply. Child support obligors then can take a measure of solace that even though their finances will diminish due to their child support obligation; their finances typically increase when it comes to receiving their yearend tax refund. 

If you are in need of legal counsel and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please call 800 899-2730  or visit our website at www.yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com. or www.davismiles.com

 

 

ARIZONA DIVORCE LAWYER: COMMUNICATION ISSUES DURING AND AFTER DIVORCES (FOR THE CHILDREN’S SAKE)

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Submitted by Attorney Douglas Gardner

Tempe Arizona Divorce Attorney Speaks About Communicating With Spouse or Ex-Spouse About The Children

 

Most expensive Arizona divorces become expensive because of poor communication about the children.  Other factors can occasionally cause cases to get expensive, but generally custody issues have a large impact upon the cost of a case.

   

Except in extreme cases, the Court will generally order that the parties share joint legal custody.  Joint legal custody requires that both parents work together to make major medical, educational, and religious decisions.  In both sole custody and joint custody cases, the parties will still be required to have some level of communications regarding the logistics, including exchange times, exchange locations, and holiday scheduling.

 

In many cases, the parties will quickly (or at least eventually) learn to get along in a business-like relationship.  While the emotion and romance are long since gone, the parties should learn to work together at the business of raising their children.  Even in a business-like relationship, in which both parties are seeking to receive a personal advantage, parties can learn that it is mutually advantageous to compromise and to acquiesce to the other parent’s requests, so that at other times the other parent will compromise and acquiesce to future requests needed. 

 

It is important in developing a business-like relationship that the compromise work both ways, and the acquiescence work both ways.  If one parent is constantly a taker, and the other parent constantly acquiescing, this will cause resentment and will eventually result in a breakdown of communications and an unwillingness of one or both parents to compromise. 

 

A good divorce attorney should be able to discuss with you and share with you ways to work on communications, ways to set appropriate boundaries so that you are not taken advantage of, and other methods for “training” your ex-spouse or your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to understand that compromise works both ways. 

 

It is also of vital importance to have a detailed and strongly worded parenting plan in place.  While it is beneficial to both parents to work together and cooperate, and while it would be wonderful if both parents got along so well that the parenting plan was never needed, the fact is the parents are divorced or divorcing, and this indicates that there is a good chance that at least occasionally communications break down.  A solidly written parenting plan or custody order provides a fall back position for times when compromise is not occurring.  The parenting plan should detail the rights and responsibilities as well as the parenting times.  The parenting plan serves as the tie-breaking vote for occasions when no agreement can be reached.  The parent wishing to follow the written parenting plan prevails at that time. 

 

If you are experiencing legal issues involving custody or other difficult issues, whether as part of a divorce, after the divorce has already been entered, or a custody battle in which the parents were never married, you should have experienced legal counsel on your side. Please call 800 899-2730 and ask to speak with attorney Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.

Strategic Reasons for Being Nice-Custody Determination

Friday, June 8th, 2012

 

Submitted by Attorney Kirk Smith

 

In many cases, parents divorcing, or parents who were not married but are now separating, will fight a merciless custody battle for their children. The extreme acrimony attendant with such battles, in my experience, can have a very real impact on the children of these divorces. Increased cooperation between the parents lessens this emotional impact, and by itself, should be sufficient incentive for most parents to “play nice” during the subsequent legal process.  

 

None the less is there a strategic reason for one parent to be gracious to the other, outside altruism, that benefits them in the court’s final custody determination?  

 

In most cases one parent will become the primary physical custodian of the children, meaning that that parent will have the children at their residence the majority of the time each week. There are specific statutory factors the family law court examines when determining who becomes the primary physical custodian of the children. See Generally A.R.S. §25-403. 

 

One of the factors the court looks at in determining who should receive primary physical custodianship is;

 

Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent. This paragraph does not apply if the court determines that a parent is acting in good faith to protect the child from witnessing an act of domestic violence or being a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.A.R.S. § 25-403 (6)

Of course in some cases the other parent is a real danger to the children therefore it is necessary to diminish that other parent’s time with the children or ask that it be supervised. More often then not, however, both parents are usually suitable to care for the children, and an attempt to completely eliminate the other parent’s time with the children will be seen by the court negatively. The parent trying to “thwart” the other parent’s visitation with the children then could seriously and detrimentally effect that parent’s  chance of becoming the primary physical custodian because that parent did not “allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent.”

If you are in need of legal counsel and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please call 800 899-2730  or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com. or www.davismiles.com

A rule of thumb, assuming that the other parent is not a danger to the children, is to allow and encourage the other parent’s time with the children. This does not mean that you must have a half time schedule with the other parent, nor does it mean that anytime the other parent asks for time it must be provided. What it does mean is that going to extremes by trying to eliminate the other parent’s access to the children without good cause, strategically speaking, can backfire and decrease your chances of gaining the final custody determination from the court you wish.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARIZONA DIVORCE: WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF A DIVORCE IS COMING

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Tempe Arizona Divorce Lawyer Discusses Steps That Should Be Taken To Protect Yourself If A Divorce or Legal Separation Is Coming

 

 

Under Arizona law, as soon as the divorce case is filed and served upon the other person, and both parties are aware of the existence of the case, the Preliminary Injunction provides each party with certain protections such as preventing the other party from absconding with the children or assets. 

 

However, even before a case is filed, there are certain steps that should be taken to protect one’s self and to ensure that information remains available and obtainable.

 

As soon as you believe you will be going through a divorce, make sure you change your passwords to your computer, email accounts, blogs, cell phones, etc.  While some of the information on your electronic devices may need to be disclosed and provided, you will need to ensure that you have sole access to these lines of communication.  You want to ensure that if your attorney sends you attorney/client privileged communications by e-mail that only you will have access to these communications.

 

You should also ensure that you have safely written down the account numbers, account balances, and the name and address of any financial institution or retirement company with which you or your spouse have accounts.  This information can occasionally disappear once the divorce is filed, and while your attorney may be able to subpoena or otherwise obtain this information, this comes at a cost. 

 

You should also make a list of any valuable property that you brought into the marriage, or that you have received as a gift or as an inheritance.  Under Arizona law, these are likely to be determined to be your sole and separate property. 

 

You should make a separate list or inventory of every item of personal property that you and your spouse own.  This can be done with a video camera walking room to room and panning across each room to show the furniture and appliances in each room, or can be done by a spreadsheet or otherwise.  If for some reason you are unable to return to the marital home, you will want to have already completed this list ahead of time.

 

Finally, you will want to find a trusted friend or family member, with whom you can store this information and copies of any important documents that you do not want to disappear or become lost. 

 

If you are considering a divorce or legal separation, and would like to speak with an experienced family law attorney about your rights, responsibilities, and ways to protect yourself in your upcoming divorce, please call 800 899-2730 and ask to speak with attorney Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.

East Valley Family Law Lawyer Discusses Division Of Businesses In Divorce

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Arizona law requires the equitable division of community property and jointly owned property. Even in cases where the property is the sole and separate property of one spouse, the law in certain instances recognizes that the other spouse may have an equitable interest in the property for any increase in value attributed to the finances or effort of the marital community during the marriage. Generally, equitable division requires an equal division, though there are certain exceptions where an unequal division may be most equitable or fair.

In many divorce or legal separation cases, one or both parties own a business, medical practice, or other professional practice. Generally these businesses or practices were started and built during the marriage, though in some cases the business was started prior to the marriage and has increased in value during the marriage.

In each such case, both spouses have a legal and/or equitable interest in the business, and the value of the business must be equitably divided as part of the divorce case. Often, the business will need to be valuated or appraised. There are many issues that arise including the type of appraisal, the date of the appraisal, whether the appraisal includes the goodwill value of the business or only the tangible assets, etc.

These are complex cases, in which an experienced and knowledgeable attorney is imperative. If you are contemplating a divorce, or are already involved in a divorce, and you would like to speak with an attorney who has handled many complex divorce cases involving the division of businesses, please call McGuire Gardner today for a free initial telephonic consultation. Call us at (480) 829-9081, or visit us at YourArizonaDivorceLawyer.com.