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Phoenix Family Law And Estate Planning Law Blog

Advice for noncustodial parents

If your co-parent was granted sole physical custody of your kids in the divorce, it can be a disheartening decision to live with. It doesn't help that all sorts of myths about noncustodial parents abound -- particularly as shared custody has become more prevalent. Many people believe that noncustodial parents chose not to help raise their kids or perhaps have an issue that makes it unsafe for their kids to be around them.

In fact, many noncustodial parents want to be involved in their kids' lives. They may, in fact, share legal custody even if they don't have physical custody. This means they have a say in decisions regarding their kids' education, medical care, religious upbringing and more. Often, they pay child support to the custodial parent, so they're helping provide their kids with everything they need even if they can't be there for them regularly.

Know what to expect from a custody evaluation

If you and your co-parent are unable to reach a child custody agreement on your own, with the help of your attorneys, a judge may order a custody evaluation to help them make a decision.

Sometimes these evaluations are performed as the couple is divorcing. Other times, they're ordered if one or both parents believe the current custody arrangement isn't what's best for their kids. While an evaluation may be ordered by a judge, it can also be requested by parents.

Arizona Court of Appeals rules for woman in frozen embryo case

An Arizona appellate court has ruled in a much-watched case involving a divorced couple who has been fighting over what to do with their fertilized embryos. Those embryos were produced during an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) process the couple used before they were married.

The majority of the Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling in favor of the ex-husband. They determined that the woman could implant those embryos if and when she chooses to, and her former husband doesn't have a say in the matter.

What are your options for selling a loved one's items?

Your elderly parent or other loved one who just passed away didn't believe in downsizing and decluttering as they got older. That's left you looking at options for an estate auction to sell their property.

There are several ways to have an estate auction. Which one is best depends on how many items there are, what type of items are involved and how much money and time you have to devote to the process.

Welcoming a child? Consider your estate planning options

Expanding your family is likely a dream that you have had for some time. Now that you are expecting a baby or are close to completing the adoption process, you may feel that excitement mounting more than ever. Of course, while thinking about bringing more life and love to your family is wonderful, you may also want to consider planning for the possibility of less-happy events.

If you have not yet created an estate plan, doing so before your child comes into your family is wise. You certainly hope that you will always have the ability to care for your child and that the future will be perfect, but unfortunately, perfection is not always attainable. Luckily, you can plan for potential hardships and at least ensure that certain scenarios will be handled more easily.

Talking to your child about an absent parent

Not all divorced parents share custody of their children. For a variety of reasons, your co-parent may have little or no contact with your child. Perhaps there were issues with drugs, alcohol or violence that have made it unsafe and unhealthy for your child to be around them. Your co-parent may have moved far away and chosen not to be part of your child's life other than to provide court-ordered financial support.

It's not unusual these days for kids to live with only one parent. Many of your child's friends at school may have divorced parents or parents who never married. However, when one parent is largely or completely absent from a child's life, it can have a serious psychological impact on their sense of identity and self-esteem. It's up to you as a single parent and to other adults in your child's life to be positive role models and to help develop a strong sense of who they are.

Cryonics requires new ways of thinking about estate plans

It sounds like something from a science fiction movie. The heroes blast into the future where they will tackle new challenges, but because of the long voyage, their lives must be scientifically suspended, like pressing a pause button. However, it is not so far-fetched. More and more people are considering cryonics as a way of preserving their bodies at the end of their lives until such time as medical and scientific advancements have cured whatever ended their lives, even old age.

If cryonics is something you might consider, you should know that there are many factors to weigh, including your estate plan. Cryonics is not cheap, and your estate plan providing for this chance at renewed life may raise many conflicts among your heirs.

Some keys to effective co-parenting communication

Effective communication is key for parents after divorce. This can be challenging if the two of you got into negative habits in the last stages of your marriage. Further, you may still have some anger and distrust that can prevent you from communicating positively and clearly with your co-parent. For your children's sake, however, it's essential to focus on the building blocks of healthy, effective communication.

Words, tone and delivery matter.

Planning for spring break as divorced (or divorcing) parents

Scheduling time off of work and planning activities (whether at home or away) around spring break can be challenging enough for married parents. For divorced parents who both want to spend time with their kids during their time off school, it can be particularly difficult. Schools may not schedule spring break for the same week every year. Different schools, even within the same area, may not have the same spring break weeks. Therefore, parents may have kids with different weeks off.

All of this can make it difficult for parents to detail how spring break custody and visitation will work in their custody agreements. However, it's essential to plan your spring break custody schedule as early as possible. While you may not know when you draw up your custody agreement what week(s) it will be, it's typically a full school week off. Parents can work out whether their kids will split that time between the two parents' homes or they'll have them for the full spring break on alternate years.

Don't be a Picasso: Avoid estate planning pitfalls

You'd likely agree with most Arizona residents who might say they'd love to own an estate worth $30 million or more. That's approximately how much the great master Pablo Picasso's estate was worth when he died in 1973. The only problem was that he never executed an estate plan. If you don't want your loved ones to have to navigate a lengthy probate process, you'll want to keep several ideas in mind to help them avoid it.

Picasso was 91 when he died. His heirs battled it out in probate court for six years before they settled his estate, comprised of over 40,000 works of art, homes, a brand name and stock investments. You don't have to trod a similar path because there are valuable estate planning tools and resources available to help you protect your assets and loved ones' best interests.

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