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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are answers to questions frequently encountered by the attorneys at Pahl & Associates as they practice divorce and family law in Tucson and throughout Southern Arizona.  If you have other questions regarding a domestic relations matter, call (520) 628-1111 to speak with one of our experienced lawyers.

Q.  What happens when you file for divorce in Arizona?
A.  The process begins when one of the parties files a petition for dissolution of marriage in the county where he or she resides.  The court may order mediation in an attempt to get the parties to reach an amicable settlement on the issues in divorce.  If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on all issues, a trial is held, after which point the court will determine the issues in the case.

Arizona is a community property state, and as such, all marital property (assets and debts) will be divided equally between the parties.  If necessary, the court may make a maintenance award to help one of the parties become self-supporting.  If there are children of the marriage, the court will also decide issues of child Legal Decision Making and child support.

At a minimum, a divorce cannot be granted until 61 days after the petition was served on the other party.  The parties are free to re-marry any time after the final decree has been granted.

Q.  What are the different types of Legal Decision Making which may be granted?
A.  Legal Decision Making can be joint or sole.  In joint Legal Decision Making, responsibility for the child is shared in some fashion, either equally, or with one parent having primary Legal Decision Making compared to the other.  In sole Legal Decision Making, also known as full Legal Decision Making, one parent alone has the duty to care for the child.

There are two types of Legal Decision Making which must be considered - legal Legal Decision Making and physical Legal Decision Making.  Legal Legal Decision Making refers to the authority regarding major decisions for the children, such as healthcare, education, and religion.  Physical Legal Decision Making refers to the actual living arrangements of the children.  In determining Legal Decision Making, the court considers a number of factors, including the wishes of the parents and the wishes of the child, the physical and mental health of all individuals involved, and the history of child rearing and child care within the family.

Q.  How is child support determined?
A.  Both parents have a duty to support their children financially.  In recognition of that responsibility, the court usually orders the non-custodial parent to pay a monthly support amount to the primary custodial parent.  The amount is determined according to a formula or guideline, taking into account a variety of factors, such as the income of both parents, other child support payments, the number of parenting days exercised by the non-custodial parent, and costs associated with the child, including daycare, medical insurance, educational expenses, and any extraordinary expenses for a child with special needs.

Q.  Does the wife automatically get alimony from the husband?
A.  No.  Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support, is a financial award ordered by the court to be paid from one spouse to the other, either in a lump sum or in periodic payments over time.  Maintenance can therefore be ordered to be paid by either the husband or the wife.  The goal of maintenance is to help the spouse who has not been the primary wage earner become self-supporting.  Maintenance is therefore usually only temporarily granted for a period of years and is not necessarily ordered in every instance.  Also, in the event the ex-spouse receiving support remarries, an award may be terminated early.

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