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Arizona Family Law Overview

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Areas of Family Law We Serve

In Arizona, family law issues strike close to home for most people. To make the right decisions for your family in a family law case, you will need the help of an experienced and knowledgeable advocate to advise and guide you through the process.

The Arizona family law attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta work closely with people who are going through a divorce, child custody and visitation matters, modifications, and more. We also help with establishing paternity, legal decision-making, prenuptial agreements, and same-sex divorce issues.

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The Different Areas of Family Law in Arizona

Divorce without Children Involved

Divorces that do not involve any minor children have the potential to be more straightforward.  However, if you are ending a marriage without minor children, you still need to address how your property and debts will be divided between you and your spouse.  Depending on the facts of your case, spousal maintenance or support may also be an issue.

Divorces without children in Arizona can be contested or uncontested. If you and your spouse agree on how your property and debts should be divided and all other issues, the divorce process can be fairly fast. However, if your spouse refuses to sign a settlement agreement, you might have to litigate the disputed issues in court.

If you and your spouse have been married for a long time and no longer have children at home, you might have accumulated substantial assets. The family law attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta are experienced with handling high-net-worth divorces and gray divorces, and we are prepared to help you with your case.

Divorce with Children Involved

If you share children with your spouse and wish to get divorced, in addition to property/debt division and spousal support, you will need to contend with all of the issues related to child custody. A divorce with children in Arizona will need to address legal decision-making authority, parenting time, child support, property division, debt division, and possibly spousal support.

Divorcing with children also requires you to file additional legal documents with the court and fulfill other requirements that are not necessary if the case does not involve children.

At Colburn Hintze Maletta, our attorneys can help you throughout the divorce process and work to negotiate an agreement to settle all outstanding issues. If necessary, we are also prepared to litigate on behalf of our clients when their divorces are contested to secure an outcome that protects their interests and is in the best interests of their children.

Child Custody and Parenting Time Establishment & Modification

While many people think that child custody refers to where a child lives, custody of a child involves much more. Courts rely on numerous factors to make child custody and parenting time decisions. 

Custody is referred to as legal decision-making in Arizona and refers to which parent will have the authority to make decisions on behalf of their children for their religious upbringing, education, and medical needs. Legal decision-making can be shared or held by one parent alone.

Parenting time refers to when the children will be with each parent. Parents might equally share parenting time, or the children might spend more time with one parent with regular visitation granted to the other parent.

Legal decision-making authority and parenting time are always decided according to what is in the children’s best interests rather than the interests of either parent.

Courts rely on numerous factors to make child custody and parenting time decisions. We can help you to understand the factors at play and how they might apply in your child custody case. Our child custody attorneys can also work to secure a parenting plan agreement that will benefit both you and your children.

Establishing Paternity

When a child’s parents are unmarried, the man is not automatically presumed to be the father. Establishing paternity is the process used to determine the child’s father. It is also the first step for unmarried people to pursue child support or to assert their parental rights.

Unless the man establishes his paternity of the child, he will not have enforceable rights to child custody. A mother also cannot secure a child support order against an unmarried father until she establishes that he is the father of her child.

Unmarried fathers who want to have reasonable parenting time and decision-making authority for their children will need to establish their paternity. Paternity can be established by an acknowledgment of paternity signed by both parents or by filing a petition to establish paternity in court.

Once a petition is filed, the court may order both the putative father and the child to undergo DNA testing to determine whether or not the man is the father of the child. Once his paternity is established, the court will then issue child support orders, and the father can file petitions for child custody and visitation rights with the help of an attorney at Colburn Hintze Maletta.

Child Support Establishment & Modification

Arizona expects both parents to contribute financially to a child’s upbringing. If you have a child with someone else with whom you do not live, child support might be an issue. The courts have child support guidelines in place to determine the proper amount of support that should be ordered in a particular case.

Generally speaking, the child support amount that will be ordered will be calculated taking into consideration the number of children involved, the parties’ incomes, the allocation of parenting time, the cost to a parent to provide health insurance for the children, the cost of childcare, any extraordinary needs a child might have, and other factors..

The child support attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta can help you to calculate the amount of child support you might expect to receive or be ordered to pay. We can also argue for deviations from the guideline amount if special circumstances exist that make it necessary.

Spousal Support Establishment & Modification (Also known as Spousal Maintenance or Alimony)

When you file a petition for divorce, either you or your spouse can request spousal support. Even if there is a large disparity between your income and that of your spouse, asking for spousal support does not necessarily mean that the court will grant it.

The first step in any spousal maintenance is to determine whether a spouse is entitled to support under Arizona law.   Spousal maintenance may be awarded where one spouse lacks sufficient property or earning ability to provide for their reasonable needs.

Spousal maintenance may also be awarded where one spouse contributed to the earning ability or career of the other spouse or made career sacrifices for the benefit of the other spouse.  The Court will also consider the duration of the marriage and whether a spouse is of an age that precludes employment.

Arizona law requires the court to consider thirteen (13) separate statutory factors when deciding how much support should be awarded and for how long.

Once entitlement is established, the next step is to determine the proper amount and duration of the maintenance or support award. Judges have broad discretion over the issue, which means that there is strong potential for good, creative, lawyering to lead to a better result.

Once a spousal support order is issued, the payor spouse must continue making the payments as ordered or risk being held in contempt of court.

If you believe that spousal support might be an issue in your divorce case, you should get legal help from the attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta. We can help you to understand the various factors at play and work to negotiate an agreement with your spouse.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are contracts that are drafted before people get married. People can also enter into postnuptial agreements after they have married. These types of agreements can be used to keep certain types of property separate if a divorce occurs and to address whether a spouse will be able to receive spousal support.

For an antenuptial agreement to be valid, it cannot contain any unconscionable provisions. The parties must also have fully disclosed their finances and debts to each other and cannot have used coercion or duress to secure the other party’s agreement.

Entering into a prenuptial agreement can help people who are bringing substantial assets into their marriages. The agreement can outline which assets will remain the separate property of each spouse even if it is used by both during the marriage. As long as the agreement is drafted correctly, a prenuptial agreement can make the division of property much smoother in the event of a divorce.

At Colburn Hintze Maletta, our attorneys can help draft prenuptial or postnuptial agreements to protect the interests of our clients.

Community Property Division

During the process of any divorce is the task of determining who will receive what. This is where things can become difficult when both parties do not agree to divide assets equally.

In each case, there are the factors of what is considered “separate property” or what has become “community property” – meaning that both spouses equaly share rights to the item. 

Arizona is a Community Property state, so unless there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement established, the courts will need to fairly and equally divide assets. This included real property (homes and land), business assets, even each other’s debt. Typically, this is when a very knowledgeable family law attorney is needed. 

Orders of Protection & Restraining Orders

Orders of Protection in Arizona are designed to restrain the subjects from harassing or perpetrating domestic violence against specific people or groups of individuals. 

Another type of Restraining Order of Protection in Arizona is an injunction against harassment. An injunction against harassment can be issued against any non-qualifying third party and is meant to prevent the restrained party from harassing the protected party. Oftentimes, this can happen in a divorce case. 

If the person violates the order of protection, they will find themselves facing criminal charges. Because there are many elements when filing a restraining order, it is advised to speak with our attorneys to make sure they are filed correctly.

Adoption & Termination of Parental Rights

Adoption is normally among the least adversarial areas of practice for our family law attorneys.

Whether you want to adopt a child through an adoption agency, from foster care, or complete a family adoption, we can guide you through the adoption process. We also help with step-parent adoptions and the severance of parental rights of disinterested, unfit, or uninvolved parents.

Our adoption services can help you to understand the requirements that you will need to meet to adopt a child and whether or not a home study might be necessary.

Step-parents do not have to be certified to adopt. However, the child’s other parent must either consent to the adoption or have his or her parental rights terminated.

Same-sex Divorce & Other Legal Matters

Same-sex couples who choose to divorce may have to contend with unique issues surrounding property division, child custody, and child support. Since same-sex marriage has only been legal in Arizona for a few years, many same-sex couples who have been together for many years might have accumulated significant assets before their marriages.

This can present problems during the property division portion of the divorce. Similarly, child custody issues might also arise when a child is the biological child of one parent but not the other.

At Colburn Hintze Maletta, we recognize the unique issues involved in same-sex divorces, but also the very common issues that can arise. We can help you to navigate these issues and work to successfully resolve them for you.

Regardless of what type of family law matter you might be dealing with, the legal team at Colburn Hintze Maletta is prepared to help

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