The Phoenix Family Law News Blog - Find a Phoenix Family Attorney

June 2010 Archives

Sandra Bullock and Jesse James Get Divorced

Sandra Bullock has officially become a victim of the Best Actress Oscar curse now that her divorce with Jesse James has been finalized. New York Daily News reports that Sandra Bullock and Jesse James signed the divorce papers in Texas and that they're now going their separate ways.

Jesse James stated that he plans to move to Austin so his three kids can continue to have a relationship with his ex-wife. Sandra Bullock, on the other hand, is looking to start a family of her own by adopting a 5 1/2 month old boy named Louis Barado. The actress has been in the process of the adoption since January.

Marriage Under Age 16: Premarital Counseling in AZ

Anybody who wants to get married under the age of 18 in Arizona must have consent from a parent or legal guardian, according to the Maricopa County Superior Court. If a person wishes to get married under the age of 16, he or she is also required to attend premarital counseling in order to get an Arizona marriage license.

What exactly is premarital underage counseling? As stated on the family court's website, both parties must attend premarital counseling if one of the individuals looking to get married is under 16. A counselor then makes a recommendation to the Court regarding whether the underage minors should be allowed to marry. The final decision on the marriage is made by the Family Court Presiding Judge.

Girl Dies From Being Left in Car in Hot Weather

On a day when temperatures in Maricopa County soared to be over 100 degrees, a Phoenix toddler died when she had been left in a car for over two hours. Fox News states that the Phoenix police are saying that the father will face criminal charges with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office  over the incident.

On such a hot Sunday where temperatures reached 108 degrees, authorities say that the temperature inside of the vehicle could jump to 140 degrees in a 15 minute period. What may have been a simple parental mistake may end up costing the father big time. Phoenix family lawyers may perhaps need to get involved in the case for the sake of the other members in the man's family. The man reportedly has five other children and if he faces child abuse charges, he may have to give up his parental rights to his other kids.

Mom Could Face More Family Law Trouble After Threatening Son

Charlene Jones may possibly never be able to see her son again and may have trouble winning a custody battle in court after a recent incident in which the Mesa mother was accused of threatening her son and his father with an 8-inch kitchen knife.

The Arizona Republic reports that the father was given court ordered custody of his and Charlene Jones' child because the mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The father went to the residence of the mother last week to pick up their son, but it seems like the mother just wasn't able to let the kid go without a fight.

Paying Child Support After 18 Years Of Age in Arizona

The obligation to pay child support usually stops at the age of 18 in Arizona. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. For example, if the child is still in high school at the age of 18, the child support stops at the age of 19 or the last day of the month of the anticipated graduation date - whichever comes first. It's not usually necessary to contact a Phoenix family law attorney to have child support payments stop, unless there is some sort of dispute. According to the Maricopa County Superior Court website, the child support order should stop by itself when the terms of the order end.

Divorce Study: Divorce Spreads When Everybody Else Is Splitting Up

According to Fox News, a divorce study from the University of California, Harvard University, and Brown University indicates that divorce is actually "contagious."  This means that if a couple knows neighbors, friends, parents, or relatives that get a divorce, the couple is more likely to split up and sign that dissolution of marriage.

Here are some statistics from the study: a person who has a divorced sibling is 22 percent more likely to get a divorce than somebody who has siblings that are happily married. Somebody with a divorced friend is 147 percent more likely to get divorced than someone whose friends are all happily married. A person is with a divorced co-worker is 55 percent more likely to get divorced than someone who works with people that are happily married.

Vienna Girardi Gives Engagement Ring Back to ABC

ABC called, they want their engagement ring back.

Some fans of The Bachelor might be angry with Warner Bros. and the ABC network for demanding Vienna Girardi to give her engagement ring back to reality show producers when she and Jake Pavelka ended their relationship. ABC provided Jake Pavelka with the ring when he proposed to Vienna on the most recent season of The Bachelor. But what ever happened to an engagement ring being a gift?

Family Abductions Reported Through AZ Amber Alert System

Child abductions are a serious criminal matter in the eyes of the law, but sometimes a non-custodial parent will want to do anything they can to be with their children, even if it means violating a court order or abducting a kid.

Family abductions occur throughout the state of Arizona, but fortunately the state does have an Amber Alert system, which broadcasts alerts about abducted children in the area. states that the program works with Phoenix law enforcement agencies to quickly alert community members about missing and endangered children. Community members can then call law enforcers or Amber Alert organizers to report information about the case.

How to Get a Divorce Case Dismissed

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The process of divorce can be very long and emotional for some couples. Certain people may even change their mind along the way about a dissolution of marriage or may just want to put the process off until the time is right. Once the divorce process has started, a Phoenix family law attorney can help either the petitioner or the respondent with representation and all the necessary legal paperwork.

If you're the petitioner in a divorce case and you change your mind about going through with the split, you can always submit a Notice of Dismissal in Arizona if the divorce petition has not yet been served. The Maricopa County Superior Court website states that if the service has been completed, then you can still file for a Motion to Dismiss the pending divorce.

In What Ways Can a Prenuptial Agreement be Invalid?

Without a prenuptial agreement in place, property and assets that have been acquired during a marriage are split evenly between the two spouses in Arizona in the case of a divorce. Couples in Arizona will occasionally sign a prenuptial agreement to identify which property is owned by whom before a marriage and to keep certain property as separate in a marriage.

President Obama Promotes Responsible Fatherhood

Father's Day seems to be a very important day for President Barack Obama. Not only is he reminded of how he's a proud father of two, but the day also provides an opportunity for him to urge other fathers to mentor their own children and to reach out to those children in the community who do not have strong parental or guardian support.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the President recently announced a series of new initiatives that the government is taking to promote responsible fatherhood. One of these newly proposed initiatives is the development of the Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation Fund, which will provide funding through the Department of Labor for transitional jobs programs for unemployed, non-custodial parents. This initiative may just help non-custodial fathers pay their court ordered child support, which many fathers now struggle to do if they're unemployed.

Heidi Montag Divorce? She Gets a Divorce Lawyer

Many people might be convinced that the rumored divorce between reality stars Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt isn't really happening. However, news reports have confirmed that Heidi Montag has hired a divorce lawyer, two weeks after the couple filed for legal separation. It seems that there will be a Heidi Montag divorce soon enough.

Daily Mail reports that the star of The Hills have hired divorce lawyer Jodeane Farrell so that a divorce settlement can be put into place, which will legally settle issues of property division. Once the couple officially file for divorce, they'll have to wait six months for the dissolution of marriage, which is a requirement by California law.

Changing a Legal Separation to a Divorce

Phoenix family lawyers not only deal with legal issues relating to divorce, but also represent clients who are going through a legal separation. But what happens if you have filed for legal separation, but change your mind and would instead like to completely end your marriage? Can you convert that request for legal separation to a petition for a Dissolution of Marriage?

In the state of Arizona, the answer is yes. In fact, Phoenix family lawyers say that if you change your mind about legal separation and would like to go ahead with a divorce, the process is very simple. According to the Maricopa County Superior Court's website, the petitioner can file an amended petition to convert the legal separation to a dissolution of marriage under the same came number, as long as the legal separation case is not yet final. Before the case is final, the respondent in a legal separation case may also indicate in the response that he or she wishes to convert the legal separation into a dissolution.

Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies say that say that our tough economy is no excuse for a mother or father to ignore their financial obligations to their children. So deputies saw this past Father's Day weekend as an opportunity to crack down on child support evaders who owe outstanding child support.

ABC News reported that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office conducted a deadbeat parent roundup operation last Saturday by knocking on doors throughout the Valley. The department called this roundup "Operation Dodging Daddies."

Wendy's Provides Money For Adoption Services

Grabbing a bite at Wendy's fast food restaurant this past weekend may have helped hundreds of thousands of children in the United States, with money going toward the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA) with the purchase of each Frosty. The organization works to increase the number of adoptions of waiting children in North America and has the vision of providing every child with a permanent home and loving family. reports that Wendy's celebrated the 4th annual Father's Day Frosty Weekend on June 19 - 20 by donating 50 cents of every Wendy's frosty to DTFA. Wendy's customers were also able to support the DTFA charity by purchasing a $1 Frosty pin.

What is Arizona's Safe Haven Law?

Under Arizona's Safe Haven law, a parent or agent of a parent may anonymously give up an unharmed infant who is 72 hours old or younger to a Safe Haven provider without any questions asked. Parents can feel safe and confident that they won't be charged with child abuse if they are to give up their newborn baby in this manner.

What exactly is a Safe Haven provider? Arizona Revised Statute §13-3623.01 says that Save Haven providers include firefighters who are on duty, emergency medical technicians on duty, staff members at a health care institution, and staff members or volunteers at selected private child welfare agencies, selected adoption agencies, and churches.

How to Report Child Abuse in Arizona

The best way of reporting child abuse in the Grand Canyon state is to call Child Protective Services (CPS), a government program that offers protection for children who have been allegedly abused or neglected. Under ARS §8-802, the program was established to provide services of child abuse prevention and to receive, screen and investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect.

According to the Arizona Department of Economic Services, CPS performs assessments of child safety and assesses the imminent risk of harm to the children in individual cases by evaluating the conditions that support or refute child abuse or neglect allegations. 

Over the Counter Paternity Tests Now Sold in Stores

So you're pregnant, but you're not quite sure who the father is. It's okay, because DNA testing is now easier than ever. There's now even an over the counter paternity test called Identigene that is available in local pharmacies and drug stores. states that with Identigene, a DNA sample is collected from each paternity test participant using a cheek swab. The swabs are then sent into an accredited DNA paternity testing laboratory and the results are sent back within 3-5 business days. The Identigene DNA collection kit cost just $30 and the laboratory fee is $119, making the total cost just under $150.

John McCain Gets Involved With Child Custody Dispute

Yazmin Maribel Bautista, of Phoenix, is locked into a bitter child custody battle with her ex-husband Sadiq Jaffar Al-Saffar in a foreign country, but the woman claims that she has already been granted sole custody of their 5-year-old daughter in an Arizona Superior Court. The mother traveled to the country of Bahrain last year so that her daughter could visit her father, but a judge in the small Middle Eastern country has ruled that the child must stay with her father and that she cannot go back to the United States with her mother.

Karenna Gore Schiff Separates From Her Husband

It looks like some of the Gores are having trouble with their marriages. According to New York Daily News, Karenna Gore Schiff, who is the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, recently split up from her husband of 12 years and the estranged couple have been going to marriage counseling sessions.

Perhaps Karenna Gore Schiff will be facing more family law trouble than her father because she has three young children with her husband Drew Schiff. Since the separation, both Al and Tipper Gore have been helping Karenna with the kids who are now ages 10, 8, and 3.

State of Arizona Offering Adoption Orientations

Interested in adopting a child out of foster care? Perhaps the first step, even before getting a Phoenix family law attorney, is to attend an adoption and foster care orientation in Maricopa County to learn more information on adoptive parenting. The state of Arizona provides orientations through group sessions and individual meetings so that prospective parents can learn more about the basic requirements for adoption and about the process of becoming an adoptive parent.

The Arizona Department of Economic Security lists adoption orientation schedules in Maricopa County, Pinal County, Gila County, and Pima County on their website. DES also provides information on their website about the formal application process for adoption.

What Does a Mom Do When She No Longer Wants Her Kids?

An Arizona mother was arrested in the town of Surprise on charges of child neglect, aggravated assault, disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia after she reportedly punched her 11-year-old son in the stomach in front of Child Protective Services Officers and said that she no longer wanted her children.

KPHO News reports that 29-year-old Christina Muniz told police officers that she would be happy to get rid of her kids so that she can move to California and pursue her dream of being a stripper. According to Surprise police officers, the mother said that she was "sick of her children" and that she wanted authorities to take her 11-year-old son and 6-year-old son away from her so that she can "have fun and play."

The Most Wanted Deadbeat Parents in America

There's a new television show that will soon be catching the attention of family lawyers and parents everywhere. It's called "Most Wanted Deadbeat Parents" and it's set to start filming its first two episodes in Bradford County, Pa this July.

The Ithaca Journal reports that this television series will feature one hour programs with four of the most serious child support evaders being profiled with each episode. The show will be using public records and victim statements to identify parents who have reportedly abandoned their child support obligations. Viewers will then be asked to help locate these parents.

Having Children Could Lead to a Stressful Marriage

There's plenty of value and exciting things that a child can bring, but having a baby could actually put a dent in a marriage and increase the likelihood of a divorce. According to a study by U.S. News and World Report, 90 percent of couples say the quality of their relationship declined after their first child was born. This is not to say that it's a bad idea to have kids, but it's something to consider when doing the family planning. Otherwise, it could lead to a stressful marriage.

Some loving parents might be thinking, "How can a child possibly damage a relationship?" Parenthood can be demanding, especially for new parents, and that new child can certainly add a whole new level of unexpected stress. This kind of stress can lead to dissatisfaction within a relationship.

Ex-Wife Claims Dennis Rodman Owes $300,000 in Child Support

Celebrities and professional athletes typically have a lot of money and can afford their monthly child support payments with no financial problems at all. So why is Dennis Rodman having such difficulties?

This is probably the same question that many Phoenix family lawyers are now pondering. It's rumored through TMZ that the former NBA star is now in way over his head when it comes to child support payments. The man reportedly owes more than $300,000 in child support to his estranged wife Michelle.

Divorce Support Groups in Maricopa County

The process of divorce can be a painful and emotional experience for many people. And unfortunately not everybody has supportive family members or friends when splitting up from a partner. A Phoenix family law attorney can often be a big help during the legal procedure of divorce and can even provide tips and solutions of how to deal with the emotional pain of a divorce or separation.

Calculating Child Support Based on a Child's Financial Needs

How do family courts in Arizona calculate the amount of child support that a parent should owe? One of the main factors that the courts consider is the financial needs of a child. And because it's becoming more and more expensive to raise a child, Phoenix family lawyers are seeing child support payments hike up for noncustodial parents.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the cost of raising a child is getting higher; a child born in 2009 will cost the parents an estimated $222,360 until he or she reaches adulthood, based on studies from the U.S Department of Agriculture. This is up less than 1 percent from the cost of raising a child born in 2008. However, the cost of raising a child rose 15 percent from 1960 to 2008 (which includes adjustments for inflation). The increases are largely due to the increasing costs of health care, child care, and education.

Non-profit Organization Works to Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome

Just the thought of infants suffering from shaken-baby syndrome might be frightening to some parents, but unfortunately this occurrence is growing to be more and more common.

ABC News reports that there has been a significant increase in shaken baby syndrome, in which babies are shaken violently by an adult. With such cases of child abuse, Phoenix family lawyers will often get involved and in some cases the parents will lose custody of their kids by being forced to surrender their children to Child Protective Services.

Dad Gains Support in his Hunger Strike Against Child Support

A father from Utah is so upset about child support laws in America that he stopped eating for three weeks as a form of protest.

Salt Lake City Weekly reported that Kenyon Eastin's hunger strike lasted from May 14 to June 4 in the Tooele County Jail. It may not be much of a surprise that Kenyon Eastin was put in jail for his failure to pay court ordered child support. According to court documents, the man owes almost $8,000 in back child support and $2,000 in fees to his ex-wife's attorney.

Child Abuse Can Lead To Termination of Parental Rights

Severe child abuse or neglect is just one reason that FindLaw lists as grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights. So without a Phoenix family law attorney, it might be difficult for 31-year-old George Kuykendall to keep custody of his young daughter.

ABC News reports that the man from Mesa now faces three counts of child abuse for allegedly beating his child multiple times. The girl reportedly had cuts, bruises, welts and blood over her entire body. Court records show that both George Kuykendall and his live in girlfriend have had a history of domestic violence.

Wife Of Chris Simcox Seeking Divorce

Chris Simcox has a well-known face throughout the state of Arizona. The 49-year-old man helped launch the Minuteman border watch movement and has recently taken on a position as an adviser to U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth, who hopes to takeover Senator John McCain's seat in Arizona's Republican primary election on August 24.

Yet Associated Press reports that there's some family drama in Chris Simcox's life. His wife is now reportedly seeking a divorce and alleges that her husband took out a gun and threatened to shoot her and the family on at least two occasions in late 2009. It looks as though they'll both be needing their Phoenix family lawyers.

Phoenix Man Says That He Killed His Own Wife

A 56-year-old man called the Phoenix Police Department on Tuesday to say that he killed his wife and that he tried to kill himself, but that his suicidal attempt had failed. According to ABC News, the man had shot himself in the chin but just suffered from a non-life threatening injury.

It's still not clear why the man shot his own wife and why he wanted to kill himself. Perhaps he was unhappy with his marriage. The story is similar to another recent case of where a man stabbed his wife after the woman said that she wanted to divorce him. AZ Family News reported that the suspect, Dwight Wesley, drove to the Phoenix Police Department headquarters with his wife's body covered in blood and said that he had killed her.

Paying For College With Child Support

In the state of Arizona, child support payments usually end when the child reaches the age of 18. This is unless the child is still in high school on his or her 18th birthday, in which case child support payments will continue until the child finishes high school. According to the Arizona Supreme Court, child support payments can be terminated at the age of 19, even if the child has not finished schooling.

Unlike some U.S. states, parents in Arizona have no legal obligation to support a child through college or pay for a child's college expenses. But even though there is no state law regarding compulsory payment of college expenses, FindLaw states that parents will often make an agreement in a divorce settlement on college payments. Courts can then enforce those agreements. Family courts also have the authority to order a noncustodial parent to pay for some form of college expenses, but this is rare and such orders are not usually made unless the noncustodial parent has a large amount of money and the custodial parent has very little financial resources.

How to Get a Marriage License in Phoenix

Compared to other states, Arizona has pretty simple requirements for obtaining a marriage license. So if you're going to the chapel, and you want to get married, here is what you need to do. 

In the Grand Canyon state, there's no waiting period from the time you apply for a marriage license and the time you actually receive the license. In Arizona, there's no need to be a current or previous resident of the state to get a marriage license. There's also no requirement to show a copy of a divorce decree for a person that was previously married and no requirement to have a blood test before marriage.

To obtain a marriage license in Phoenix, couples must go through the Maricopa County Clerk of the Court. According to the clerk's office, the marriage license costs $72.00. That fee can be paid with cash, check, bank guarantee card, or credit card. Both parties must be present at the county clerk's office to retrieve the license and an unused marriage license which will expire one year from the date that the fee is paid.

Filing Pro Se: Representing Yourself in Family Court

It's highly desirable to have a Phoenix family law attorney for representation with any hearing in family court. However, not all people can afford an attorney and some people may have trouble finding a volunteer lawyer. Sometimes, filing pro se is the only option. 

If you're in this situation, Maricopa County has family court services and resources to help those people who are in need. People representing themselves in family court should check out the Family Lawyers Assistance Project (FLAP) before going to their hearing.

Sheryl Crow Inspires People to Adopt With Her New Son Levi James

A 48-year-old Grammy Award winning singer can perhaps do more for the world than sing about hopeless love. Sheryl Crow is now showing the world that she can be a good mother without having a man in her life, which may actually inspire many people around the world and in the Phoenix community.

New York Daily News reports that Sheryl Crow has adopted a new baby boy, making him her second adopted child. The singer's older son named Wyatt is now three-years-old. On her website she posted, "I have some exciting news to share with you guys. Wyatt has a new little brother! Levi James was born April 30th. Just wanted you all to be the first to hear the good news!" 

Maricopa County Offers Free Family Court Workshops

Would you like to learn more information about the legal procedures of establishing paternity, child custody agreements, visitation, or child support? Maricopa County and the city of Phoenix have great resources that can help parents through these legal procedures and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money.

The Maricopa courts report that they have free family court workshops for parents that want to learn more about particular family law issues. On the third Friday of every month, there's a workshop on "Establishment of Paternity, Custody, Visitation and Support" at the Self Service Center in Phoenix. On the second and fourth Fridays of every month, the Self Service Center also has a class on the modification of child support. Registration for these classes begin at 8:30 a.m. and the classes start at 9:00 a.m.

Social Networking Coming into Play With Family Law Cases

Be careful of what you post on Facebook. This is especially true if you're in the process of a divorce or child custody battle, as social networking websites have become a new platform for Phoenix family lawyers to collect evidence.

KPHO News reports that sites like Facebook and Myspace can sometimes show how much a person is spending through photos or wall posts. If a spouse claims to have no money, but then pictures show a new car or new jewelry, then that's a sign that the person has money to spend.

California Courts Reject Conrad Murray's Child Support Request

Many people might be aware of Dr. Conrad Murray's legal trouble when it comes to his criminal case involving Michael Jackson's death. The man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of the pop star.

Yet many people may not be familiar with his second legal case that involves his battle with overdue child support. Associated Press reports that the doctor owes about $16,000 in back child support to the mother of his 12-year-old son. In California's Santa Clara County Superior Court, Conrad Murray was recently denied a request for his court order to be relieved.

What is the Parent Information Program?

Parents who are involved in the process of divorce or legal separation in Arizona are usually required to attend a parent information program that is intended to teach parents about the impact of restructuring of families on children.

This is a requirement under the Arizona law ARS§ 25-351: "Domestic Relations Education on Children's Issues," which states that each county must implement an educational program that educates families on how judicial involvement can affect children. Under this law, the Superior Court of Maricopa County has implemented the Parent Information Program (PIP).

How to File For Divorce in Arizona

So you've just decided that you would like to divorce your spouse. What do you do now? How do you file for divorce in Arizona?

Divorce, which is also known as the dissolution of marriage in Arizona, can be a very long and strenuous legal process. This is why it's important to get a Phoenix family lawyer involved so that you can get legal advice and have an expert who can be of assistance.

According to the Judicial Branch of Arizona, the process starts when one spouse completes a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" and files it with the Clerk of Court at the courthouse. When filing for divorce, the petitioner must pay a fee of $321. Once the divorce papers are served to the respondent, he or she will have a certain number of days to respond to the petition. The exact number of days varies depending on the type of service and where the party resides.

Al and Tipper Gore's Legal Separation Surprises Many

Al and Tipper Gore may each need a family law attorney when it comes to their legal separation. After 44 years of marriage, the Washington Post reported that the Gores announced in an e-mail that they would be separating.

The e-mail read, "This is very much a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration." With a separation, the couple will still remain legally married but will be living apart. Alimony can be awarded during a period of separation, which is one reason why couples may get family law attorneys involved with the separation process.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Joint Custody

Divorced or separated parents sometimes feel that a joint custody agreement is the most fair, but Phoenix family lawyers may discourage this type of child custody arrangement because of the complications that can arise.

FindLaw states that true joint custody arrangements (parents share both physical custody and legal custody rights) are rare because of their potential to cause personal difficulties and practical problems. Joint legal custody is much more common, which allows both parents to share the right to make long-term decisions about the raising of a child, but the child resides with predominantly one parent.

The Economic Benefits of Marriage

USA Today reports that a Pew Research Study shows that men can gain just as much economic benefit from a marriage as women can. The study suggests that men are better off economically in a marriage because of a combined income they have with their wives.

"Marriage is a different deal than it was 40 years ago," Pew economist Richard Fry told USA Today. "Typically, most wives did not work, so for economic well-being, marriage penalized guys with more mouths to feed but no extra income. Now most wives work. For guys, the economics of marriage have become much more beneficial."