What to Expect From a Family Law Judge

When you or your spouse file for a divorce in Arizona, your case will be assigned to a family law judge at the Superior Court. While we would like to think that it won’t make a difference which judge gets your case, this is unfortunately not true. Just like every other person, judges are human beings with different personalities and perspectives. Some judges are very technical, making the divorce lawyers stick closely to every single procedural and evidentiary rule. Others are very quick to anger and will be happy to make you and your family law attorney feel badly if you do something to upset them. Still, you may find family law judges who realize that each spouse is going through a very rough time in his or her life and will be sympathetic to the situation.

Nevertheless, there are two things that seem to unite every family law judge here in Arizona. First, they all share the same powers regardless of their personalities. Second, they all are required to prioritize certain things over others based on Arizona family law.

What Powers Do Arizona Family Law Judges Have?

There are a number of things that a family law judge can do here in Arizona. Among these are deciding issues of child custody if there are any minor children produced by the divorcing couple, awarding spousal maintenance (alimony), and dividing marital assets and debts. Depending on a number of factors, they have the discretion to award authority to make decisions on behalf of the child as well as the amount of parenting time.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on these custody issues, then the judge will look at all of the evidence to determine what is in the best interests of the child. The judge will then decide which parent has the authority to make decisions about the child. This can include education, healthcare, and religious participation.

Similarly, parenting time will be decided by the judge if the parents cannot agree. If the custodial parent denies parenting time to the other parent, the sole remedy is to seek an order of enforcement from an Arizona family court judge. You cannot stop making child support payments, which are statutorily mandated and based on the number of minor children and the parental income.

Arizona family law judges can also award spousal maintenance to a spouse if the requesting spouse does not have the ability to support him or her self. This is based on a number of different factors, including historical earnings, lifestyle during the marriage, length of marriage and age of the parties. The judge will also treat your family assets obtained during the marriage as community property and divide them between you and your spouse in an equitable manner if you cannot reach an agreement on how to divide them. Judges have considerable discretion in this area and can look at things like businesses, retirement accounts, and the marital home.

What Do Arizona Family Judges Prioritize?

No matter which judge gets assigned to your divorce case, the top priority for that judge will be the minor children of your marriage. Judges consider the children innocent bystanders in your divorce, and will take whatever steps are necessary to protect their best interests. This is why the issues of custody and payment of child support are paramount in a divorce. If you are required to pay child support, you will have to petition the court for a reduction in the amount if your income or financial circumstances change. You cannot simply stop paying.

Call Us If You Are Getting Divorced

Going through a divorce can be very challenging. You are facing a possible legal battle with your spouse, and this can be very emotional for you. At Cohen Family Law PLLC, our team of family law attorneys will help you navigate the process and protect your rights in the divorce. We can also help you get parenting time and decision-making authority over your children. Call us today so we can begin helping you through this difficult time.