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Tucson Family Law Blog

Can a shared support enforcement system benefit states?

For Arizona parents who receive child support, tracking and enforcement payments by the paying parent is an important part of the process. Each state has its own system of doing this, and many states have attempted, planned or begun modernization efforts of these systems over the years. Currently, each state upgrades its own system with the federal government then reimbursing the state for 66 percent of the cost. The federal government is seeking to change the way this works.

The federal government is asking for $63 million to be added to the 2019 budget, delegated to the Department of Health and Human Services to be used to create a child support enforcement system that it would then make available to all states. While the details about the way this would work, what the system would be like and when it would be made available to the states have not been released, the government has stated that this will save money in the long run: up to $800 million in 10 years.

Collaboration can make divorce easier for kids

Arizona parents headed for divorce can avoid ugly courtroom battles if they are focused and make use of available resources. In the midst of an emotional split, the temptation looms large to use the legal system as a vehicle for revenge, but doing so can put children in the middle, which is something most people agree is an unwanted outcome. If parents work together and keep children's best interests at heart, a great deal of time, money and acrimony can be saved.

In most jurisdictions, the starting place for custody negotiations is an equal division of time split between the parents. Every family is unique, and different situations require thoughtful adjustments from that starting point. For example, travel and work schedules may make 50/50 parenting impossible, or the distance between parental residences could create hardships for the children. The key to working things out is the maintenance of strict focus on the children involved.

Many types of child custody arrangements available

Arizona parents who are getting a divorce may need to make child custody decisions. This includes deciding whether they will ask for joint or sole legal and physical custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions about certain aspects of a child's life such as religion, education and health care. Physical custody determines which parent the child lives with.

Joint physical custody may not mean that a child spends exactly the same amount of time with each parent. Parents may make an arrangement in which the child spends certain days of the week with each of them or the child may stay with each parent for longer periods. With serial custody, a child may spend several years with one parent and then the next few years with the other. The problem with this arrangement is that the child may struggle to form a strong relationship with the noncustodial parent.

Cutting out contempt can help stave off divorce

Many couples in Arizona have wondered what leads spouses to divorce. This question has been studied by marriage expert and writer Dr. John Gottman, among others. When Gottman examined marriages to determine why some last and others come to an end, he noted a few distinct problems in communication that can be dangerous.

Labeled the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," these communication patterns include criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. While all four pointed to higher likelihoods of divorce, contempt in particular appeared to be corrosive to a personal relationship. Because contemptuous communication often conveys disrespect, dismissal and a sense of superiority, it is deeply divisive and hurtful. The person subject to contemptuous remarks can feel valueless and either lash out or internalize the destructive messages. Whether contempt is expressed through name calling, eye rolling or other forms of hostile communication, it can fundamentally undermine the closeness of a marriage.

When business partners divorce

When couples in Arizona divorce, common concerns include property division, dividing assets, child custody and support payments. When a married couple owns a business together, a whole new layer of complexity has to be dealt with. Surprisingly, however, some couples do manage to continue working together even after their marriage ends.

The decision to preserve a business partnership after divorce is a highly personal one. In some cases, particularly if the divorce involves serious issues, such as abuse or addiction, it may not be wise for spouses to continue their working relationship. When spouses are able to maintain a healthy relationship, however, maintaining joint ownership is a possibility.

Spying on spouses during divorce has gone digital

For as long as divorce has been a part of society, spying and tracking of one estranged spouse by another has existed. People who are battling over child custody have looked for evidence of neglect. Spouses in Arizona trying to work out alimony have kept a close eye out for any infidelity. Spying can extend to property division issues as well, such as is the case with hidden assets.

However, these days the key to successful spying during divorce proceedings may be entirely digital, and not only in high-asset divorces. Spyware placed on a home computer shows keystrokes of a conversation in which one spouse regrets the burdens of children. A GPS tracker placed on an automobile indicates that it was parked for an hour outside a "no-tell motel" when the spouse claimed to have been at work. And bank account records can be searched in nanoseconds for anything that might make the targeted spouse look bad regarding an divorce legal issues.

Increasing rates of divorce in January

Having just gone through the holidays, citizens of Arizona may start experiencing a phenomenon that recurs every January: higher rates of divorce. In fact, the number of divorces increase during January to such a degree that the month has been nicknamed Divorce Month.

This spike in divorce numbers happens for a few of reasons. To start with, most families prefer to postpone monumental decisions such as divorce until after the holidays so that the family can enjoy one last Christmas together. Additionally, the holidays tend to put stress on any relationship, meaning that an already fatigued marriage can buckle under the weight of the holidays. Some families can, under the influence of the holidays, delude themselves into thinking that they can make their relationship work; it's only after the festivities are over that reality starts to sink in again, and all the little problems that were eating at the marriage can start to pop up once more.

How a person's credit might be affected by divorce

Divorce may affect the credit of some people in Arizona for a number of different reasons. For example, if one spouse keeps the home, that person may need to refinance it. This could leave the person deeper in debt.

Some problems with credit might happen if one spouse is dishonest or uncooperative. For example, a person might not report all debt, and some of that debt could be under the other spouse's name without that spouse knowing it. Another situation that could arise is the failure of one person paying a portion of divided debt. If spouses are unable to work together, some bills may simply go unpaid. If the divorce takes a turn for the worse, one spouse might actively try to hurt the other one financially. If spouses have joint accounts they do not close, this can happen more easily.

Family sizes grow as people divorce and remarry

As an increasing number of Arizona couples have gotten divorced, the definition of "family" has also expanded. Many families are now headed by one stepparent, and they may have a blend of extended biological and step-relatives.

As divorces have become more common, the size of families has increased by 66 percent. For people who are in families that are headed by people who are under the age of 55, almost one-third have at least one stepparent. Among those who over 55, nearly one-third have at least one stepparent. Many divorced people remarry or live in cohabiting relationships, and they may have stepchildren, biological children and other relatives that are added to their families.

Dealing with a narcissistic coparent

Some parents in Arizona may have to deal with coparenting with a narcissist after a divorce. One woman received an email from her narcissistic husband saying that the children were afraid of her and did not want to go to her house. The woman initially ignored it because it was typical of the type of behavior she had become accustomed to from her ex-husband. It also was not unusual for him to behave in this way just before a court action, and she had filed for the fifth time to get him to pay the support he owed.

However, this time, his behavior escalated. He informed her children's school, child protective services and others that she was abusive. The woman, who had shared custody with the father 50/50 since the divorce, faced the possibility of not being able to see her children again.

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Law Office of Michael A. Johnson, P.C.
177 N Church Avenue
Suite 311
Tucson, AZ 85701

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