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Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

Different states handle divorce different ways

Where a couple obtains their divorce can affect the divorce process, sometimes significantly. This can be seen in a couple of different ways. First, it can be seen with respect to issues like filing fees; residency requirements; waiting and separation periods; and the minimum amount of time to complete the divorce. All of these factors can make a difference in a divorce case, and a recent Forbes article ranked states according to how they measured up in these areas.

The article listed the top seven worst states to get divorced, basing its rankings on the above factors. Fortunately, the state of Arizona did not make it to the top seven. California was the only western state which did, largely because of the high filing fees, significant minimum length of time to complete a divorce; and long waiting period.

Be aware of your health insurance coverage rights during and after divorce

Health insurance is a critical asset nowadays, one which Americans cannot afford to go without. This is why it is so important in divorce to have a plan worked out for ensuring coverage for oneself and one's children. Fortunately, states have recognized this and have put certain protections in place for divorcing couples so that lack of insurance coverage is not an issue.

Under Arizona law, spouse and children who are dependent on the other spouse for health insurance are able to continue being covered under the plan, but the dependent spouse and/or his or her children must take steps to continue receiving coverage. First of all, if a dependent spouse wants to continue their coverage after the divorce is completed, he or she has to contact the insurance company immediately and begin paying insurance premiums within 31 days of the date the insurance coverage would otherwise terminate. This can be done with respect to both oneself and one's children if one is responsible for their care.

Postnuptial agreements can help married couples plan for potential divorce

Prenuptial agreements, as we've mentioned previously on this blog, are a great way for engaged couples to set the terms of a potential divorce prior to marriage and protect themselves financially. Well-negotiated and properly executed prenuptial agreements effectively trump state property division laws, and so remove a lot of the uncertainty that goes with dividing property in divorce.

But what about couples who are already married who want to take steps to protect themselves now. Arizona recognizes both prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, but only addresses the former by statute. Post-nuptial agreements, by contrast, are only dealt with in case law. Generally speaking, though, post-nuptial agreements are considered valid if they are negotiated fairly.

AZ father hit with child support obligations could still press charges

In a recent post, we wrote about an Arizona man who has been served with papers ordering him to pay child support to a woman who raped him when he was a minor. In addition to payments going forward, the man owes about $15,000 in back payments, medical bills and interest. Already, he is having money seized and garnished.

The Department of Economic Security, which is responsible for enforcing child support in Arizona, does not except parents from paying child support unless the parent seeking support is found guilty of sexual assault or sexual assault of a minor. In this case, the father has not pressed charges. The case has generated attention across the United States, including from the Arizona Father's Rights, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting fathers and their children overcome gender bias in family court.

Understand your state's property division laws before marriage, divorce

Property division is an important aspect of divorce. Along with child custody and visitation, it is one of the areas of divorce many couples fight about the most. It is important for couples-both those who are engaged and those who are considering divorce-to understand how property division works so that they can take steps to plan accordingly.

The laws of property division are different for each state, so couples need to make sure they have a solid understanding of the law of the jurisdiction in which they are obtaining a divorce. Courts in Arizona utilize a minority approach to property division in which community property is generally split down the middle.

Take time to do your prenuptial agreement right

Prenuptial agreements can, as readers probably know, be an important way for couples to have greater control over the financial outcome of a potential divorce. But, as anybody who pays attention to celebrity gossip knows, prenuptial agreements don't always work out. The divorce case of hedge fund manager Ken Griffin and his wife Anne Dias-Griffin brings up an important point about prenuptial agreements: if an agreement is entered into improperly, it will most likely be challenged and will probably not hold up in court.

In the Griffin's case, there is no outcome as of yet, as the case is really just getting off the ground. Ken Griffin filed for divorce in Illinois over the summer and his wife filed a response petition last week. In documents she filed with the court, she claims that the prenuptial agreement the couple entered into should be voided because she didn't have enough time to consider it and was all but coerced into doing so.

AZ man fighting surprise child support payments

Child support is an important resource for parents caring for children out of wedlock or after a divorce, and everybody agrees that parents have the duty to help support their children. This does not mean that there are no circumstances under which child support might be unfair to foist upon a parent. Take, for instance, the unique case of a 24-year-old Phoenix man who is being required to pay support for a child he conceived as a 14-year-old and which he only recently found out about?

The man, who was technically a victim of statutory rape, didn't press charges over the incident. Two years ago he was served with papers ordering him to pay child support for his six-year-old daughter. Now he owes roughly $15,000 in back payments and medical bills, plus interest, and is having his wages garnished and funds seized from his bank account. Needless to say, this would be a shocking thing to face as a young man.

Family pets increasingly addressed in prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements are very valuable tools in the context of marriage and divorce. Although there are certain issues these agreements cannot address by law, there are many terms which they can address which help couples lend more predictability to a potential breakup. What these agreements cannot address are things like child custody and child support exemptions. Prenups also cannot encourage divorce.

What prenuptial agreements can address are things like separate property, estate plans, financial protection for children of a previous marriage, protection of an inheritance, and how property will be divided in the event of divorce. Prenups are quite versatile, though, and can also address things like the use of social media and custody of pets. The latter issue is becoming more and more common to see in prenuptial agreements.

Phoenix woman regains custody of children

Child custody is something that many parents can too easily take for granted until they have custody taken away. This often happens to parents in divorce or after accusations of abuse or neglect. Phoenix readers may have heard about Shanesha Taylor, a Phoenix mother who left her two sons in a hot car in March while she was at a job interview in Scottsdale. As a result, she was put through criminal proceedings in connection with the incident and Child Protective Services took temporary custody of the children and allowed her to see them only on weekends.

This week, Taylor was granted custody of her children and will be able to have the charges dismissed if she meets specified conditions. One of them is that she attend 26 parenting classes, five of which she has apparently already attended. According to her attorney, her children are now able to live at home with her, though there are still "a few details" that need to be addressed.

Oil baron's divorce could be costly

Divorce can be costly for some couples, particularly those who are determined to battle it out in court over every little disagreement. In divorce cases where a lot of money is at stake, divorce can be particularly costly. Oklahoma billionaire Harold Hamm-known for his pioneering work in the fracking industry-is currently going through what could be among the costliest divorces in history.

Since Hamm was married 25 years ago, the value of Hamm's company has reportedly increased by $17 billion, at least according to his wife's attorneys. The issue with respect to property division in the case is whether that increase in wealth occurred because of Hamm's hard work or on its own. If the former, the money will be divided under Oklahoma's equitable distribution law. If the former, the property will be deemed separate property not subject to division. As commentators have noted, the most likely possibility is that the increase will be deemed a combination of Hamm's initiative and chance.

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