We have all heard the stats that half of marriages end in divorce. The good news is that number is falling and hovering around 40 percent after reaching the peak in the mid 1980s. By the time one or both spouses want a divorce, there have been years of conflict, and at least one person has agonized over the decision for a long time.
As tragic as a divorce feels, no one person is ever to blame or “at fault”. Spending your life with someone is hard, growing and changing in the same direction is even harder. As awful as your current situation may feel, if you can celebrate the time you spent together, you will be setting yourself up for the most amicable possible divorce. The next step is finding an Arizona divorce lawyer who can advocate for the best of both of you.
Most clients want an amicable and fair divorce. They don’t want to spend more money than they need to in order to protect themselves and their children. However, dissolving a legal union is not a simple matter. You are untangling years together and divorce is a very complicated transaction involving the most important issues facing both of you.
Should I Talk with My Spouse before or after I File for Divorce?There’s no right or wrong answer here. Some couples will work out all of the details before either party files for divorce. Some spouses prefer to be on the same page about what’s coming. Knowing what to expect is a great way to do it for some couples. Other times, giving somebody a heads up would be a bad decision. If there is reason to believe that they might behave erratically, drain the bank accounts, or fly off the handle, you probably don’t want to let them know about the divorce before you file. It may be in your best interest to file for divorce, sever the community, get the cash that you have divided, and use the element of surprise to protect yourself. That’s legitimate as well. Sometimes, it’s a hybrid. We might draft a petition on a person’s behalf, get ready to file it, and then they let their spouse know that it’s coming. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Deciding when to tell your spouse about your intentions is an important and strategic decision, so it’s one that we want to talk through with your attorney to figure out what might be best in your particular situation.
Marital Issues During a DivorceBoth parties to a divorce enjoy equal rights to community property obtained during their marriage, the ability to ask for a spousal support order, and to retain custody of and support for their shared children. That means regardless of whether you had separate accounts during your marriage, or you have no idea how much is in your spouse’s bank account, you both get half unless you reach a different agreement. While many divorcing spouses settle the case by agreeing on the eventual outcome, it is not unusual for some issues to be decided by a judge. For example, some estranged spouses disagree about the ownership of real estate, family businesses, or bank accounts. Mesa courts assume that all assets a couple acquires during their marriage belongs to both parties equally unless it was gifted, inherited, or is co-mingled with separate premarital property. The most common source of conflict an Arizona divorce lawyer faces is deciding which parent will retain custody over their children. Local courts no longer presume that a mother would be the best parent of her children. Arizona Revised Statutes §25-403 requires a judge to carefully consider children’s best interests when making decisions that may affect their futures. For instance, a court will consider:
- Relationships between parents and their children
- A child’s ability to adjust to a new home, school, or social circle
- The mental and physical health of all involved parties
- Any history of mental or physical abuse or substance abuse
- The wishes of a child who is of sufficient age and maturity to provide their own opinion