Belt Law Blog

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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Military Divorce Rates on the Rise

24July
2012

Military marriages have not only the stresses of normal marriages, but also have the strain of  long distance and the effects of war on a marriage, as well.  For many couples, these added stresses prove to be too great, and the marriage folds.

The Pentagon reported last year that the military divorce rate has steadily risen in the past ten years.  According to the report, in 2001, the divorce rate was 2.6 percent, and in 2011, that percentage rose to 3.7 percent.

Experts attribute this rise in the divorce rate to frequent deployments and relocations.  When a service member is deployed, his or her spouse is left behind to take care of the family on his or her own.  When a deployed service member returns home, many families have trouble finding common ground after a long deployment.

According to a Pew Research Center study, 44 percent of veterans who have served since 2001, struggled to return to daily life as a civilian, and those who were married reported more problems than their unmarried counterparts.

The Executive Director of the National Military Family Association, Joyce Raezer, stated that when a deployed soldier returns home, “there is always the honeymoon period, but then the normal family routine sets in, and they have to re-establish those boundaries.”

Not only do the spouses struggle to return to a normal life, but children struggle as well.  Children may act out when their parent returns.  Some children resent it when a parent returns and begins disciplining again.  Parents are told to take it slowly and re-enter parenting activities slowly to give their children time to adapt to having another parent in the household.

Billy Floyd, a behavioral health specialist at the Family Advocacy Program at Fort Hood, Texas, works with soldiers as they adjust to what’s changed at home.  Floyd said that it takes “a period of time to move from a constant hyper-vigilant state,  to where you relax.”

Despite the stresses, the majority of military families will find a way to reconnect and settle back in and keep their marriage intact.

Posted in Military Divorce |
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Divorce and Social Security Payments

21July
2012

More older Americans are getting divorced today and will more than likely be informed by their lawyer or accountant on how the divorce will affect their Social Security benefits.  However, those people who divorced years ago, may not realize this and as a result, may be receiving less benefits than they are entitled.

Social Security rules apply to both genders, but because the majority of women typically have earned less over their lives than men, they are more likely to be collecting lower benefits than they might be eligible for based on the earning history of their former spouse. 

With Social Security,  retired people can either collect benefits based on their own earning history, or 50% of their spouse or former spouse’s benefit if it is greater than their own.  If the spouse is deceased, then the person can collect 100% of his or her spouse or former spouse’s benefits.

Of course, there are certain rules that pertain to collecting a former spouse’s benefits.  The marriage to a former spouse must have lasted ten years or more and the person seeking the benefits must currently be unmarried, or married after the age of sixty.  Even if a former spouse remarried, a ex-wife or ex-husband can still seek the benefits, as it will not affect what the current spouse will receive. 

There are more options available for those people who have not yet reached full retirement age, 65 or 66, depending on their birth date.  If the former spouse is 62 years or older, regardless or not if he or she has begun to collect  Social Security benefits, the person seeking benefits can begin to receive a reduced benefit based on the former spouse’s earning record, provided the divorce took place at least two years prior.  If more beneficial, the seeker later on can switch to his own benefits. 

If a former spouse is deceased, then a benefit seeker can begin collecting a reduced widow(er)/divorced  benefit at age 60, and  has the option later on to switch to his own benefit at full retirement age, if the amount is greater.

It would be beneficial for family members who are assisting with the finances of elderly parents that have been divorced to request a Social Security benefits review on the behalf of  their parent to find out if the parent may be eligible for an increase in benefits based on their former spouse’s earning history.

Posted in Divorce, Divorce and Social Security Benefits |
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Religion and Child Custody

17July
2012

The issue of child custody and religion is once again in the forefront with the split between two celebrities who share different religious views.  Those two celebrities are Katie Holmes, who was raised Catholic, and Tom Cruise, who is a Christian Scientist. 

Although there are many factors involved in determining child custody, religion is one of the most important considerations.  When two parents have different religious beliefs, religion becomes an issue when they separate as each parent will prefer their child be raised in the faith he or she has chosen to follow.

The parent with primary custody usually determines the major life choices in the child’s life, such as religion, until the child is determined old enough by law to make those decisions himself.  When the child comes of age, then he can decide which religion, if any, he will follow.  This does not mean the other parent cannot expose the child to his religion, too. 

The courts try to stay out of the day to day child rearing decisions, as constitutionally, American courts are forbidden from interfering with religious freedoms or to take steps preferring one religion over another.  Courts prefer the parents determine the child’s religious upbringing and specify the agreement in the parenting plan.  However, if the parents cannot reach a decision, the court will determine what is best for the child by looking at certain factors.  These factors include the welfare of the child, the wishes of the child – if the child is at an age and experience to express an informed and mature opinion -, actual or possible harm to the child, and the child’s educational, medical, emotional and physical needs.

In extreme cases, a state can regulate a child’s exposure to conflicting  religions when the state feels the exposure has or will clearly have an effect on the child’s health, safety or general welfare.

Posted in Child Custody |
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Child Obesity and Child Custody

14July
2012

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past thirty years.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of children aged 6-11 in our nation who were obese increased from 7 % in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008.  The percentage of adolescents aged 12-19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 19% over the same period.  Childhood obesity has both short-term and long-term effects on the health and well-being of these children.

As the obesity of children is increasing, so is the role obesity plays in the child-custody battles in our nation today.  In custody lawsuits, legal experts say parents are using accusations of poor nutrition and obesity as an attempt to persuade judges that their children are receiving poor care in the hands of ex-spouses or soon to be ex-spouses.  Typically in these cases, one parent accuses the other of placing a child at risk of developing diet related diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease.  A parent may even go as far as saying that a child is miserable because he is being teased at school because of his weight.

Not only are parents using the obesity of the child in an attempt to gain custody, but they are using the obesity of the other parent as well, by saying that the parent is too obese to perform basic child care functions.

In determining child custody, judges have, in the past, took into consideration what is in the best interest of the child.  Recently, however, some states are altering that criteria to include the physical well-being of the child as well as the emotional well-being of the child in determining who is granted custody.

According to June Carbone, a family-law expert and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, thirty years ago, custody decisions were relatively straight forward, in that, in most cases, the mother received sole custody of the children, and the father received limited visitation rights. With the recent trend of shared custody and child-support arrangements, the courts often factor in the strengths and weaknesses of each parent, and as a result, custody battles have grown more frequent and contentious.  Carbone stated that “people can always find another thing to fight over.”

To help judges determine child custody, many states have added specific criteria to look at when considering the best interests of a child.  More frequently, one of the issues coming up is that of whether and to what degree a child is eating well and exercising.  Most family law experts agree that obesity claims have to be fairly severe in order to trump both a child’s right to have a close relationship with a parent and a parent’s right to raise a child in the manner he or she sees fit.

Posted in Child Custody, Child Support |
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Arizona’s Division of Child Support Enforcement

10July
2012

Whether a couple is married or not, each parent is responsible for supporting his or her children until they reach the age of eighteen.  Child support is paid by wage-assignment through the payor’s job, with a few exemptions to the law.  Under the law in Arizona, the Department of Economic Security’s Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) must assist custodial parents and their children receive child support and medical support orders.

The Child Support Enforcement Program was established in 1975, and is a combined federal/state/local program that collects child support from parents who are legally obligated to pay. 

When a non-custodial parent pays child support,, research has shown that he is more likely to be involved in his child’s life.  Children who do not receive the child support they deserve from the non-custodial parent, are more at risk for not having their basic needs met, which then puts the custodial parent more likely to rely on government aid to have these needs met. 

DCSE is required by law to develop a process to publicly identify certain parents who are delinquent in child support payments.  Photographs and profiles of delinquent parents are displayed in public and private locations, and also online, as well.  The public is encouraged to contact DCSE with any tips to help in locating parents who are avoiding their court-ordered obligation to pay child support.  To be listed as a Child Support Evader, the following conditions must be met:

  • Court-ordered delinquent support must be in excess of $5,000.00
  • An arrest warrant has been issued
  • The non-custodial parent has not made any payments in the last six months
  • The non-custodial parent is not involved in bankruptcy proceedings or receiving welfare benefits
  • DCSE is provided with a photo of the non-custodial parent

The public can view those Child Support Evader parents displayed on the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s website by going to http://azdes.gov, and can contact the agency to provide information on the location of any individuals posted on the website by calling (877) 926-8334 of (800) 882-4151 or (602) 252-4045.

Posted in Child Support |
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Collaborative Divorce in Arizona

7July
2012

In the past when couples divorced, they would have to appear in court.  A court divorce trial can be both expensive and emotionally draining for both spouses, as well as for any children in the relationship.  Nowadays, divorcing couples have the option to take another route in their divorce proceedings that totally bypasses going to court.  This option is a collaborative divorce.

 In a collaborative divorce, the couple dissolves their marriage without going to court.  In this type of divorce, both spouses hire a lawyer specifically trained in collaborative family law, and then both lawyers work together with both spouses to come up with mutually beneficial resolutions to their divorce issues.  Neither attorney will go to court, both parties agree to an honest exchange of information, there are no games being played, no name calling, but instead, all involved in the divorce work together to resolve the divorce peacefully.

When the divorcing couple agrees to begin a collaborative divorce, both they and their lawyers sign an agreement stating  they will not take the case to court.  This process permits only open, cooperative and respectful dialogue between all concerned parties, and aims for outcomes that benefit both spouses as well as their children.

One option in a collaborative divorce is to use the full team approach, which includes a mental health professional called a coach, who can help both spouses through the emotional aspects of divorce, a financial specialist to aid in assisting both parties with financial decisions and divisions, and finally, a child specialist, who can provide both spouses with an understanding of what is best for minor children.

There are those cases in which the collaborative process breaks down and the spouses demand on taking the case to court.  In these instances, both collaborative lawyers must resign from the case and the divorcing couple must hire new attorneys to represent them in court.

Although divorce is never easy, a collaborative divorce does give couples a way to get through the divorce with minimal damage, and increases the chance of retaining a friendly post-divorce relationship as well.

Posted in Collaborative Divorce |
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Alimony in Arizona

4July
2012

What happens to a stay-at-home mom or dad when they are going through a divorce?  They do not work out of the house, but rely on their spouse for support while they take care of the children, do the shopping, and take care of the day-to-day chores of keeping up a house.  Alimony, or spousal maintenance, in Arizona depends on the situation in each divorce and is governed by Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-319.

Under the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act,  the court may grant a maintenance order  for either spouse for any of the following reasons if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance in either a dissolution of marriage or a legal separation:

  • Lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her needs
  • Is unable to be self-sufficient or is caring for a child whose age or condition makes it unreasonable to seek outside employment
  • If one spouse contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse
  • If the marriage was long-term and the spouse’s age makes getting employment difficult

A court cannot consider marital misconduct in setting a maintenance order, but must consider all relevant factors including the following:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and earning ability of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • The ability of the spouse paying maintenance to meet his or her own needs
  • The comparative financial resources of both spouses
  • The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse
  • The ability of both spouses to contribute to the educational cost of their mutual children
  • The time necessary for the spouse seeking maintenance to receive training to become employable
  • The effect of health insurance costs due to the dissolution of the marriage

An order for spousal maintenance is usually ordered for a specific time until the spouse who is receiving the support prepares to be financially able to live without the support payments.  Spousal payments are taxable income to the receiving spouse, and tax deductible by the paying spouse.

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Avon Program Leads Effort to Help Victims

30June
2012

Most efforts to aid victims of domestic violence usually come into play long after the initial abuse has happened and the victim has no options left.  The Avon Program for Women and Justice at the O’Connor House is working to change this pattern. 

Lucia Howard, the founding co-chair of the program, works with law enforcement, attorneys and members of the community to change the options for domestic violence victims.

Howard said that “Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is very committed to a lot of women’s causes and she brought up focusing on domestic violence.”  Domestic violence incidents are the greater portion of 911 calls that police respond to, but there is very little effort in curbing the domestic violence in the area.

The Avon Foundation recently gave $100,000 to fund domestic violence projects in Arizona.  The program was established in 2009 with a $250,000 grant by Avon to not only raise awareness, but to improve systems dealing with issues of justice and equality for women.  The new funds will be used to streamline the protective-order process, train volunteer lawyers and victim advocates, and also to conduct a public-awareness campaign called “Speak Out Against Domestic Violence.”

Apache Junction Police Chief Jerald Monahan heads the program’s Order of Protection Task Force, which aims to simplify the process of filing protection orders so the orders can be served quickly.  Another aspect the task force is working on is that of communication among law enforcement agencies so information about both victims and abusers can be transferred efficiently.

Family-law attorney DeShon Pullen mentors attorneys undergoing domestic violence training, in order that they can better represent the victims of domestic violence.  Pullen stated that these types of cases are trickier than most as “many victims do not want to testify in open court as they feel both ashamed and intimidated.”

Howard said that she has received a lot of positive feedback from both attorneys and law-enforcement personnel, and she is hoping the community will support the cause and hopefully become involved in reducing domestic violence in Arizona.

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Arizona Dad Fights for Rights of Divorced Dads

27June
2012

Part 3 of 3

When Mike Espinoza met state Senator Sylvia Allen and told her the story about his divorce and his fight for equal custody of his sons, Allen encouraged him to join an organization which could help him and other fathers makes changes to family-law legislation in Arizona.  This organization was the Domestic Relations Committee whose purpose is to research family-law issues and propose new legislation for the state of Arizona.  This committee is composed of anti-domestic-violence organizations, attorneys, judges, parents, faith-based organizations and lawmakers.

Espinoza began working with several politicians to draft legislation and, if the bills failed, rewrite the bills to try to improve custody issues for fathers in Arizona.  According to Espinoza, even though it has been a long process, judges are now splitting custody of minor children 50/50 in most divorce cases in Arizona if it is in the best interest of the child.  One of the laws Espinoza worked on was named after one of his sons, 12-year-old Ammon.  Ammon and his father have not seen each other for four years because of the court’s custody ruling, and now must go through reunification counseling, which they have not done.  Ammon has said that he does not want to see his father.

Mike McCormick, executive director of the Washington D.C. based American Coalition for Fathers and Children, stated that Arizona is among the leading states pushing for shared parenting time.  McCormick added that states have different statutes and requirements when it comes to custody of children in a divorce, but judges nationwide tend to limit the non-custodial parent’s access to their children.  He also stated that activists  like Mike Espinoza are helping to change visitation and custody issues around the country.  He feels that those professionals who work with divorcing parents need to do more public outreach, especially among those parents who do not divorce through the courts.

Although there are many supporters for equal custody, there are other professionals who believe that each case should be looked at individually as there are situations when shared custody is not in the best interest of the child.  Domestic violence groups are closely watching the equal custody issue to ensure that it does not expose children to an abusive parent.

Arizona’s new law does require judges to make decisions that are based on a child’s best interest, but now their best interest includes maximum time for both parents when advisable.

Perhaps divorcing parents need to have Mike Espinoza’s outlook – if the courts assure both parents equal time, then couples will stop fighting over custody.  Espinoza said that when there’s “nothing left to fight about, hopefully the divorce rate will go down and families will stay together.”

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Arizona Dad Fights for Rights of Divorced Fathers

23June
2012

Part Two of Three

Arizona is similar to many states in that when a couple divorces, the mother is usually made the primary caregiver.  One divorced Arizona father, Mike Espinoza, is fighting to change this practice.

For decades, even though mental-health experts, lawyers and judges agreed a father should play a major role in his child’s life, the father, in normal situations, was not given the time to do so.   Having the child stay in the same home with one parent, one set of rules and not moving that child from household to household was the norm.  According to Arizona State University psychology professor Bill Fabricius, “if a dad showed up every once in awhile, and paid child support, that’s all you needed him for.”

This practice is now beginning to change, and Arizona is one of those states initiating the change.  According to Fabricius, in the past, most of the research on children of divorced parents focused on the mother’s perspective of not only how the children doing, but how her ex was was doing as well.  Fabricius felt that no one was actually finding out the child’s perspective in the situation.

To remedy this, Fabricius conducted a study during the 2005-2006 school year by interviewing more than 1,000 college students, seeking their perspective on both divorce and their relationship with both parents.  The results of this study were contrary to what literature had been saying in that most students felt the best arrangement for children after a divorce was to spend equal time with both parents.

Another psychologist, Arnold Shienvold, confirmed this research that shows children adjust better if they have quality relationships with both parents.  This is true as long as both parents have adequate parenting skills and don’t have substance abuse, domestic violence or mental-health issues.  He stated that “mothers tend to be more on a comfort, nurturing continuum and do more rule-setting, while dads tend to be more playful and engaging.”  Shienvold added that a child needs both of the above qualities to socially adapt and be well adjusted.

Fabricius shared his research with lawmakers in other states and worked with Arizona’s State Legislature’s Domestic Relations Committee to update custody laws. Mike Espinoza joined this effort in 2010 when the divorce courts gave him limited access to his sons.  Espinoza found an ally in his effort to have laws changed when he walked into the office of state Senator Sylvia Allen of Snowflake and told her his story.

To be continued.

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Arizona Dad Fights for Rights of Divorced Fathers

19June
2012

Part One of Three

In the past, when a couple divorced,it was customary for custody to be given to the mothers with fathers usually having custody of their children every other weekend and one day during the week .  One father in Arizona  feels this customary practice is unfair and has been fighting to have custody laws changed in Arizona. 

Mike Espinoza, a 41-year-old father of two sons, said that he could really care less about “dad’s rights or mom’s rights”, but that when you look at the research and the effect it has on children, how could anyone not take note of that, and added that it is time for equal time and equal custody.”

Mr. Espinoza has been working with Arizona state lawmakers, judges, lawyers, university researchers and activists over the past three years to change Arizona divorce and custody laws.  He has already been successful in 2010 in pushing change to the wording in one Arizona law, as the law now states that, unless there is evidence of domestic violence or drug use, it is in the child’s best interest to have “substantial, frequent, meaningful and continuing parenting time with both parents.”

Next January, another law he helped pass, will go into effect.  This law further encourages joint parenting, including requiring the court to adopt a plan that “maximizes” the children spending time with both parents and forbids the court from giving one parent preference based on the parent’s or the child’s gender.  In reference to this bill, Espinoza stated that “it’s equal’; a child deserves to have both parents.”

To be continued.

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Celebrating Father’s Day

16June
2012

On the third Sunday in June, we celebrate some very special people in our lives, our fathers.  This is a special day for dads when they are pampered by their children (and grandchildren) and wives, given gifts and honored for the way in which they enrich their family’s lives.

There are several stories as  to the origins of Father’s Day, but there is no way of knowing which one is true.  However, even though we do not know who the founder was or when exactly it was started, we do know who promoted this holiday with a great passion.  This person was Mrs. John Dodd, who felt that her father was so outstanding he deserved to be honored.  Her father was a special person for after fighting in the Civil War, he raised six children on his own after his wife had died.

Mrs. Dodd started the ball rolling by speaking with ministers around where she resided, Spokane, Washington, to see if they would have a church service dedicated to just fathers.  She wanted the service to be held on her father’s birthday, which was June 5, but it was actually held on June 19th as her minister needed time to prepare such a service.  After that, Washington as a state began celebrating “Father’s Day” on the third Sunday of June.  When other states got wind of the celebration in Washington,  these states wanted to have an annual Father’s Day, as well, and began lobbying Congress to dedicate such a holiday.  President Woodrow Wilson approved Father’s Day in 1916, but it was not made a national event until 1924 by President Calvin Coolidge.

This Sunday, May 17, let us take a moment, or the whole day, and thank our fathers, or our father figures, for all they do for us and let them know what a special place they hold in our hearts and in our lives.

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Are we married, or not?

15June
2012

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Arizona Father’s Brain Tumor May Have Caused Murder-Suicide

12June
2012

Can a brain tumor be the blame for a tragic  murder-suicide of an Arizona family or is it another case of extreme domestic violence?   Authorities will probably never know the answer to these questions.

Last week, a burned out SUV was found in the desert in Pinal County, Arizona, in an area that is used frequently for the smuggling of illegal aliens and drugs.  The case was in the national news at first as Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu claimed the bodies were related to Mexican drug trafficking and then used the case to criticize border security actions of the present federal administration.  Authorities were later able to confirm the bodies were that of James Butwin, his wife Yafit, and their three children Malissa, Daniel, and Matthew.

Although authorities have found evidence in the Butwin’s home that leads them to believe it could be a murder-suicide, friends of the family cannot believe that James Butwin would do something so horrible as this crime unless his brain tumor led him to kill his family.  Butwin was described by friends as “one of the nicest guys.”  One 15-year-old friend of Daniel’s stated that “the whole thing had to be his illness.”  A neighbor also stated that the Butwins were “an amazing family with so much heart.”

Even if James Butwin was one of the nicest guys, he still could have snapped under the strain of going through a divorce and battling a brain tumor at the same time.  Butwin had been asked to move out of his house, but refused to do so and continued to live there until the family’s end.  Even “an amazing family with so much heart” has major issues that can erupt in violence.

On Wednesday of last week, a Jewish grief service was held at Temple Emanuel and more than 600 mourners participated in the service.  Funerals for the members of the Butwin family will be held at a later date.

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Debra Messing Seeks Divorce

10June
2012

Another celebrity couple is divorcing after many years of marriage.

Actress Debra Messing, best known for her television roles in ‘Will and Grace’ and ‘The Starter Wife’,  is seeking a divorce from her husband of eleven years, Daniel Zelman.

Messing met her husband, who happens to be an actor and screen writer, at NYU in 1990.  Both were attending graduate school at the university and actually met on the first day of class.  They were married in 2000, and their son Roman was born in 2004.

Unfortunately, like many marriages these days, theirs fell apart and Messing separated from Zelman in December of last year and filed for divorce on June 5, of this year. The former couple have both said they want this to be a amicable divorce especially since they have a son to consider.

When discussing the breakdown of her marriage, Debra said, “Twenty years.  It’s a very long time.  I think the institute of marriage is a noble thing.  The idea of a partner for life is incredibly romantic.  But now we’re living to 100.  A hundred years ago people were dying at age 37.  Til death do us part was a much different deal.”

Messing was off a bit on her statistics as the life expectancy a hundred years ago for men was 51.5 years and for women 55.9 years.  One has to remember infant mortality rate was much higher then and that mortality rate number figured into and brought down the life expectancy age of that era.

Both Messing and Zelman plan to jointly raise their son and have said that they “are fully committed to raising their son together” and they “remain best of friends.”  Debra is seeking spousal and child support from Zelman.

Divorce can be an emotional and stressful time, especially when there is a child involved.  An amicable divorce eases the stress, the emotional upheaval, the struggles over child support, and whatever  else figures into the divorce, and makes the whole process easier on all involved.

Messing has already moved on to a new relationship with her co-star from ‘Smash’, Will Chase.  ‘Smash’ is a musical pilot that premiered on February 6, 2012, and will be a new series for NBC in the fall.

 

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Dennis Rodman Sentenced in Family Court

5June
2012

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman was sentenced in Orange, Florida family court Tuesday to 104 hours of community service on four counts of contempt for failing to pay child support.

Barry Michaelson, who is the court commissioner, also placed Rodman on three years of informal probation, with the condition that Rodman pay current child and spousal support obligations.  Michaelson said to the retired basketball player that his suggestion is to use your talents as a motivator, as a fine, fine athlete and as a fine person to assist others in need.

The dispute between Rodman and his ex-wife, began a long time ago, beginning in 2004 when his now ex-wife filed for divorce. Michelle Rodman’s attorneys say Rodman still owes back child support in an amount that exceeds $800,000.

Rodman said he’d do whatever community service that was required of him near his home in Florida and did not begrudge his former wife.  He said after the hearing that’s it all about the kids.

Rodman, 51, was found guilty last year of four counts of contempt for child support owed in 2009 and 2010.

According to Rodman’s attorney, Linnea Willis, those charges stemmed from a period of time when he was expected to pay $50,000 per month for child support, and that amount has now been reduced to $4,500 a month for both child support and spousal support.  She also stated that Rodman is current on those obligations.

Rodman was known for his wild and flamboyant behavior during his basketball career.  He and his former wife have been feuding over child support and custody for years.  They have two children, ages 10 and 11.

According to court documents filed earlier this year, Rodman is “broke”.  His tax return from 2010 shows that he earned around $150,000, but his financial manager stated he owed a significant amount in back taxes.  Because his alcoholism has hurt his image, she said, Rodman is finding it difficult to obtain corporate endorsements and other work.

Rodman’s outstanding disputes over back child support and additional contempt charges will be addressed at a hearing on June 22.

 

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Randy Travis Accuses Ex of Betraying Information

2June
2012

Country music star Randy Travis and his ex-wife, Elizabeth, were married for 19 years before divorcing.  What made their divorce unique in a way as Elizabeth was not just his wife, but his manager as well.  Now the ex-couple is back in court, one with a suit and the other with a countersuit.

A countersuit filed by country music star Randy Travis against his ex-wife claims that she’s been divulging confidential information about him that could damage his reputation and career.  The suit was recently filed in a Nashville federal court, but the court documents do not say what information Elizabeth Travis is allegedly revealing.  These filings are just the latest in the feud between the former couple.  After 19 years of marriage, Randy and Elizabeth divorced in 2010.  Elizabeth had been Randy’s manager for more than three decades.

Last month, Elizabeth Travis sued Randy claiming that he made it impossible for her to do her job and also that he terminated her management contract without proper notice.

Not only is Mr. Travis accusing his ex-wife of divulging confidential information about him, he is also accusing her of overbilling for reimbursement for travel and other expenses. According to his countersuit, his ex-wife completely destroyed the  degree of trust that should exist between an artist and his personal manager.  The singer wants a court to declare  his ex-wife breached her contract and he also would like her barred from receiving any management commissions.  He is seeking attorney fees as well.

Elizabeth Travis’ attorney did not respond to a request for comment on Mr. Travis’ countersuit.

Randy has been in the country music business for 25 years. He said that he started playing in nightclubs when he was 14-years-old and that for ten years he was turned down by every record label for being too country. He finally signed with Warner Brothers and his first album, “Storms of Life”, which was released in June 1986, went on to platinum. Since that time, Travis has charted 18 number one singles, earned seven Grammy Awards, ten American Music Awards, and ten Academy of Country Music statues.

 

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Gay Marriage Polls Not Yet Reflected in Votes

29May
2012

Although poll after poll shows public support for same-sex marriage steadily increasing, in all 32 states where gay marriage has been on the ballot, voters have rejected it.

In November, the streak might end as four states, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington state, are likely to have closely contested gay marriage measures on their ballots.

There remains, however, a gap between the national polling results and the way states have voted.  Are conflicted voters telling pollsters one thing and then voting differently?Amy Simon, a pollster out of Oakland, California said, that it’s not that people are lying, but it’s an intensely emotional issue. He added that people can report to you how they feel at the moment they’re answering the polls, but they can change their minds.

Voters in California, in November 2008, approved a ban on same-sex marriage even though a Field Poll in September indicated the ban would lose decisively. California is an unusual case in that it is one of a few reliably Democratic states that have had a statewide vote rebuffing same-sex marriage in the state constitution.  The 32 states that have rejected gay marriage at the polls make up just over 60 percent of the U.S. population.

In liberal states, voters might vote to affirm gay marriage, but haven’t had the opportunity.

Over the past year, there’s been a stream of national polls indicating that the majority of people do support same-sex marriage.  The data released Wednesday from a  Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 53 percent of those questioned say gay marriage should be legal, while 39 percent say it should not.

Phyllis Watts, a consulting psychologist from Sacraments, California, believes a statewide vote in favor of same-sex marriage is likely to come soon  But she stated that any particular poll should be viewed in caution.  She said that people  are in a fluid state around same-sex marriage and they really can feel one way one day and another way another day.  Whe also added that she didn’t think the polls are able to track what’s actually occurring inside people’s hearts.

 

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Tammi Smith Convicted in Baby Gabriel Case

26May
2012

One of the most confusing and emotional missing child cases is in the news again as one defendant was found guilty in court of charges related to the case.

Tammi Smith was found guilty of charges of conspiracy to commit custodial interference and forgery.  The jury found aggravating factors that will be considered at Smith’s sentencing:  that the crimes caused emotional harm and that an accomplice was involved.  These charges are felonies with sentencing ranges of 1-3.75 years each.  Smith’s eligibility for probation is to be determined at a hearing before sentencing.

Smith, 40, was the woman who wanted to adopt long-missing Baby Gabriel. She was accused of forging her cousin’s name on a document challenging whether Logan McQueary, 27, was Gabriel’s father.   She was also accused of conspiring with the baby’s mother to deprive McQueary of his paternal rights.

Smith had tried various ways to add another child to her family before placing her hopes on Gabriel.  She explored adopting children from the foster system and from China, offering women money to be surrogate mothers, and walking up to pregnant women and asking to adopt their babies.  She even tried to adopt Elizabeth Johnson, the mother of baby Gabriel.

December 27, 2009, after Elizabeth Johnson, Gabriel’s mother, fled to San Antonio with her son, was the last day Gabriel was seen alive.

Smith’s sentencing has been set for July 6.  She was not taken into custody pending sentencing.

 

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Usher, Ex-Wife Tameka Ordered to Reach Custody Agreement

23May
2012

When a couple with children divorces, it is best for the children if the couple is amicable in their relations with ease other.  This is especially true concerning celebrity couples as every move they make is in the news.  Unfortunately for the children of Usher and his wife Tameka, the relations between the former couple have been less than friendly.

In private mediation, Usher and his former wife Tameka Raymond have been ordered to work out a temporary custody agreement.

Usher filed for divorce from Tameka in June 2009 after almost two years of marriage.  Last year Tameka filed court documents in Georgia asking the singer be stripped of joint custody of their sons, Usher, four, an Naviyd, three. A judge at Fulton County Court Tuesday ordered  the former couple try to work things out between them.  If the pair fails to do so, then the judge will impose a temporary order.

Tameka accused Usher of being behind on child support payments in the amount of $34,000.  She is also requesting more child support because Usher’s income has risen considerably since they divorced.  Tameka also suggested that Usher is an unfit father and demanded that he be tested for drugs.  She thought he was “popping pills and who-knows-what-else” around his kids.

Usher denies the drug abuse allegations and wants an increase in the time he’s allowed to spend with his children.   Right now, the pair share custody of their sons.

If you have a child custody dispute that cannot be resolved, it is in your best interest to be represented by an experienced child custody attorney who can assist you in navigating through a court case involving disputed custody.

 

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Rural Domestic Violence Services Network

20May
2012

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that includes the use or threat of violence and intimidation for the purpose of gaining power and control over another person.  Violence is characterized by:  Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Economic Abuse, Isolation, Emotional Abuse, Control, or Verbal Abuse.

According to the Arizona Chapter of the American Medical Association, studies indicate that two million women are assaulted by their partners each year, though experts believe that number to be closer to four million.  Domestic violence has devastating effects on families and is often generational.

In rural areas of Arizona, victims of domestic violence may not have ready access to services due to isolation and long distances between available domestic violence safe homes or shelters.

The Arizona Department of Health Services receives federal funds from the Family Violence Prevention and Service Act for the prevention of domestic violence.  In Arizona, these funds are used primarily to provide services to the rural areas of the state utilizing Rural Safe Home Networks and to support the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  These organizations fund six safe houses, operate domestic violence hotlines, and provide domestic violence victims and their children with temporary, emergency safe shelter, peer counseling, case management and advocacy.

What has the Program Achieved?  Between October 2009 and September 2010, the Rural Domestic Violence Service Network received $1,817,640 in funds.  Eight safe home contractors and six safe homes were funded during that fiscal year, with 95% of the dollars spent on shelter and related assistance.  435 women and 469 children were sheltered during the year, with 120 persons being turned away because shelter was unavailable.  9,769 individual peer counseling hours and 1,076 group counseling hours were provided to persons in shelters.  18,853 community members participated in 815 public awareness presentations.

If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please seek assistance immediately.

 

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Bachelor Host Chris Harrison Divorcing

15May
2012

You would think  an individual who hosts a show all about love and relationships would be successful in his own love life, though this isn’t the case with the host of TV’s most popular dating show.

Chris Harrison, “The Bachelor” host, will be a bachelor once again.  A spokeswoman for the 40-year-old TV personality stated Thursday that Harrison and his wife are ending their marriage. Harrison and his wife, Gwen, have been married for 18 years and have two children together.

In a joint statement, the couple stated that though we have made this incredibly difficult decision to separate, our love and mutual respect remain, and we look forward to sharing in the lives of our wonderful children.  The couple have two children together, a son, 9-year-old Joshua, and a daughter, 7-year-old Taylor.

Harrison has hosted the ABC dating series and its various spin-offs since “The Bachelor” debuted in 2002.  Don’t expect the host to appear as the next man looking for love on his own series.  Harrison told reporters on Thursday that having just announced my divorce to the world, having two kids and trying to start a new life, I’m thinking I wouldn’t exactly be a great candidate to be the bachelor right now or probably any time soon.

He admits he has learned so much about love from the men and women who have appeared on the shows saying  now that he has  felt heartbreak, he know what these people have gone through and what they’re searching for.

Although Harrison may think the show “so genius”, the statistics on the series’ couples staying together are pretty dismal.  After sixteen seasons of “The Bachelor” and seven seasons of “The Bachelorette” only four couples are still together.

When a couple makes the decision to divorce, especially in a high asset divorce, it is wise to seek legal counsel from an experienced divorce attorney.

 

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Celebrity Child Support

13May
2012

When the father is a billionaire, should all of his children receive equal child support?  The mother of one child of a billionaire thinks so and went to court for more child support.

Supermodel Linda Evangelista and French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault received a judge’s approval for a confidential child support deal on Tuesday in New York.  The agreement was signed off earlier that day and sealed from public view.

According to the couple’s spokesman, the couple stated that they were happy that we were able to reach an agreement for the benefit and well-being of our son, Augie.

Evangelista was one of the biggest names in modeling in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The twosome dated over approximately four months in late 2005 and early 2006.   Augie, their son, was born in October 2006 after the couple split, but Pinault supported the child, though his paternity was kept very quiet.

Now, Evangelista has asked for child support in the amount of $46,000 per month. That’s $1,512 a day for Pinault’s five-year old son.  Pinault, who makes about $4 million a year, has said through his lawyer that he was willing to pay some support, but not a potential $46,000 per month.

Evangelista offered many reasons to the Court to justify her request for the $46,000 a month in child support, but the two main reasons were the following:

24/7 Child Care:  Augie needs a nanny 24 hours a day, which costs about $7,000 a month.

Armed Security:  Augie needs armed drivers to protect him when he’s traveling to and fro at a cost of $16,000 a month

After those expenses, it  leaves $23,000 a month for everything else Augie needs in the way of food, shelter, education and a reasonable lifestyle.

Evangelista also wants Pinault to give her son a mansion that mirrors the one he placed in trust for his daughter with his wife, actress Selma Hayek.  The California residence is valued at $13 million.  Whether Augie received his mansion in the child support deal, with a sealed agreement, only time will tell.

When dealing with child support issues or other family matters, it is beneficial to obtain legal counsel from an experienced attorney.

 

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Grandparent Rights

8May
2012

When families break apart, no matter what the reason may be, grandparents do have certain legal rights, and can seek visitation with grandchildren.  In some cases, grandparents can seek custody of their grandchildren.  The laws that determine grandparent rights vary from state to state and understanding those basic rights, help ensure that grandparents can retain their relationship with their grandchildren.

Federal legislation may affect grandparent’s rights, though state law is what these rights are primarily based upon.  In 1980, Congress passed the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which requires each state give full faith and credit to child custody decrees from other states.  In 1988, Federal legislation requires that courts in each state recognize and enforce grandparental visitation orders from courts in other states.

Arizona is unusual in that it specifically grants great-grandparents the same rights as grandparents.  Those rights are fairly rigidly defined.  The conditions that must be met are contained in the law that pertains to grandparent rights, Arizona Statute 25-409.  As in all states, the court must determine the best interest of the child, considering such issues as any historical relationship between the grandparent and the child, the motivation of the person requesting or denying the visitation, the quantity of time requested and the possible adverse impact the visitation could have upon the child’s customary activities.  Petitions for visitation rights can be filed as part of divorce or paternity proceedings or grandparents can petition the court separately for visitation rights.

If you are having an issue with visitation rights, it is beneficial to seek counsel from a competent family attorney who has the expertise and experience to protect you and your family’s interest.

 

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Free Monthly Divorce Seminar

5May
2012

Couples who are contemplating or going through a divorce, need all of the assistance and information they can find to make the process less stressful and emotionally less draining.  One program to help do this is the Arizona Center for Divorce Education.

On the second Saturday of each month, the Arizona Center for Divorce Education (AZCDE) provides a free seminar on the process and issues of divorce.  These seminars, which are entitled, “The Rules of Divorce”, address the key areas of divorce, which include what to do before you file, pitfalls to avoid during the divorce process, and how to project future retirement benefits and determine a fair division of assets.

On April 14th, the seminar was hosted by Mary Ulick at Valley Presbyterian Church in Paradise Valley.  The seminar was open to those considering divorce, already in the process, or who had been through divorce, but still had questions concerning post-decree issues.  Mary, who leads the non-denominational Divorce Recovery Programs at the church, spoke about how her program works and the many benefits it provides to people who have been through divorce.

An additional speaker addressed the effects of divorce on children and grandchildren and how to minimize those negative effects.

The Arizona Center for Divorce Education is a professional association comprised of professionals of various backgrounds who provide educational information to those contemplating or going through a divorce.  This is not a law firm and the professionals involved are not members of the same law firm.

For those either contemplating or going through divorce, seeking legal counsel from an experienced divorce attorney is advised.

 

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