Gary Frank has practiced Family Law in the prestigious Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona for over thirty years. Mr. Frank has acted as a Superior Court Judge Pro Tem and a Mediator, in addition to representing clients as a courtroom litigator in divorce, custody, paternity, enforcement, modification, move-away, grandparent rights, non-parent rights, division of property, and other Family Law matters. If you are in need of a consultation, please give us a call today at 602-383-3610. You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through our web site at www.garyfranklaw.com. We’d be happy to help 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/.
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/.
It should come as no surprise that fathers can be loving, caring, and nurturing parents – just as mothers were always expected to be.
It should come as no surprise that mothers can excel in the business world and be family breadwinners – just as fathers were always expected to be.
In today’s society, women can be not only nurturers, but also breadwinners. Men can be not only breadwinners, but also nurturers. And our children are all the better for it.
If you have questions about domestic partnership law and your legal rights, I suggest that you make an appointment for a consultation with a Family Law attorney.
Gary J. Frank is an attorney and mediator with over thirty years of Family Law experience in dealing in divorce, custody, and parenting issues. 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. In addition to representing Family Law clients in litigation, we are also willing to help people by working with them on a Limited-Scope or Consultation-Only basis. Our office is located in the Biltmore area of central Phoenix, with satellite offices in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, Arizona. We can be reached by telephone (602-383-3610); or by email at email@example.com. You can also reach us through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com. If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, contact us today. We’d be happy to help.
As Boomers age and a new generation takes over, public perception of Gay Marriage has undergone a massive change. Today, the gender equality movement is gaining ground and picking up speed. Same-sex marriage has now been legalized in seventeen states, and that number is growing. Federal courts have thrown out Gay Marriage bans in California, Virginia, and Kentucky; and, according to the Arizona Republic, “there are (currently) more than two dozen lawsuits challenging restrictions on marriage for same-sex couples across the country.”
This week a lawsuit was filed in Federal Court challenging Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban. The plaintiffs claim that defining marriage “as between one man and one woman” violates the rights of Gay citizens to equal protection and due process, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. This same theory has been argued successfully in other recent cases.
What started as a trickle has become a flood. A tsunami of tolerance.
Gary J. Frank is an Arizona attorney and mediator with over thirty years of Family Law experience. 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. His office is located in the Biltmore area of central Phoenix, with satellite offices in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, Arizona. He can be reached by telephone (602-383-3610); or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact him 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.
They call it the “Cohabitation Effect” — study after study performed over the past forty years has found that that living together before marriage leads to a much higher risk of divorce. Some researchers have concluded that the risk of divorce is 33% higher for people who cohabit before marriage than for those who elect not to live together until they are married.
But wait — statistics sometimes lie . . . or maybe the problem is that experts can look at a set of statistics and come to an erroneous conclusion.
In a recent study the nonpartisan Council on Contemporary Families looked deeper into all the old statistics and found something different. They concluded that the age of a couple when they move in together is a stronger predictor of divorce than simple cohabitation. The longer a couple waits to make such a serious commitment, the better the chance that the marriage will last.
Of course, it’s just common-sense. A couple of 25-30 year-olds who decide to live together are more likely to have a lasting relationship than two 18 year-olds. They’re older, wiser, more mature, and probably more financially independent.
Do we really need an expensive research study to provide the same advice that our grandparents would have given us for free?
“Wait until you’re ready.”
Gary J. Frank is an attorney and mediator with over thirty years of Family Law experience in dealing in divorce, custody, and parenting issues. 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. His office is located in the Biltmore area of central Phoenix, with satellite offices in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, Arizona. He can be reached by telephone (602-383-3610); or by email at email@example.com. You can also reach him 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.
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, domestic partnerships, custody, 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, please do not hesitate. Contact us today. You can reach us by telephone at 602-383-3610, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com. We’d be honored to help you.