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Arpaio Sweep Nets 49 Suspected Deadbeat Parents

28August
2012

August is Child Support Awareness Month and, according to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, “is an appropriate time to arrest those who have not paid their child support.”  The Sheriff’s office this past Saturday arrested 49 men on suspicion of being deadbeat parents in a sweep called “Operation Don’t Be a Deadbeat.”  After exiting a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office bus, these men who were hiding their faces, were paraded in front of news cameras in an attempt to shame them for failure to pay child support. 

Sheriff Arpaio stated it was the department’s goal to serve 600 arrest warrants on Saturday, and the sweeps are made to send a “message to everybody else that they should be paying their child support.”   Arpaio conducted a brief news conference in the parking lot of the Park Central mall on Central Avenue.  “We have economic bad times,” he said. “Usually, it’s the mother that has to work two, three jobs to get enough money to pay for food.  And yet you have these dads (who assume) no responsibility and do not pay their child support.”

These roundups are conducted annually by the Sheriff’s department and usually 100 volunteer posse members and deputies participate.  The program began in 2002, and, according to Sheriff Arpaio, since that time, 1,700 deadbeat parents have been arrested and $14 million have been give back to families. 

An admonishment was given to parents who are not paying their child-support payments.  “I’m asking all those that have not paid their child support to surrender,” said Arpaio.  He then added, “Call our office.  Be man enough or woman enough to turn yourselves in and work something out to pay the child support.”

Posted in Child Support |
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Making Your Marriage Work

25August
2012

In previous generations, many couples celebrated their twenty-fifth, fortieth, and even fiftieth wedding anniversaries.  With today’s divorce rate hovering at the fifty percent rate in the United States, there’s a good chance that few couples will be celebrating such milestones in their marriages.  What can couples do to create not only a long, but a satisfying marriage?

Dr. Howard Markman, a psychologist at the University of Denver, believes “love and commitment to the relationship are necessary for a good marriage, but they are not enough.”  He believes that couples need to have good communication skills, as well as skills in handling conflict to have a satisfying relationship.  Markman studied 135 engaged couples, and found that certain behavior patterns usually signaled an impending collapse in the marriage.  “How you handle conflict is the single most important predictor of whether of not your marriage will survive,” stated Dr. Markham. 

Dr. Markham found these behavior patterns contributed to the failure of a marriage.

  • When either partner, though it is usually the male, withdraws from conflict.
  • The tendency to escalate conflict in the face of disagreement and the inability to stop fights before it gets ugly.
  • The tendency to invalidate the relationship by hurling insults at each other.  According to Dr. Markham, “one zinger” counteracts twenty positive acts of kindness.

According to researchers, couples go into marriage with idealistic notions of what marriage is all about.  These couples need to at the beginning of, or preferably before, marriage clarify what their expectations are to each other, and where there are discrepancies, a mutually satisfying compromise must be reached.  One of the biggest no-no’s in a relationship is taking one another for granted, which happens after the honeymoon period is over in a marriage.  Couples need to communicate well with each other, as this is one of the greatest assets in any relationship.  Successful communication takes both proper transmission skills (articulation) and proper receptive skills (listening).  Without both of these skills, communication will be difficult at the best.

Maintaining a marriage is no easy task.  Marriages today are complex , dynamic relationships, and are much more than two people living under the same roof.  It takes time and effort, patience and practice, good communication and conflict skills to create a fulfilling, emotionally gratifying and supportive marriage. 

Posted in Successful Marriages, Uncategorized |
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Tying the Knot Ups Women’s Drinking Rate, Lowers Men’s

21August
2012

Research in the past has shown men drink more alcoholic drinks than women, though recent research has shown  women are beginning to catch up with men.  New research conducted by the University of Cincinnati, however, shows  when men and women marry, women’s drinking increases while men’s decreases.  According to study author Corinne Reczek, an assistant professor at the university, “men’s drinking is tempered by marriage, while women’s is exacerbated.”

The study conducted by Reczek and colleagues examined the results of surveys from 1993 and 2004, and then looked at over 5,300 people and tracked them over time.  The researchers also interviewed 130 people directly.

The study conducted by the university also compared drinking rates and divorce and found the opposite effect to be true.  Men drink more when divorced and women drink less.  Reczek said, “We find that unmarried and divorced women actually drink less than their continuously married counterparts.  For men, those who were recently divorced have the highest number of drinks and men who are married have the lower number.”

Why is this so?  Women say, in most cases, their husbands introduced them to alcohol and they drink more because their husbands drink.  Once they divorce, they drink less because the person encouraging them to drink is no longer in their lives.  Men, though, tend to turn to alcohol to cope with stress and also, once single, begin to hang out with their single male friends who enjoy drinking and, thus, drink more than when they were married.

Why would the information revealed in this study be important? According to Mary Waldron, an assistant professor of Human Development at Indiana University, it’s important “to consider the role of marriage and transitions out of marriage, through divorce or widowhood, on risks for heavy or problem drinking, including risks for the next generation,” as research has shown that those children growing up in a home where alcohol is abused have a four times higher chance of developing an addiction to alcohol than those children growing up in a home where alcohol is not abused.

Posted in Divorce |
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Courtroom Etiquette During Divorce Proceedings

19August
2012

When a couple divorces, eventually they will have their day in court.  What you do and say and even what you wear while in court will not only reflect upon you, but could even affect the outcome of your case as well.  It is important to have proper courtroom etiquette during your divorce proceedings.

What you wear is important.  You want to make a good impression by wearing your best business clothes.  Men should wear a suit if they own one, and, if not,  wear a nice pair of slacks, a nice shirt and dress shoes.  Leave the hats, sunglasses and excessive jewelry at home.

A woman should wear a conservative suit, dress, or long skirt and blouse combination, and also should not wear hats, sandals, wild nail color or excessive jewelry.

A court room is a formal place and has its own code of conduct.  Most people have seen courtroom shows on TV, such as “Judge Judy”, and know to rise when a judge enters the courtroom.  When a judge asks you for something, you actually do not give it to him or her, you hand it to the clerk who will then hand it to the judge.  In the courtroom, you address everyone by their formal title.  When addressing the judge, you will always say, “Your Honor.”

Make sure you are on time for your hearing as a court has a very busy schedule.  Do not chew gum, swear, use slang, eat or drink, talk or text on your phone, talk out of turn, leave the courtroom before you are excused, or slouch and appear disinterested in the proceedings while you are in the courtroom.

One last important tidbit of information; always allow your divorce lawyer do the talking for you, as he is there to fight for your best interests.  You only speak in the courtroom to answer a question the judge directs to you.

By using proper courtroom etiquette, you will appear credible before the judge, which in turn, could favorably help the outcome of your case.

Posted in Divorce |
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Divorce and Its Impact on Paying for College

15August
2012

Most parents hope their children will attend college and earn a degree.  In fact, many parents either pay for or help pay for their children’s college education.  With the cost of college rising these days, it is becoming more difficult for parents to pay for this education.  According to U.S. News and World, the average tuition for a private university is more than $35,000 per year, while the average cost of a public university is approximately $20,000 per year.  With these astronomical costs, it is easy to understand why parents are having a hard time financing their children’s education.  Unfortunately, the impact of a divorce makes it even more difficult to help children through college.

A study published by professors at Rice University and the University of Wisconsin found that those children whose parents divorced received less financial help with college than those children whose parents did not divorce.  Parents who stay married usually cover about 77 percent of their child’s tuition, which is approximately 8 percent of their incomes.  Those parents that are divorced, cover only about 42 percent of their child’s tuition, which is approximately six percent of their incomes.

Though it is extreme, a child may sue his parent for failure to pay for his education.  One young woman had a signed contract with her father in which he agreed to pay for her education until she was 25 years-old as long as she diligently attended her classes.  Unfortunately, after her father and mother divorced in her senior year, he stopped paying for her college education even though she was still diligently attending her classes.  The daughter filed suit against her father, and the judge sided with the daughter, awarding her $47,000 plus attorney fees.  If facing a divorce, it is best to address the issue of financing your children’s education during the divorce process.  By doing this, a parent can avoid a situation like the one above.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of a divorce, an experienced divorce attorney will answer any questions you may have and work diligently to pursue the best possible outcome on your behalf.

Posted in Divorce |
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Child Visitation Without Child Support

11August
2012

When a couple with children divorces in Arizona, a court order is the only way of establishing a child support amount.  The court uses both parents’ incomes to calculate the amount of child support the noncustodial parent will pay to financially support the children.  After the support amount has been determined by the court, a court order will be issued by the court and then an Order of Assignment will be filed at the same time and a copy will be sent to the paying parent’s employer, which directs the employer to withhold the child support amount from the employee’s paycheck. 

In addition, divorcing parents need to have a parenting plan containing a child visitation schedule before the courts rule on a custody decision.  If parents cannot agree upon a parenting plan and visitation schedule, the court will create one which will take the best interests of the children into account. 

What happens when the noncustodial parent stops paying child support?  Will this affect his or her visitation rights?  No, it will not.  The court considers support and visitation as two separate issues, and whether or not the noncustodial parent stays current on his or her child support should not have any impact on the time spent with the children.  In the eyes of the court, denying a parent access to a child because he is behind on child support is not justified.  Arizona law does penalize those who do not pay their child support, but the denial of visitation rights is not used.  When support provisions are frequently being violated, the parent  may have to go back to court to handle the problem.

Posted in Child Support |
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Divorce and Financial Preparation

8August
2012

When a marriage is heading downhill, there may be a change in the financial status within the household.  Joint checking and credit card accounts may begin to show unusual activity, that of unexplained charges or cash withdrawals.   A spouse, even though their marriage is deteriorating, may decline to discuss a divorce until they have secured the family cash and assets in a different account.  In the divorce proceedings, a  judge will require all of the assets returned to their prospective accounts eventually, but this takes time and there is no guarantee that all assets will be returned.

It is, therefore, beneficial for those contemplating divorce to be proactive in protecting their marital assets, and securing copies of accounts.  Make sure you have copies of all bank and credit card statements, recent 1040 tax returns, and W-2s and 1099’s, or any other financial accounts you may have.  You will also need  copies of insurance policies, retirement plan statements, pension plans, wills, codicils and trusts.  A copy of every vehicle and real property owned will be needed, as well.

If you or your spouse own a business or are self-employed, make copies of business ledgers, financial journals, payroll, sales tax returns and expense account records.  A video  or Excel/photo inventory of each room and its contents will be helpful in determining the value of your assets and also show items that may be missing, too.  If you have any fine art, antiques, jewelry or collectibles, a copy of the appraisal for all items will be needed.  Finally, make copies of your spouse’s pay stub for the past couple of months and also for the recent end of year.

By planning ahead, you will  protect your assets before your spouse has the chance to conceal, transfer or sell marital items, and you will have the ease of mind knowing that you will receive your fair share when your divorce is finalized.

Posted in Divorce |
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How to Tell Children About Divorce

4August
2012

Making the decision to divorce is always a traumatic and emotional decision.  This decision is made even more painful when a couple have children.  How to tell your children you are ending your marriage takes tact, maturity and kindness.

No matter which parent is filing the petition, both need to think about the well being of their children.  Parents need to put aside their feelings of hurt and anger towards each other when informing their children of their upcoming divorce.  It is best if both spouses are present while telling your children of your decision, as this sends the message that both parents love their children and also  the children can count on both parents to be there for them.

It is very important for parents to keep their emotions in check and not blame each other for the divorce.  Parents can be honest in telling their children the reasons why they are divorcing without going into too many details that can cause pain and anguish to their children. It is essential to let your children know they are not the reason behind your divorce.

While breaking the news of your divorce, this is also a good time to bring up the changes that will be occurring in your children’s lives.  Explaining such things as living accommodations, visitation schedules and any other changes that might take place as a result of the divorce, will help them prepare for the divorce.  It is very important to reassure your children at this time they will be able to maintain the quality relationship they have with both parents and the divorce will not change your love for them.   However, it is also important to be practical and honest at this time and not make promises you cannot keep.

Do not expect your children to act positively to the news of their parent’s upcoming divorce.  Even though you may as kindly and tactfully as possible relate this information, your children may cry, show anger or even stop talking to you.  Children are very sensitive and have trouble expressing and handling intense emotions.  They will need time to become accustomed to the thought of their parent’s marriage ending.

Although divorce is a difficult and emotional time in a child’s life, a parent by following the above advice, can help their children adjust and cope with not only the divorce itself, but assist them in living a healthy, successful life afterwards, as well.

Posted in Divorce |
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Helping Children Cope with Divorce

31July
2012

Divorce is a very emotional, stressful and turbulent time in a couple’s life.  At times, however, the the divorcing couple forgets that not only they are going through this difficult time, but their children are as well.  For children, the divorce process is stressful, sad and confusing.  No matter what the age of the child, he can have feelings of confusion and anger at the thought of his parents splitting up.  It is up to the parents to make the divorce process as painless and stress free as possible for their child.

There are many ways parents can ease the stress and pain of divorce for their child.  A child needs to have as stable a life as possible after his parents divorce.  The non-custodial parent needs to stay active in his child’s life, whether it be by writing letters, making phone calls, emails and by doing many of the same activities you did with your child before the divorce.

Make sure you do not argue with each other in front of your child.   When parents do not agree on matters related to their child and fight and argue in front of their child, he feels guilty and may think he has done something wrong to merit this contention.  Another aspect of behavior that goes along with this is to make sure you do not speak badly of the other parent, as your child does not want to hear negative opinions about a person he loves.  Parents need to communicate directly with each other and not expect their child to be the messenger.  A parent is an adult, and needs to act like an adult by putting all petty differences aside for his child’s sake.

By following these suggestions, ex-spouses should be able to create a friendly, nurturing atmosphere for raising their child and helping that child cope not only during the divorce process, but with his life after the divorce, as well.

Posted in Divorce |
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Paternity and Child Support

28July
2012

When a father learns that a child he has loved and raised for many years in not his biological child, he feels angry, devastated and betrayed.   What actions are taken by a father in this type of situation, of course, depends on the father and also on the laws of the state in which he resides.

One Pennsylvania father, Mike, found out that the girl he had raised for six years was not his biological daughter.  Mike was devastated by this revelation, left his wife, but continued the relationship with his daughter.  He stated that to him, in all ways that mattered, this girl was still his daughter, so he paid his child support faithfully, and had visitation rights with his daughter.

However, when Mike learned that his ex-wife was going to marry the biological father of his daughter, the thought of supporting another man’s child when that man was in the household became unbearable and he filed to end his paternal rights, even though it might mean losing visitation rights with the child.  It has been two years since Mike filed the suit and he is still paying child support for another man’s daughter. 

Paternity decisions in most states are governed by an old English common law, that when a child is born in a marriage, it is presumed to be the product of that union unless the husband is impotent, sterile or beyond the “four seas.”  The outcome of a paternity case depends upon not only the details of the case itself, but also the state in which the case is tried.

In Arizona, there are several ways to establish the paternity of a child.

  • The Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) offers a voluntary process in which unwed parents may open a case to establish paternity and child support.  The Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is signed by both parents and filed by DCSE through the Hospital Paternity Program to establish paternity.
  • Either parent may choose to have genetic testing done if there is a question regarding paternity. 
  • If one party is uncooperative in establishing  paternity on a case opened with DCSE, the case may be referred to the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for a court hearing to establish paternity and a child support order.
  • A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, signed by both parents, can be filed with the court or an administrative agency to establish paternity.
  • Unwed Parent’s may choose to go through the Arizona court system to resolve any issue and establish paternity and a child support order without the involvement of DCSE.  However, this choice may involve attorney fees, court cost and filing fees.

Establishing paternity can be a challenge, as there can be pages of complicated legal paperwork, and conflicts that arise involving child support and child custody issues as well.  An experienced Arizona Family Law Attorney will defend the rights of the children in your case, offer comprehensive knowledge, and foster professional and cordial negotiations.

Posted in Child Support, Paternity |
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