WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A LEGAL CONSULTATION AT OUR OFFICE

When you come in for an initial conference at the Law Office of Gary J. Frank P.C., what you get is a comprehensive legal consultation with an experienced and caring attorney — not a sales pitch, like you get from some lawyers. In your initial consultation, you will meet with one or more of our firm’s attorneys, Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura. We’ll give you a solid understanding of your legal rights and how the court system works – and at the end of the meeting we will give you a “game-plan,” so that you will know what you must do to reach your goals.

Unlike most firms, we do not limit our initial consultation to one hour. Instead, we will sit with you for as long as it takes to provide the information you need. We’ll start by having you tell us about your situation, your concerns, and your goals. We’ll ask many questions so we can learn about the facts of your matter, your family history, and your current problems. And we’ll patiently listen to you and answer your questions. The topics discussed will include the following:

• We will talk to you about the law pertaining to your case;

• We will explain your legal rights;

• We will discuss how the court process works, how long it takes, what documents must be filed; what information must be disclosed; what hearings are held, and how the judge views a dispute like yours;

• Then we will discuss Mediation and other options for peaceful resolution of your dispute, such as Conciliation Services, Court-Ordered Settlement Conferences, or Direct Negotiations between the parties and their attorneys; as well as other healthy alternatives.

• We will talk to you about the cost of litigation, and we’ll give you a range of what your legal fees might be;

• And at the end of the consultation we’ll give you a “Game Plan” so that when you walk out of the meeting, you’ll have an understanding of what must be done, 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 our office after your first consultation, you should have a much better understanding of your legal rights; how the court process works; what your options are; and what you will need to do to reach your goals and resolve your problem. Gary, Hanna, and Logan are strong, compassionate, and experienced attorneys who care about their clients and work hard to find solutions to difficult problems. Countless people have walked into our office timid and afraid, and left armed with knowledge and a sense of renewed confidence.

If you are in need of a legal consultation regarding a divorce, custody, grandparent or third-party rights, or other family law matter, please feel free to check out our web site at garyfranklaw.com, or give us a call at 602-383-3610. We’d be happy to speak with you.

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At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Logan is passionate about children and families, and provides expert representation for her clients. Our firm handles 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 actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today 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.

Loss of Parental Rights For Rapists Should Be A No-Brainer

A rapist who fathers a child through sexual assault should not be allowed to have any parental rights. That’s a no-brainer. But then why has it taken so long for the Arizona legislature to address this issue? Rape is such a heinous act, but the fact is that there have been cases in other states where a man whose sexual assault resulted in conception of a child petitioned the court and was later awarded parenting time with that child. Can you imagine a mother in this type of scenario being forced to share custody of her child with the man who raped her? That, itself, should be considered a crime.

Arizona’s new law, S.B. 1007, if passed, will add sexual assault that led to the conception of a child to the list of evidence sufficient to justify the termination of the parent-child relationship of the parent who committed the assault.

The provisions of the bill will allow a parent or agency to file a Petition to Terminate the parent-child relationship, and the perpetrator’s parental rights can be terminated upon a finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that the parent committed a sexual assault that resulted in the child being conceived. It also allows the Court to accept a guilty plea or conviction for sexual assault as evidence that the child was conceived as a result of a sexual assault by that parent.

This new law is fair and right, and will prevent ongoing trauma and abuse. It will stop a mother who was the victim of rape from being re-victimized over-and-over again by her rapist. But it makes you wonder: Why did it take so long?

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At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Logan is passionate about children and families, and provides expert representation for her clients. Our firm handles 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 actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today 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.

THE MANY BENEFITS OF VIRTUAL COURT HEARINGS

When every court went virtual in March, 2020, many attorneys and judges were skeptical. Nobody knew what to expect—this was completely unprecedented and not what anyone was used to. For many, it certainly took a bit of time to adjust. But now, many of those same attorneys and judges are realizing that there are some great advantages to holding hearings virtually. Here are just a few:

IT REDUCES CONFLICT:

Having court hearings virtually has really helped reduce conflict between parties, particularly in Family Court. For instance, a party might be afraid to leave the courtroom for fear that the other party may try to talk to them, or retaliate against them, or, worse yet, attempt to intimidate or physically harm them. Holding court hearings virtually allows the parties to leave the video conference when the hearing has ended, without the need to have any contact at all with the other party.

THE “MUTE” BUTTON IS A HUGE HELP:

The “mute” button has been a real benefit in virtual hearings, especially for judges. If, during a party’s examination, the other party is blurting out things like “that’s not true!” or “that never happened!” the judge has the ability to mute that party. This prevents the person who is having an outburst from interrupting the proceeding, and it enables the judge to pay attention to the witness who is testifying, without being distracted.

HEARINGS CAN BE RECORDED EASILY:

Another benefit of a virtual hearing is that it can easily be recorded. Most courts (including the Family Court in Maricopa County) have a system in place where either the video and/or audio is recorded. If either party wants a copy of that hearing, they can simply request one from the court. They can then download it on their computer and have it for their records. Having a copy of the recording is often more helpful than having just a transcript because it can be much clearer how things were said.

IT SAVES TIME AND MONEY FOR ALL:

Likely the most significant benefit of a virtual hearing is the amount of time and money it saves. When hearings are in person, there are often delays. Now, rather than driving to the courthouse and waiting in the hallway for the hearing to start, you can just hop on your phone or computer from the comfort of your home or office. There’s no need to pay for transportation to get to the courthouse, no need to pay for parking, and most importantly, no need to pay for your attorney’s travel/waiting time.

Overall, virtual court hearings have been convenient for judges and a great experience for most attorneys and litigants. They will likely will continue be the norm for quite some time, and for many types of hearings the arrangement could become permanent.

By: Logan Matura

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Logan is passionate about children and families, and provides expert representation for her clients. Our firm handles 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 actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today 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.

How to Begin the Divorce Process

Deciding to get a divorce can be a very difficult (yet necessary) decision to make. For many, trying to navigate the divorce process and figure out next steps can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. Hopefully this will break it all down for you:

In Arizona, the first thing that needs to be filed with the court in the divorce process is the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (aka Petition for Divorce). Either spouse can file this Petition. The petition will include various information, including the names of the parties and the children, and what you are seeking in the divorce, such as custody (now called legal decision making authority and parenting time), child support, spousal support, division of property and debts, a request for attorney’s fees, etc., and why you are seeking a divorce. Regarding the “why” aspect, Arizona is a “no-fault” jurisdiction, which means that all that needs to be claimed is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and there is “no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.” Neither party needs to prove that the other is the cause of the breakup, unless the marriage was a “Covenant Marriage” (which is extremely rare and requires the parties to have agreed to that type of marriage in writing).

There are additional documents that are required to be filed with the Petition as well, including: a Summons, Preliminary Injunction, Notice Regarding Creditors, Notice Regarding Health Insurance, and an Order for Parent Information Class (if children are involved). The Petition must comply with all relevant state laws and court rules, so make sure to do your research before filing. A filing fee will also need to be paid to the court at the time of filing.

After one spouse has filed their Petition with the court, the divorce papers will need to be served on the non-filing spouse within 120 calendar days. This can be done by a Process Server, or by execution of an Acceptance of Service, which must be signed by the party receiving the Petition, and filed with the court. From the time the non-filing spouse (referred to as the “Respondent”) is served, they will have 20 calendar days to file a Response to the Petition if they live in Arizona. If the non-filing spouse lives out of state, they will have 30 calendar days to respond. Failure to file a Response within the applicable time period can lead to the divorce being obtained by Default.

The first hearing that is usually set in a divorce case following service of the Petition is a Resolution Management Conference (RMC). This hearing is basically what we like to refer to as a “meet and greet” with the judge, and the purpose is to explore ways to resolve the dispute and move the case along. The parties are required to confer prior to the date of the RMC and discuss what, if anything, they may be able to agree on. Then, during this short Resolution Management Conference, the parties will get to meet the judge and let her or him know if any agreements have been made. If no agreements have been made, the judge will see what can be done to allow the parties to reach a settlement (for example, they may order that the parties participate in mediation or a settlement conference). They may also set a temporary hearing or deadlines for disclosure of financial or other information. If it appears to the judge that the parties have already negotiated thoroughly and are unable to agree, they may just set the case for trial.

We recommend obtaining a legal consultation with an attorney prior to filing a divorce petition, in order for you to learn about your legal rights and determine your options and the best course of action.

by Logan Matura

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Logan is passionate about children and families, and provides expert representation for her clients. Our firm handles 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 actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today 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.

THE THREE MAJOR BENEFITS OF MEDIATION IN FAMILY LAW CASES

  1. Saves Time and Money

Mediation is almost always significantly quicker and less expensive than litigation. For divorce and custody cases, or any other type of dispute, mediation is a more peaceful and cost effective alternative.  In mediation, a mutually acceptable resolution can often be reached in a day, or in a few sessions over the course of a number of weeks. In contrast, litigation can drag on for months or even years. In litigation, communication typically takes place between the attorneys by letters or emails, and disputes are resolved in court hearings before a judge, causing lengthy delay. On the other hand, Mediation’s efficient approach to information-gathering and decision-making allows for rapid progress to be made. If an issue or a dispute arises in mediation, it can be addressed immediately, while the session is taking place.

The quick timeframe of mediation can also shorten the amount of time that family members have to endure the stress and anxiety of unresolved issues and unknown futures, and it can save tens-of-thousands of dollars in attorney fees and litigation expenses. This is a huge benefit of mediation.

  1. Reduces Stress

In most situations, mediation is far less stressful than litigation. The main reason for this is because mediation is conducted in a neutral setting, like a mediator’s office or conference room (or these days, even by Zoom), rather than in a courtroom. And the mediator is a professional neutral who does not represent either party. The mediator does not have the power of a judge and cannot impose a judgment on either of the parties. His/her only job is to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable resolution. Most of the time, the mediator, the parties, and their attorney (if they have one) will sit in one room around a table and discuss all of the issues. In more high conflict situations, the mediator may place both parties in separate rooms, and go back and forth between them to try to negotiate a solution without any direct contact between the parties.

Another reason that mediation is less stressful is because there is much more flexibility than in litigation. This flexibility allows for a cooperative approach rather than a combative engagement where everyone is left feeling exhausted and frustrated.

  1. You Remain in Control

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process where the parties participate in the discussions and decisions. The mediator is acting as a facilitator and not as a judge, and either party is free to walk away at any time if they decide they no longer wish to participate. This gives each party a real sense of control, as opposed to litigation, where getting up and walking away is not an option and a judge has the power to impose a solution on the parties that neither of them may be happy about.

I recently went in front of a judge who told my client and the opposing party, “I don’t know you, and I don’t know anything about your family. If you proceed with litigation, I will listen to you both for probably a total of 3 hours at trial, and then I will have to decide how your property is divided and how you raise your children. If you can resolve this outside of court, you will save time, money, and stress, and most importantly, you will have some say in the outcome.” — This really resonated with my client, and quite frankly it resonated with me. Mediation allows for both parties to have control over the process and the result. This control can be extremely empowering. A mediator will work with both parties to help them make decisions that are in the best interests of their family.

The bottom line is this: If parties are able to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement in mediation, they tend to be happier with the outcome and are far less likely to return to court for future disputes and have to spend money on attorneys and courtroom battles.

At the Law Office of Gary J. Frank P.C., our attorneys are experienced mediators who can explore options and help parties negotiate an agreement peacefully and less expensively. When we are not acting as mediators, but rather representing clients in litigation, we often recommend that they participate in mediation with another experienced mediator. In that setting, we can appear with our client at the mediation and help them negotiate an agreement from a position of knowledge and strength.

If you are interested in mediating your Family Law dispute, feel free to call us today.

By Logan Matura

 

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Logan is passionate about children and families, and provides expert representation for her clients. Our firm handles 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 actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today 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.

The A-B-C’s of Divorce

Divorce can be stressful and confusing. It’s always good to have a plan. So to assure that your divorce goes smoothly, follow these steps – from A to Z. 

A – Ask questions – If you have a question for your attorney, ask it! Asking questions can help you to stay informed and ease any anxiety you may have.

B – Be smart – Think about everything you do and say before you do it, or say it. You should always assume your ex (or soon-to-be-ex) is recording your phone conversations and taking screen shots of your texts, emails, and posts on social media, and that the judge will eventually see them.

C – Create a checklist of things you need to do – After you make the decision to get a divorce, start keeping a list of things you need to do (get any documents together, speak with an attorney, etc.) It will keep you well-organized and prevent you from forgetting something important.

D – Don’t get caught up in your feelings – Try not to make decisions based on your emotions throughout this process. Wait until the storm has passed and you can think more clearly. That’s not to say you can’t have feelings and emotions—you can, and you should. Allow yourself to feel however you are feeling, but don’t act in the heat of the moment; you’ll certainly regret it later.

E – Every case is different – You may have one friend who is telling you how quick and easy her divorce was, while your other friend went through a divorce that took years and was extremely high conflict. Don’t compare yourself to others. Every case is truly so different!

F – Focus on the moment – Take things one step at a time. Thinking about the past and dwelling on things you both could have done differently will not help, nor will thinking about the future and worrying about how things will change. Live in the moment and take it day by day.

G – Get your documents organized – Organize everything! Get copies of any tax and income documents, bank and credit card statements, signed contracts, real estate documents, insurance policies, documents related to investments or retirement accounts, estate planning documents, etc. Getting things together now will save you lots of time, energy, and money in the future!

H – Have reasonable expectations – Try and remember that sometimes things are not as quick and easy as you’d like. Be patient and understand that the divorce process can be long and often exhausting. Try to manage your expectations and be as realistic as possible. If you’re not sure what to expect, talk to your attorney.

I – Identify what makes you happy – Focus on what makes you happy during this difficult time of your life. Find a new hobby, spend time with friends, practice self-care, etc. Do whatever you have to do to feel good!

J – Journal – Keeping a journal is probably one of the best decisions you could make throughout this process. In this journal, jot down all events involving custody and visitation, any conversations you might have had with your soon to be ex, etc. You don’t have to include too many details—just keep it accurate and to the point. That journal could later refresh your memory when the trial rolls around, and you might be able to use it in court to prove that something happened on a certain date.

K – Keep the other parent informed – If you have children, make sure you are keeping the other parent in the loop. Let them know if the child is sick and you made a doctor’s appointment; or of any upcoming school events, conferences, breaks, etc. Send them copies of any report cards, doctor’s notes, and anything else you think they might want to see. Having a good co-parenting relationship with your ex will help your children tremendously in the future.

L – List out your property – On top of compiling lots of documents, it will be super helpful for you to make a list of all your property, such as furniture, vehicles, and other personal items. Be sure to differentiate between property you came into the marriage with, property you got during the marriage, and property you received by gift or inheritance.

M – Manage your stress and anxiety – Try and deal with any stress or anxiety you may have in a positive way. Don’t look to drugs or alcohol, that will certainly not help you in the long term. Getting outside, exercising, eating right, meditating, and practicing self-care are all really great ways to manage your stress and anxiety. It’s also never a bad idea to speak with a licensed therapist; they can teach you techniques to manage your stress and help you talk through your feelings in a really positive way.

N – Never share with others what you have discussed with your attorney – Conversations you have with your attorney and their staff are protected by attorney-client privilege. Once you share what was discussed in your conversation with others, that conversation is no longer privileged and confidential, and you or your attorney could be forced to disclose it in court.

O – Oaths are taken seriously by the court – When you sign court documents, speak in a deposition, or speak in court, you are doing so under oath. Any discrepancies in your stories will lead to a loss of trust by the judge and ultimately can subject you to perjury. Just tell the truth and you will not have to worry!

P – Pace yourself – Divorces can take quite a while to be finalized. Be patient and don’t rush it!

Q – Qualifications are important, but so is how an attorney makes you feel – When you are looking for an attorney, don’t just look at their credentials. While credentials and experience are extremely important, so is how you “click” with your attorney. An attorney should make you feel comfortable and heard.

R – Refrain from speaking negatively in public about your ex – This is truly one of the most important pieces of advice I could give to someone go through divorce. Do not speak negatively about your ex to others, do not speak negatively about them to their friends or family, and most certainly do not post about them on social media!!! This is especially true if you have children. It will not do you any good to badmouth your ex, and it could hurt your court case.

S – Substantiate your claims – Document everything! Organize documents you already have and keep any documents you get throughout this entire process. On top of important documents like tax returns and bank statements, keep other documents like photos, copies of emails, and copies of text messages. These may all be helpful throughout your case.

T – Talk about alternatives to litigation – We believe it is never a bad idea to look to alternatives to litigation, such as mediation, whenever possible. Mediation can be a really peaceful, cost-effective option for both parties. It allows you to be in charge of negotiating the terms of your own divorce and property division, rather than leaving those important decisions to a stranger (the judge).

U – Understand the law and your rights – While it is important to trust that your attorney has a good understanding of the law and your rights, it’s also very important for you to have a basic understanding of those things, too. Having a genuine understanding of the law will help you to make the best decisions possible for you and your family. Take the time to do some research, read some books, and most importantly, ask lots of questions of your attorney.

V – Value the advice you are given – Those who truly value and consider the advice they are given by their attorney are those that are most successful. With that being said, ultimately only you know what’s best for you! Don’t be afraid to talk to your attorney if you are uncomfortable about the case plan.

W – Work hard to keep the peace – It can absolutely be difficult at times to deal with an ex without losing your cool. However, the more you keep the peace, the easier and quicker the process will be! (P.S. – Compromise is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean giving-in to unreasonable demands.)

X – Xpect some stress – Okay, I know this doesn’t actually start with an “x” but it’s close enough! Throughout the process, you can expect that there will be some stress. You will likely feel overwhelmed at times. If you don’t feel like you can deal with the stress on your own, look to a licensed counselor to help you get through it, and lean on family and friends as a source of support.

Y – You do have some control over the outcome – While ultimately there are some parts of divorce that you do not have control over, there are some parts that you do. Make wise decisions, and when in doubt, ask your attorney for advice before you act.

Z – ZZZ (Get some rest!) – Ok, “z” is a hard letter to come up with something for! But really, get those “ZZZs” and make sure you sleep well. Being well rested will help you mentally, physically, and emotionally.

By Logan Matura

 

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Our firm handles 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 actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today 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.

 

Five Tips For Dealing with the Stress of a Separation or Divorce

 

Going through a breakup, separation, or divorce, can be really tough. It can turn your world upside down and make it difficult to stay positive. To make sure you stay emotionally strong and healthy, it’s important to learn how to deal with divorce stress in a productive way.

Here are some tips on how to cope with the stress of a separation or divorce:

  1. Take care of yourself emotionally and physically

It is so important to take care of yourself both emotionally and physically while you are going through a breakup. It can be very easy to spend your days watching sad movies in bed, eating ice cream straight out of the pint and drinking a bottle of wine. After all, that’s what the movies say you’re supposed to do, right? Well in reality, doing that won’t be beneficial to you physically or mentally in the long run. Instead, take time out to exercise, eat well, and relax. Do things that nurture you. Read a good book, get plenty of rest, take a hot bath, develop a new hobby, explore nature, surround yourself with positive people. Now is the time to practice “self-care,” whatever that means to you!

  1. Give yourself permission to “feel all the feels”

Coping with separation or divorce is often compared to coping with death. This makes sense because essentially you are grieving the loss of a marriage. With grief comes a whole range of emotions. Let yourself feel whatever you are feeling and know that it’s normal and healthy. Don’t feel bad for feeling bad, and definitely don’t feel bad for feeling okay. Once you let yourself go through the grieving process, it will be easier to move on.

  1. Don’t make any hasty decisions

As you navigate through such a stressful period in your life, try not to make any major decisions or changes. It can be very difficult to make great decisions when you are literally going through such a difficult time. Be patient with yourself—take it one day at a time until you feel as though your head is clear, and you are ready to make rational decisions, not ones driven by emotions

  1. Find your support system

Don’t go through this period of your life alone. This is the time to find your people. Whether it’s friends, family, a therapist, or a support group, lean on people that build you up and help you to be the best version of you. Try not to isolate yourself, no matter how hard it may be—push yourself to get out, socialize, and enjoy life with others

  1. Think positively and move on 

Easier said than done, right? It can be extremely difficult to maintain a positive attitude during this time but try your best. Keep realistic expectations, be flexible, focus on the good things in life, and surround yourself with happy things. Take the time you need to heal from the breakup and those feelings of loss. You will get through this!

By Logan Matura

 

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Our firm handles 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 actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today 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.

 

 

PREMARITAL AGREEMENTS ARE A WISE MOVE

Premarital Agreement Basics

In the past ten years or so, there has been a significant rise in couples exploring the option of entering into premarital agreements. Many soon-to-be-married couples often avoid the topic of premarital agreements as they feel it could be detrimental to their relationship. This makes sense, since you’re essentially negotiating what would happen in the event of divorce. However, in many circumstances, it can be a really smart thing to do both financially and emotionally. Experts agree that a premarital agreement can be a very wise decision, not only because it outlines a couple’s finances, but because it can prevent a costly and contentious divorce proceeding if the marriage doesn’t work out in the future. So, in that sense, it can actually take the pressure off a newly married couple.

Here are the basics when it comes to a premarital agreement:

What is a premarital agreement?

A premarital agreement (also commonly called a prenuptial agreement or a “prenup”), by definition, is a written contract in which an engaged couple states their rights and responsibilities regarding premarital and post-marital assets and debts, including what would happen should their marriage end in divorce or death.

How much does a Premarital Agreement cost?

The cost of a premarital agreement greatly depends on the complexity of the issues and the amount of assets and debts to be protected, but it is far less expensive than the cost of a contested divorce litigation.

Who Needs a Premarital Agreement?

Of course, anyone can get a premarital agreement if they would like. However, there are certain circumstances in which it would be recommended. These circumstances include when one or both parties have children; when one or both parties have been previously married and divorced; when one or both parties own a home; when one or both parties own a business; or when there is a significant difference in wealth and/or debt between parties. People in these circumstances often have a greater interest in protecting their rights (particularly their financial rights) than those who are not in these situations.

 How do I get a Premarital Agreement? What does the process look like?

Typically, one party, usually the higher earning party, will retain an attorney to create a draft of the agreement. After that draft is completed, the other spouse will have their own attorney look it over, negotiate terms, and make suggestions for possible changes and edits. Once both parties and their attorneys have approved the final draft, the contract must be signed and executed.

Depending on the complexity, a premarital agreement can take anywhere from a few months to a few days, but it certainly is not the best idea to wait until right before the wedding to begin consulting with attorneys.

Do you have to have separate lawyers?

It is advisable for both parties to have their own attorneys. Having separate lawyers ensures that both parties’ interests are represented fairly. It will also make it more difficult for a party to challenge the provisions in the future.

One lawyer cannot, or at least should not, represent both parties as there would be a conflict of interest. Additionally, while it is not required that both parties consult with an attorney, we recommend it, because if one party has an attorney and the other does not, the party without an attorney will be at a significant disadvantage.

 Can you set the terms for child support and custody in a Premarital Agreement?

In Arizona, you cannot set the terms for child support or custody in a Premarital Agreement due to public policy concerns. The Family Court has the ongoing right to set or change the terms of legal decision-making authority, parenting time, and/or child support at any time, now or in the future. If the parties divorce, the courts will deal with those issues at that time. But keep in mind that while a parenting plan is not enforceable without a judge’s approval and signature, a Premarital Agreement is enforceable as a binding contract as soon as it is signed by the parties.

A Final Thought

Today many people are marrying later in life, after they are already established in their careers and have accumulated significant assets, and sometimes after they have been previously married and divorced. Blended families, in which each spouse has their own children from a prior relationship, are common. As a result, the need to protect assets is greater now than ever before. This makes entering into a premarital agreement a wise move.

By Logan Matura

 

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Our firm handles 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 actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today 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.

HOW TO PREPARE CHILDREN FOR A DIVORCE

Each year, over 1 million American children are affected by their parents’ divorce. How each child reacts depends on many factors, including their age, personality, and of course, the circumstances surrounding the divorce or separation. Many times, the initial reaction of children is one of shock, sadness, frustration, anger, or worry. However, with enough planning, you can handle your divorce in a way that doesn’t have to feel like your kids’ world is crashing down on them. If dealt with appropriately, many kids can come out of divorce mentally stronger and better able to cope with stress.

Here are some tips to prepare your children for divorce and ease the transition:

Preparing to Deliver the News

When figuring out how to deliver the news to your children, make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page about how you will tell them what’s happening. It would be a good idea for you and your spouse to do some sort of “dress rehearsal” to prepare exactly what you are going to say ahead of time. Even if you feel like you can barely be in the same room as your spouse, it’s important to at least present a united front to prevent your kids from feeling like they are being pulled into taking sides. Children do significantly better with the news of divorce when their parents are positive and aligned.

Breaking the News

              Make sure that when you deliver the news to your children, you are doing it at a time when stress is low and nobody has plans for at least a few hours, that way they have a little bit of time to work through their initial reaction. Making this announcement and then sending the kids to school, for example, might make it very difficult for them to focus.

Additionally, this conversation should ideally take place in a quiet, safe space—perhaps their backyard, living room, or any other space that is comfortable and free of distractions. If your children have electronic devices with them, make a rule for everyone to put their devices away during the conversation.

What specific words and phrases you decide to use during the conversation will, of course, depend on the child’s age, maturity, and temperament. However, the discussion should always include this message: what happened is between mother and father and is in no way the child’s fault. The reason for this is that many children will feel that they’re to blame even after parents have said that they are not, so it’s important to keep reiterating this message. Make sure that your child knows that your decision is strictly about adults needing to be apart due to differences.

While you are obviously going to need to discuss what will be changing in your children’s lives and daily routine, it is equally as important to focus on what will stay the same. Divorce can be extremely destabilizing, so telling your children what will not change may provide them with some comfort.

Handling their Reactions

Every child will react to this news in their own way. Some children react very strongly initially and then slowly begin to adjust and accept it, while others seemingly take the news in stride and then exhibit signs of distress days, weeks, or even months later. Either way, these are normal reactions—they are grieving the loss of a family. Remind them that it’s perfectly okay to feel however they are feeling and that you are there to help them through the transition. And if you aren’t sure how your child is feeling about the divorce, just ask them.

As children continue to react, they will likely have many questions, including where they will live, where each parent will live, where they will go to school, if they’ll still get to see their friends, etc. Be as honest as you can, even when it isn’t easy. If you don’t have an answer to something, tell your child that you will let them know as soon as you figure it out.

Helping Kids Cope and Adjust to their New Normal

As time goes on, children will begin to adjust to their new life with divorced parents. This can be difficult at first, however, there are a few things you can do to help them better adjust:

  • Stay consistent. Whenever possible, minimize unpredictable schedules, transitions, or changes. Consistency and routine can go a long way toward providing comfort and familiarity for children. Don’t try to make your children feel better by relaxing limits, letting them act out, or buying them things. This can backfire, possibly making your children more insecure and less likely to recognize your parental authority later.
  • Encourage communication. Tell your child that it’s okay to talk about their feelings and ask questions, but don’t push them. Let your child vocalize how they are feeling if they want to. If your child doesn’t want to talk about the divorce, don’t try to engage in a conversation about it—they may not be ready yet. Let them know that you are available if and when they are ready to talk about it. Do your best to co-parent with your soon-to-be “ex.” Parents need to communicate and consult each other on major decisions, so that the children know that their parents are on the same page. Let them know that both of their parents love them and are looking out for their best interests.
  • Have a therapist on call. Before you even announce your split to your kids, it might be a good idea to line up a therapist. Providing children with a neutral place to express their feelings can help them process some of the big emotions they’re going through. It’s good to have your child start with a therapist before they start showing signs of behavioral changes.
  • Don’t fight in front of the children. Studies have shown that post-divorce conflict in front of the children can lead to mental health issues down the line. Openly arguing in front of the kids can make them feel like they are stuck in the middle—something that no child should ever feel. Additionally, this conflict can set a really bad example for them, especially when they are still learning how to form their own relationships. Whether you and your ex decide to go to mediation, therapy, or just argue outside of the children’s earshot, do whatever you have to do to keep the kids out of it.
  • Don’t talk poorly about one another. This can be a tough one but try your best not to lay blame on your partner to your children, even if there has been serious hostility or infidelity. This will just lead to your children feeling like they have to pick a side, which, again, is something that no child should ever feel. If you can, make a pact with your ex to not ever talk poorly about each other in front of the child.

Ultimately, changes of any kind are hard for kids. Stay patient, stay consistent, and know that you and your children will get through

By Logan Matura

 

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Our firm handles 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 actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today 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.

Conflict in Front of the Kids: Why Not to Do It and How to Avoid It

We recently posted an article on our social media about Parental Alienation and its harmful effect on children. But recent child development research shows that even experiencing lower levels of parental conflict can lead to mental health problems for children who are caught in the middle.

The findings of a new Arizona State University research study, titled “Longitudinal Effects of Post-Divorce Interparental Conflict on Children’s Mental Health Problems Through Fear of Abandonment” were published just last week in the Child Development journal. The study, as the title suggests, focused on the lasting effects that post-divorce parental conflicts have on their children’s mental health.

From 2012 to 2015, the researchers surveyed families participating in the ASU New Beginnings Program, asking 559 children (aged 9-18) about their exposure to conflict. The questions included topics like whether after their parents’ divorce their parents fought in front of them, spoke poorly about one another, asked them to carry messages to one another, etc. The study ultimately found that children exposed to parental conflict were more likely to report worrying about being abandoned by one or both parents. Furthermore, children who reported higher fear of abandonment were also more likely to report additional mental health problems 11 months later.

Before conducting this study, researchers hypothesized that kids who had strong relationships with one or both of their parents would experience less fear of abandonment and fewer mental health problems, since strong parent-child relationships generally create a stress buffer for children. However, they did not find a general buffering effect of parenting in this situation.

Karey O’Hara, a research assistant professor of psychology at ASU and the first author on the paper, stated “This was the most surprising finding for us. Good parenting is a very strong and powerful protective factor for all children, especially after a separation or divorce. But based on prior research, we know that the effect of good parenting is complicated in separated/divorced families.” She then added that although good parenting is protective, it may not be enough to cancel out the negative effects of conflict.

Parents can do something about it, though. In her research paper, O’Hara urges parents not to argue or fight in front of the children. She suggests that parents be extra careful when they’re around the other parent if there is a chance for conflict, and that parents make a conscious effort not to say things that might make their children feel like they are caught in the middle and have to pick sides. In other words, she suggests no badmouthing the other parent or asking the child to spy or act as a messenger.

It is also important, particularly given the findings of the study, “for parents to make sure that their children know that although they are separated or divorced, they will continue to care for them,” in order to allay any fears of abandonment that the child might have.

Going through a separation, a divorce, or a contested custody case can certainly be difficult for children that are experiencing it. If you are a parent who is going through, or has gone through, a divorce or separation, take Karey O’Hara’s advice and try to avoid conflict with your ex and putting your children in the middle as much as possible. And if you don’t feel like you can control and mitigate conflict on your own, there is no shame in seeking help—ultimately it will make you a better parent and your children happier and healthier.

By: Logan Matura

 

At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., our Arizona Family Law Attorneys Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Phoenix Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar is a highly-skilled Arizona Family Law Attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura is an Arizona Family Law Attorney who received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhattan, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Our firm handles 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 actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today 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.

 

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