When marital problems turn your thoughts to the possibility of divorce, ordinary activities become more complicated. A spouse’s absence is increasingly awkward to explain away to the children, other family members, friends, and coworkers. Concentrating at work becomes more difficult because of unmanageable stress at home.
If you live in Arizona and are contemplating a divorce, or if your spouse has already served you with court papers, then you need the advice and representation of an experienced divorce attorney (or “marriage attorney”). In many ways, your future and the impact of divorce on your children will depend upon the decisions you now must make.
Our team of dedicated Arizona divorce attorneys always take a personalized approach. Every family law solution involves careful consideration of a client’s unique circumstances. An attorney with Stewart Law Group will listen to your side of the story and discuss your goals. On accepting the case, your attorney will invest the time necessary to really learn about you and your concerns, about the children and their needs, and about your financial situation.
From there, your attorney will strategize and develop legal solutions to resolve:
All with the best potential for a favorable outcome for you and your children.
What is a divorce? Well, from a legal standpoint, divorce is the method of terminating a marriage contract between spouses. Divorce gives parties the right to determine the future care and custody of their children; the right to divide their marital assets and debts; the right to arrange for child support and spousal maintenance (similar to alimony). Lastly, with the divorce final each is free to marry someone new.
While state laws vary in how they address these issues, the basic principles courts follow when considering requests for divorce are relatively uniform. If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Arizona, then speak to an attorney with our law firm. Every case accepted receives personal attention, careful meticulous preparation, skilled negotiation, and aggressive litigation. Our legal team of marriage attorneys will achieve the best possible solutions for you and protect your marital assets.
Before deciding on divorce, set time aside to learn how the dissolution of marriage proceeds in family court and the key issues that must be addressed. Divorce is uncharted territory for most people and can be intimidating, another reason to hire an experienced divorce attorney in your area to guide you through each proceeding. Absorbing accurate information about the process could ease your anxieties considerably. At Stewart Law Group we have a wealth of knowledge and can help you deal with any type of divorce situation you might be dealing with including:
No matter what the circumstances at Stewart Law Group we can assist you, whether it be a contested and uncontested divorce.
Before a divorce will be granted, there needs to be a clean slate. Matters of spousal maintenance, assignment of separate assets, division of community property and pensions, legal decision-making authority and parenting plans, and child support obligations, these must all be resolved. Divorcing spouses who agree to a settlement, in writing, on all of those issues are likely to be granted an uncontested divorce, which avoids adversarial litigation and trial because there are no disputed issues for the court to decide. Settlement negotiations are an integral part of the divorce process.
Conversely, if spouses do not reach agreement on all the basic issues, then a contested divorce ensues. If the respondent disputes any matter raised in the petition, then the divorce is contested. In that instance, the parties proceed through all phases of litigation. The spouses may voluntarily participate in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), such as mediation, or they may be ordered into ADR by the court. Spouses with children will be required to participate in mediation.
Settled issues are removed from the trial agenda, while all outstanding issues are decided after a bench trial before the judge. There is no jury in an Arizona divorce trial! If a party disagrees with the trial court’s final judgment, then a timely appeal may be filed. Your Stewart Law Group attorney can handle the appeal as well.
Divorce often impacts employer-provided group health and dental insurance coverage for dependents. Insurance availability, terms of coverage, and replacement costs should be factored into the spouses’ divorce just like assets and debts are. For example, health insurance coverage should be discussed when parties negotiate spousal maintenance or a parenting plan for their children.
Furthermore, if a spouse’s employer is subject to the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) provisions, and not all employers are, then after the divorce is final health insurance coverage may be continued for dependents (children and a former spouse) as qualified beneficiaries. Both divorce and legal separation are qualifying events triggering COBRA.
As a qualified beneficiary under COBRA, the nonemployee-spouse has the right to pay the premiums and continue under the former spouse’s employer-provided group health insurance. Insurance coverage can continue under COBRA for 18 months, 29 months, even 36 months after the divorce, depending upon the circumstances.
COBRA requires proper notice of the divorce or legal separation followed by an election period. The employee-spouse, non-employee spouse, or qualifying dependent must notify the group health benefit plan administrator. Thereafter, the qualified beneficiary must be given an election period of at least 60 days to choose continued health care coverage under the group plan or not.
The health benefit provisions in COBRA amended the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Internal Revenue Code, and the Public Health Service Act.
Maricopa County Superior Court has a website with do-it-yourself court forms for divorce and many other civil matters. Every spouse should consult with a lawyer before making important decisions about child custody, property division, and financial support. If you prefer to handle your divorce without legal representation, then you can utilize these forms.
The Arizona Judicial Branch has an historical repository of divorce and child custody guidelines available to the public. ASU’s family law research guide also has information about divorce, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance obligations in Arizona.
If you want a little more help, subscribing to the Online Divorce Coach is another do-it-yourself option. Every subscription includes the Arizona divorce resource center, forms and instructions, checklists, and unlimited email access to an Arizona attorney.
We also provide a FREE e-divorce handbook called The 7 Must-Do Items for Divorce Planning for more information on how to get started on a divorce, and other important information regarding divorce in Arizona.
“My attorney, Christa Banfield, was more knowledgeable and responsive than I ever imagined a lawyer would be. The divorce process is a long, complicated, nerve-racking endeavor where you can feel that the law isn’t fair and that you might lose everything, but Christa remained a confident, calming influence throughout the entire process. From my initial consultation to the final decree, I was sure that Christa had my interests protected. She is intelligent, honest and straightforward in her advice; exactly what you need a lawyer to be. She astutely informed me about my options and guided me through tough times where I focused more on emotion than logic. I suppose no one ever really “wins” in a divorce, but I am completely satisfied with Christa’s representation and recommend her highly to anyone going through this difficult process.”
Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
January 3, 2019
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Remember, the choice you make in hiring a family law attorney will greatly impact the outcome of your divorce proceedings. Contact Stewart Law Group in Arizona today at 602-548-3400.