John Bednarz, P.C. | Divorce & Family Law Attorney
View Practice Areas
Relax and meet John

Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

Adoption and grandparents' rights

Adoption is a legal practice that allows an adult to become the legal parent of a child for whom they did not biologically create. Individuals in Arizona may choose to adopt children from the foster care system or from private adoption agencies. Some even choose to look overseas to expand their families. When a child is adopted, their biological parents' rights to them are severed and the child becomes the legal responsibility of the adoptive parents.

While a grandparent may gain a grandchild if adoption happens in their family, they may also lose a grandchild if the child's parent elects to give their offspring up for adoption. Grandparents do not retain their rights to visitation or custody of their biological grandchildren if the children's biological parents relinquish their rights to them. When biological parents' rights are cut off, all other biological familial relationships are also considered terminated.

When will a child support obligation end?

Whether a parent is married or not, they are generally expected to help provide their child with financial support. Their child custody arrangement will dictate how much time the parent gets to spend with the child, and it will also direct how much child support the parent must pay to ensure the child has what they need. In Phoenix, child support may be enforced through a variety of different legal paths until parental obligations to pay cease.

The end of a child support order or agreement may come about in many different ways. Oftentimes, these obligations end when children become adults. Upon reaching the age of majority, people may be considered capable of providing for their own financial needs.

Paternity matters when it comes to a father's rights

There are a number of circumstances under which a man may be presumed to be a child's father. If, for example, the man was married to the child's mother when the child was born, under the law the man may be presumed to have fathered the child with his wife. Other presumptions of paternity exist and Arizona residents may need to get more information about their own unique circumstances.

However, if there is no marital or other relationship-based rationale on which to support a paternity presumption, a father may find that he is neither recognized as a child's parent nor given parental rights over the child. In such circumstances, the man may choose to submit to paternity testing to demonstrate his affiliation with his presumptive child.

Address tax issues in a child custody agreement

The filing deadline for 2018 income taxes has passed and unless Arizona residents secured extensions, they should have had their documents submitted to the government almost two months ago. Most people have received and spent their returns if they were entitled to get them, while others may still be looking for ways to minimize the burdens of having had to pay money. Those in this situation may be looking ahead to next year to find ways to reduce their possible tax obligations.

One way that individuals can cut down on their tax obligations is by claiming their children as dependents. When a person must support a child or other person who cannot provide for themselves, they are able to protect some of their income from assessment under the tax laws. When two parents share a child but are separated or divorced, though, it can be a confusing matter to determine who may claim the child on their taxes.

How marital property is divided in Arizona

If an Arizona resident wants to understand the classification of property pursuant to a divorce, they must first be familiar with the legal concept of "community property." Community property is a theory of property ownership between marital partners that is recognized in Arizona and a handful of other jurisdictions. At its core, the recognition of community property in Arizona means that property that individuals acquire during their marriages is owned "50-50" and will be divided as such when they divorce.

There are special circumstances that modify this general rule. For example, it only applies to property acquired during a marriage. If a person owned property before their marriage and maintained it as separate property throughout the relationship, then it may remain the separate property of the owner. Similarly, property that is received as a gift or inheritance and is maintained by the individual owner as such may remain separate property.

Why may a court order sole custody of a child?

Child custody can be one of the most challenge issues for Arizona parents to resolve when they decide to end their relationships. Whether they divorce or separate, parents must decide what to do to best serve the needs and interests of their kids. This process can be complex and when parents cannot work out custody matters on their own they may need to turn to the courts for help.

Arizona courts can provide families with an array of child custody plans. As readers of this blog know, not all families will have the same experiences or outcomes when they choose to litigate their family law matters. As such, this post is provided to give readers information about the topic of child custody and is not intended to be read as legal advice.

Special custody considerations for the summer months

Summer is approaching, and that means most children in the Phoenix area will be off of school. Likewise, many parents will use the summer to take some time off from work and either explore all that Arizona has to offer in the way of natural beauty or travel somewhere else for vacation.

For those parents who are living separately, the summer months can present some important issues when it comes to parenting time and child custody. Generally speaking, vacations, time away from school and, for that matter, the summer holidays take priority over the ordinary parenting time schedule, that is, the schedule parents follow when school is in session.

Enforcement of grandparent visitation

This blog has talked about how Phoenix grandparents, in the right circumstances, can get a court order that requires their grandchildren's caregivers, usually a parent, to allow visits with the grandchildren. Getting this order is an important first step in securing grandparents visitation, but what happens if the parent simply chooses to ignore the order?

While one would hope that a child's parent would respect the court's decision, many Arizona parents may choose to disregard the order and continue to withhold the child from loving grandparents. Should grandparents find themselves in this situation, they may have to take the child's caregiver back to court in order to enforce the order. Under Arizona law, a court can take certain actions against those who violate the visitation order.

Can I get the other parent to help with extracurriculars?

Many parents in Phoenix would acknowledge that extracurricular activities, like sports, music and the like, are good for their children. They are indeed often a critical part of a child's education, as they give the kids the necessary skills and knowledge to become accomplished and happy adults.

However, extracurricular activities are not automatically included as part of parents' child support obligations. Instead, the Arizona Guidelines allow judges to decide on a case-by-case basis whether and to what extent to add the costs of extracurricular expenses to either parent's child support payment.

What is an equalization payment?

As Arizona is a community property state, courts in the Phoenix area often split marital property evenly in a divorce or permanent separation. For a variety of reasons, however, it may not be feasible to divide property literally in half between the two spouses. For instance, one spouse may really want to keep the family residence for a number of reasons, as opposed to just selling it. In other cases, one spouse may be involved in a family business and want to remain involved in that business.

There are a number of ways to get around this difficulty. One way to accomplish property division in Arizona is through an equalization payment. As the name implies, an equalization payment is money one spouse pays to the other to account for the fact that the first spouse will receive more property than the other.