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Maricopa County Family Law Blog

Parental conflict? Parallel parenting could be the answer

Parenting after divorce is not easy. And it can be even more difficult when you and your ex-spouse cannot agree or get along.

Consistent conflict can negatively impact the whole family in the long run - not just the relationship between parents. In these cases, parents have several options to protect their family, with one being a parallel parenting arrangement.

Facing legal issues regarding parenting time after divorce?

Many Arizona households are comprised of single parents and their children. Yours might be among those whose family dynamics changed to this scenario because of a divorce. If so, then parenting time was no doubt a top priority issue when you devised a co-parenting agreement.

Whether you're sharing custody with your ex or you have sole custody and your co-parent has visitation, it's critical that both parents remain willing to work together as a team. When there's a court order in place, each parent must adhere to its terms. This means that, even if you have sole custody, if a judge ruled that your ex may pick the children up for visits three times per week, then you must make sure the children are at the designated pickup and drop-off locations at the specified times.

Divorce: Less stigma nowadays but still stressful

Long ago, people thought twice about divorcing due to the negative social stigma attached to such ideas. In Arizona and elsewhere, divorce was commonly frowned upon. Nowadays, the stigma is long gone and people who wish to start over can easily tap into support resources for help.

Women, in particular, file for divorce much more today than they might have a few decades ago. There are numerous issues that are still commonly key factors in decisions to divorce, such as infidelity, communication breakdowns between spouses or one spouse feeling unappreciated or dissatisfied with the relationship. Nevertheless, there has been a decrease in the overall rate of divorce in the United States in recent years. 

Pet issues can be complex in divorce

Nowadays, many Arizona married couples consider their pets to be members of their families. This can not only cause emotional upheaval in divorce but can also create legal problems. Many attorneys report that they've seen an increase in court battles regarding pet custody, a trend that will likely continue.

Arizona law considers decisions regarding pets in divorce as part of property division proceedings. A few other states have started resolving issues about family pets in divorce proceedings similar to how they decide child custody issues. However, Arizona has not yet adopted this approach, and the laws in this state define personal property as money, chattel, dogs and other goods.

Divorce: Minimize stress as much as possible

It is never easy to make a life-changing decision, especially when such a decision may upset some members of a family. Divorce is a common decision that tends to have a unique impact on each member of the household in question. Even if everyone agrees that it is a good decision, it does not guarantee that adapting to a new lifestyle in Arizona will be without stress.

Especially when there are children involved, spouses must resolve numerous issues regarding custody, child support, parenting time and other important matters. The court typically believes most children fare best when parents agree to share custody. However, in certain circumstances, a family court judge may find it is in the children's best interest to award sole custody to one parent and grant the other parenting time.

How to determine if divorce mediation is a viable option

Before 2020 ends, many Arizonans will end their marriages. A lot of them want to avoid going to court when they divorce. In some cases, this is possible because spouses agree to mediation, instead.

Divorce mediation is one of several alternative dispute resolution alternatives. It involves peaceful discussions and negotiation, with both spouses agreeing ahead of time to try to avoid litigation and confrontation as much as possible. It may take one or numerous sessions to settle a divorce through mediation.

Things to know about Arizona property division laws

Arizona is known for its low housing costs, great public transportation systems and ample employment opportunities. These are often among the top reasons many married couples choose to settle here and raise their families. Of course, not every marriage lasts a lifetime, which is why it pays to know another unique factor about this state: Property division in divorce operates under community property guidelines.

There are only eight other states that use community property guidelines to split marital assets and liabilities between spouses in divorce. Following such guidelines, most family court judges will split all marital property 50/50 between spouses. Whether this leads to an increase in hidden asset schemes is debatable; however, a concerned spouse is wise to investigate any issue that raises a red flag, such as money being withdrawn from a jointly owned account without both spouses' consent.

Don't let divorce ruin your physical health

When a person experiences a stressful situation, he or she may feel emotionally distraught, needing time and support to recover. For instance, those in Arizona who are currently preparing for or have recently navigated divorce may be glad to be moving on in life but also feel a sense of loss or emotional distress. Even more problems can arise if that emotional distress manifests itself through adverse physical health.

This is what Paramore rock band member Hayley Williams says happened to her when she and her former husband called it quits. Williams says their marriage had been tumultuous for a long time. She was already emotionally traumatized by the time her divorce was made final. At that time, she said, her weight had plummeted to a mere 91 pounds, a physical effect of her emotional stress.

Divorce and financial planning

Maricopa County couples who are contemplating ending their marriages often face a wide array of emotions, and this can lead to wanting to get the process over with as quickly as possible. This might end up being a mistake, however, especially for those who have a significant amount of assets, because planning for the financial consequences in advance can be a crucial part of a divorce.

Having a financial adviser throughout the process is recommended for both parties, particularly one who is experienced in analyzing the issues that are important in a divorce. These can include appraisals of family businesses and art collections, spousal and child support, the impact on Social Security retirement benefits, life and health insurance policies, estate planning, post-divorce budgeting, investments and charitable gift planning. A certified divorce financial analyst will work closely with each party's respective divorce and estate planning attorneys and will obtain pertinent information from financial institutions and certified public accountants.

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