The process of divorce and other family-related legal issues can be emotionally charged. Knowing what is at stake and what you can do to protect your interests, and those of your family, is important. Below we have answered some of the questions we hear most often so that you may begin to prepare yourself for the task ahead of you.
At Oracle Law Group, our team of Phoenix divorce lawyers will always be there for you each and every step of the way. If you have additional questions for us and would like to speak with one of our lawyers directly, please call our Phoenix offices at (480) 704-0777 today.
Why should I hire a divorce lawyer?
The decision to legally separate from your partner may be one of the most difficult decisions you’ve ever had to make, and this is likely to be one of the most emotionally charged periods of your life. While you do not technically need a lawyer to get a divorce, an experienced divorce lawyer will be there with you to protect your interests throughout your separation. It is critical that you get through this, both emotionally and financially, and an experienced attorney will be able to significantly increase your chances of receiving a favorable divorce agreement and set you up for success in your life after divorce.
How much will a divorce cost?
Without knowing the particulars of your situation, it is really too difficult to estimate just how much a divorce may cost you. Generally speaking, though, the cost of a divorce directly correlates to the length of time it takes to achieve the divorce. So, the longer it is going to take you to finalize a divorce agreement, which will require your attorney to spend more time on your case, the more expensive it is probably going to be. In any case, since the decisions that you make in a divorce and the terms that you agree to in a divorce agreement are likely to affect the rest of your life, hiring an experienced divorce lawyer is often a wise investment in your future.
What is mediation?
Generally speaking, mediation is a legal process through which a mediator helps facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two parties. In divorce mediation, each partner will utilize the services of a third-party mediator to resolve any disputes—including those of custody agreements, alimony, and property and debt division—preventing a couple from finalizing a divorce agreement. While a couple may mutually select a mediator, a court-appointed mediator may also be utilized in the mediation process. Mediators seek to bring a fresh, objective perspective to a discussion, but will at no point pressure a couple to sign a divorce agreement that is not agreeable to both parties.
Can both parents be granted custody of their children?
It is an increasingly rare ruling to award sole custody of a child to a single parent, unless one parent is deemed by the court to be an unfit parent. More typically, joint custody is awarded to both parents with the intention to allow children to continue their relationship with each of their parents throughout their childhood. In joint custody, both parents retain the full spectrum of their parental rights and both will continue to make parenting decisions for their children. The details of this arrangement, however, will be worked out in far greater detail in a divorce agreement that will dictate the legally binding terms of both parents’ legal and physical custody of their shared child or children.
What do I need to do to change my last name after a divorce?
For some individuals, an important part of moving on with their life after a divorce involves reverting their last name to their given name. Typically, when an individual expresses the desire to do so, his or her attorney will make a request that the judge include a formal order that restores the client’s given name as part of the divorce decree. If this order is not included in your divorce decree at the time of your divorce, you will need to later make a modification to that divorce decree. However, so long as you have documented proof of your given last name, the simple act of using it and requesting that it is changed on all of your personal documents will be a sufficient means to do so.
What is the difference between legal and physical custody?
Many people mistake legal custody for physical custody, but there is a critical difference. Legal custody refers to the right of the parent(s) to make decisions about a child, such as healthcare or educational decisions. Usually, both parents have legal custody unless one is specifically deemed unfit. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the parent with whom the child primarily resides. Usually, this is awarded to one parent.
What’s the difference between contested and uncontested divorce?
Uncontested divorces are by far the most common form of divorce; they make up about 90% of divorces nationwide. It means that the two parties getting divorced agree on the divorce terms and settle fairly easily. In a contested divorce, however, parties cannot agree on terms, and may have to go to court in order to reach a settlement for the divorce’s completion. Contested divorces have the potential to be more hostile, cost a little more, and be lengthier than uncontested divorces.
How do I prove paternity?
A paternity test is the best way to prove paternity. Many people feel compelled to prove paternity in the case of a difficult divorce where custody issues, child support, and parental rights are in question. A confirmed paternity test can help solve many of these issues. Speak with a Phoenix divorce attorney to learn whether or not it would benefit your rights and interests to undergo a paternity test before or during your divorce.
Should I file for a contested divorce?
Although contested divorces are uncommon, there are many reasons that Phoenix couples may decide to file for one. Divorcing couples who have trouble reaching a settlement over issues like child custody, child support, alimony, separation of debts and assets, etc. often file for a contested divorce, as it may be the only option for them to settle their differences. Filing for a contested divorce means that you will greatly benefit from skilled legal representation.
Who will be responsible for handling debt following my divorce?
It can be one or the other, or both. Debt that is acquired after a marriage is the responsibility of both divorcing parties. Debt that was accumulated before a marriage, however, becomes the responsibility of its respective debt holder during and after divorce. In other words, you are not responsible for debt that your spouse got before you got married, but you may have to evenly divide any debts the both of you got after you got married, such as a house mortgage, shared credit cards, etc.
Are there different kinds of alimony?
Yes, there are three basic types of alimony, and the type you are responsible for will be determined by your specific divorce case. There is permanent, modifying, and temporary alimony. Most alimony payments are temporary; they exist to help a spouse become accustomed to a lesser income, and typically end shortly after the divorce is complete. In rare cases, alimony can be permanent. It can also change (modifying alimony), or end altogether because of certain circumstances. Your Phoenix divorce attorney can help you better understand your alimony options during your divorce.
Why do I have to pay alimony?
Alimony is meant to allow a spouse that makes significantly less money than the other spouse to adjust to living with a lower income (one that will be realized once the divorce is complete). A judge might order you to pay alimony for a set amount of time, depending on your financial situation and that of your spouse.
What do I do if my spouse stopped paying child support?
If your spouse has been ordered to pay child support by a court then he or she is legally responsible for doing so. If payments have stopped, or never began at all, then you may need legal help to enforce the original court order. People try to avoid child support payments for a number of reasons, but your child should not have to suffer from not getting the adequate financial support he or she needs, and that was ordered as a result of your divorce. You can contact a divorce attorney to learn more about your legal options.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a kind of divorce process that involves a third-party objective arbiter to make a decision on settlement terms. The arbiter hears both sides of a divorce case (each spouse makes a case for himself/herself) and then makes a legal judgment on the divorce settlement. Arbitration allows couples to avoid court litigation, but it’s important to know that an arbiter’s decision regarding divorce settlement terms is legally binding and must be adhered to by both parties once finalized.
How can I make my divorce cost less?
Some divorce settlements are more expensive, such as contested divorces. These divorces involve more time and commitment, as well as litigation in many cases. So an uncontested divorce, in which you and your spouse can quickly agree on settlement terms, can be one way to make a divorce cost less. Similarly, mediation and arbitration are options that avoid a legal battle and may allow you to end your marriage quickly and without additional expenses. You should ask your attorney early on about fees and the estimated cost of the entire process, so you understand better what to expect.
How do I know an attorney is a good fit?
Finding an attorney is important for your divorce, and there are some basic questions you can ask a potential attorney in an early interview, to see if he or she is a “good fit” for you. You can ask about his or her previous experience with cases like yours, how much charges will be, if charges will ever change, what the attorney expects of you in a case, and how you will get in touch with the attorney if you have a question. These basic questions can help you gauge an attorney’s practice, and whether or not he or she suits your needs.
Should I have a pre-nup?
A prenuptial agreement can be beneficial for some couples in Phoenix. Typically, they are created to protect the financial interests of one or both parties in a marriage, in case there is a divorce in the future. Prenuptial agreements can prevent difficult legal issues further down the line because settlement terms have already been laid out in the document. An experienced Phoenix attorney can help you better understand if this option is a viable one for your situation.