Your Divorce Expectations
What divorce expectations do you have when meeting your attorney? The Phoenix, Arizona, divorce attorneys at our law firm routinely witness client misunderstandings about how the law should be applied to them. In any given divorce, misunderstandings can lead to mistakes and the exercise of poor judgment. Poor judgment can undermine the spouse’s case, harden already intense emotions between the parties, and stifle efforts to settle as many issues as possible, amicably.
If you head into a divorce needing to win everything, expecting every judicial decision to be favorable, then you are setting yourself up to be very disappointed. Instead, you should be prepared to compromise when reasonable to do so, and you should strive for the best possible outcome overall in the divorce.
Who Should Get the Marital Property in a Divorce?
Perhaps you believe that you should be awarded all of the marital property. Why? Because your spouse cheated on you and should suffer the consequences. Your sentiments may be legitimate, but the Court does not have the authority to divide marital property unequally in Arizona (a community property state). So one spouse cannot be punished by the Court for having undermined the marriage with an extramarital affair. The marital assets and debts will be equally divided in an Arizona divorce (although there may be an issue of marital waste if money and gifts were lavished on the paramour).
Who Should Be Awarded Child Custody in a Divorce?
Do you believe that, because you are the child’s mother, you are the only parent who can be awarded child custody? Or do you believe that, because you have two teenage sons, they should be raised by you, their father, so you should have both legal and physical custody? In Arizona, both parents have equal rights (and responsibilities) when it comes to raising their children, and a dissolution of marriage does not change that.
When it comes to the family Court’s decision on matters of child custody, the best interests of the children will be the controlling legal standard. Determining what is in the best interests of the children and the sharing of parental responsibilities can be a fairly involved process requiring child custody evaluators, mediators, parenting plans, temporary orders, and more. The parenting skills of both parties are relevant to the analysis, but we must start from the premise that each parent has an equal right to child custody.
Who Will Pay Child Support?
Are you convinced that, because the other parent will be paid child support, you should not have to pay spousal maintenance? In Arizona, an award of child support and an award of spousal maintenance are two separate issues for the Court to decide and are controlled by two different statutes.
The Court will order the payment of child support in essentially every child custody case. Both parents have an obligation to provide financial support and maintenance for their children. With minimal discretion, the Court will apply the mandatory Arizona Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount each parent will contribute to the children’s financial support. In general, when one parent has primary physical custody, the noncustodial parent will provide monthly child support payments to the custodial parent.
Will Spousal Maintenance Be Awarded?
Whether spousal maintenance should be awarded to one spouse and paid by the other depends on the recipient spouse’s eligibility under A.R.S. § 25-319. Once eligibility is established, there are many factors that the Court will consider in determining whether to include or not include spousal maintenance as part of the divorce settlement. Factors such as the recipient spouse’s ability to be self-sufficient, the age, education, and employability of that spouse, the comparative financial resources of both spouses, the parties’ ability to contribute to their children’s educational expenses, and so on. The Court has broader discretion in the award of spousal maintenance than with child support.
Your beliefs, your intimate knowledge of the other party, your personal reasons for why you should prevail on every issue in the divorce are all legitimate reflections of your true feelings and should be respected as such. But they will not carry the day in court. We know from experience that emotions often run high during a divorce, especially with child custody issues. Ultimately, though, you must accept that not every decision will result in a favorable ruling for you. The converse is also true, of course, not everything will go in the other party’s favor either. To position yourself for the best outcome possible in your divorce, contact the Phoenix, Arizona, divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Scott David Stewart.