ALCOCK & ASSOCIATES, P.C.  FAMILY

FAMILY LAW
ATTORNEY PHOENIX

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Family Law Attorneys

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DivorceChild Custody – Child Support

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The Divorce lawyers at Alcock & Associates understand that divorce, child custody, and child support cases can be especially stressful. Know that we will be with you every step of the way. It can be very difficult to navigate the family law system. Our experienced attorneys are able to draft, file, and serve all necessary pleadings to get your case started on the right track.

We have successfully helped thousands of people through domestic relations cases.  We know that the process can be confusing and we will always take the time to fully understand what is important to you.  We encourage you to contact us to set up a free consultation right over the phone.  You’ll see that we are truly a different type of law firm.  From beginning to end, we will support you in every way possible.

Let’s get the process started today so that you can move on with your life. Call 602-989-5000 and get answers to all of your divorce qustions.

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HOW FAMILY LAW CASES WORK

Court can be daunting. Walking into Superior Court by yourself can be very stressful.  The paperwork can be confusing and intimidating. Worse, there are some aspects of family law cases that are critical and inflexible. If you make a mistake or an omission at the outset, it may be very difficult to fix it later.

While family law cases rely on well established law, judges have a great deal of flexibility when ruling on divorce and custody matters.  It is incredible to see how much power these judges have over people’s lives.  Superior Court judges may have hundreds or even thousands of cases on their docket and they can move fast.  In a family law case, you are asking a judge to make decisions about your family, your kids, your future.  It is vital that information gets to the judge in a way that is effective and helpful for you. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON DIVORCE

HOW JUDGES MAKE THEIR DECISIONS

The one overarching concept that drives family law cases is the notion of reasonableness. “Reasonableness” is a legal term. If a parent tries to keep the children away from the other parent without good cause, that will negatively impact the case. If a spouse tries to say they don’t need to pay child support, that will negatively impact their case. Courts value cooperation, good faith, and agreements between the parties. If the parties can negotiate in good faith, the case can be resolved before trial. Good negotiation requires experience, leverage, and a clear understanding of client goals. Our divorce attorneys know how to balance the concept of reasonableness while still defending you and your rights.

CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEYS

Child custody cases in Arizona are made up of two parts: legal decision-making authority and parenting time. Legal decision-making authority is a parent’s ability to make important decisions about their child’s life. These important decisions include religion, education, childcare arrangements, and medical treatment. Courts generally want the parties to share this power, called joint legal decision-making authority. If joint legal decision-making authority is not in the children’s best interests, the court will only give one parent that power. Parenting time is a schedule of time between a parent and their children. Schedules can be flexible to accommodate work and school. Ideally, the parents can negotiate a parenting plan. If they are unable to do so, the judge will order a parenting plan based on evidence presented. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CUSTODY

Nick Alcock, Phoenix Attorney

COMMUNITY PROPERTY

A divorce should result in an “equitable distribution of marital assets.” That means each party should receive their fair share of property obtained during the marriage. For example, if the parties had a joint bank account with $1,000 in it, the court would award $500 to each party. Sometimes, however, the division of assets is much more complicated than that. If the parties own a business, for example, that business will need to be evaluated before it can be equally distributed. A house will also need to be appraised before equity can be properly distributed. Our divorce attorneys can help you determine how to evaluate certain community property.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Good faith and cooperation between parties is not always possible. If your spouse or partner has engaged in domestic violence, verbal abuse, or manipulation of the children, you need an attorney to protect you. If your spouse has been abusive towards you or your children, there are special considerations that the judge must consider.  That being said, we have also seen spouses fabricate claims of domestic violence. In both cases, it is vital to have an attorney carefully protect your rights. At Alcock & Associates, our attorneys are with you 100% of the way.  You can feel comfortable that we will defend you through the entire process. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ORDERS OF PROTECTION

PARENTAL ALIENATION

We know how to handle cases where one parent is manipulating the children to make them distant from their other parent.  These situations are heartbreaking, but we have a long track record of successfully demonstrating to the Court that the situation exists.  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ALIENATION

CASES WE HANDLE INCLUDE:

HOW THE COURT PROCESS WORKS

A divorce or child custody case requires filing a many different documents with the court. Our attorneys can help draft, file, and serve these pleadings. Here are just a few you may need to file:

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

If you are married and are seeking a divorce, the first pleading you need to file is a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This petition can be filed with or without children. The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is a comprehensive legal document that must contain essential information to be accepted by the Clerk of the Court. For example, the petition must include the names of the parties, whether the parties have children, and whether the marriage is irreconcilably broken. Keep in mind that Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state. That means a judge will not consider a party’s infidelity (cheating) when issuing court orders. As such, that should not be included in the petition. There are several other legal documents that must also be filed with the petition including: summons, preliminary injunction, notice to creditors, notice of rights about health insurance coverage, affidavit regarding minor children, and notice to attend parenting information class. Petitions must include all issues to be decided during divorce and/or custody proceedings. Failure to include an issue in a Petition can cause problems with the case down the road.

Petition for Temporary Orders

If a case is particularly complicated or may not resolve for an extended period of time, a Petition for Temporary Orders may be necessary. A Petition for Temporary Orders is filed when a party seeks temporary orders from the court during divorce proceedings. Rather than wait a year for the divorce to be finalized, a party can ask for temporary spousal maintenance, child support, exclusive use of the marital residence, or parenting time orders in a Petition for Temporary Orders. Keep in mind, temporary orders are subject to change later in a case. Temporary orders are the rules the Parties play by during litigation.

If a party files a Petition for Temporary Orders, the Court will hold an evidentiary hearing. During this hearing, either party can call witnesses, present evidence, and argue for certain temporary orders. It is best to have an attorney who can represent you during this important hearing.

Affidavit of Financial Information

Whenever someone files for divorce, it is necessary to complete an Affidavit of Financial Information, sometimes called an AFI. An Affidavit of Financial Information is a sworn document. Because it is a sworn document, it is very important that any information contained in the affidavit be accurate. The AFI includes important financial information that will be used throughout your case.

Why is an Affidavit of Financial Information important? First, it can help identify each parties’ income. The AFI will ask what your gross income is each month. Gross income can include: salary, hourly wage, rent from properties, pension, social security, etc. Second, an Affidavit of Financial Information is important to determine your expenses each month (rent, mortgage, electricity, water, car insurance, etc.). The AFI will also inquire about credit card and other types of debt.

The Affidavit of Information requires more than just answering questions. The AFI also requires your two most recent pay stubs as well as your federal income tax return for the last three (3) years. These documents are needed to support the affidavit, and to make sure a party is being honest about their income.

An Affidavit of Financial Information can also be an effective tool for litigation purposes. Oftentimes, an opposing party can try to minimize their income while maximizing their expenses. People do this to avoid paying their fair share of spousal maintenance (alimony) or child support. It is important to have an experienced attorney on your side who knows how to utilize the Affidavit of Financial Information for effective representation.

Remember, an AFI is a sworn statement. Any lie, misrepresentation, or material omission in the affidavit is considered perjury. If a person has provided false or misleading information on their AFI, they need to be held accountable. One way to hold the person accountable is at trial. Family law trials are prolonged evidentiary hearings that include witness testimony, presentation of evidence, and argument from either party. The attorneys at Alcock & Associates are in court every single day. You can rely on them for their trial expertise.

Witness and Exhibit Lists

Court rules require that each party disclose a list of witnesses in advance of a hearing or trial. If you do not disclose a witness to the opposing party, the court will likely not allow you to call that witness to testify at trial. The same can be said of exhibits. If a piece of evidence was not disclosed before trial, the court will not allow you to introduce it as evidence at trial. Children, as a rule, cannot be called as witnesses at the time of trial. You may need an expert witness at the time of trial as well. An attorney can assist you in determining which witnesses and exhibits to use at trial.

Prehearing Statements

Before any evidentiary hearing, a party should file a Prehearing Statement at least one week in advance. These pleadings are very important, and usually comprehensive. They should contain your positions, arguments, and references to potential evidence. A judge will read a prehearing statement in preparation of trial. It is important to file a thorough statement so the judge clearly understands what you are requesting.

Frequently Asked Questions for Family Law

  • Can I get divorced in Arizona?

    You can only get divorced in Arizona if Arizona has jurisdiction (power) over your case. Arizona has jurisdiction over your divorce if either you or your spouse have resided in Arizona for at least 90 days.

  • Can I file for custody in Arizona?

    You can file for custody in Arizona if your children have resided in Arizona for at least 6 months. If your child is less than 6 months old, then you can file for custody if the child was born in Arizona.

  • How soon can I get a divorce?

    Under A.R.S. 25-329, a divorce cannot be finalized until 60 days after a party has been served with a petition for divorce. We advise clients that the soonest a case can resolve is 90-120 days after the Petition for Dissolution has been filed. This is called the “waiting period.” Courts want to be sure that the parties really want to get divorced. The 60 days is a breathing period for parties to really consider if divorce is the right option for them.

  • Can I get full custody of the kids?

    Arizona courts do not like giving sole custody to one parent. However, it is possible to get full custody of your children if it is in the children’s best interests. Courts will be more inclined to give sole custody to one parent if the other parent has engaged in domestic violence, substance abuse, or has previously abandoned the minor children.

  • What is community property?

    Community property is any property that has been accrued by either spouse during the marriage. Community property can include houses, cars, businesses, bank accounts, investments, etc. Arizona is a community property state. Unless property was gifted, inherited, or obtained by a spouse before the marriage or after the petition is served, it is a community asset.

  • How can I get child support?

    A parent must pay child support for their children. Child support in Arizona is based on income, parenting time, the number of children, health insurance, childcare costs, and other financial considerations. Arizona has a child support calculator that determines a parent’s child support obligation. A party is required to file a child support worksheet in support of their child support calculation. Ask your attorney to draft a child support estimate.

  • Who lives in the house during the divorce process?

    If the parties cannot reside together during the divorce proceedings, a party can ask for exclusive use of the marital residence. That means only one party can live in the house and the other party needs to make other living arrangements. Exclusive use of the marital residence is usually determined early in the divorce process. Don’t wait to hire an attorney until after this is decided by a judge.

  • If my spouse lives in another country, can I still get divorced or file for custody?

    Yes, you can still get divorced in Arizona if your spouse lives in another country. As long as you have resided in Arizona for at least 90 days, you can file for divorce. The same is true if the other parent lives in another country. As long as your children have resided in Arizona for at least 6 months, you can file for custody.

  • My spouse wants a divorce too. Can we file for divorce together?

    Two parties can work together to file for divorce/custody and resolve it quickly. If the parties are amicable, they can work together to draft a settlement agreement (called a consent decree), and file it with the court. Once the parties filed the consent decree, it is adopted by the court as a court order. A consent decree cannot be finalized until 60 days after the date of service of the Petition for Dissolution.

  • My spouse is hiding income. How can I prove they make more money?

    Sometimes a spouse can hide or minimize their income. Many clients come to us and have concerns because their spouse is paid in cash. There are many ways our attorneys can help prove your spouse is hiding income. We can obtain subpoenas to get their bank records. We can question their employer during a deposition. We can obtain their tax records. Don’t let your spouse get away with concealing assets. Get your fair share.

  • How can I protect myself from domestic violence right now?

    If you feel threatened right now, call 911. The police can provide immediate assistance. You can also seek an order of protection. An order of protection can be requested at any municipal court in Arizona. You will need to file a sworn statement telling the judge about the domestic violence you have witnessed and/or experienced. The more specific you can be, the better. If a judge grants an order of protection, the offending spouse cannot have contact with you or anyone else listed on the order of protection. Children can be included on the order of protection.

  • Does Arizona have alimony?

    Arizona has a form of alimony called spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is an amount of money one party pays another to support them during and after a divorce. If a wife/mother has been a homemaker for 30 years, a judge likely find she is eligible for spousal maintenance. An award of spousal maintenance depends on several factors. Those factors are outlined in Arizona Revised Statute, 25-319. A judge will consider (among other things) financial hardship, income, property, resources, education, work experience, duration of marriage, whether one spouse has contributed to the career of another, and whether one spouse has raised the children. Your attorney can explain whether you qualify for spousal maintenance, and if so, what a reasonable amount of maintenance would be.

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REPRESENTATION YOU DESERVE

Here at Alcock and Associates our team and staff are dedicated to helping and representing YOU. The first step is to understand your case. We will take the time to get to know you and your legal situation so that we are best able to answer all of your questions. After your initial consultation with our attorneys, you will know what you are facing and what can happen to your case.
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Alcock & Associates P.C.
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Phoenix AZ 85004

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Alcock & Associates P.C.
2 North Central Avenue, 26th Floor
Phoenix AZ 85004