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Divorce

Divorce Lawyers in Tucson

You may be considering the end of your marriage.

If so, there are some different courses of action you may consider. The first action you should always consider is counseling or reconciliation. No matter how much you desire a divorce, it will always be emotionally painful so you should consider if that’s really what you want. Always remember, a divorce is like a death in the family. It is the end of a portion of your life that you had hopes for. Make sure you have considered if it is right for you. If you have issues like domestic violence, it may be that you are already sure of what is necessary. Be sure to consider safety as part of the evaluation.

There are several ways to end a marriage. In very short-term marriages, annulment may be available and has certain advantages. Expect that annulment is available only for a marriage of less than a year. For longer marriages, you can divorce or you can get legally separated. Both divorce and legal separation have much the same impact on you, your property and your debt. It is usually worth considering legal separation first if it is feasible. A legal separation is a divorce in everything except the final dissolution of the marriage. Property and debt are divided and custody and support for minor children are all included in a legal separation.

In Arizona, our laws provide for “community property.” That ‘community’ exists from the time of marriage until the time service is perfected in a dissolution or legal separation action. Community Property is basically any money or property received during the marriage except through inheritance or gift. Community property does not include things you owned before the marriage in most cases. This theory of community property does not stop just because your name may not be on the item of property. As an example: if your spouse has a vehicle in his/her name that was purchased during the marriage, it doesn’t matter that your name isn’t on the title. You will have a claim for your share of that vehicle. In considering divorce, you will need to consider what property the two of you own, what debts the two of you incurred and how they will be apportioned. The law requires the court to “equitably” divide the property and debt. Similar to the vehicle, debt can be community whether your name is on it or not.

The community ceases to exist upon service of the divorce paperwork. After service, Arizona law requires that the parties wait at least sixty (60) days before they can finish the case. Consider this a “cooling off” period where the state really wants to make sure you are serious. The case begins upon the filing of a petition for dissolution. There are a number of other forms that accompany the petition and all of them together are later served on the opposing party.

One key principle that should guide you through the entire divorce proceeding is that children are not property. Expect to resolve the property and debt issues independently of any child custody or support issues. It is unethical and unfair to your children to include them in property and debt disputes. Property and debt are divided “equitably.” Court orders regarding children will always be entered based upon the children’s best interests. Remember to separate this issue and consider what is best for your children. What is best for them might not be what is best for you. Place the needs of your children first and they will benefit in the long run. Also, do your best to keep all issues about the divorce away from the children. They don’t need to discuss any part of the divorce and talking to them about it will only harm them. If they ask, give them your assurance that you are going to do what is right and fair and that they need to just trust you and their other parent.

From the time of your filing until the end of the case, you may need the court to enter temporary orders. Temporary orders may include child custody, child support, spousal support and possession of vehicles or the marital home. You should discuss your immediate needs with your attorney at the time you file because, in order to obtain temporary orders, certain forms must be completed. The court can make provisions to insure debts are paid and that neither party is left homeless. This is important because neither party can effectively present their case if they are under extreme financial hardships. As part of your evaluation of whether divorce is right for you, always consider what you will do to support yourself while the case is pending.

After considering the ramifications of divorce, if you wish to proceed, we recommend that you seek the assistance of an attorney. An attorney can not only insure that your divorce is fair, but the experience they bring to your case will also help to minimize any future litigation. Unfortunately, many people will draft their own divorce paperwork and end up inviting future disputes based on unclear or omitted language. The money spent to obtain a fair and well-drafted divorce will benefit you in the future, especially if there are children involved.