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Phoenix Family Law And Estate Planning Law Blog

Review of Arizona's community property laws

Like a handful of other states, which are mostly located in the Southwest, Arizona follows the principles of "community property" in divorce cases. While this doctrine affects divorces in this state, specifically when it comes to property division, it also can impact probate and factor into a Goodyear resident's overall estate plan, even if that individual is happily married.

Basically, when a couple in Arizona gets married, they form what in the eyes of the law is a "community," an entity which together holds property jointly and severally. At the time of a divorce, the court will divide any community property 50-50 between the spouses. On the other hand, so called "separate property" belongs to each individual spouse outright, and the other spouse ordinarily will have no claim over it. For the most part, separate property includes anything that a spouse held individually prior to the marriage or acquired after being served with paperwork for divorce or legal separation.

Review of Arizona prenuptial agreements

Many residents of Phoenix have probably heard about prenuptial agreements and may have even learned about them from previous posts here. For many people, including those who have no plans of divorcing or separating, these agreements can be an important legal document which they may need to strongly consider negotiating with their future spouse and signing.

In Arizona, prenuptial agreements, or "prenups," are legally referred to as premarital agreements. Like in most other states, premarital agreements are legally enforceable as long as they meet certain conditions. On a practical level, a premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. It is generally a good idea to also have language in the agreement stating that both parties either have discussed the agreement with their own attorneys or freely and voluntarily waive their opportunity to do so. Otherwise, a judge may set aside the agreement if the judge determines the agreement is unconscionable, that is, clearly unfair, and one of the people who signed the agreement did not have an accurate picture of the couple's assets and debts.

How you can ask for a prenuptial agreement without causing a stir

Divorce is the last thing you want to think about during the months leading up to your wedding. However, if you want to protect yourself, asking for a prenuptial agreement would be in your best interest.

With the help of a prenuptial agreement, you're able to outline everything from the assets you're bringing into the marriage to the inheritance rights of children from a past relationship.

Can you get a divorce from a detached spouse?

You and your spouse don’t see eye-to-eye. You disagree and argue with each other so much that it seems like you’ve given up on getting along. Maybe it’s even gotten to the point where you haven’t been in contact with your spouse for a few weeks or perhaps they have already moved out. You feel as though they’ve detached from the marriage. You know that you want a divorce, but things seem to be at a standstill. Can you kickstart a divorce on your own?

The answer is yes. You can obtain a divorce without the involvement of your spouse. This is called a default divorce. However, there are certain requirements.

Can I get supervised visitation in Arizona?

Most parents in the Phoenix area would probably agree that, in a perfect world, they would share custody of their children in such a way that both parents would have input in important decisions and would also spend plenty of time with the children.

Unfortunately, though, few Arizona parents live in an ideal world. In fact, it is usually precisely because their relationships are far from perfect that they wind up having to raise children on their own in the first place. In some cases, the underlying problem could even be physical or emotional abuse.

We assist people with different estate planning needs

People who have lived in the Phoenix area all of their lives or who have even just chosen to retire here come from all different sorts of economic and family situations. As a result, each one of them brings to the table different estate planning needs.

One of the goals of our office's estate planning practice is to make sure that the plans we create for our clients are tailored to what they truly need in order to distribute their property efficiently to their loved ones.

Review of Arizona's relocation statute

Like many other states, Arizona has a law that governs what parents who are subject to child custody and parenting time orders must do if they wish to move with the children in their care.

Arizona's law applies to all moves that are either outside the state or that are more than 100 miles from the parent's current home. While local moves are exempt from the law, a parent should still review his or her child custody order to make sure it does not impose any additional obligations.

Points to remember when planning to create a will - Part I

There was a time when people thought that estate planning is only meant for the wealthy. That is no longer the case as people of all economic backgrounds are starting to understand the benefits of a well-crafted estate plan. The first step toward that goal is drafting a will. A will contains the final directions of a person regarding what is to be done with his or her property after death. In the absence of a will, the estate is entered into probate and assets are distributed per the probate court's order.

When it comes to creating a will, there are a set of basic rules that are applicable in Arizona and most other states in the country. The creator of the will:

  • must be at least 18 years old for it to be a valid will.
  • must write it in adequate mental condition and with sound judgment.
  • must clearly mention in the document that it is a last will.
  • must name an executor of the will in the document for it to be valid.
  • must sign it in the presence of at least two witnesses.
  • may choose to notarize it to safeguard against claims of it being invalid.

Information sharing during post-divorce discovery

Once a couple has filed for divorce, the law requires each spouse to disclose details pertaining to his or her current financial condition. This is known as the "discovery" process and it involves the exchange of information between the separating spouses regarding individual income, assets and debts. In fact, this is a requirement that is mandated under the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure and courts in the state use the information gathered from the discovery process to make sure that property division is equal.

Interestingly, discovery can sometimes be an informal process in which spouses share details pertaining to their individual assets and debts in the presence of their respective divorce attorneys. However, if the separating couple is not willing to share the information voluntarily, there are several formal procedures that can be followed in order to identify the assets and debts.

Establishing grandparents' visitation rights in Arizona

The ones most affected by a troubled marriage are the children of the estranged couple. In order to provide those children with stability in their tender years, it is often the grandparents who step in to help. However, grandparents can have access to those children only after establishing visitation rights. Laws in Arizona recognize a grandparent's right to visitation and have statutes in place to enable that. For the knowledge of Maricopa County residents, the following is a brief on grandparents' rights in the state.

The first step for the grandparent wanting to establish visitation rights will be to file a petition. A grandparent has to keep in mind that the child must have resided in Arizona for at least six months. In some cases, however, it is possible to file a petition even when a child has not resided in Arizona for six months, but that is possible on a case-to-case basis. In addition, at least one of three conditions that are mentioned in the statute must be met for the grandparent to successfully obtain visitation rights.

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