MORE WOMEN ARE FAMILY BREADWINNERS THAN EVER BEFORE

Our society is changing fast.  Today, women have opportunities like never before, and they are making the most of their new situation.  A USA Today analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data reveals some startling statistics: 

In 1976 only 6 percent of families consisted of a wife who was the sole breadwinner.  Today, wives are the sole breadwinner in 23 percent of all families;

Wives now out-earn their working husbands 28% of the time.  Twenty-five years ago only 16% of wives out-earned their husband;

In the vast majority of cases in which the economic roles are switched, the woman is better educated than the man; 

Women today attend and graduate college in higher numbers than men.  In 2010 women earned 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 60 percent of master’s degrees, and 52 percent of doctoral degrees, according to the Education Department reports.

The result of this role reversal is that women (who were historically deprived of equal rights in the work world) now have an almost unlimited employment opportunities.  It also means that men (who were expected to be breadwinners in the past) are now able to nurture and spend more time with their children.  This can truly be a win-win situation.    

    
For more on the USA Today analysis of Census Bureau Data, see:  http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/20130325record-number-us-women-family-breadwinners.html



Gary J. Frank is a litigation attorney and mediator with over thirty years of Family Law experience in dealing in divorce, custody, and parenting issues. Mr. Frank has served on the Governor’s Task Force for Prevention of Child Abuse, and has received a Volunteer Lawyer award from the Maricopa County Bar Association for his work with children. For many years he acted as a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, which gave him an insight into the inner workings of the courts that many attorneys lack. He can be reached by telephone (602-383-3610); or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org; or through his website at www.garyfranklaw.com. If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

A MOVIE STARLET’S GREATEST SIN

Judy Lewis died of cancer last week, and the secret came spilling out.  She was the daughter of movie star Loretta Young and acting legend Clark Gable.  That was the secret, one which Loretta Young kept from the world — and even from her own daughter.
In the 1930’s Loretta Young and Clark Gable starred together in the movie “Call of the Wild.”  During the filming of that movie, the two had what would have been considered a lurid affair. Gable was married.  Young was a single woman and a devout Catholic.  When she discovered that she was pregnant, Young went to great lengths to hide the pregnancy in order to avoid a scandal.  A baby born out of wedlock to a Hollywood starlet would have been front-page news.
Loretta Young fled to Europe.  After the baby girl was born, she was kept sequestered with a nurse for months and then turned over to an orphanage.  When baby Judy turned two, she was adopted – by Loretta Young.  The child was never told that she was actually her mother’s biological daughter.  In fact, it was not until 1966, when Judy was 31 years old, that her mother divulged the secret to her — and Loretta Young insisted that her daughter keep quiet about her parentage.  By that time, Gable had died.  Twenty years later, during a heated argument between mother and daughter, Young threatened to sue Lewis if a book ever came out that revealed the truth.  The exchange ended with Young shouting, “Leave this house.  I never want to see you in my house again!”  
But Judy did write her memoir, which was finally published in 1994.  In it, she speaks of “all the years of hurt and abandonment, all the feelings of not belonging, of being an outsider in my own family, years of repressed emotions that couldn’t be contained any longer.”
While Loretta Young was alive, her daughter asked her if she would “ever acknowledge to the world that I am your child and that Clark Gable is my father?” 
The mother replied.  “No. I will never acknowledge what I consider a mortal sin – my mortal sin.”
But which was Loretta Young’s greatest sin?  A baby born out of wedlock – or thirty years of lying to, and deceiving, her own child?  
Gary Frank is an Arizona Family Law attorney with more than 30 years of experience in handling divorce, child custody, and all matters pertaining to children and families.  If you are in need of expert advice in the area of Family Law, please feel free to contact our office by phone at 602-383-3610; or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org; or you can reach us through our website at http://www.garyfranklaw.com/

SOCIAL MEDIA & CUSTODY – How To Traverse the Minefield

This is already an old story, but it bears repeating:  How you use social media could determine whether you win, or lose, custody of your children.

Today, we all use social media.  It is how we stay connected to friends and family; how we network; and often, it is how we communicate our feelings and opinions.  But here’s a warning:  Comments and photos posted on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Match.com, and Blogs are considered to be admissible evidence in a custody case, and they have become a treasure-trove of information for lawyers, investigators, and the courts. In a contested custody case, your decision about what to post, and the type of pictures to post, could be the difference between keeping your children — or losing them to the other parent.

When we sit down at our computer, there is a false sense of anonymity.  When we put our thoughts on a Facebook page, it feels as though we are just talking to our closest friends . . .  all 956 of them.  The problem is that these “Friends” may include our ex-spouse, or some of his/her family or friends.  They may include “Friends” that we don’t know very well, or that we don’t know at all.  Therefore, it should not be surprising that comments or photos we post on social media could fall into the hands of people who might use them to do us harm.

In the recent Iowa case of Bates v. Bates (2012) a mother posted on Facebook that the children “have a really bad father.”  In emails, she threatened to alienate the children from their father; and in one, she stated: “When this is over you’ll be lucky if you get to talk to the kids on the phone.”  The Facebook post and emails were noted by the Court in its decision to take the children from their mother and award physical custody to the father.

In one of my own cases, involving spousal maintenance, a husband claimed to be earning very little income, yet we were able to show that he posted, on Match.com, that he earned over $150,000 per year.  In another case, a father who denied drinking or partying posted a Facebook photo of himself and friends with liquor bottles in their hands, making gang-signs.  And, in a third custody case, a “significant-other” posted a picture of the parents’ two year-old daughter sitting, all by herself, atop a very large horse (with no adults nearby).  Needless to say, all of these people hurt themselves by the way in which they used social media.

If you are involved in a divorce or custody case, here are some important tips:

1.  Be careful who you “Friend” on Facebook. (We all want to have lots of friends, but some of these “friends” can and will hurt you.  That “friend” who you don’t really know could even be a private investigator or someone who is aligned with your your former spouse.)

2.  Remove your spouse or ex-spouse – or the other parent, if you are not married – from your “Friends” list; and consider removing his/her friends and family members, as well.  (It is not uncommon for one of these types of “friends” to pass along a copy of your comments or photos, and before you even suspect it, that “tweet” or Facebook pic shows up in court and is used as evidence against you at trial.)

3.  Do not “tweet” or post on Facebook, when you are angry.  (That old “Count-to-Ten” rule is good advice and still applies.)

4.  Do not post derogatory comments about your spouse, ex-spouse, or the other parent, or about his/her family or friends.  (These comments could be taken out of context, or otherwise used against you in a court hearing.)

5.  Do not post derogatory comments about yourself, your family or friends, or provide information which could be construed as negatively reflecting on your parenting skills.

6.  Do not post comments or photos of yourself or your family or friends doing anything illegal, or which may appear to be illegal or compromising.  (The office Christmas party might have been a blast, but a photo of you kissing your boss, with a bottle of whiskey in your hand, may not be viewed as innocent fun by a judge.)

7.  Do not post negative or hurtful comments about your children.

8.  Do not post false statements about your job, or your income.  

9.  Do not post information about your divorce or custody case.

10.  Do not post information about conversations with your attorney.  (This could be construed as a waiver of your attorney-client privilege, making admissible things that were said in confidence to your lawyer.)

Social Media is an important part of our lives, and it’s fun.  Like fire, it is an extremely useful tool — but if you’re not careful, you can be badly burned.

So, here’s my last bit of advice, and my best:  Always think before you post.

Gary Frank is an Arizona Family Law attorney with over thirty years of experience as a courtroom litigator, a mediator, and a Judge Pro Tempore.  We deal with divorce, custody, paternity, spousal support and child support, modification actions, enforcement actions, relocation/move-away cases, grandparent and non-parent visitation and custody cases, and all matters relating to families and children.  We have offices located throughout the Phoenix Metro Area for your convenience.  If you are in need of a consultation, do not hesitate.  Call today.  You can reach us at 602-383-3610; or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org; or through our website at garyfranklaw.com.  We’re standing by ready to help you.

IN A SETTLEMENT MEETING, THE PARTIES ARE IN CONTROL OF THE OUTCOME

I attended a settlement meeting yesterday.  The clients and their attorneys met for an hour and made a good faith effort to resolve their family law dispute but were unable to bridge the gap.  In the parking lot, on the way out, the former spouses began to talk once again.  I watched through a window as they stood there speaking to each other.  Ninety minutes later, they came back inside and announced that they had reached a settlement.

This is what can happen if parties to a family law dispute make the effort to speak to each other openly and honestly, but also calmly, respectfully, and amicably.  Sometimes the best thing the attorneys can do is just get out of the way.

 

Gary J. Frank is an Arizona Family Law Attorney, a Mediator, and and former Judge Pro Tem with over thirty years of experience in dealing with divorce, custody, and parenting issues in Family Court.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding any matter involving Family Law, contact us today.  You can reach us by telephone (602-383-3610), or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our websiteat www.garyfranklaw.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.






ANN SCOTT TIMMER APPOINTED TO ARIZONA SUPREME COURT

I am leaving in a few minutes to attend the investiture ceremony for Arizona’s newest Supreme Court Justice, Ann Scott Timmer.  Judge Timmer was my first law clerk while she was still a student at Arizona State University School of Law.  Upon graduating from law school, she went on to work for a prestigious law firm in the Phoenix area.  After proving her worth as an attorney, she became a Maricopa County Superior Court judge and, later, was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals.  Now she will be a judge on the Arizona Supreme Court, making decisions of great import to our state and our country.

Judge Timmer has excelled at every level, and I’m confident that with her on Arizona’s highest court, we are all in good hands.  Congratulations Judge Timmer.

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 the majority of 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 gary.frank@azbar.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

A ONE-TIME CONSULTATION WITH AN ATTORNEY CAN REALLY HELP

Filing for divorce on your own can be overwhelming.  Wading through the court-approved forms may be confusing and is often an exercise in futility.  What are my legal rights? What should I ask for? How does the court process work?  How do I know I’m doing this correctly?  There is so much at stake:  Division of property and debts, custody, parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance.  Handling any one of these issues improperly could mean the difference between a future of relative comfort or years of suffering.  When the divorce is done, it’s done.  You have one chance to get it right.  Undoing a mistake is difficult and, sometimes, impossible. 

Document preparers can help you fill out paperwork but they’re not trained in the law.  They’re prohibited from providing legal advice.  Lawyers, on the other hand, have the benefit of many years of legal training and continuing education.  They are well-versed in the law; they understand the divorce process and can help you understand what is best for you.


But what if your divorce is simple, or you just can’t afford ongoing legal representation?  Even if you’ve decided to represent yourself, you can still benefit from an attorney’s advice — and chances are that the expense is less than you imagined.  You can use an attorney as a counselor, an adviser, a guide to help you through the legal process.

A one-time consultation with an attorney is relatively inexpensive, and it can help tremendously.  In a single meeting, the lawyer can assist you in filling out the paperwork.  He or she can help you understand your legal rights, and explain what you need to do to request a hearing, obtain financial information, or get a trial date.  The lawyer can formulate a game plan, answer your questions, and help you navigate through the sticky and sometimes complicated issues involved in a Family Law case.  Don’t just assume that you can’t afford legal advice.  Call for a one-time consultation.  You may be surprised at how affordable it is — and how much it helps.




Gary Frank is an Arizona Family Law Attorney with more than 30 years of experience in handling cases involving divorce, custody, parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, division of property, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all other matters relating to family law.  If you would like a consultation, feel free to contact us at 602-383-3610 or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org.  To find out more about our firm, take a look at our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.

It’s easier than you may think, and less expensive, too.  

To Marry or Not to Marry — That is the Question.

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/.

RELOCATION / MOVE-AWAY CASES – The Most Difficult Matter In Family Court

Relocation and move-away cases are the most emotionally difficult matters in Family Court today.  There’s so much at stake.  It pits a parent’s right to improve his or her quality of life against the other parent’s right to maintain frequent and meaningful contact with the children.  When a written agreement, or court order, for custody of children is in place, then Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Section 25-408 is controlling.  Failure to abide by the requirements of the statute could result in disastrous consequences.  Therefore, whether you are thinking of relocating to another city or state with your children – or whether you are opposing the other parent’s attempt to move – you would be wise to consult a qualified family law attorney for advice. 
In deciding whether or not to allow the relocation, the Court is required to determine whether the move would be in the “best interests” of the children.  In arriving at his or her decision, the judge must consider “all relevant factors,” including:
(1)        The factors listed in A.R.S., Section 25-403 as to custody;
(2)        Whether the relocation (or opposition) is being made in good faith and not to interfere with or frustrate the relationship between the child and the other parent;
(3)        The prospective advantage of the move for improving the quality of life for the custodial parent and/or the child;
(4)        The likelihood that the parent with whom the child will reside after the relocation will comply with parenting time orders;
(5)        Whether the relocation will allow a realistic opportunity for parenting time with each parent;
(6)        The extent to which moving or not moving will affect the emotional, physical or developmental needs of the child;
(7)        The motives of the parents and the validity of the reasons given for moving or opposing the move including the extent to which either parent may intend to gain a financial advantage regarding continuing child support obligations; and
(8)               The potential effect of relocation on the child’s stability.   
See A.R.S., Section 25-408(I).
The burden of proving that the move is in the children’s best interest is on the parent wishing to relocate.
A parent wishing to move must provide a “60 Day Notice” of intent to relocate as spelled out in A.R.S., Section 25-408(B) and (C).  The notice can be a letter stating that you intend to move with the children.  You should also include the prospective date of the move, the place you are going, and the reason for the move (i.e., a new job).  The letter must be sent by certified mail return-receipt requested, or served by a process server.  If your ex-spouse wishes to contest the move, he or she must file a petition to prevent relocation within thirty days after the notice is made.
Providing the proper notice is critical.  Relocating without sending a timely notice can result in the moving parent losing custody of the children.  Failing to object to a move in a timely manner can result in the relocation being allowed.  Whether you wish to move — or if you are opposing a move – preparing a strong case for presentation to the Court is of the utmost importance. 
Relocation / Move-Away cases can be among the most highly contested cases in Family Court.  Gary Frank has nearly thirty years of experience as a litigator dealing with Relocation / Move-Away cases.  To schedule an appointment for a consultation regarding an issue of custody or relocation, call our office today at 602-383-3610 or contact us through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  

OUR INITIAL CONSULTATION – WHAT TO EXPECT

When you come in for an initial conference at the Law Office of Gary J. Frank P.C., what you get is a real legal consultation. Not a one-hour sales pitch, like you get from some other lawyers. In our first meeting, I will give you a solid understanding of your legal rights and how the court system works – and at the end of the meeting I will give you a “game-plan,” so that you will know what you must do to reach your goals. Unlike most firms, I do not limit the initial consultation to one hour.  Instead, I will take as much time as is necessary to:



• Learn about your family history and the background facts of your matter;


• Obtain important information that can be used to help you with your case in court;


• Listen to your concerns and answer your questions;


• Talk to you about the law pertaining to your case;


• Explain your legal rights under the Arizona statutes and appellate court caselaw;


• Discuss the court process – how it works, how long it takes, what documents must be filed; what information must be disclosed; what hearings are held, and how the judge looks at the dispute;


• Discuss options for peaceful resolution of your dispute outside of the court-system, such as Mediation, Conciliation Services Conferences, Settlement Conferences using a judge pro tem, round-table negotiations between the parties and their attorneys; and other healthy alternatives;


• Talk about legal fees and a range of how much your matter might cost; and


• I’ll give you a “game plan” tailored to your needs and the specific facts of your matter.  The “game plan” is my recommendations and advice regarding what must be done in your case and the steps that you can take to reach your goals.


An initial conference with an attorney is a critical step in the process of finding a solution to your problem. This is where you begin, for the first time, to put together a “road map” of where you want to go and how to get there.


By the time you leave my office after your first consultation, you should have a much better understanding of your legal rights; of how the court process works; of what your options are; and of what you will need to do to reach your goals and resolve your problem.  Many people walk into our office timid and afraid, and leave armed with knowledge and a sense of renewed confidence.


If you are in need of a legal consultation regarding a divorce, custody, or other family law matter, please check out our web site: http://www.garyfranklaw.com/ .  You can always call us at 602-383-3610 or contact us by email.   I look forward to meeting you.


Sincerely,

Gary Frank

The Definition of “Family” Is Changing – Family Law Must Change, Too

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/.