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Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

Representing dads who need help with holiday parenting time

A previous post on this blog talked about the importance of establishing a clear parenting plan that spells out which parent will have the children at what points over the major holidays. This post explained that doing this sort of careful planning can make the holiday season go smoothly for everyone.

While one hopes that both parents will be able to understand that a child really should get to spend some of their holidays with both of them, for a lot of reasons, it does not always work out that way. For example, a dad who is trying to build or repair a relationship with his children may find it very hard to convince the mom to give them up over the holidays. While the mother's reluctance can be malicious, more often than not it may be more of a failure to appreciate the dad's role in his children's lives. With that in mind, things like visiting relatives or observing certain holiday traditions become more important.

Thinking clearly about the family residence

When a couple is divorcing and going through a legal separation, they may find that they have a lot of emotions attached to the home they shared while happily married. But, like the couple's other property, the home will be subject to property division.

In the vast majority of cases, this means that the home will either have to be sold, or one of the parties will need to move out. Given the emotions involved and for other reasons, perhaps even a misconception that getting the marital residence is always good financially, a Phoenix resident may be tempted to fight to keep the house at all costs.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which means that now is a good time for all Arizona residents to remember, and as much as possible support, victims of domestic violence and their loved ones. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men are victims of domestic violence.  The activities undertaken during this month may give women just the moral and emotional boost they need to end an abusive relationship. Unfortunately, it often takes more than just courage and emotional support for a woman or a man to break away cleanly from an abusive partner.

Particularly if they are married to or have a child in common with their abuser, victims of domestic violence also are going to need legal help. Initially, this sort of help can include the obtaining of a restraining order and the enforcement of that order.

Parenting time over the holidays

With October winding down, many residents of the Phoenix area are probably starting to think about the major winter holidays that will be upon us in a few short weeks. This is a stressful time for a lot of reasons, as the holidays require a lot of planning and preparing.

For a single parent, one of the most important aspects of this planning is to make sure she is clear on which parent will have the child and to nail down the details of this plan. This is important since both parents are going to want to spend time with their children on holidays that are special, and nobody is really going to want to deal with last minute conflicts that could ruin the holiday.

Do I need custody to access information about my child?

As much as he may try, a dad may have a hard time convincing a court to award him either legal or physical custody, and he may be left with getting some parenting time with his child.

It may be that the dad has just recently come back in to the child's life or is just getting started with building a relationship with his child. In other cases, the father may be struggling under the weight of an addition, a criminal past or a mental health condition that makes it hard for him to make a convincing argument for custody.

What are my options if both of my grandkids' parents die?

A previous post here discussed what grandparents can do if their own adult child dies and leaves behind children. Generally speaking, the grandparents need to rely on Arizona's Grandparent Visitation Statue to get court-ordered visits with grandchildren, and getting custody would usually be reserved to special circumstances.

Sadly, families in Phoenix may also face a situation in which both of a child's parents die, leaving a grandchild as an orphan. This can happen as a result of a tragic accident involving both parents or just on account of life circumstances.

What is so special about an offshore account?

Many of our readers know that offshore accounts are investment tools, a lot like stocks, bonds, insurance policies and retirement plans. The distinctive feature of an offshore account is, as the name implies, the bank holding the account is in another country and therefore subject to the laws of that other country. This may create legal complications, but it also can give some important legal and financial advantages to a legitimate investor.

However, like other accounts, offshore accounts are subject to property division under Arizona's community property laws. So, in many cases, the account will be treated as community property and therefore subject to a 50-50 split. Some exceptions may apply to this principle, must notably if it turns out the account is not legally community property, but the separate property of one of the two separating spouses.

Fringe benefits can be a child support trap for high earners

Most residents of Phoenix, Arizona, who work for an area company full-time probably get benefits like paid vacation, health insurance and the option of contributing a portion of their check to a retirement plan. However, some executives and other professionals are fortunate enough to get a lot of other benefits as well, which can include, for instance, a company car and sometimes even some free long-term lodging. Stock options, guaranteed bonuses and the like are also real possibilities for highly compensated employees.

Many of these employees have an obligation to pay child support, so it is important for them to remember that these sorts of fringe benefits can potentially count as income for child support purposes, even if, for whatever reason, they do not have to be reported on one's taxes.

Consider taxes when valuing property

Thinking about taxes and how they will affect a divorce or separation is not just an exercise that the wealthiest residents of the Phoenix area should undertake. Indeed, as a previous post pointed out, any separated parents who have children, and, thus, the ability to take child-related tax benefits, need to think about this issue.

Likewise, while not everyone in the area is independently wealthy, many people do have important investments that, as much as possible, they would like to protect from taxation, even if they recognize that property division is an inevitable part of the separation process.

What does "shared custody" really mean?

While many Phoenix residents may refer to "sharing" custody of their children, the term "shared custody" actually has no one legal definition. Rather, it can refer to more than one legal concept, and even then, what these legal concepts really entail can come as a surprise.

In a true situation involving shared child custody, parents will have joint legal and joint physical custody. With respect to joint physical custody, this means that the child will live with each parent. In practice, this means that each parent will have the child in his or her home about half the time. However, the division of time is not, and usually cannot be, exactly 50-50.