COHABITATION: IS LIVING TOGETHER OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE PUTTING YOU IN ECONOMIC DANGER?

I have no moral objection to people living together outside of marriage. Heck, I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. We practically invented the concept of “Cohabitation.”  As someone who has practiced Family Law for decades, I can tell you that a piece of paper does not ensure a lifelong commitment. And countless couples have a loving, lifelong bond even though they have chosen never to marry. The problem is that, after all these years, our lawmakers still haven’t gotten the message. And they fail to recognize that people who choose to share their life without a marriage license should still be able to share their property, and divide it fairly in the event of a breakup. This makes for some pretty unfair, and even economically dangerous, scenarios.
Most people think of marriage as having a moral or religious significance. But what many people don’t realize is that whether we like it or not, marriage also has a legalsignificance. And what you don’t know can hurt you. The fact is that the law provides certain protections for a married spouse that do not exist outside of marriage. And the results can be disastrous following the breakup of an unmarried couple.
Over the years, I have seen instances in which a couple breaks up after years of cohabitation, and one of them walks away with essentially all of the money and property while the other partner comes away with nothing. It’s heartbreaking. A legal marriage would have provided the protection that the vulnerable partner needed. But Arizona provides no protection for a cohabiting couple. Some states (like Texas) recognize “common law marriage.” Arizona does not. Other states (like California) provide some protection in the form of “palimony” (similar to alimony).  Arizona has rejected that theory. The problem is that couples who choose to live together outside of marriage are taking a legal risk when it comes to division of property and financial support.
Here are some of the pitfalls of being an unmarried, cohabiting couple:
COMMUNITY vs. SEPARATE PROPERTY
In Arizona, division of property following a marital breakup is governed by the old Spanish concept of “Community Property” Law. Under this legal concept, there are two kinds of property: Separate Property and Community Property. Following a legal separation or divorce, the husband and wife will each receive his and her separate property, and the community property will be shared equally. But if the parties are not married, there is no “community property.” That means nothing is shared, and the “richer” party – the one who actually purchased the house, the car, the furniture, etc. – may walk away with everything. Here’s why:
Separate Property:  Under Arizona law, separate property is anything a spouse owns before the marriage, and any property that he/she receives during the marriage by specific gift or inheritance. So, for instance, the husband’s old baseball card collection from childhood, or the family heirloom that Wife received as a gift from her grandmother – those things are separate property and will be awarded to the owner in the property division upon dissolution of marriage. If one of the spouses receives an inheritance of money from a grandparent during the marriage, the inheritance is considered separate property so long as it is kept separately or placed in an account in that spouse’s name alone. But if the money is comingled to the point where it can no longer be traced, such as being placed in a joint bank account that is used for salary deposits and payment of bills, it may lose its character as separate property and become “transmuted” (changed) to community property. Separate property also includes any increase that is tied to sale or appreciation of separate property. For example, if a spouse uses her separate funds to buy stock in a company, and the stock increases in value, the increase is considered separate property.

When a marriage is dissolved, the separate property will be identified and awarded to the spouse that it belongs to. All other property belonging to the parties is considered to be community property, and will be divided substantially equally.

However, if the parties are living together but aren’t married, then everything either party earns, buys, or acquires is considered to be the separate property of that person (unless the title is taken in joint tenancy or the acquisition is based on a partnership). There is no community property to be divided.

Community Property: Community property under Arizona law is defined as all property (other than separate property) acquired by either spouse during the marriage.  Under community property theory, each party owns the property equally. This means that whatever a spouse earns from his/her employment is community property, and anything that is purchased with monies earned by either spouse is community property. So, if a spouse cashes a paycheck and uses the money to buy a car, that car is community property and belongs to both spouses equally. If she or he opens a brokerage account using community funds and invests in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, then that account, and all future growth, is considered to be community property and belongs to both spouses equally. Furniture purchased with community funds is community property. Money contributed to a pension, retirement account, or 401k by one spouse during a marriage is community property and belongs to both spouses 50/50. And if one spouse starts a business during the marriage, that business is also considered to be community property, even if only one spouse runs it.
Over the course of a lengthy marriage, couples can accumulate a large amount of community property. And if the marriage falls apart and the couple divorces, the community property will be divided between the parties essentially equally. This can provide financial security for the spouse who didn’t have the high paying job, or who stayed home and cared for the children while the other spouse acted as the breadwinner.
But here is the potential problem with cohabitation:  If a couple couple lives together but never marries, there will be no “community property” to divide if they later separate — and the law in Arizona does not provide any protection for the “poorer” partner. This can result in a terrible inequity. Imagine a couple who has lived together without marrying for twenty-five years. During that time, one of the partners purchased a business that became a successful and lucrative enterprise. With his earnings, he purchases a massive house in a gated community (which he puts in his own name) and furnishes it beautifully, and he buys expensive automobiles (also in his name alone). He puts money in investment accounts, and retirement accounts (all in his name). He buys life insurance policies, and paintings by famous artists. Finally, he opens a joint account which he places in both partners’ names, but he only deposits a little money each month to cover household expenses.
If the parties were married and filed for divorce under that scenario, then by law everything would be considered community property and would be divided equally. On the other hand, if the parties were not married it becomes an entirely different story. All of the property – the cash in banks, the house, the furniture, the cars, the business, the stocks and investment accounts, the life insurances policies, the valuable works of art – they’re all the separate property of only the one partner. The other partner gets nothing but half of the joint bank account, and there isn’t much money there, since only enough was deposited each month to pay for household expenses. So after all those years of living together as partners in a committed relationship, one party walks away with everything and will live the rest of his or her life in comfort. The other party gets nothing and will suffer financial deprivation.
Spousal Maintenance:
In many committed relationships – whether marital or cohabiting – one of the partners will take on the role of the breadwinner, while the other remains in the home and cares for the children. This allows the partner who is not the caregiver to focus on his/her career; to advance through the ranks of the business world, and increase his/her income and earning power over the years. This type of arrangement can work well, so long as the parents’ relationship lasts.  But what happens if, after 15 or 20 years the relationship deteriorates and parties separate? The working partner might now be earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, with the prospect of further advancement and an even higher income in the future. On the other hand, what becomes of the partner who gave up her/his career for the benefit of the family? That person might now be his/her 50’s, no longer a young up-and-comer. Because she or he jumped off the fast track to care for the kids, the prospect of a lucrative career is now gone, and she/he may be forced to take a job with an entry-level salary. How is that fair?
Arizona law provides protection for a married person under these circumstances. The married spouse who sacrificed for the family will be entitled to financial assistance from the other spouse in the form of Spousal Maintenance. The party with the greater wealth will be ordered to financially support the other party for a sufficient period of time to allow that party to complete an education or begin a career and get on her/his feet. (In rare circumstances, the court can require spousal maintenance be paid for the rest of the former spouse’s life.) In order to determine the amount that the person will receive, and how long the support will continue be paid, the judge will consider a number of factors listed in the statute. The amount of monthly spousal support will be dependent upon the lifestyle the family enjoyed during the marriage, the parties’ comparative incomes, the needs of the party seeking spousal maintenance, and a number of other factors.
But the obligation to pay spousal support only applies when the parties were married. Where parties were unmarried and living together, the richer party has no legal obligation whatsoever to help the poorer party financially after the relationship ends. This lack of legal protection can especially hurt a party who gave up her/his career to stay home and care for the children.
INHERITANCE & SOCIAL SECURITY
If a married person dies without a Will in Arizona, the surviving spouse will receive the entire estate of the deceased spouse.
On the other hand, if a person who is unmarried and cohabiting dies without a Will in Arizona, the scenario is much different. In that case, the deceased person’s property will be distributed by Arizona’s law of intestate succession – and none of it will go to the surviving partner. If the deceased person has children, then the entire estate will go to the children. If there are no children, then all of the dead person’s property will go to his/her parents; and if the parents are no longer alive, then the property will go to deceased person’s siblings. Unless the surviving partner’s name is on the house, or the car, or the bank accounts, the life insurance policy etc., then she/he will receive nothing at all.
There is a similar scenario for Social Security. If a married person dies, his/her spouse will likely receive a Social Security death benefit. But if the two parties are not married, then the surviving partner will receive nothing (although the children could receive a death benefit).
This may all seem unfair – and I agree that it is. But the bottom line is this: Under the current law there are important protections afforded to married couples that are not provided for unmarried couples who are cohabiting. Our lawmakers have turned a blind eye to the reality of relationships today and, at least in Arizona, it is unlikely that they will act to close the gap any time soon.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Obviously, marrying your partner is one way to protect yourself but, for many different reasons, not everyone wants to take that route in life. The good news is that there are other ways to provide protection. These include setting up joint bank accounts and having both partners deposit their paychecks; opening joint investment accounts; putting together your own IRA or retirement account and having the “richer” partner put an equal amount in yours as he/she puts in his/hers; putting your name on the house title, and the car title, in joint tenancy, so that you are half-owner; etc.
You can also protect yourself by entering into a written Domestic Partnership, or other partnership, agreement that spells out the rights of both parties and describes how property will be divided in the event that the relationship ends and the parties separate.

If you are living with a partner in a committed relationship outside of marriage, you owe it to yourself to consider whether you might be economically harmed if the relationship ends today, or even more importantly, twenty years from now.  It could mean the difference between living a comfortable lifestyle after a separation – or having to struggle financially and worry how you’re going to be able to make ends meet.

 

 

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., both Gary Frank and attorney Hanna Juncaj are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator, which includes having acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court; and serving on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Hanna Juncaj is a highly-skilled attorney and mediator with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. We handle Family Law cases in the areas of divorce, custody (now called “Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time), relocation (move-away), division of property, spousal and child support, modification and enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent 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 through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.   We look forward to hearing from you.

WHEN IT COMES TO FAMILY LAW, “THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS”

People seem to always pine for the “good old days.”  And, sure, there is plenty to complain about today, but America in 2015 is far more tolerant, compassionate, and evolved than at any time in U.S. History — or maybe even human history.

When I was growing up in the 1960’s . . . 

 Cohabitation was scandalous;

A female who had sex before marriage was a “slut” (but the same was not true for a male – after all, he was just being a guy);

Children born out of wedlock were referred to as “bastards” and were shunned by society through no fault of their own;

Interracial marriage was against the law in most states.  An interracial couple could be arrested, convicted, and sentenced to prison for the mere “crime” of falling in love and getting married;

Bi-racial children were shunned, too;

Interfaith marriage was considered an abomination – couples who married outside of their faith were often excommunicated from their church and disowned by their families;

Gay marriage was not even something people could dream about.  Sodomy laws were in place in every state, making homosexuality illegal.  And those laws were used to prosecute gays.  “Coming out of the closet” meant risking becoming the victim of societal abuse, both legal and physical;

Divorce was not just frowned-upon – the law made it almost impossible to get out of a bad marriage.  It was not enough to show that the parties were no longer in love or that they found it impossible to live together.  To obtain a legal divorce required a husband or wife to prove sufficient “grounds,” such as abandonment, abuse, or infidelity.  Women often came away from divorce impoverished, regardless of the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage.  And to be a divorced person, or a child of divorce, was seen as a public embarrassment;

Mothers were almost always awarded sole custody of the children by the divorce court.  And regardless of how active and involved a father might have been in his children’s lives – he was given only “visitation”;  

Domestic violence was rampant, as it is today.  But, back then, it was considered a parent’s right to keep his or her children in line by the use of corporal punishment, however severe.  And if a man chose to abuse his wife it was viewed as a family matter, and nobody else’s business;

Women had few employment opportunities.  “A Woman’s Place is in the Home” was not just a saying – societal rules were built to make sure that women remained economically helpless and subservient.  Universities had quotas for women and many jobs were off-limits, including executive-level positions in banks and corporations.  Women, no matter how capable and intelligent, were offered employment mainly as factory workers, teachers, administrators, or secretaries.  There was no “glass-ceiling” for women — instead, the ceiling was made of concrete.   So were the walls.  To break through those barriers took a herculean effort;  

For a father to stay at home and take care of the children was unheard of — it was not considered “manly.”  Fathers were locked into the role of “Provider.”  And being the sole source of income for the family was a responsibility that left little time for dads to be loving, nurturing parents to their children. 



Looking back on the “idyllic days “of the past is a fantasy.  The “good old days” weren’t really so good.  In fact, in many ways, life has never been better than it is right now.  

Want to know the truth?   These are the “good old days.”

Gary J. Frank is an attorney and mediator with over thirty years of Family Law experience in dealing in divorcecustody, 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 gary.frank@azbar.org.  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.

IS THE “COHABITATION EFFECT” REAL? — JUST USE YOUR COMMON-SENSE

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.”    


http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-science-of-cohabitation-a-step-toward-marriage-not-a-rebellion/284512/

Gary J. Frank is an attorney and mediator with over thirty years of Family Law experience in dealing in divorcecustody, 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 gary.frank@azbar.org.  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.

SINGLE MOTHERS ARE HEROES

Over the past few years a number of studies have come out which purport to show that children raised in single-parent households are more likely to live in poverty, lag behind in academics, and have more emotional problems than children raised in two-parent households.  And who is to blame for all of this?  Well, according to the interpretation of many so-called “experts” . . . it is Single Mothers.
A Google search turns up headlines such as:  “Why Do Single Parent Families Put Children At Risk?”; “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?”; “Single Parent Families Threaten America’s Fiscal Future”; . . . and “Single Motherhood: Worse for Children.” 
Blaming single mothers is wrong.  In fact, it’s stupid.  Historically, it has been single moms who have stepped up to the plate and supported the children when fathers abandoned the family or were only peripherally involved.  Single mothers are the ones who have shouldered the responsibility of raising the children — disciplining them, getting them off to school, helping with homework, soothing them when they are sick, and taking care of all their needs.  Single mothers are the ones who have gone to work to put clothes on their children’s backs, and food on the table, when fathers are not providing support.  In many cases, mothers are the only person in their children’s lives whom they can rely on.  Why blame single mothers?
It is too easy to glance at a set of statistics and immediately look for someone to blame.  But that is exactly what the “experts” are doing.   Assessing blame in this manner requires ignoring a wide array of societal factors that contribute to childhood outcomes.  For instance, one could argue that it is poverty, and not single parenthood, that places a child “at risk.”  Single parents are more likely to be below the poverty level, for obvious reasons.  If a mother is not receiving child support from the father – or not enough child support – then it is no surprise that she and her children will struggle financially.  She will have to find a job, or maybe two, to make ends meet.  If the children are being raised in an area of town where crime is rampant, and attending a faltering school, then the odds are higher that those children will be considered “at risk.”  Is that the mother’s “fault”?  Why isn’t it the fault of the parent who has chosen to take no responsibility at all for the children?  

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.    

In truth, the vast majority of single mothers do an outstanding job of providing for their children, while balancing work and parenting.  They often shoulder the responsibility alone and still manage to provide a loving and nurturing home.  Some of the most successful people in the world today have been raised by single mothers – including the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

To blame single-motherhood for the ills of society is an injustice.  Single moms should receive a medal.  They are heroes.



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 gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We’d be honored to help you.

ARIZONA’S SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BAN WILL BE CHALLENGED IN FEDERAL COURT

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.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/2014/03/13/arizona-same-sex-marriage-lawsuit/6378435/

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 gary.frank@azbar.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.

Our Changing World – A Victory for Tolerance

Working mothers.  Stay-at-home dads.  Gay marriage.  Single-parent adoption.  Interracial marriage.  Interfaith marriage.  Blended families . . . 

Our world, and the very concept of “Family,” is changing in ways that our grandparents never could have imagined. And it is changing for the better.

It is a victory for freedom.  A victory for tolerance.  We live in the only society in human history where something like this could be possible.

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, 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 gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We’d be honored to help you.

SINGLE MOTHERS DESERVE PRAISE

Today, traditional families constitute barely one in five households in the United States, according to census statistics.  And nearly 40% of all births are to unmarried women.  Yet a recent study by the Pew Research Center for Social and Demographic Trends shows most Americans still view single mothers as detrimental to society.

The poll asked 2,700 people about their attitudes regarding modern trends that affect the traditional family:  This included people’s attitudes about unmarried parents raising children; gay couples raising children; single mothers; partners living together outside of marriage; working mothers; interracial marriage; and women who never bear children. 

The responses fell into three nearly equal groups.  Approximately one-third said that the new trends had no impact on society or are positive.  A second group (one-third) considered most of the changes harmful to society.  The third group (one-third) tended to accept the changes, except for single motherhood.   More than 98% of those whose responses fell within the second and third groups said that single motherhood is bad for society.

This view is surprising and illogical.  It lays the blame at the feet of the wrong person.  It isn’t single mothers who are bad for society – if anything, it is absentee fathers; it is parents who abuse or neglect their children; it is teens who weren’t taught how to avoid pregnancy; it is mothers and fathers who don’t set reasonable limits for their children or who are too busy to properly supervise them; or parents with drug or alcohol addictions.  It is parents to fail to provide the love, care, attention, and support that every child needs

There many reasons for the modern shift away from the traditional family, and not all of them are bad.  There was a time (in the not-to-distant past) when divorce was considered shameful; when interracial marriage was illegal; when gay marriage was unthinkable; when a man and woman living together was considered immoral; when “blended” families were considered abnormal and unhealthy; when children born out of wedlock – through no fault of their own – were referred to as “bastards” and forced to live lives filled with derision and prejudice.  Society’s views have changed over the years, and we have become more tolerant.  Yet, according to the Pew Research Center study, Americans continue to see single mothers as being bad for society.  Why?     

Many single mothers are not single by choice.  Some are widowed.  Some are divorced.  Some are raising children alone because the father has shirked his responsibility and abandoned the family.  Shouldn’t the blame in many of these cases be placed where it belongs – on absentee fathers

Single mothers are doing what every parent should do – they are standing up and accepting responsibility.  They are caring for, and providing for, their children – even if they have to do it alone.  This is a courageous and selfless act.  Single mothers deserve our praise, not our condemnation.

Then there is another category of single mothers:  mothers who elect to become single parents by choice.  Not everyone finds, or even wants, a life-partner.  But being an excellent parent does not depend on having a partner.  It depends on love, commitment, a willingness to spend time with the children, to put their needs ahead of your own, and to work hard to assure that those needs are met. 

Some people haven’t found a soul-mate and elect not to settle for marrying just for the sake of being married.  Yet they have so much to offer a child – love and devotion, a stable home, an extended family, a bright, happy future.  These single parents are not the cause of society’s problems.  Not by a long-shot.  Rather, in some small way, they might be part of the solution. 

In Arizona, for the third year in a row, certain legislators are trying to pass a bill which would make it more difficult for single parents to adopt children.  Under this law, a married couple would be given priority to adopt just by virtue of the fact that they are married.  Thus, a single woman who is, for instance, a successful pediatrician and wishes to adopt a child will be declined in favor of any married couple, even if that couple is less responsible, less stable, and not very compatible.  This makes no sense.  There are thousands of children in foster care waiting for adoption.  Many of those children have special needs.  In the past, adoptive placement of children with single parents has resulted in positive outcomes.  But if this law passes, single people will be shoved to the back of the line; many will remove their names from the list of prospective adoptive placements, or they will simply not sign up to adopt.  This will lead to children being forced to wallow in the foster care system – children who would otherwise have been placed in stable, loving homes.   

Some might argue that a child is best served in a home with a father and mother.  But how many people do you know who are married to a partner that is too busy to help with the children; who ignores them, or – worse yet – mistreats them?  How many parents are forced to shield the children from another parent’s drug problem, or alcoholism, or anger.  How many parents are unable to make responsible decisions without interference from a spouse who is less knowledgeable or doesn’t place the children’s needs as a top priority?  (This is the cause of countless divorces and, in the end, a child in this situation is better off with one parent having the power to make responsible decisions.)  


Single parents deserve our respect and admiration.  They are not the cause of the breakdown of the traditional American family.  Instead, they are the ones who stood up and shouldered the difficult responsibility of caring for the children.  One cannot legislate the perfect family.  Maybe there are many types of “perfect” families.  And what is a perfect family, anyway?  It is any family where a child receives stability, support, encouragement, and unconditional love.

Gary Frank has thirty years of experience as a Family Law Attorney and mediator, dealing with divorce, custody, and all matters pertaining to families and children.  If you are in need of a consultation, you can contact Gary by telephone at 602-383-3610, through our website, or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org.