Child custody is the term legal professionals use to define the relationship between a child and his or her parents or legal guardians. It’s almost used exclusively within the context of divorce and separation to describe how both parents should physically care for and visit with their child or children.

There are a few custody arrangement types. Therefore it is helpful for parents dealing with custody issues to understand the options that may be available to them. Each type carries different implications, so getting it right is critical to the success of the relationship you share with your child and your ex.

However, speaking with a child custody attorney in Phoenix is best if you have specific questions. You can contact DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC for an initial custody arrangement evaluation. Schedule yours today by calling (602) 461-7818 or submitting a message via our online contact form.

No matter what your family’s structure is, deciding upon a child custody arrangement that acts in the best interest of your child is a critical first step toward living life under the new norm.

Here are the four types of child custody arrangements in Arizona that may help you and your family:

1. Legal Custody

Legal custody is the doctrine that serves as the basis of parental rights and responsibilities. It is the purest form of child custody from a legal standpoint since they are rights afforded to all parents regardless of arrangement type.

Legal custody gives you the authority to participate and make decisions based on education matters, medical care, and religious issues. In short, every parent has legal custody, whether or not they have sole or joint custody.

2. Physical Custody

Physical custody is a designation reserved for parents who provide care and support to the child daily. Also known as residential custody, it is a form of custody that describes with whom the child will live.

A physical custody arrangement can be awarded solely or jointly. We examine these two sub-arrangements in closer detail below.

3. Sole Custody

Sole custody is when the courts assign the responsibility and care over a child to a single parent. The parent with sole custody is sometimes referred to as the custodial parent, while the parent who has visitation rights is known as the non-custodial parent.

The sole custody arrangement is most common since it affords the non-custodial parent an opportunity to still visit with his or her children without interrupting the consistency of schooling and home life that children need to thrive.

4. Joint Custody

Sometimes called shared custody or shared parenting, joint custody is when the child’s full-time living arrangements are divided between parents using a method of percentage.

For instance, a court may award a joint custody agreement using a 50-50 split. However, the actual rate used varies according the what is in the best interests of the child.

Joint custody arrangements are more challenging in terms of a court ruling. There is a ton of consideration on behalf of the family court judge assigned to your case.

It’s possible that receiving joint custody might not even be on the table if he or she feels that it is not conducive to your child’s well-being.

Ultimately, your options for joint custody include working with your ex, making a request to the court, and hiring a child custody lawyer in Phoenix to help you make the best possible case. Elements that a judge may ponder may include your child’s cognitive abilities, parental work schedules, child support needs, education needs, and economic capacity of both parents to manage this arrangement successfully.

An agreement that values joint custody arrangements is applauded for their child-centric approach. However, opponents of them say that the child does not have adequate access to consistency, which does not work for every child or family type.

How a Phoenix Child Custody Lawyer Can Help

Providing for and protecting your children is a top priority as it should be. If you are concerned about child custody issues as a married or unmarried person, you have options.

Moreover, you have rights that deserve protection, as well. When you hire a licensed Arizona family law attorney, you are retaining peace-of-mind in knowing that you are affording you and your family the best possible chance of moving forward in life.

Discuss Your Options at an Initial Case Review with DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC

At DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC, we know how to navigate the complexities that surround child custody issues skillfully. You don’t have to face the court or your ex alone in court. Contact one of our child custody lawyers in Phoenix for an initial case review. You can schedule a meeting with our team by calling (602) 461-7818 or sending us a message via our online request form.

As Phoenix divorce attorneys, we are often asked whether it’s better to be the one to file for divorce or the one to be served. From a legal standpoint, there is no implication or consequence of being the first to file for divorce.

It does not show to the courts that you are the aggressor or the one who decided to bail on the marriage. Sometimes, a spouse becomes the filer simply because he or she can better afford the filing fees, whether he or she wanted it or not.

However, there are definitely advantages and disadvantages from a logistical perspective, and we are going to cover those more specifically in this article.

If you are going through the process of considering an Arizona divorce, it is advantageous to retain the legal counsel of an experienced Phoenix divorce attorney at DeShon Laraye Pullen, PLC. We can help you navigating the complexities of filing and serving your petition as well as helping you through it all over the long-run time horizon. Contact our office for an initial case view by calling (602) 252-1968.

Be Aware that Every Case Is Unique

While the information presented below is purely informational in nature, it can help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of being the first party to file for divorce. Keep in mind that only the direct application of the law by a licensed Arizona attorney is the best way to determine your options.

Pros and Cons of Filing for Divorce First in Arizona

The advantages of filing for divorce first are marginal from a general standpoint. However, benefits do exist for specific situations. For starters, you aren’t ‘caught off guard’ by being on the receiving end of divorce papers.

Advantages of filing for divorce first include:

  • Establishing the administrative expectation of the case including court dates and choice of venue
  • The ability to plan for the divorce beforehand by carefully considering your options and possibly speaking with an Arizona family law attorney
  • A sense of relief since the plug has been pulled on the marriage and you were the one to initiate it
  • Deciding when the date of marital asset acquisition periods end by filing
  • Being the first to speak in court since you are the named petitioner and your spouse is the respondent

On the other hand, a few simple disadvantages exist when it comes to being the first filer. However, to truly gauge the effects, it really depends on your unique situation and the nature of your relationship with your ex.

Disadvantages of filing for divorce include:

  • Suddenly alerting your ex to the assets and custody arrangement of which your eyes are set
  • Paying higher filing fees and court costs since they are generally offered by the petitioning spouse
  • Making it difficult to go back on your word if you later change your position on the matter of divorce

Again, the court does not treat the spouse who filed for divorce any differently. The circumstances surrounding the filing may come into question, but courts can not legally hold your right to terminate a marriage contract against you.

Your only requirement is to devise a strategy that protects your remaining assets, any shared children, and complies with Arizona law.

Hire a Phoenix Divorce Lawyer to Help you File in Arizona

As you can see, there are many thoughts and considerations when it comes to answering the question of who should file for divorce first in Arizona.

The best way to ensure that your interests and family stay protected is by hiring the experienced legal counsel of a licensed Arizona family law attorney. He or she can help you through the initial filing process while managing your case until the decree is finalized.

Consider Working with DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC

At Deshon Laraye Pullen PLC, we know how painful the divorce process is. But we also know that you need a strong advocate to pull you through the process and become stronger over the long-run. Plus, we’ll ensure that we handle your divorce following your values and your family’s best interest.

You can schedule an initial consultation with a Phoenix divorce lawyer team member today by calling (602) 252-1968 or by sending us a message regarding the details of your divorce through our online contact form.

Past due child support isn’t necessarily the definitive, tell-tale sign of a deadbeat parent. More often than not, it’s an indicator that the parent is unable to afford his or her child support payment due to changes in circumstances.

Rather than seek out legal counsel attributed to a vulnerable financial position, the owing parent tends not to take action at all. That’s when problems really begin to mount.

If there is a level of unwillingness or inability to pay for child support, there may be severe consequences on the horizon, including criminal charges, steep fines, wage and tax garnishments, and suspension of professional and occupational licensure.

What You Can Do If You Are Past Due

The absolute worst action you can take is to avoid the situation by ignoring it. It’s an increasing problem that does not go away.

The good news is that you can discuss your options with a Phoenix child support attorney at DeShon Laraye Pullen, PLC. He or she can help you decide your best course of action that considers the needs and legal requirements of everyone involved. Contact a team member of our legal family care team today by calling (602) 252-1968 or sending us a quick note here.

What Happens to Arizona Parents Who Are Past Due on Child Support?

Arizona state law gives authority to the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to enforce the payment of child support from the paying parent to the custodial parent. However, division representatives must provide you with adequate notification before any enforcement actions occur.

DCSS can utilize the following remedies to collect on past-due child support accounts:

  • Wage and federal and state tax garnishments

  • Seizure of personal property or assets

  • Revocation or suspension of professional licenses

  • Placing a lien on real estate for which you own

  • Charging you with contempt of court

While the preceding list isn’t exhaustive, it gives you a good idea as to some of the actions that DCSS can take to recuperate past-due child support accounts. If you have received a notice regarding action taken against you, make sure you gather the insight from a Phoenix child support lawyer before responding.

Criminal Prosecution Is on the Table

Perhaps the most worrisome part about being past due on child support payments is the fact that state and federal criminal proceedings are available to the state when going after delinquent accounts. If the above-referenced methodologies don’t work, then the state’s only recourse is criminal action.

After all, they want to send the message that it’s not okay to shirk your familial responsibilities from a financial standpoint. Plus, what good does being in jail do anyway? You aren’t able to work when you’re locked up which only makes the problem worse.

There are options available to parents who are unable to afford their child support payments, but it’s up to you to communicate to a legal professional what is reasonably occurring that prevents you from making any payments whatsoever.

One way the court tries to alleviate unfair financial burden from financially stressed parents is by modifying the child support order currently in effect. Courts can’t make you pay money that doesn’t exist, but they do want to make sure that any changes are well-documented and that they have received approval from a family judge beforehand.

That way, everything stays above-board, and you can continue living your life without undue burden or strain.

Why You Should Discuss Your Options with a Phoenix Child Support Lawyer

It is a frightening and intimidating experience to face your ex, your shared children, and the courtroom when you are already behind on your support payments.

Instead of attending your next hearing with your head down, change your approach by retaining a licensed Arizona family law attorney to protect your interests during child support hearings. It’s your right as an American citizen to retain counsel without the implication of guilty or financial means.

Consider Retaining a Phoenix Child Support Lawyer at DeShon Laraye Pullen, PLC

If you are facing issues related to past due child support payments in Arizona, don’t wait to act any longer. Contact a Phoenix child support lawyer from the legal team at DesShon Laraye Pullen, PLC. We are available to help you through the process for a better tomorrow. Schedule an initial consultation today by calling (602) 252-1968 or sending us a note through our form.

Even the most cordial of exes can experience stress during a divorce. There are particular connotations that come along with the word, including time, money, and custody issues. While you can’t ever really ‘prepare’ for divorce before it happens, there are a few actions that you can take to ensure that your interests are protected.

If you are facing a divorce, you may want to retain the legal counsel of an experienced Phoenix divorce lawyer at DeShon Laraye Pullen, PLC. Our legal care team can assist you in navigating the complexities of the divorce process as well as help you avoid detrimental mistakes. Contact us for your initial consultation by calling (602) 252-1968 or sending us a message via our online form.

As you continue your search for information and weigh your options, here are our top tips when it comes to avoiding common mistakes that people make during divorce. While the article below is purely informational, you should always direct your specific questions to a licensed Arizona attorney.

Mistake # 1: You Waited Too Long to File for Divorce

Ending a marriage is not a decision that one should make lightly. However, if we are being real, there is a point-of-no-return that every couple hits when they know it’s over. Unfortunately, things are comfortable, and if kids are involved, most people don’t want to rock the boat of a ‘well-adjusted life.’

The truth is that suffering through marriage is not a well-adjusted way of life. Resentments build, debts mount, and assets grow. The longer that couples delay the inevitable, the more complicated the divorce proceedings can become.

Mistake # 2. You Discussed Your Divorce via Social Media

We preach total abstinence from social media during divorce proceedings in Arizona. However, that isn’t doable or advisable for everyone. So, if you must remain ‘social’ while going through a divorce, the least you should do is never mention the details of your case online.

No good can come of bad-mouthing your ex or showing off the excessive amounts of money you are spending.

Before hitting the ‘post’ or ‘send’ button, think about how your words could come back to haunt you. These days, people who say they are your friends may not actually mean it. And they might even prove this assertion by screenshotting and sharing something you thought was utterly private.

Your written words are admissible as evidence. Resist the urge to put your opinions in writing, please.

Mistake # 3: You Tried to Conceal Shared Marital Assets

Arizona statutes require both spouses to disclose their marital and non-marital assets in their entirety. Some parties get a little too smart and attempt to transfer ownership of property and investments to avoid their disclosure in court.

This is a mythical loophole that does not work. You can be confident your soon-to-be-ex will mention your expensive car or large bank account you didn’t include in your financial disclosure forms. Leave your assets in your name and add them to your list instead of trying to cover them up.

Mistake # 4: You Forgot to Make Changes to Your Estate Planning Documents

A divorce doesn’t necessarily negate the language in place on your estate plan. An estate plan typically includes your last will and testament, health and financial directives, powers of attorney, and living trust. These are pretty sensitive documents that impact the future financial wealth of you and your family.

Plus, you should update these items so that your ex isn’t in charge of determining whether or not you should remain on life support.

Mistake # 5: You Didn’t Discuss Your Options with a Phoenix Divorce Lawyer

There are several missteps and pitfalls that one can take during a divorce. The consequences of which can affect several aspects regarding the outcome of your case. Whether you are a more economically stable spouse or not, there is more at stake than money and property. Divorcing couples must mitigate the stress of the process using a level head and retaining their own right to counsel.

Hiring a divorce attorney during an Arizona divorce case does not have to be a contentious thing. It’s a civil right afforded to both parties. When each party retains his or her separate counsel, there is a certain level of comfort in knowing that both of your rights are being protected.

There are checks and balances at this point. In short, you are hiring certainty that you, your ex, and the entire legal system is managing your case from a big-picture perspective.

Consider Hiring a Phoenix Divorce Lawyer at DeShon Laraye Pullen, PLC

You do not have to face the Arizona divorce process alone. Hire a Phoenix divorce lawyer that is going to provide you with due care that best represents your needs. You can reach the DeShon Laraye Pullen, PLC, office to arrange for an initial consultation by calling (602) 252-1968 or sending us a message via our contact form.

Co-parenting requires good communication and preparation, particularly if the parents don’t live together. Custody agreements between two parents spell out important information regarding the time that each parent is entitled to have with the child. However, many parents forget to consult this agreement—or the other parent—when making vacation plans. Below we discuss how to include your child in your vacation plans without violating your custody agreement.

The Importance of Abiding by the Terms of Your Custody Agreement

According to Arizona law, if you violate any of the terms of your custody order, including conditions regarding parenting time or visitation, the court may legally do the following:

  • Find you in contempt of court
  • Order visitation or parenting time for the other parent to make up for the time missed due to your violation
  • Order you to complete parenting education courses at your own expense
  • Order family counseling at your own expense
  • Order civil penalties of up to $100 for each violation
  • Order both parents to attend mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution at your expense
  • Make any other order that’s in accordance with the best interest of the child legal standard
  • Hold a hearing to review the noncompliance with the visitation or parenting time order
  • Require the violating parent to cover any court fees incurred by the non-violating parent associated with the review of noncompliance order

Does the Vacation Fall Within Your Scheduled Parenting Time?

Vacation time is an important component of your custody agreement, and courts generally favor agreements that provide children with the opportunity to spend quality time with each parent away from the day-to-day routines of work and school. Because of this, your custody agreement likely has provisions within it as to how much vacation time you’re entitled to have with your child during the summer. Your agreement may clearly state the exact dates as to when each party may take vacation time, or it may require you to coordinate and schedule that time with the other parent well in advance of any vacation.

Although courts often hold the view that vacation time takes precedence over regular parenting time, whenever possible, you should try to plan your vacation within your scheduled parenting time. In general, unless your agreement includes a specific time period for notice, you should let the other parent know thirty days in advance of the dates of your planned vacation. If your vacation plans infringe on the other parent’s parenting time, always be sure to discuss options for making up the regularly scheduled parenting time that the other parent will miss out on due to your vacation.

Traveling out of State? Inform the Other Parent First

Many custody agreements spell out whether one parent must notify the other parent of out-of-state travel plans. However, even if your agreement doesn’t specifically discuss out-of-state travel notice, it is a good idea to discuss any planned out-of-state travel with your child’s other parent well in advance of any planned vacation. During this discussion, you should agree to some specific terms of the out-of-state vacation; it’s generally a good idea to get such agreements in writing, with each parent having a copy of what he or she is agreeing to when it comes to traveling out of state for vacations.

When planning a vacation with your child, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Don’t plan an out-of-state vacation that will result in your child missing an important day for the co-parent, such as the co-parent’s or another close family member’s birthday.
  • While planning the vacation, you should set aside times for your child to contact the other parent while out of town, as this helps your child and the other parent feel connected to one another, even while you’re away on an out-of-state vacation.

Always Share the Details of Your Vacation With the Other Parent

As discussed above, court-ordered parenting plans often include a requirement that one parent notifies the other parent of any travel plans. However, even if your agreement doesn’t include this provision, it’s a good idea to provide notice anyway. While no divorced parent wants to be micromanaged by his or her former spouse, one very important reason why your co-parent should be informed of where you’re going and how to reach you is in case an emergency occurs at home, and the other parent needs to contact you or your child; he or she must have the ability to reach you. Likewise, if you or your child has an emergency that requires you to contact the other parent, he or she should at least have an idea beforehand as to where you are. This is especially important when you and the other parent share legal responsibility for the child and for decision-making regarding your child’s medical care.

The following information is helpful for the other parent, and will be helpful for you as well when the other parent takes a vacation with the child:

  • Where are you going and what activities will you be doing?
  • When will you return?
  • How are you getting there? If you’re planning to fly or take a train, provide information about the airline or train carrier, the flight or train number, and the travel schedule.
  • Where are you staying? Include an address or a phone number.
  • Who are you traveling with? Include a contact number for another adult who will know where you are and be in contact with you.

Should You Modify Your Custody Agreement?

Custody agreements should reflect the best interests of your child at the time of issuance. However, as time passes, you and the other parent may find that the agreement should change to reflect your child’s growth in both maturity and development. Vacation time is often one aspect of an agreement that you may want to modify as your child becomes older. While it may not be advisable for you to take an infant out of town for two weeks, taking a 15-year-old out of state to enjoy a summer vacation with you is a different matter.

If you feel a need to modify your custody order, an experienced family law attorney can guide you through that process. Make sure you consult with one before taking any actions that could jeopardize your custody rights.

Has the Tax Cuts and Job Acts taken the incentive away for divorcees to pay alimony?

Significant elements included in the legislation include a reduction in tax rates for both individuals and businesses. The bill also increased the standard deduction and family tax credits.

However, what the government gives, it also takes away. Specifically eliminated are the personal exemptions that reduced the benefits that come with itemizing deductions. For couples considering or pursuing divorce, they will feel a significant financial impact.

Signed into law at the end of 2018, the act replaces a previous statute where higher-earning spouses could deduct spousal support payments on tax filings. Conversely, the recipient had to claim it as a part of their taxable gross income.

Simply put, for divorces finalized in 2019 and beyond, alimony will no longer be deductible.

With the clock ticking, spouses are feeling the pressure to sign off on alimony agreements prior to enactment of the new law.

Payers no longer see any benefits to paying spousal support. Additionally, the common practice if splitting financial support payments between spouses and children will likely change. Essentially, it shifts the majority of money away from alimony with more going to child support to secure the tax credit.

Many see the new law as opening a floodgate of pressure for new and existing marital dissolutions to be finalized while financial benefits still exist.

DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC continues to give back to the community with another one of our monthly charity efforts. With July being National Childhood Arthritis Awareness Month, we are proud to serve as a sponsor for the Arthritis Foundation’s Give Green Get Green Campaign.

Currently, arthritis is the number one cause of disability in America. And it is not limited to adults. Approximately 300,000 children are affected as well.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is an annual April observance created to raise awareness for a serious problem that shows no sign of ending. The annual commemoration started in 1983 and remains as important now as it was 35 years ago.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2015 saw 683,000 children victimized by neglect and physical abuse. Not only did that overall number grow 1.2 percent from the previous year, three key metrics involving referrals to and investigations by Child Protective Services also increased.

The statistics are alarming and should serve as a wake-up call to not only stem the growth, but also put an end to child maltreatment.

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