Planning a wedding often starts with filling out a gift registry and thinking about sending out invitations. Many decisions are made, such as which caterer to hire, what kind of cake to have and where to have the reception. Couples that “tie the knot” think in terms of the union lasting a lifetime. Unfortunately, when spouses drift apart and the relationship is past the point of repair, accepting a divorce can be heartbreaking.
A divorce is a tumultuous time for the entire family, but especially for the children. Often children are too young to comprehend the logical aspects of why a marriage must end. When spouses work together and agree on all divorce issues, the process can be smoother and help children adjust to the new circumstances. Two matters that need to be resolved are custody and child support.
All Tucson custody rulings are based upon what is in the best interests of the children. The court considers many factors in custody arrangements including:
- The relationship between each parent and the child
- The wishes of the parents
- The preference of the children
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- The expected adjustment for children in school, at home and in the community
Arizona has two types of custody – legal and physical. Each form can either be shared between parents or remain with just one caregiver. Legal custody gives parents the right to make educational, medical and other important life decisions concerning their children. Physical custody, or parenting time, refers to where the children live.
When a marriage ends, the partnership is over between the spouses; however, each parent is obligated to provide for the needs of the children. Child support is calculated based on a variety of factors deemed relevant by the court, including:
- The amount of parenting time
- The monthly gross income of each parent
- The total amount of child-related costs
- The number of children
Additionally, a judge may consider other factors, like the standard of living the children during the parents’ marriage and the financial obligations of each spouse.
Proving what property is whose can be tricky during divorce proceedings. In Arizona, community property laws apply to spouses dividing items. However, unlike other community property states, Arizona has provisions that make it possible for assets and debts to be divided unequally between spouses.
Dividing Assets and Debts
All property and debt that was accumulated in the marriage belongs to both parties. Any item that was brought into the marriage, and hasn’t become commingled in marital property, remains separate. Separate property is not divided upon the dissolution of marriage.
When parties can agree on property division matters, the outcome is more likely to remain in the hands of the spouses, rather than a judge. If property issues remain contested, a court proceeding is often needed to arrive at a settlement. The steps in working through property allocation are:
- Determine whether the property is marital or separate
- Determine the value for marital property
- Reach an agreement on how to divide property
When the decision has been made to end a marriage, couples in Tucson, Arizona – as in the rest of the state – can file for divorce based on no-fault laws. Spouses in a covenant marriage can also file for a no-fault divorce, as long as both parties agree to end the union, or they can use one of the fault grounds designed for covenant partnerships. Other ways to end a marriage in Arizona include filing an annulment and legal separation.
In an annulment, the marriage is treated as an invalid union. Some common reasons to annul a marriage include:
- A spouse was already legally married.
- A spouse lacked mental capacity.
- A spouse was forced into marriage.
- A spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- A spouse was unable to consummate the marriage.
- Spouses were close family relatives.
Annulments are not readily granted by the court. In order to have a marriage annulled, it will be necessary to provide sufficient evidence to a judge. An attorney can outline the forms of proof necessary to pursue an annulment.
A legal separation gives spouses the ability to live apart and resolve the issues of divorce while officially remaining married. In Arizona, one person must be a resident of the state and both parties have to agree to the legal separation. In a covenant marriage, certain grounds apply to legally separating, such as adultery and habitual drunkenness. Spouses may pursue a legal separation for financial, religious or personal reasons.
Arizona uses alternative dispute resolution as a means to dissolve a marriage. There are several types of ADR that can be used as a first step while pursuing an agreement between spouses, including:
- Mediation. A knowledgeable third party works with spouses to arrive at plausible agreements by helping parties maintain productive communication.
- Arbitration. In this format, the mediator is often a judge or a lawyer who works with couples by hearing both sides and then making a decision. Spouses can elect to have binding (a legal determination) or nonbinding ADR (a recommendation).
- Collaborative Divorce. In a collaborative process, each spouse retains his or her own attorney, but the goal is to avoid a courtroom proceeding.
A military divorce can be complicated due to the federal and state laws that help to protect the rights of service members. Under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, a divorce proceeding can be halted for the entire time a military spouse is on active duty or deployed. When going through a military divorce, it’s a sound decision to enlist the services of an experienced Tucson divorce attorney.
There are many choices to consider when going through a divorce. A skilled attorney can advise you on the steps that are right for your situation and family. When you have the help of a lawyer, you stand a better chance of avoiding costly mistakes, such as signing a contract that isn’t in your best interests. Whether you have questions on the complicated property division laws in Arizona or are concerned over custody arrangements, a lawyer can help.
How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer
When searching for a lawyer to represent you, it’s wise to hire one who focuses on divorce in Tucson, rather than a general practice attorney. Every divorce case is different, and there can be a wide range of subtleties within each one. Selecting an attorney with experience in helping other families with similar situations can make a difference in the outcome.
To begin the divorce process or learn more about what to expect, fill out the intake form and we’ll put you in contact with an experienced Tucson divorce lawyer.