Ending a marriage is a difficult decision, but having the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney can help the process go more smoothly. Pintel Law Firm PLLC specializes in family law and has the expertise necessary to guide you through Arizona’s specific legal requirements. Understanding what to expect throughout the process can help ease anxiety and see your case to a successful conclusion.
Getting Through the Divorce Process
Emotional preparation and knowledge about your financial situation are the two keys to a relatively smooth divorce. We begin each case with a frank discussion of financial matters and other marital issues that may be raised at a settlement conference or at trial. We’ll also be able to answer common questions such as:
- Will I be able to keep the house?
- How will divorce affect my business and/or a business I share with my spouse?
- Will I be entitled to receive or have to pay spousal maintenance (alimony)?
- What details should be included in a parenting plan?
- How is child support calculated by the court?
- Will I be able to settle out of court, or does the case need to go to trial?
The more detailed information you are able to provide, the better we will be able to answer these questions accurately and thoroughly so you will have an understanding of your position and the required next steps.
Children and Divorce
Whether your case is resolved through settlement or at trial, divorce has a profound effect on the children in the family. If you and your spouse have children, we can help you strategize about how to minimize the trauma of this event and support their future well-being as co-parents. Some of the most important issues we will help you resolve include the following:
Legal Decision-making (Custody)
Legal custody is each parent’s right and responsibility to make decisions on behalf of his or her child or children. These may include aspects of education, religion, and non-emergency medical care. Legal custody can either be held jointly or awarded solely to one parent or another.
Arizona courts strive to order a parenting plan that is in the children’s best interest. When creating a schedule for parenting time, the judge will consider issues such as domestic violence, mental health, and substance abuse if applicable. The finalized parenting plan must include information about:
- Joint or sole legal decision-making responsibilities
- A practical parenting schedule that includes holidays and school vacations
- A procedure for parents to exchange children between different homes or locations
- A procedure to resolve disputes about and/or make changes to the plan, which may include the use of conciliation services or private counseling
- A procedure to review the terms of the parenting plan as needed
- A procedure to communicate about the child, including methods and frequency
If you have children but are not married, the laws regarding legal decision-making, parenting plans, and child support still apply. If you are the father of the child, however, you must establish paternity. A person can either voluntarily acknowledge paternity by signing their child’s birth certificate or by signing a notarized statement. A DNA test may be ordered if voluntary paternity cannot be established.
Modification of Orders
Sometimes, the original parenting and/or decision-making plans issued by the court may no longer be practical or beneficial. For example, if one parent moves to another state, the procedures involving parenting time and transportation may become unrealistic. Arizona law prevents a person from filing a motion to modify legal decision-making or parenting time within a year of the establishment of the original parenting plan. However, an earlier modification may be sought if there is a reason to believe that the child’s present environment may seriously endanger his or her physical, mental, moral or emotional health. When disagreements about the parenting plan occur, we can help you get back on track, either avoiding the need for litigation by facilitating an agreement or making sure that necessary litigation proceeds swiftly and smoothly to a satisfying conclusion.
Enforcement of Orders
If one parent dodges child support payments or refuses to respect the court’s determination about legal decision-making, the other parent has legal recourse available. This may include contempt proceedings or enforcement hearings. If a parent is able to pay child support but does not, he or she may be ordered to pay a lump sum set by the court to avoid jail time. In addition, a person who has not paid child support can face the risk of having their wages garnished, liens filed against their property, and/or assets seized. Our team can help you pursue legal recourse when court decisions are not upheld by your co-parent. When you work with Pintel Law Firm PLLC, we are dedicated to helping you navigate one of the most challenging times in your life. If you are seeking experienced divorce representation and live in the Phoenix metro area, call (480) 771-4154 or contact us online for your free consultation.