The fact is that in some instances the children are better off being raised by a single parent rather than living in a home with parents who are angry and hostile toward each other; or being negatively influenced by a parent who is disconnected and irresponsible, or who suffers from substance abuse or untreated mental illness — or, worse yet, who is abusive. Those who claim that children are better off living with both a father and mother conveniently ignore the fact that many of those two-parent households are a toxic environment.
And what about mothers who are single by choice? If an unmarried person wants a child and is loving, capable, and able to provide a safe, nurturing home, then why should she not have a child, or adopt one? I know an unmarried doctor who adopted and raised three happy children. She is a knowledgeable, attentive, and devoted parent; and her children are certain to have a bright future. I can’t imagine a married couple providing a better environment for a child.
The Law Office of Gary J. Frank has been a fixture in the Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona for over thirty years. Gary Frank is a Family Law litigator, a mediator, and a former Judge Pro Tem. Our firm handles a wide array of cases, such as divorce, custody (Legal Decision-Making and Parenting-Time), relocation, paternity, child and spousal support, division of property and businesses, modification and enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all matters relating to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation contact us today. You can reach us by telephone at 602-383-3610, or by email at [email protected], or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com. We’d be honored to help you.
This year is coming to a close. If you are in the middle of a divorce – or if you are getting ready to go through one – the next twelve months could be tough. So, here are some simple guidelines to make the journey less difficult.
1. Keep your children out of the middle of your dispute
When a marriage comes apart and emotions are at a boiling point, it is easy for a parent to make the mistake of voicing his or her displeasure with the other parent to the children. Sometimes this leads to a war of words, with each parent feeling the need to “defend” himself / herself by badmouthing the other. But here’s a warning: Clinical research shows that this type of behavior can cause serious emotional problems for children. They need to be able to love both of their parents. So give them your permission. You would probably place your life on the line to protect your children from a stranger who tried to hurt them. Then why wouldn’t you make every effort to protect your children from your own anger and toxic feelings toward their other parent?
Of course, it is important to be honest with your children – but giving them information that is not age-appropriate, or talking to them about details of your divorce that they are incapable of emotionally processing, can be harmful and destructive. Don’t talk to your children about the legal issues of your divorce. Don’t show them your court paperwork. Don’t share adult information with young children. If you need to vent or get your feelings off your chest, turn to a trusted friend, a family member, or a therapist. Keep your children out of the loop. Let them be children.
6. Choose a lawyer wisely
One of the most important decisions you will ever make is finding the right attorney. Many people who are embroiled in a family law dispute say, “I’m going to hire the meanest, most aggressive, attorney I can find.” That usually works – for the lawyer. If the lawyer is only mean, or only aggressive, then the result will probably be a long, contentious, and expensive litigation. That means more money for the lawyer. Your money! What you really want is a highly qualified attorney, one who is looking out for your interests. The best attorney is someone who is skilled and experienced; someone who will fight for your rights — but who is also looking for ways to resolve the matter peacefully, if at all possible. Most importantly, you should select an attorney who is a good match for you, and who makes you feel comfortable and confident.
Court litigation is, by nature, an adversarial process. It can take a long time and cost a lot of money – and in the end, the final decision will be made by a judge who is a stranger to both parties. Therefore, in any divorce or custody litigation, your goal should be to negotiate a solution that meets your needs and the needs of the children. You can save yourself a great deal of time and money, and avoid much stress, by being willing to make reasonable compromises. People who are able to negotiate a fair resolution of their dispute tend to be much happier with the arrangement in the long run.
8. Talk to someone you can trust
A person going through the turmoil of divorce or custody case can benefit from a strong support system. If you are struggling with a divorce, or if you are caught in a highly contested custody case, find someone to talk to. Whether it is with a family member, a friend, someone from your church, or a therapist, talking about your feelings is a healthy outlet. There are also many divorce and single-parent support groups in your community that will welcome you and help you understand that you are not alone.
It may not seem like it now, but rest assured that there is, indeed, life after divorce – and it can be great. It will certainly be an adjustment, and it will take a commitment on your part, but getting out of an unhappy marriage, making new friends, and taking control of your physical and mental health, can give you a new perspective and lead to a happier life.
“Change is constant. For some people, especially those who come from bigger companies, the constant change can be somewhat unsettling at first. We must all learn not only to not fear change, but to embrace it enthusiastically and, perhaps even more important, to encourage and drive it. We must always plan for and be prepared for constant change . . . Never accept or be too comfortable with the status quo, because the companies that get into trouble are historically the ones that aren’t able to adapt to change and respond quickly enough.”
CEO of Zappos.com
from the book, “Delivering Happiness”
The need to embrace change applies to all of us, in both our personal lives and at work. Over the years, the practice of law has seen enormous changes. The most successful lawyers are the ones who not only accept, but embrace, change. Our attorney, Gary Frank, remains on the “cutting-edge” of Family Law by staying up to date with the latest statutes passed by the Arizona Legislature, and by studying the new decisions handed down by the Supreme Court and Appellate Courts. He improves his knowledge of the law by attending continuing legal education courses on a regular basis throughout the year. And he hones his courtroom skills by using the very best litigation practices and strategies.
Many law firms are locked into a particular office location that is often difficult or inconvenient for clients to visit. But modern advances in technology, such as networked computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones, and the internet, have allowed lawyers to become “road warriors” and provide top-notch representation while being more accessible to their clients. Therefore, the Law Offices of Gary J. Frank are conveniently located throughout the Valley — in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Tempe, and the prestigious Biltmore area of Phoenix — in order to better serve our clients.
Yes, change is, indeed, constant; and our ability to embrace change has enabled us to be successful. But, just as importantly, our attorney, Gary Frank, is also known for embodying qualities that are timeless and enduring: Experience; Excellence; Integrity; Strong Advocacy; Common Sense; and and a Commitment to always putting his clients first. We are a modern law firm with old fashioned values. That’s what sets us apart.
Our attorney, Gary Frank, has been a courtroom litigator in the Family Law arena for over thirty years, and is a strong and committed advocate for his clients. In addition to being a litigation attorney, Mr. Frank has acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tem in the Maricopa County Superior Court. This has given him an understanding of the inner-workings of the court, and a unique perspective that most attorneys lack. He has also acted, for many years, as a professional mediator of Family Law disputes. We handle a full range of Family Law matters, including divorce, custody, spousal and child support, division of property and assets, modification and enforcement actions, as well paternity/maternity cases, grandparent or non-parent custody and visitation actions, and relocation/move-away cases. If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to give our office a call today at 602-383-3610; or feel free to contact us through our web site at www.garyfranklaw.com; or by email at [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you.
Here’s something I’ll bet you don’t know: While a trial in a criminal or a personal injury case, or even a contract dispute, may lasts days or weeks, or even months, litigants in a typical Arizona Family Law Trial are rarely allowed more than one day to present their entire case. Family Law trials are often high-conflict matters involving multiple complicated issues such as divorce, contested custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support, and division of property and debts. Sometimes they involve domestic violence issues. Other times they entail dividing stock options, determining the value of a business, or selling real estate – all of which may require appraisals and expert testimony. Sometimes they involve hidden assets and forensic accounting. These are not easy cases. Judges have the authority to allow a multiple-day trial, and sometimes they will do so; however, litigants in Arizona Family Law courts will typically be given one day or less for trial; and each party is allotted one-half of that time in which to present his or her side of the case.
What does this mean for you? It means that in order to properly present your case, you will benefit from the help of an experienced attorney; someone who is organized and focused; who knows the rules of the game. Someone who can take your family history and get right to the very essence of the problem. Someone who can spot the most pertinent issues; then take the facts and distill them into a concise and persuasive argument. You need someone who has excellent writing and research skills, since cases are often won by rock-solid arguments made in written motions which are submitted to the court before the trial. You need someone who knows how to cut directly to the heart of the matter in the courtroom, using a strong cross-examination, or a powerful oral argument. What you need is a skillful and experienced advocate who is capable of presenting the strongest possible case in the shortest of time frames.
Our attorney, Gary Frank, has been a courtroom litigator in the Family Law arena for over thirty years, and is a strong and committed advocate for his clients. In addition to being a litigation attorney, Mr. Frank has acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tem in the Maricopa County Superior Court. This has given him an understanding of the inner-workings of the court, and a unique perspective that most attorneys lack. He has also acted, for many years, as a professional mediator of Family Law disputes. If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to give our office a call today at 602-383-3610; or feel free to contact us through our web site at www.garyfranklaw.com; or by email at [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you.
Today, more and more people are deciding to live together before marriage. Many couples live together with no intention of ever marrying. People frequently ask me: “Is it better to marry or to just live together without legal ties?” My answer is always the same: “That’s a decision that is best left to each couple, after giving the matter careful consideration.” There are pros and cons to each arrangement. On the one hand, if there is no marriage then there will be no need for a divorce if the couple should ever break up. On the other hand, the law does afford a married person certain protections, and there are often legal consequences when a relationship ends, even if the cohabiting couple never married.
The longer a couple has lived together, the more “things” they typically acquire. For instance, a couple may pool their money to buy a home, or a car, or a houseful of furniture. They may have a joint bank account, or mutual investments. How are these things divided if and when the relationship ends? And what happens if the parties can’t agree on a division?
There is no “common law marriage” in Arizona. When the cohabitation is over, the concepts of divorce and community property do not apply. If the couple owns property or bank accounts together – and if they are fighting over them – then they may wind up in a lawsuit, even if they never married. Rather than using a “community property theory” of division, the Court will likely use a “partnership” theory to divide these assets. A problem may arise where the parties bought a house together but one of them paid all the mortgage payments with his/her separate income from work. In a divorce scenario this would be an easy call and the value of the house would be split equally, since income earned by a spouse from employment during the marriage is considered “community property” (and both the husband and wife have an undivided 50% interest in all community property).
Spousal Maintenance is a statutory right that is afforded only to a married person in Arizona. The parties may have lived together for many years, and one of them might have given up a career to be a homemaker or a stay-at-home parent, but if the parties were never married there is no right to spousal maintenance when the relationship ends. This could put the non-married, stay-at-home partner in a real bind and make his or her life unnecessarily difficult following the break-up.
When people have children together and then separate, they may still end up in court over the issues of custody, parenting time, and child support. The court will make custody and parenting time decisions based on the best interests of the children regardless of whether or not the parents are married. Child support decisions will be made based on the parents’ incomes and the needs of the children, pursuant to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. Whether the parents were ever married is not a factor.
If the parents are not married and the father is not on the child’s birth certificate, then before being given the rights of a parent, the father will have to take the extra step of obtaining a paternity order. Only then can he ask the court for an order spelling out his custody and parenting time rights.
There are valid reasons for deciding to marry, or live together without marrying. However, given the fact that this is an important decision with long-term consequences, it would be a good idea to consider the legal ramifications before making a final decision.
Gary Frank has practiced Family Law in Arizona for almost thirty years and has handled cases for both married, and unmarried, persons. Contact us today for a consultation by calling our office at 602-383-3610, or email us through our website at http://www.garyfranklaw.com/.
My purpose in writing this blog is to give you, the reader, some useful information on topics related to Family Law. Contemplating divorce, or running into problems involving custody or parenting time after the marriage has been dissolved, can be stressful and even frightening. It is often hard to know where to turn for information – and without good, solid information, it is hard to make an intelligent decision. Hopefully, this blog will provide some of the important information you need and point you in the right direction.
On my web site, I have a section entitled “Ask the Lawyer.” In that section, you will find questions that clients and others have asked me concerning a wide range of Family Law problems, along with my answers. The topics include everything from custody and parenting time, to relocation, child support, spousal maintenance, property division, and many other issues that arise when a marriage comes apart. Some of those issues may apply to your own situation.
The definition of “Family” is changing. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, about 29 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married. This is a five-fold increase from 1960. This statistic does not merely reflect a higher divorce rate — it is also the result of a rising number of couples who have decided to live together without ever marrying. In fact, U.S. census data released in September, 2010 shows that marriages have hit an all-time low of 52% for adults 18 and over. In 1978 just 29% believed that marriage was becoming obsolete. Today, that figure has grown to 39 percent. According to the Census Bureau, opposite-sex unmarried couples living together jumped 13 percent this year, to 7.5 million. Experts speculate that the sharp increase is a result of both changing societal values and the current economic woes.
Whereas “Family” was once defined as a married man and a woman, and children born in wedlock, that definition is becoming much broader in today’s society. It now includes “blended families” with step-parents and children from different relationships; single-parent families; families in which the parents are cohabiting; families in which the children are being raised by grandparents; and gay relationships with or without children. Our definition of “Family” is morphing and growing, and it is becoming more accepting and inclusive.
What hasn’t changed much is the laws relating to divorce and Family Law. In order to provide protection for people in non-marital relationships, our laws need to change. For instance, a spouse who has given up her or his career to care for children throughout a long marriage is entitled to spousal maintenance after a divorce; but a person who has done the same thing in a long-term cohabitation arrangement is not. Unlike California Arizona has no “palimony” law to protect that person. And while a spouse in a marital relationship has community property rights, and rights of inheritance under the law, a person in a cohabitation relationship has no such protection after a break-up or a death. Arizona has no “common law marriage” statute.
For these reasons, a person entering into a committed relationship must think long and hard about what form that commitment should take. Marriage or Cohabitation? There is a significant difference from a legal perspective, with a spouse in a marital relationship having far more protection.
Some recent changes have been made in Arizona, especially in the area of protecting children. Grandparents, step-parents, and other non-parents now have a legal right to visitation and, in some cases, custody of children with whom they have had a close bond. Single people and gay couples are now allowed to adopt children who are in need of a loving family. Custody laws have become more realistic and fair in guiding judges to make determinations of joint vs. sole custody. New Parenting Time Guidelines have been enacted, and the existing Child Support Guidelines are in the process of being revamped.
Changes are occurring in how we, as a society, view and define “Family.” The law must continue to evolve in order to accommodate those changes.
Gary Frank has practiced Family Law in Arizona for almost thirty years, acting in the capacity of a counselor, a litigator, a mediator, and a judge pro tem. He is a committed advocate for families and children. If you are in need of advice or representation, contact our office at 602-383-3610 or email us through our website at http://www.garyfranklaw.com/.
Gary Frank is a Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience in the areas of domestic relations, divorce, custody, division of property, support, modification actions, enforcement actions, Grandparents and non-parents rights, and all other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, please do not hesitate to call our office at 602-383-3610; or you can contact us by email at [email protected], or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com. We look forward to hearing from you.