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Why Would you Want to do Your Own Divorce?

The simplest answer may be money: divorce attorneys are not cheap. Using your attorney as a sword to duel with your partner is very expensive. Actually, it is ridiculously expensive. So, if you and your partner have any inclination to work things out, and you most likely will be able to, you should try to do part, if not all, of your divorce yourselves. You may need help along the way, but that does not preclude you from doing much of it yourself. If you run into bumps, you can always use an attorney for a consultation in a limited scope representation or as a mediator.

For instance, you can pay an attorney at our law firm for one hour of time to give you legal advice and to advocate for you. Or, at our firm, you can hire an experienced mediator to avoid court. A mediator does not give legal advice or take sides, but is a paid neutral party who consults with you and your partner together. Having practiced family law in Arizona courts, we know you are better off if you can avoid a messy courtroom confrontation.

You can do your divorce yourself or with as much help as you want. You can do it spending as little or as much money as you decide. You can handle it with as much or as little conflict as you allow yourself to participate in. Let?s go through all the various options of handling a divorce, which include doing it yourself, using document preparation services, hourly legal consultations, mediation and of course, with lawyers.

Spousal Maintenance

 

Spousal maintenance was formerly called alimony. There seem to be more misconceptions about spousal maintenance than almost any other area of divorce. You may have heard that you will get spousal maintenance because your spouse makes more money, but it is not that simple. Spousal maintenance can be highly discretionary, depending on the judge. In fact, it is often a mystery as to how spousal maintenance has been determined, seemingly very dependent on the court.

There is a statute to follow, but it is very factual and case-specifically dependent. That may be why it is hard to pinpoint rules and outcomes with any certainty. Spousal maintenance is most common in long-term marriages of 20 years or more, where one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent who never worked outside the home and has limited job skills and prospects, compared to the working spouse.

Specifically, the court first determines any one of the following: the spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for reasonable needs; the spouse is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment (that is, ?who takes care of whom? if age or condition precludes the spouse from working); the spouse contributed to the education of the other; or the marriage was of long duration and the spouse may be too old to be employed and self-sufficient.

Once the court determines that any of these factors are met, there are 13 other factors that the court may use in order to determine how much and how long maintenance should be paid. Even though there are 13 factors, often the court and the attorneys use a ?spousal maintenance guideline? calculation. We share this calculation with you in Chapter 7. While not a set rule, these guidelines are a starting point for negotiations. If you go to court on this issue, the outcome is anyone?s guess.

My Former Spouse Wants to Go on a Cruise to Mexico. I Will Not Let the Kids Get Passports. Can He Get My Children Passports Without My Approval?

This can get sticky, because there are hundreds of international abductions every year. If you truly believe it is for a cruise, you might consider it. You can ask for the written itinerary and documentation showing that they are really going on a cruise. Sometimes the abduction of children comes as no surprise to the abandoned parent. You could agree to have the passports kept in a safety deposit box that requires two signatures to retrieve. If your former spouse has citizenship in another country, you might want to do research to find out about whether that country is a member of the Hague Convention and whether you could retrieve your children if they were kidnapped. You should seek legal advice if kidnapping is a real concern.

My Wife Has the Kids Every Other Weekend, But She Works and Leaves Them With Her Mother. What Can I Do?

It sounds like you might need to consider revisiting and amending your parenting agreement to better fit everyone’s schedule. At one time, you could have an agreement called a “first right of refusal.” This was a common provision, which reads that if one parent who has the kids is gone for more than four hours, s/he will call the other parent and offer them the “right” to parent the kids before anyone else. ?Unfortunately, this made people fight more often than it solved any problems and it is disfavored by the courts. Co-parenting requires constant changes, especially if a work schedule changes. ?Also, if it ?is just a temporary time change, ?it often might be a good idea to allow the grandmother and the kids to spend this time together. ?Did you encourage this relationship when you were still married? If so, why not continue it now? Remember, you might be in the same situation some day and you will want understanding and consideration from your partner at that time.

Parenting Time Schedules

Parenting time is the scheduled time a non-custodial parent can spend with a child. There are a variety of parenting time schedules that can be set up by a family, and the schedules can be as different as the families who use them. Some of the important factors to consider when choosing a plan are the child’s age, maturity, special needs, child’s relationships with siblings, distance between the households, flexibility of both parents’ work schedules, transportation needs, parent’s ability to care for the child’s needs, and many more.

Assistance with Parenting Plans and Agreements

There are certain items every parenting plan needs: 1) Each parent’s rights and responsibilities for the personal care of the child and for decisions in areas such as education and health care; 2) A schedule of the physical residence of the child; 3) A procedure by which proposed changes, disputes, and alleged breaches may be mediated or resolved; 4) A procedure for periodic review of the plan’s terms by the parents; and 5) a statement that the parties understand that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal parenting time.

Our experienced attorneys at Best Law can help you and your spouse draft a negotiated parenting and custody agreement. We can provide insight and anticipate future problems. We provide this service at an hourly rate and provide you with a court-approved form at the conclusion that can be filed with the court, along with your decree.

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