* Disclaimer; the following descriptions of practice areas are intended to provide an overview for the viewer only and does not constitute legal advice.   Type your paragraph here.

Divorce – often referred to as a “dissolution of marriage”,  divorce proceedings in Arizona commence with a Petition being filed in the superior court. An overview of the process, requirements for filing, timelines and court resources are discussed with each potential client at the initial consultation.  Some clients prefer a “legal separation” which involves a similar process to divorce. Understanding the difference between the two legal actions is important from an emotional and practical level.

Paternity – pursuing paternity allows unmarried parents to establish certain rights respecting children, including rights to parenting time, allowing one to collect child support, awarding and allocating the ability to share in legal decisions for the children and securing health insurance for the children. In some cases, a DNA test may be required at the initial phase of a Paternity action.  

Child Support– each parent has a legal duty to financially support his or her child and the amount of support is governed by the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.  Navigating through these Guidelines can be tricky as many factors can impact the total support amount. By way of example, such factors include, each parent’s gross income, childcare costs, health insurance costs, the age of the children, extra education costs, cost(s) associated with special needs, and whether a parent receives spousal support and/or pays child support for an unrelated child.

Spousal Maintenance– one party to a divorce action may request spousal maintenance (historically called “alimony”) to help him or her meet reasonable needs.  Spousal maintenance can be requested on a temporary basis as well as following a divorce. There are statutory factors under A.R.S. §25-319 that help the Court determine first whether a party is eligible and then for how much and how long. There is no set amount or duration of spousal maintenance and every case is unique. The Court will have broad discretion in determining the answer of whether a party is awarded spousal maintenance.

Post-Decree Enforcement actions including contempt – there are a number of legal remedies for those individuals who were awarded property, assets and child and spousal support but who are not receiving the court ordered award(s).  There are; however, certain timelines that apply depending on what you are trying to enforce.  A consultation is crucial here to evaluate your best, most cost-effective option, which may include by example, contempt, sanctions, garnishment, or seizure of property.

Third-Party Rights (Non-Parent Custody) - in some instances, third parties may request legal decision-making and visitation with a child when he or she is able to demonstrate an established, meaningful parent-like relationship referred to as in loco parentis (Latin for “in place of a parent”).  While these can be challenging cases, the Courts recognize these relationships as valuable to children especially in instances where one (or more) of the biological parents is missing, has abandoned the parent-child relationship or the child was born out of wedlock.

Relocation – relocation statutes are in place and apply for a parent wanting and/or needing to move out of State but also a significant distance within the State of Arizona.   When relocation occurs or is contemplated, it implicates legal decision-making, parenting time and child support. It is a public policy of Arizona to ensure both parents have frequent and meaningful parenting time with his or her child(ren) and a consultation is important to ensure this policy is met but that relocation is also in the child’s best interests.  Many factors under A.R.S. §25-408 and A.R.S. §25-403 are analyzed by the Court in determining whether to grant or deny a relocation request.

Premarital and Postnuptial Agreements  - a premarital agreement is also referred to as a “prenuptial” or “antenuptial” agreement and is an agreement between a two people who are planning to get married. A premarital agreement is intended to help two people define and protect mostly each person’s property interests going into the marriage but also outlines and identifies each persons’ obligations respecting debt in the event of divorce. These agreements are tailored to the couple getting married and how they specifically wish to define their property owned prior to marriage, during the marriage and in the event of divorce.  Arizona has certain requirements in order for a premarital agreement to be binding and enforceable and it is important to consult with a family lawyer if you are considering a premarital agreement.  Postnuptial agreements serve much the same purpose(s) as premarital agreements except they are entered into after two people get married.  Postnuptial agreements do not have the same legal requirements for enforceability as premarital agreements.

Protective Orders - a protective order or “restraining order” may be necessary to prevent domestic violence from occurring.  Domestic violence is defined by statute and there are many forms of domestic violence.  Lukacsik Law Office, P.C. represents those who seek to obtain a protective order, those who have obtained a protective and wish to keep it in place (or “stay” the order) and those who wish to have the order dismissed (or “quashed”).  Protective orders, if “stayed” are in effect for one (1) year and this makes having proper legal representation to defend or dismiss a protective order imperative to the integrity of your case.

Termination of Parental Rights – in some cases, a child has been cared for by someone else other than a biological parent for a significant period of time and the child’s caretaker wishes to explore terminating the parental rights of one (or both) of the biological parents to ensure stability for the child.  These actions, pursued in Juvenile Court, require an applicant wishing to pursue termination of a parent’s parental rights to meet specific statutory requirements set forth in Title 8 of Arizona Revised Statutes.  Once the applicant has met the minimum requirements for establishing the right to pursue termination, the Juvenile Court must then analyze whether termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interests.  In most cases, a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed to represent the child’s “best interest” and a “home study” may be required by the Court as part of the overall analysis. Once, and if, a termination is granted by the Court, the Order is irrevocable and parental rights cannot be restored to the biological parent.

Adoption  - adoption is pursued by a non-parent.  The prospective adoptive parent takes the place of the biological parent and obtains all legal rights to make decisions for a child and is also vested with all obligations to support the child, including a financial duty to support the child. Adoption proceedings are commenced in Juvenile Court and can occur in conjunction with a request to terminate a biological parent’s rights or can occur after a biological parent’s rights have been terminated by the Court.
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