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Phoenix AZ Family Law Blog

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Custody Dispute Leads to Deadly Shoot-Out


This summer we got a brutal reminder just how contentious custody disputes can become. A man out in Navajo County recently shot and killed the mother of his grandchildren and her mother on the courthouse steps after a custody hearing.

According to a report in The Republic, the children at the heart of this dispute had been cared for by their paternal grandfather, the shooter, for some time. In May, the children visited their mother’s home, and shortly after that, the grandparents filed for a protective order, claiming that she had hit the children and verbally abused them.

The mother, in turn, alleged that the children’s father’s family had taken the children away from her, and she was seeking custody and the right to visit the children while the custody dispute was resolved.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Rights of Grandparents


Do grandparents have visitation and other rights in Arizona?   

Given the changes in the nature of contemporary families, grandparents often play and crucial role in raising and caring for their grandchildren. As such, questions over visitation and custody are becoming more common.  In Arizona, the state created a legal right to visitation for grandparents back in 1983, and the law also recognizes their custody and adoption rights.

Grandparents' Visitation Rights

 If the court determines it is in the best interest of the child, grandparents (and great grandparents) are allowed to petition for visitation rights. The court will consider visitation rights if (i) the child's parents have been divorced for at least 3 months, (ii) one of the parents has been deceased or missing for at last months, or (iii) the parents were never married.


Read more . . .


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Prince Dies Without A Will & Without Any Known Children


Prince Dies Without A Will & Without Any Known Children 

When the news of Prince’s death broke, one of the first things that popped into my mind was that it will be really interesting to see what sort of estate plan he has in place. While this may sound a bit callous, it is in fact a testament to my admiration for him as a musician and trail-blazer in the world of music law.

Prince was no stranger to the legal system. You may remember back in the 1990s he actually changed his name to an unpronounceable “love symbol” while he was involved with a legal dispute with Warner Brothers over the rights to his music. He was also well known in the legal world for filing lawsuits against people who uploaded his music or image to the internet without his permission.


Read more . . .


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Dividing Property in an Arizona divorce


Is Arizona a community property state?

Going through a divorce can be a difficult process that raises emotional and financial challenges. These can become even more trying if the divorcing spouses cannot come to an agreement on the main issues that must be resolved, particularly the division of property.


Read more . . .


Friday, May 6, 2016

The Effect of Adultery on Alimony


Is adultery still a crime in Arizona?

Marriages end for many reasons and infidelity can lead a couple on the path to divorce. What many individuals may not realize is that adultery is actually illegal in some states. Under Arizona law, for example, if a married individual files a complaint claiming that his or her spouse had a sexual relationship outside of the marriage, the wayward spouse may be found guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

If the adulterer is convicted, he or she may face a penalty of up to 30 days in jail, $500 in fines, and 1 year of probation. The reality of the situation, however, is that the law is generally not enforced.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Horrific Domestic Abuse in Phoenix: Man Sets His Girlfriend on Fire


How do domestic disputes get so out of control?

Although suspicions of infidelity almost always cause heated arguments and often lead to broken relationships, sometimes such accusations lead to domestic abuse. It is often difficult to tell if the abuse has always been a way of life for the partners or if the infidelity (or suspicion of it) actually pushed one domestic partner over the edge into violence.

In a recent case in Phoenix, a man named Rafael Arredondo, 28 "punished" his live-in girlfriend for presumed sexual relations with a neighbor  by setting her on fire. Remarkably, after having her hands, mouth, neck and head taped, being doused with lighter fluid and set aflame, the victim survived.  Arredondo himself saved her after the attack, using his hands and then a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.


Read more . . .


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Family Law Evolves in Arizona


What are parents' rights and responsibilities in Arizona?

Arizona's family law statutes were overhauled back in 2013 and the term child custody was replaced with the phrase "legal decision-making authority" while visitation was rewritten as "parenting time." While these changes may seem like mere semantics, words have meaning and this less adversarial language has changed the landscape of family law in Arizona.

This evolution is partially the result of the fathers' rights movement and state's recognition of the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. In determining what is in the best interest of the children, the courts acknowledge the importance of fathers and treats mothers and fathers equally in determining questions of decision-making and parenting time.

Despite the progress in this regard, divorcing spouses continue to engage in bitter disputes over their children.
Read more . . .


Friday, April 1, 2016

The Trouble with Arizona's Child-Welfare System


What is being done to address the problems of the child-welfare system in Arizona?

Arizona's child-welfare system has been plagued by longstanding problems centered on placing children in safe and permanent homes. The Department of Child Safety (DCS) was created two years ago to provide prevention, intervention and treatment services to support child safety. Now, the problems remain: there are more children under the state's care, many of whom have been trapped in the system for more than two years and are increasingly being placed in group homes.

Some experts argue that more money should be put into programs that provide services to families and are aimed at preventing children from being placed into foster care. These preventive services include parenting classes, domestic violence training, and substance abuse counseling.


Read more . . .


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Arizona Legislature Moves to Repeal Adoption Preference Law

Will same-sex couples be treated equally when adopting children in Arizona?

Lawmakers in Arizona are considering legislation that would strike language in the state's current laws pertaining to adoption that give preference to a husband and wife over others in adoptions. The legislators argue that these preferences should be banned in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriages.

In addition to leveling the adoption playing field for gay couples, the proposed legislation would also permit single persons to adopt as readily as couples.  With so many of the State's children currently being raised in single parent households the preference previously given to couples in the adoption statutes is no longer valid.

Reasons to Make Adoptions Easier

While democrats in the Arizona Senate say that the proposed legislation is designed to align the state's adoption laws with the Supreme Court's ruling, another factor may have influenced this initiative: 19,000 children are in state foster care. Lawmakers believe children will be better off if they are placed in a "loving family" rather than remaining in a group home, regardless of whether they live with a husband and wife, two moms, or two dads.

Roadblocks to the Bill

The bill has been assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee, but is opposed by the committee chairperson.  It is unknown whether she will exercise his power and prevent the bill coming to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

As it relates to this measure, the committee chair, Nancy Barto, does not believe the Supreme Court has addressed this specific issue and therefore believes it is within Arizona's authority since the U.S. Constitution grants state powers that have not been reserved by the federal government.

Ms. Barto said in part, "these changes preferring a man and a woman in terms of adoption and other things, should be based on social science..."

Strong Support

The American Civil Liberties Union has weighed in by arguing that married same-sex couples must be treated equally in all respects because of the Supreme Court ruling. A spokesman for the ACLU also said the law prohibits discriminatory treatment of these couples in adoption services.

While it remains unclear whether the legislation will be passed, adoption can be a rewarding experience for many couples, and a family law attorney can help you navigate the process.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Child Support-Related Property Liens Causing Chaos in Arizona


What is your recourse if you have been mistakenly identified as subject to a child support- related property lien in Arizona?

There are various consequences to being behind in your child support payments. You can be subject to a driver’s license suspension, property liens and even arrest. But, what happens when you are current with your payments yet  still identified as in arrears.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules that Stepfather Must Support


Stepchildren after Divorce

In an unusual and possibly groundbreaking case, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has found a stepfather responsible for the financial support of his stepchildren though he never adopted them. The circumstance that differentiates this case from others of its kind is that the stepfather sought legal and physical custody of his ex-wife's children, claiming parental rights for having stood in loco parentis for many years.

The story begins in Serbia where a mother gave birth to twins in 1998.
Read more . . .


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