Monday, November 18, 2013

Tucson Divorce

Tucson Divorce

Did you know that divorce laws dramatically differ from state to state?  There are two ways divorces are handled: community property states versus common law states.  Many east coast states such as New York and Connecticut are common law states, whereas many west coast states such as Arizona, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Washington, Nevada, Texas, and Alaska are community property states.

We are in a community property state in Arizona.  So what does this mean?  It means everything including assets and debts you accumulated before you got married, anything you inherited before and during the marriage, and generally gifts during the marriage to you, and some lawsuit settlements during the marriage are your separate property.  Separate property means that is yours when you get divorced. Now here’s where the hammer drops.  Everything you and your spouse have accumulated during the marriage, debts, assets, property, anything not in the previous category is community property from the moment you get married to the moment that divorce petition is served if the petition ends in actual divorce.  So that means if you were the sole income earner during the marriage, every single penny is half owned by your spouse.  This includes your retirement.  Your spouse is entitled to half of whatever retirement you have accumulated and vice versa.  Did your spouse rack up a whole lot of debt while you were married?  Well guess what you are half responsible.  Did your spouse get their PhD during the marriage and rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars of student debt?  You are half responsible for the debt even though your spouse incurred it.  Recently with recession, the tricky areas of property division have been real property or homes. Many homes are now underwater, so soon to be divorced couples are clueless as to how to dispose of that property.  

Additional issues are the areas of health insurance.  Almost every health insurance will not allow an ex spouse to be covered.  This is true even if both parties agree to it.  There are ways to compensate for this loss.

These issues are where an experienced divorce attorney comes in handy.  I can answer your questions and guide you to the best possible outcome for your particular situation.  Every single divorce is different.  I give you personalized attention and work tirelessly for you.  My office phone number is my cell number and I frequently answer phone calls from my clients after hours and on weekends. More importantly, I offer free consultations so give me a call today and let me explain how I can help your situation.  Call 520-631-3286 to talk to me, Riisa Petersen, managing attorney at Petersen Law Firm PLLC.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tucson Family Law

Family law encompasses a variety of legal issues.  It typically describes issues that deal with family-related matters and domestic relations, including: marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships; adoption and surrogacy; the termination of relationships and ancillary matters, like divorce, annulment, property settlements, spousal maintenance (typically termed alimony), legal decision making for children (child custody), parenting time (visitation) and child support.  It also deals with parenting issues with unmarried parties or “special paternity cases.”

Family law varies from state to state.  Among others, there is a difference between “community property” states and “non community property” states with regard to division of assets in a divorce.  What most people do not know is that procedures vary greatly even from county to county.  Requirements as to what paperwork that is included with each family law filing differs from Maricopa county to Pima county to Santa Cruz county etc.  These are called “local rules.”  Many of the bigger counties have checklists for people looking to file each action for themselves.  The problem these people often run into presents itself when the two parties disagree on one point or another, at which point the checklist offers the belated suggestion, “you should seek the advice of an attorney.”  In fact it is best to consult an attorney before any action is filed that knows the intricacies of filing in that particular state and in that particular county.

In many cases the outcome of a family law issue can impact the rest of that individual’s life.  Many clients enter my office with final decrees that have devastated them and they want to know what they can do about it.  In some cases, such as those in which a decree has declared an issue such as spousal maintenance “non-modifiable” it is extremely hard to reverse.  The lesson behind this blog is that Tucson family law is a unique jurisdiction with its own legal intricacies. You need an attorney who is both experienced and familiar with the potential pitfalls and entanglements that present themselves along the way.

My number one recommendation is call a family law attorney for a consultation. Specifically, I’d recommend you call me. Lets sit down together and discuss your unique case and your unique needs. It costs you nothing, and you have a lot to gain. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney call me, Riisa Petersen at Petersen Law Firm PLLC at 520-631-3286.

Information provided should not be construed as legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Is Arizona a Mother's Rights State?

I get this question frequently from potential clients.  Before January 1st of this year, Arizona certainly was a “Mother’s Rights” state. In the 2012 State Legislative session however, a series of reforms were passed placing emphasis on a rounded upbringing by two active parents. In essence, there has been an effort to do away with the idea of “custody” in favor of shared parenting time and joint legal decision making. These measures took affect in the beginning of this year.

Though some of the terminology has changed, the central questions surrounding your custody arrangements have not. In most cases however, it will be rare for a mother to answer those questions alone. Arizona has decided to recognize the philosphy that offering parents Joint Legal Decision-Making will be in the best interests of their children. This is a near reversal of decades worth of Arizona Law, and it WILL impact your family as you move forward.

This is certainly welcome news for fathers, many of whom are emerging from a system in which the deck was decidedly stacked against them. To their benefit, courts will no longer assume that infants and toddlers will be better off under a mother’s care due to young age. Today, both parents will be awarded as near an equal amount of parenting time as possible. Should one party argues that the court should reduce the other parent’s time with their children, the level of proof which must be demonstrated will be far, far higher.

Serious issues, such as ongoing alcohol or drug abuse, domestic violence, etc., supercede these new legislative requirements. In those cases, the courts can address specific problem areas in a parenting plan tailored to the circumstances of the case and aimed at providing a parenting arrangement that best provides for the needs of the child involved. similar arrangements can also be made in cases where a shared parenting arrangement is impossible due to distance or complex working schedules.

In short, the system is now different, but no less complicated. If anything, it may be even more so. Divorce and custody battles can be stressful and difficult for everyone involved. If you need help, I’m here. Call the Petersen Law Firm at 520-631-3286 to schedule your free consultation.

Information should not be construed as legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship