3100 W. Ray Rd., Ste. 201, Chandler, AZ 85226
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Law Office of Angela Peacock, PC

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens in a dissolution or divorce?

I do not want the divorce. Does the court offer counseling to help preserve the marriage?

What does the Court consider when determining legal decision-making (custody) and parenting time?

What is paternity and what is the process?

The other party is mistreating the children, or is putting them in harm’s way. What can I do?

How can I obtain grandparent loco parentis custody or grandparent’s rights?

I want to relocate (move out) of state with the children. Are there rules I need to follow?

How can I obtain an Order of Protection? If someone obtained one against me, how can I contest it?

How is child support calculated in Arizona?

What is spousal maintenance and how is it calculated?

Is Arizona a community property state? How will our property and debts be divided?

Can we modify our existing court orders?

What happens in a dissolution or divorce?

Arizona is a no fault divorce state. Under Arizona law, the only ground for divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning that there is no reasonable chance that the spouses want to keep the marriage together. However, this does not apply if the parties obtained a covenant marriage under A.R.S. §25-903. 


According to Arizona law, at least one of the parties must be a resident of the state of Arizona for at least 90 days before filing for divorce. The divorce action should be filed in the county where the petitioner (person who files for divorce) resides. If children are involved, the children must have resided in Arizona for at least six consecutive months prior to filing.


The process of filing for divorce begins with the filing of the Petition for Dissolution and service of those documents upon the other party. The other party has 20 days (or 30 days if out of state) to file a Response to the Petition. If the parties are able to reach an agreement regarding all of the divorce terms, the parties can submit the appropriate documents to the Court after 60 days from the date of service to request entry of the Decree of Dissolution. If, however, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the parties or the court can request a hearing to determine how to move the case forward. In Maricopa County, the average divorce takes between 6-12 months if contested.  


Filing for divorce, or dissolution of marriage as it is called in Arizona, can be an emotional and overwhelming task. The goal of the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C. is to help you through this emotional and stressful time and to achieve the most favorable result for you and your family

I do not want the divorce. Does the court offer marriage counseling to help preserve the marriage?

Yes, if you do not want the divorce, and you would prefer to try to reconcile your marriage, you can file a Petition for Conciliation Counseling prior to your spouse filing for divorce, or within 60 days after the date you were served with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  


A Petition for Conciliation Counseling is a request for the court to order the parties to attend at least one (1) counseling session together. The focus of the counseling is to assist the parties in making an informed and thoughtful decision regarding their marital relationship. Professional counselors conduct these sessions, the sessions are held in private and the sessions are kept confidential. During the counseling process, the counselor will not use coercion to try to force a reconciliation. In the end, the final decision regarding the marriage is made by the spouses themselves. Upon completion of the counseling, the parties may be referred to community-based counseling services for further assistance if the parties express such an interest. At the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C., we will help you navigate this process.  

What does the Court consider when determining legal decision-making (custody) and parenting time?

Legal decision-making, previously referred to as custody, is one of the greatest concerns in any divorce case. Parents naturally do not want to lose contact with their children. Legal decision-making means the right to make legal decisions for a child including education, health care, religious training and personal care decisions. Parenting time, also known as physical custody, is the amount of time each parent has with the child during the week, during the summer and on holidays. Parenting time can be relatively equal, or one parent may have the majority of parenting time with the child, subject to the other parent’s court-ordered parenting time.    
 

Under Arizona law, the court is required to determine legal decision-making and parenting time in accordance with the best interests of the children based upon the factors set forth in A.R.S. §25-403. Each case is determined on its own merits. When there are allegations of domestic violence, drug use, alcohol abuse, neglect or child abuse, it is important to secure representation of an attorney who understands custody issues. In some cases, mental health professionals may be required to assist the court with establishing what is in the best interests of the children.  
 

At the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C., we are dedicated to protecting your relationship with your child no matter how challenging the circumstances you face. If you want to secure a favorable custody/legal decision-making agreement, we can help you.

What is paternity and what is the process?

Paternity means the condition of being a father. Establishing paternity means to establish a legal father for a child.  When the parents are not married, it is important to establish paternity. Paternity can be established if a father signs an acknowledgment of paternity, by agreement, or by DNA testing. A paternity action may be filed by a mother or father to establish custody, parenting time and child support. A person bringing the action does not have to be a resident of Arizona to bring the action. A paternity action can also be initiated by the State (DES).


If you are an unmarried father and you have been denied access to your child, it is important to protect your rights. If you are an unmarried mother, you may have to establish paternity to help get the child support your child needs. At the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C., we will help you protect your rights, and we will help you navigate the paternity process to ensure your child’s best interests are served.

The other party is mistreating the children, or is putting them in harm’s way. What can I do?

In certain limited circumstances, you may be able to request that the other party’s parenting time be limited, or supervised by an agency or a third party to ensure that the safety and well-being of the children is protected. You may also request an emergency hearing, or request an Order of Protection for the children under specific facts. At the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C., we will help guide you during this process to ensure that the children’s safety is being met.

How can I obtain grandparent loco parentis custody or grandparent’s rights?

When parents are unable to take care of their children, grandparents (or other third parties) often step in to provide the care the children desperately need. At the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C., we use Arizona's third-party custody law to help grandparents try to obtain custody of their grandchildren. Exercising your legal rights allows you to better protect your grandchildren in emergencies - giving you the authority to make major decisions regarding education, health, medical treatment and religion.


When parents separate, grandparents (or other third parties) can suffer and lose the relationship they once had with the children. Arizona courts protect healthy and ongoing relationships between grandchildren and their grandparents. If you are a grandparent who has enjoyed regular visits with your grandchildren, we will assist you in obtaining visitation rights. If you are a grandparent who has been unreasonably denied visits with a grandchild, we can help you seek court-ordered visitation.

I want to relocate (move out) of state with the children. Are there rules I need to follow?

In today's fast-paced society, people are often forced to relocate. Relocation can be caused by a new job, career change, school, or other reasons. However, relocating can be extremely difficult because legal decision-making (custody) and parenting time can be affected.


Prior to any proposed relocation, the person seeking to relocate must fulfill certain requirements to notify the other parent. These requirements vary depending upon the type of custody and parenting time involved. Interpreting these rules can be difficult for anyone. Also, when considering whether to grant or deny a request to relocate with the children, the court is required to weigh specific statutory factors to determine the best interests of the children as set forth in A.R.S. §25-403 and 25-408(I).


At the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C., we will help you determine what you are required to do in advance of any possible move, and depending upon the facts of your situation, we will help you develop a strategy to pursue a relocation or prevent one.

How can I obtain an Order of Protection? If someone obtained one against me, how can I contest it?

Domestic violence is a serious issue that touches the lives of many people each year. Domestic violence is defined in A.R.S. §13-3601. When domestic violence occurs, a person may obtain an order of protection. An order of protection prohibits the subject of the order from having contact with the person who sought protection. If the order is violated, criminal charges may follow.


To obtain an order of protection in Arizona, the person seeking protection (the plaintiff) must file a petition in any Justice Court, Municipal Court or Superior Court stating the incidents of domestic violence that occurred within the past year. Judges routinely grant orders when there is reasonable cause to believe the subject of the petition (the defendant) has committed or may commit an act of domestic violence in the future.


When an order of protection is issued, the defendant can request a hearing to contest the order. You should receive notice of the hearing in the mail.  During the hearing, it is important that you follow the Arizona Rules of Protective Order Procedure. Following the hearing, the Court can either affirm the order of protection, modify it, or dismiss it.  


Whether you are the one seeking an order of protection, or you wish to contest the issuance of an order, you should obtain legal representation to help you provide evidence in support of your position. When domestic violence or allegations of domestic violence confront you, the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C. is here to help you understand the process and secure the best possible outcome.

How is child support calculated in Arizona?

Child support is a way to ensure that the children's basic needs are met. The state of Arizona employs a formula, which is contained in A.R.S. §25-320 and the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, to calculate what amount of support is appropriate given specific facts.


Various factors are added into the formula, including but not limited to:


  1. Gross monthly income of each party
  2. Number of parenting time days
  3. Health care costs
  4. Day care or before and after school costs
  5. Special need expenses of a child

It is important to know the amount of child support that may be awarded by the court in your case in order to plan for your and your children’s future. At the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C., we will provide you with an estimate regarding what we believe you are entitled to receive for child support, or what you may to pay depending upon the circumstances.


In some cases, the court can deviate above or below the amount calculated by the state guidelines. These cases generally involve high incomes, extravagant lifestyles, or extra needs of the children. These cases can become more complicated than Guideline calculations.

What is spousal maintenance and how is it calculated?

Spousal maintenance, sometimes referred to as alimony, is a complex area of family law in Arizona. Unlike the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, there is no formula to determine spousal maintenance. Based upon the specific facts of your case, the court has discretion to determine whether a spouse qualifies for alimony and if so, what the amount and duration will be.


Some of the factors considered by the court are: 


  1. Whether a spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable needs.
  2. Whether a spouse is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment.
  3. Whether a spouse contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.
  4. Whether the parties had a marriage of long duration and the spouse is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment to be self-sufficient.

Either a husband or wife can seek spousal maintenance payments. Whether you need help determining if you should request spousal maintenance, or you need help limiting your exposure to paying spousal maintenance, the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C. will assertively present your situation for consideration at trial.

Is Arizona a community property state? How will our property and debts be divided?

Arizona is a community property state, which means that all property acquired during the marriage, except for gifts or inheritance, is presumed to be community property. In most cases, this means that homes, bank accounts, retirement plans and other property will be included in the equitable split. However, there may be exceptions to the rule. For example, if one of the parties wasted (gambling/drugs) or hid community property, the court may award the other party more property. Or, if a spouse signs a disclaimer deed during the marriage to a home, the property may not be equally divided.


In Arizona, property acquired prior to the marriage, or through inheritance or gifts from people besides the other spouse, is presumed to be that person’s sole and separate property and is not divided. However, in some cases, the property could be changed. For example, if a spouse owns a home prior to the marriage, but then refinances the home and places the other spouse on the title, the home will generally be presumed to be a community asset.


One of the biggest points of contention when discussing how to divide marital property is how to value the property. Property valuation issues can be very complex, and you should confer with an experienced family law attorney before you agree to a divorce settlement.
 

Valuation can be difficult when you are dealing with assets where the value is not easily determined.


Examples of such marital assets include the following:


  1. Professional practices
  2. Closed corporations
  3. Family businesses
  4. Real estate
  5. Stock options
  6. Artwork, antiques and collectibles 

The property settlement you receive in your divorce will provide the foundation of your financial strength in the future. Getting the best possible settlement should be one of your top priorities. At the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C., we understand property distribution laws and the complexities of classifying property. We can work with financial analysts, accountants and other valuation experts, when necessary, to ensure you receive a fair settlement. We will advise you of your options and ascertain the best course of action to achieve your goals.

Can we modify our existing court orders?

Divorce decrees set forth the rights and obligations of each parent. However, you can go back to court to modify your divorce decree if your circumstances have changed and you meet other statutory criteria. For example:


  1. If you desire to spend more time with your children, you can seek to modify the existing parenting time orders.
  2. You can seek sole legal decision-making and supervised visits of your children if the other party is doing something inappropriate or harmful to your children.
  3. If income of one of the parents has changed so that child support  payments would be increased or decreased by at least 15 percent, you can seek to modify child support.

At the Law Office of Angela Peacock, P.C., we will help you analyze the costs and benefits of seeking a modification, and we can help you understand your rights before you take legal action.  Please schedule an appointment today.