Family law is a branch of law that deals with issues between family members, like spouses or parents and children. Unlike criminal law, these proceedings do not end in a conviction but usually a settlement that outlines the plans for payment arrangements or relationship statuses, such as child support plans or annulments. Because of how personal these issues are, family law proceedings often require lots of care when going through mediation or hearings and require the expertise of an experienced family law attorney to properly handle them.
For the families in Glendale, Lazenby Law Firm can provide the support needed for these family law proceedings.
Family law proceedings are typically tied to divorce; however, the full range of these proceedings includes a plethora of issues that go beyond marital disputes. Some of the more prominent aspects of family law proceedings include:
All of the issues handled in family law proceedings deal with relationships, including things like support payments or grandparents’ rights to see their grandchildren. The factors of each case will vary based on the individuals involved and their specific backgrounds, but the overall goal is to come to a mutual and fair agreement between all involved parties. For cases involving children, the court must hold up the child’s best interest when deciding on custody or support payments, using information supplied by their parents to inform but not solidify their decision.
Although divorce makes up a large percentage of family law cases, the topics discussed in a divorce case can be pursued without a petition to dissolve a marriage. For example, child custody arrangements between unmarried couples can be handled in family court without being initiated by a divorce. Similarly, child support payments from an existing divorce can be renegotiated in court without needing to reevaluate the whole settlement. Even though the initial order came from a divorce case, any subsequent order modifications or mediation related to the initial settlement can be handled separately from the case.
In Arizona and across the country, many children’s lives may be significantly impacted by their grandparents. Grandparents have strong attachments with their grandchildren and often have significant, loving relationships with them. It can be harmful to both the child and their grandparent when a parent forbids a grandparent from seeing their grandchild.
In the past, both parents handled disputes about child custody and visitation independently without legal intervention. But in 1983, the Arizona legislature added Arizona Revised Statute 25-409 to the state’s family laws. This law includes requests for custody or visitation from third parties, including grandparents. A grandparent may ask the court for contact with their grandchild following A.R.S. 25-409(C). If the court determines that granting the grandparent’s request for visitation is in the child’s best interests, the request may be approved. In addition, the court must determine that one of the following exists to grant custody:
In cases where a parent has gone missing, there needs to be proof that the parent has been absent for an extended period, along with verification that the police have been involved in trying to find the missing parent. From there, the court will assess the case to determine whether or not visitation from the grandparents is within the child’s best interests based on the evidence provided, and an inclusive custody schedule will be created.
When settling a family law case, the current living positions and factors affecting the lives of all involved parties are used to create an agreed-upon, fair settlement. For divorce, this means creating an equitable division of any shared property or establishing an alimony payment plan. For child support or custody, this means assigning custodial guardianship duties to one parent and setting up a support payment plan to aid in raising that child. Although seemingly set in stone, these orders can be modified based on a” change of circumstance,” which can entail:
To begin the process of modifying any court orders, speaking with a family law attorney is necessary. The modifications for these orders must be supported with ample reasoning explaining the reason for the modification, including any documents or evidence to support these claims. These statements must be provided in an affidavit that legally certifies the information as true.
When deciding custody of a shared child, the court takes into account factors about both parents to make an informed decision on behalf of the shared child. The baseline for any custody case is joint custody, where both parents get to spend an equal amount of time with their children, then input from both parents, as well as factors regarding their financial stability, relationship with the child, and ability to provide adequate support for that child are used by the court to create the right custody plan. In situations where both parents are arguing for sole custody, a judge may step in to solve this dispute and legally recognize either parent as the custodial parent for a shared child or enforce a joint custody agreement.
In some cases, joint custody between both parents is not possible, and sole custody agreements can be created to properly support those shared children. Sole custody leaves living situations and decisions about a child’s life, schooling, or health to one parent. For example, if one parent is diagnosed with a terminal illness or becomes severely disabled to the point where they cannot properly care for a shared child, the child’s other parent can request to have sole custody. Overall, the court will decide what is best for the child, which could mean joint custody, sole custody, or in some situations, foster care.
In Arizona, covenant marriages and non-covenant marriages are the two kinds of legal marital unions. The difference between the two relies upon a religious certification for a marriage intended to prevent separation or annulment. Although idealistic, these unions have the potential to become unsustainable, as does any marriage. When attempting to end a covenant marriage, extensive counseling from a marriage counselor or designated religious figure, mostly a priest or deacon, is needed, along with proof of why the divorce should happen, such as adultery or crimes committed by the respondent.
For example, in instances of adultery, the couple must seek counseling or religious-based guidance on handling the issue before resulting in divorce proceedings. Because of this extensive counseling, covenant marriages are typically harder to dissolve than other marriages. Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that in non-covenant marriages, the reasons for filing for a divorce are unnecessary when seeking a dissolution of marriage.
Legal fees can vary drastically from case to case, especially if the case is complicated or warrants more extensive negotiations to settle. Lawyers typically charge by the hour for their services, meaning that uncontested issues are usually less expensive than arrangements that require a hearing to settle. For example, if a couple were to go through mediation but still not reach a consensus about alimony payments regarding paying legal fees, a hearing may be necessary to work out these lasting issues.
Because Arizona recognizes covenant marriages, the process for filing for a divorce is more complicated than traditional non-covenant marriage. Covenant marriages require proof of certain wrongdoings or unfavorable situations to seek a divorce, but extensive counseling from either a marriage counselor or religious figure must be completed before filing. If this counselor or clergy member can attest to unresolvable differences between both spouses, then the court can proceed with granting a divorce. Retaining counsel for this process, especially if the necessary counseling is not completed, could make the divorce cost more than non-covenant marriages.
Family law matters can be some of the most stressful and complicated kinds of legal proceedings. The personal subject matter of these issues requires a legal team that can effectively handle the disputes at hand while providing necessary emotional support throughout the subsequent legal proceedings. At Lazenby Law Firm, we understand the gravity of these situations and aim to support our clients through various family law proceedings. To get in touch about our family law services, visit our website and contact us today.
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