Helping You Through the Divorce Process in Arizona
If you are facing or even considering a divorce, you are going through a lot—but you’re hardly alone. Almost 15,600 divorces took place in Maricopa County in a single year, which means 3.8 divorces per 1,000 persons in the county.
Nevertheless, divorce is never easy, and no two divorces follow the exact same path. While divorce is always a difficult transition, it is also a stepping stone forward to a new life. A dedicated Arizona divorce attorney can help you effectively and efficiently navigate the path forward into your future.
At DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Prescott, Arizona, our experienced divorce attorneys are here for you. Divorce is a monumentally difficult event, but you will make it to the other side, and our dedicated legal team will help ensure that you understand the process and your options—and that you make informed decisions along the way that protect you and your children’s best interests. Divorce is hard, but we’re here to help.
Issues in Your Divorce
Every divorce comes with its own unique set of concerns, and yours is no different in this respect. Some couples legally separate before making the final decision regarding divorce. Other couples are in agreement about obtaining the least inharmonious, the speediest, and the most affordable divorce possible. Other couples may have issues upon which they cannot come to a mutual agreement but who don’t want to leave these important decisions to the discretion of the court, so they pursue mediation or similar courses of action. Finally, some divorces involve such high assets, are so complicated, and/or are so acrimonious that the couple is bound for divorce court.
Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time
Legal decision-making refers to what you probably think of as custody, and it is naturally the most important component of any divorce involving children. The scope of legal decision-making involves you and your soon-to-be ex’s legal rights as they relate to making non-emergency decisions on behalf of your children, including those decisions related to education, healthcare, personal care, and religion. The three variations of such authority include:
- Joint decision-making authority in which neither of you has the final say, and you must come to a mutual decision on the matter
- Joint decision-making authority in which one of you has the final say
- Sole decision-making authority in which one of you has all of the legal decision-making authority
The court presumes that maintaining meaningful and substantial contact with both parents is in the best interests of the children, and this usually means that courts grant joint decision-making authority unless it’s given a compelling reason not to do so.
Similarly, the court considers parenting time, or the time you spend with your children, and unless given a compelling reason to do otherwise, the court will opt for as equal a distribution of parenting time as possible.
The Division of Marital Property
Like several other states, Arizona is a community property state. This means that, in general, the assets you acquire during your marriage belong to both you and your spouse equally. Arizona differs from some community property states, however, because it doesn’t necessarily divide your marital property exactly down the middle in a divorce. The court, instead, seeks a division that it considers fair and that usually approximates equal. The court has wide discretion in such matters, so unless you and your divorcing spouse can reach an agreement, the court could have the final say.
Spousal maintenance in Arizona refers to what many people call “alimony.” If you and your spouse are seeking an Arizona divorce or separation, the court has significant discretion regarding whether one of you will receive spousal maintenance. In fact, the courts base the decision on two separate determinative steps:
- The maintenance-seeking spouse must meet one of several qualifiers:
- The lack of sufficient property (including the property awarded in the divorce) to provide for one’s own reasonable needs
- The inability to gain self-sufficiency through appropriate work, an insufficient earning capacity, or the need to care for a child of the marriage whose age or physical or mental capacity prevents the parent from finding gainful employment outside the home
- Significant contributions to the other spouse’s educational or career opportunities
- An age, after many years of marriage, that prevents one from finding employment adequate to self-sufficiency
2. Once the maintenance-seeking spouse meets one of the qualifiers specified above, the court will consider additional variables in determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate and, if it is, in what amount and for what duration:
- Couple’s standard of living
- Duration of marriage
- Age, employment history, earning capacity, and physical and emotional health of the spouse seeking maintenance
- The payor’s ability to pay maintenance and continue to meet his or her own needs
- Both spouse’s comparative earning potentials
- The payee’s degree of contribution to the payor’s earning opportunities and the degree to which the payee reduced his or her own income or career opportunities in the process.
This is a partial list of what the court can take into consideration in the process of making decisions about spousal maintenance.
Divorce is a daunting process, and if you and your spouse can’t find common ground regarding the most important decisions you face, those decisions may fall into the court’s hands. This is where mediation may form a possible solution. In mediation, a neutral third party will help to facilitate an agreement before the judge presiding over your case. Each of you, along with your respective divorce attorneys, will work toward coming to a meeting of the minds in an attempt to avoid having the court decide for you (which can often constitute a gamble). Mediation is a powerful tool that often effectively advanced divorce settlements.
If You Are Facing a Divorce, Consult an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Serving Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Prescott Today
At DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, our family law attorneys help clients through the difficult times they face in a divorce. We know the impact that a divorce can leave on individuals and their families, and we work closely with each client to limit the financial and emotional stress of the legal process. We will help you understand your rights and options, so please call our office at (800) 409-0262 or contact us online to schedule an appointment today.