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Tucson Family Law Blog

The parallel parenting option

When parents in Arizona divorce, they often have the goal of eventually establishing a strong co-parenting relationship. This means that they are able to set aside their differences and effectively work together to parent their kids. However, there are situations in which one parent may be considered "high-conflict." This means that they are unwilling to behave in a way that fosters a healthy relationship with their former spouse; they may seek to create conflict at every opportunity.

In some cases, these individuals have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, such as narcissistic personality disorder. In other cases, the high-conflict person remains angry at his or her former spouse and actively seeks to anger, humiliate or provoke the other parent.

Teens need guidance after a divorce

Generally speaking, teens are going through a lot of changes. Their parents getting a divorce will likely only complicate the process of raising a teenager. However, it is critical that parents continue to take a leading role in ensuring that their teens receive the guidance and care that they need. Part of accomplishing this goal is talking to the other parent on a regular basis.

While parents may not get along themselves, they have an obligation to keep each other informed about any issues that their teen faces. It is important that any problems at school or at home are dealt with in a timely manner. Otherwise, the teen may be indirectly handed power over the parents, which can lead to further bad behavior at home or at school.

Preparing to purchase the marital home during a divorce

For couples ending a marriage in Arizona, the biggest asset is often the family home. Whether it's emotional attachments, children or other considerations, there are many reasons why a soon-to-be-ex would want to fully purchase the marital home from their spouse. When this is the case, the buying spouse is often advised to determine if the move is financially feasible.

A commonly recommended first step is for a spouse looking to buy the marital home to determine how much equity -- defined as the home's net value minus any existing debts or obligations -- they have in it. This can be done with an assessment from an impartial appraiser, a broker price opinion initiated by a real estate agent professional or a comparative market analysis based on sales of comparable properties in the area.

Successful married women seem to face higher divorce risks

Several studies conducted during the last few years suggest that society's views about traditional gender roles are not evolving as quickly as opportunities are opening up for women in the workplace. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that 38% of the wives throughout Arizona and the rest of the country earn more than their husbands. This increases the risk of divorce significantly, according to a Harvard Professor.

The professor came to this conclusion in 2016 after studying more than 6,000 relationships. She found that the chances of an income-related separation were particularly high when husbands only worked part-time. This could be due to men feeling inadequate about not living up to their traditional family breadwinner role. A 2017 study by the Pew Research Center suggests that these feeling are shared by society as a whole. Only one in four of those responding to the Pew poll said that it was important for mothers to provide financially for their children. That figure rose to 40% when the respondents were asked about the contribution fathers should make.

What to do about insurance in a divorce

When couples in Arizona get a divorce, they need to decide what to do about insurance coverage. For example, one spouse may be covered on another spouse's health insurance plan. When this is the case, that spouse may need to look into COBRA or seek other options for health insurance coverage.

Life insurance can be particularly important to a spouse who is getting alimony. Without this protection, if the paying spouse dies, the surviving spouse may have this support cut off abruptly.

When coparenting is not possible with a former spouse

While co-parenting may be seen as the ideal situation for parents and children after divorce, it may not be possible for some parents in Arizona. Some situations, such as the incarceration or abandonment of one parent, make it impossible. There are other situations that threaten the safety of the child. These include parents who are violent, inappropriately sexual, neglectful or addicted to alcohol or drugs. Co-parenting may also be impossible if one parent has taken out a restraining order on the other.

There are also situations that may not put the child in danger but that make effective communication impossible. This could include a parent who is consumed with anger at the other parent, who is mentally abusive to the other parent or who tries to use the children in a battle for control of the other parent. Some parents may have a psychological disorder. Others may try to influence the child against the other parent. A parent who moves frequently and generally leads an unstable life may make co-parenting difficult.

Child support, taxes and modifications

Child support obligations in Arizona are based on such factors as parental income, how many kids are involved and other costs, such as health care and education. However, separated parents should remember that it's possible to modify a child support arrangement when necessary.

One parent may have a surge or a reduction in income that makes such a modification necessary. Disability or other factors could also affect what a parent is able to contribute. If parents have a legally binding child support agreement in place, they should return to court to request a modification. Child support is considered a higher priority than spousal maintenance. Therefore, if child support is reduced, spousal maintenance may be as well.

Finalizing a divorce usually needs more than a court order

Those in Arizona going through a divorce may think the divorce decree is the final step in parting with their spouse. It is in a way because the marriage is dissolved with the decree, but other things must be dealt with after the divorce. Fortunately, many of these items are more of a housekeeping nature and not as emotionally taxing as the divorce process. They still need to be completed to avoid problems in the future, however.

Bank accounts and other financial accounts should be transferred per the divorce decree or settlement agreement. The ex-spouse should be removed from each account. Likewise, beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement benefits should be changed. A certified copy of the divorce decree may be needed as proof. For real estate, deeds should be executed and filed. The ex-spouse should sign the deed.

Awarding joint custody

For the greater part of the 20th century, the family courts in Arizona tended to favor the mothers when awarding child custody. This meant that fathers who wanted shared child custody after their divorce were often disappointed. However, in the last three decades, the manner in which the courts have begun awarding child custody cases has undergone a significant shift, with the mutual agreements that favor shared custody being encouraged.

The family courts have to make decisions regarding two types of custody. Legal custody gives parents complete autonomy over the decisions regarding their children's religion, education, health care and any other part of their wellbeing. Residential or physical custody refers to where the children reside at night.

Divorce considerations for business owners

Arizona spouses who decide to divorce may face an array of emotional, practical and financial complications during the property division process. This can be challenging for almost anyone, especially when sentimental items or high-value assets are involved. However, it can be even more difficult when a family business is part of the divorce.

Before entering into serious negotiations over handling the business in relation to the property division process, it can be important to understand how much the company and its assets are worth. An independent expert can review financial statements and other documents to establish a valuation for the family business. Spouses involved with the company may tend to overestimate or underestimate the market value of the company, but an independent expert can set a baseline for negotiations.

Contact

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

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