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Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

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.

Helping those trying to help themselves

For a variety of reasons, many Phoenix, Arizona, residents decide to handle a divorce, paternity case or other family law matter without the help of a lawyer. Particularly during the Great Recession, but even now, sometimes the reason for doing so is financial.

In other cases, a person may be in a sensitive situation where having a lawyer fully engaged in the process may not be a viable option and could, for reasons outside the control of the lawyer, even make the problem worse.

Dads with substance abuse history may need legal help

Many dads in the Phoenix area struggle with substance abuse. Whether this is due to some youthful mistake or is part of another deep-seated issue, these men may have their lives affected in a number of ways by their substance abuse addictions. Some may even wind up getting convicted of a drug-related offense in one of Arizona's criminal courts.

Arizona has laws that make it more difficult for men to have full custody and parenting time rights with their children when they have a documented history of abusing drugs or alcohol, especially if they have also been convicted of a drug-related crime.

Can I get out of an Acknowledgement of Paternity?

Previous posts on this blog have discussed Arizona's Acknowledgement of Paternity form. As those posts explain, many men in the Phoenix area sign this form shortly after the birth of a child they believe is theirs. Upon doing so, the man's name will be on the child's birth certificate as long as the form is otherwise properly completed and filed. More importantly, while the details of custody, visitation and the rest of the father's rights and responsibilities may need to be worked out in court, the man will become the legal father of the child. As such, he will have all the legal rights and responsibilities that go with being a dad.

The Acknowledgement of Paternity is an efficient way to avoid DNA testing and a paternity suit. It may also allow the man to get started developing a relationship with his child. However, there are some situations in which a man will regret signing the Acknowledgement.

We can assist with urgent custody modifications

Unlike other legal matters, many family law issues are not one-shot deals. For example, things like child support and child custody are all subject to review by the court overseeing the case. The idea is that the best interests of the children involved are subject to change as time goes on.

Neither parent can ask for a change to a custody and parenting time order until one year has gone by since the order was issued. However, there are several exceptions to this rule. For instance, if a parent or the child is a victim of domestic violence or abuse, then a court can review parenting time and custody immediately. Likewise, a court can make changes as soon as possible if a parent has proof that not acting quickly would significantly harm or endanger the child.

Custody considerations with respect to schooling

For children, school is a very important part of life. Between classes and activities, Arizona children spend a lot of time either at school or doing school-related activities. In addition to the time commitment, where a child goes to school and how they perform can have a profound impact on their future.

Naturally, then, school is a concern for parents. Even when they live together, the issue of school may cause disagreements between them. When living separately, a disagreement between parents about schooling could escalate to the point that it requires a court's intervention.

Review of grandparents visitation rights in Arizona

Although this blog has discussed it before, it may be helpful to Phoenix grandparents to have a refresher on what their visitation rights are under Arizona law.

After all, sometimes court-ordered grandparents' visitation is the only way to make sure that the important relationship between a grandparent and their grandchild is preserved. In many cases, the visits may also be a lifeline of support to the child involved, as the grandparents have historically provided the child with some measure of stability in an otherwise turbulent life.

Review of Arizona's grandparent visitation laws

This blog has on previous occasions talked about how Arizona has a law that, in some circumstances, allows grandparents to obtain a court order requiring that they get to visit their grandchildren from time to time.

While these grandparents' visitation rights are not quite the same as those of a parent, they still can be a great means for preserving a relationship between grandparents in the Phoenix area and their grandchildren.

When may a court deviate from the Arizona Guidelines?

Generally speaking, a Phoenix or Gilbert parent who does not have his or her child the majority of the time or who has equal time but earns more than the other parent is going to be ordered to pay child support in some amount. Usually, the Arizona Guidelines determine how much child support a parent will pay, and the law strongly encourages courts to follow these Guidelines. To review, courts will apply these Guidelines by plugging in the appropriate figures and using the prescribed formula to come to a figure for child support.

However, these Guidelines are not absolute. In many cases, courts are allowed or even required to deviate from them. After all, the important thing is not to apply the Guidelines strictly but instead to come to a child support figure that is fair to both parents and, most importantly, the children.