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

July 2010 Archives

Are Non-Custodial Parents Happy With State's Child Support Website?

The Arizona Department of Economic Security tries to provide as much information as possible on child support payments through their website. While some parents may complain about the website's user friendliness, the department is constantly asking for feedback on how the state's child support website can be modified.

The Division of Child Support Enforcement currently has a survey asking for opinions on the appeal and helpfulness of the state's child support website, where website users are encouraged to provide feedback. In addition to taking a survey, website users also can view or post comments on the DES website that related to child support in Arizona. The department will sometimes respond to the questions and comments.

Parents Of ADHD Kids More Likely To Divorce

Parents that have a child with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may struggle to keep a happy marriage, according to USA Today. Because of the stress and anxiety that comes with taking care of a child with ADHD, studies show that parents with such a special-needs child are more likely to divorce.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, reveals that parents of ADHD kids are actually almost twice as likely as other parents to divorce by the time their child is 8 years old. Approximately 23 percent of parents in the study divorced by their child's eighth birthday if he had been diagnosed with ADHD, compared with 13% of similar parents in such factors as age, education and income whose child didn't have the disorder.

Studies Show That Gay Couples Make Good Adoptive Parents

Studies conducted by researchers at George Washington University and the University of Virginia show that children raised by same-sex couples are just as well off as the children raised by heterosexual couples. So why do some U.S. states still hold bans on gay adoption?

Perhaps it's time to change these laws and allow all parents the opportunity to adopt. According to the Washington Post, the researchers studied preschoolers who were adopted at birth by 27 lesbian couples, 29 gay male couples and 50 heterosexual couples. The results show that the quality of parenting plays a much bigger role than sexual orientation when it comes to the psychological health of the child.

Linda Hogan Engaged to Charlie Hill

The ex-wife of Hulk Hogan is now getting married to a 21-year-old man who is younger than the woman's eldest daughter. reports that Linda Hogan has officially announced her engagement where she and her "boy-toy" Charlie Hill plan to officially wed next summer on the reality television star's new yacht called "Alimoney." 

Judge Strikes Down Law Preventing Domestic Partner Benefits

Many same-same sex couples and LGBT activists across the Grand Canyon state were furious with the passage of House Bill 2013, which changed the eligibility requirements for insurance benefits in an effort to deny coverage to domestic partners in the state of Arizona. Yet the Arizona Republic reports that a federal judge blocked the law last week, ruling that the state of Arizona violated the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution with the passage of HB 2013.

Do Interfaith Marriages Lead to Divorce?

Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky are getting married this weekend, but their different religions have drawn upon many questions in our American society. Many people may question whether interfaith marriages can really last.

Washington Post columnist Chester Gills cited statistics stating that 37 percent of Americans have a spouse of a different faith, showing that interfaith marriages are becoming more and more common. Studies also show that couples in interfaith marriages are three times more likely to be divorced or separated than those who were in same-religion marriages.

Non-Residential Fathers Becoming More Involved With Children

Just because a father doesn't live with his kids doesn't mean that he's not involved, reports USA Today. The opposite may be true in some cases, where a non-residential dad will play an active role in his son or daughter's life without living with the kid.

How is this possible? USA reports that studies are showing an increase in non-residential fathers keeping track with their children and an increasing number of fathers paying their court ordered child support payments. Quality of a relationship could be seen as more important than the amount of time spent with a child. Simply calling a child or texting a child when you're not able to see them can make a huge difference in the son or daughter's life.

The Advantages of Co-Parenting

When going through a divorce with children, there are sometimes battles over child custody where each parent wants sole custody of their children. However, EmaxHealth reccomends co-parenting instead of fighting to be the single parent.

EmaxHealth states that co-parenting can give children stability and close relationships with both parents through a stressful and difficult time. And while this option may not be easy, it could be best for the children when parents enter a joint physical custody or joint legal custody agreement. Phoenix family lawyers can help parents establish a fair agreement that has the children's best interests at heart.

Adopting a Child as a Single Parent

Over the last couple decades there have been more and more single individuals looking to adopt a child and become a loving parent all on their own. Many Phoenix family lawyers applaud these efforts of single people, but FindLaw states that a single person will often face much more challenges in the adoption process than a couple who is looking to adopt.

Brian McKnight Story Show's Importance of Paternity Testing

Miriam Lee, of Florida, sued soul singer Brian McKnight last year hoping to get child support for her 14-year-old son. According to the Toronto Sun, the mother claimed that Brian McKnight was the father of her teenage son and had an attorney convince a judge to make a default ruling in her favor.

Because the performer never addressed the child support claim, the judge ruled that he was to pay $341,640 for 14 years of child support. Yet Brian McKnight took the smart approach and decided to participate in a paternity test after the ruling. Now, the results are in and they show that Brian McKnight is not the father of Miriam Lee's son, the singer doesn't have to pay any money.

Life in Prison Over Interference With Child Custody?

Many people feel that interference with child custody is a harmless crime, but one Florida woman could be facing life in prison after allegedly kidnapping a child from a migrant worker, who did not have proper documentation to be in the United States.

Tampa Bay Online reports that the defendant in this case is Amalia Tabata Pereira, who is the wife of Jose Tabata on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Apparently, Amalia Pereira told her husband that she had conceived and given birth to their child while he was pursuing his baseball career. However, this wasn't actually true so she felt that she had to take a baby from somebody else. She was able to convince parents of a baby that they were about to be deported and that they had to hand over the infant.

Rapper DMX and his Wife Tashera Simmons Announce Separation

Just two weeks after the rapper DMX was released from a Phoenix jail, his wife Tashera Simmons announced that she would be separating from the rapper after 11 years of marriage. The two have four children together, so there's a good reason for a Phoenix family law attorney to get involved in their separation.

Meghan McCain Offers Insight On LGBT Advocacy

Arizona Senator John McCain isn't exactly known to be a huge advocate for gay rights. The former presidential candidate promoted Arizona's voter initiative to put a constitutional ban on gay marriage in the Grand Canyon state and has criticized efforts to repeal the country's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Yet EDGE Boston reports that the senator's daughter, Meghan McCain, has stepped up as a strong model for LGBT advocacy by speaking out against Proposition 8 (California's gay marriage ban) and consistently standing as a strong supporter for sexual orientation equality. This is why many gay rights activists and moderate Republicans are looking forward to Meghan McCain's memoir, which is set to hit stores next month.

Paternity Testing Now More Available in Cochise County

Here's some good news for Arizona residents. The Cochise County Health Department is now offering DNA paternity testing through the DNA Diagnostics Center at all five of its locations, now having testing centers through the Benson Health Department, Bisbee Health Department, Douglas Health Department, Sierra Vista Health Department, and Willcox Health Department.

The Tucson Citizen reports that expanding opportunities for paternity testing can help some mothers collect child support  from the child's father and can also help fathers dispute false allegations of impregnation. Yet paternity testing can be expensive in Cochise County, so it's a good idea to establish paternity only when it's really necessary for a legal procedure. The going rate to test one child and one alleged father is $475, with an additional $75 for each cheek swabbing, which is how the DNA samples are collected.

Parents Get Ready for Annual NACAC Conference of 2010

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) is heading to Hartford, Connecticut for their annual NACAC conference, which is set to take place August 5-7 with pre-conference sessions on August 4.

The NACAC organization was formed in 1974 and their annual conference has more than 80 different workshop sessions about post-adoption services, therapeutic techniques, parenting children with challenges, recruitment and pre-adoption issues, international/infant adoption, public policy, and more. In fact, NACAC claims that their workshops at the annual conference cover "almost every adoption-related topic imaginable." The conference also features various guest speakers that will be discussing various issues on adoption.

Living Together Through a Divorce

Phoenix family lawyers know that a divorce can cost thousands of dollars in legal fees and can drag on for several months, or even years. For these reasons, ABC News reports that more and more divorced couples are choosing to live together during their break-ups.

Chris and Shari Stewart, a couple from Tempe trying to settle their divorce through family mediation, elected to live together along with their three children during their divorce. In a down economy, the Stewarts have agreed that they can't sell their house at this time, so they're trying to make the best of their living situation.

Amber Nicklas Found After 7 Years, Alleged Abductors Want Custody

An Arizona couple could be facing criminal charges related to the alleged abduction of Amber Nicklas, who is now 7-years-old. However, The Independent reports that the couple in Phoenix that have been accused of abduction are still fighting to keep custody of the child.

The story of Amber has been striking to many people across the U.S. and gives parents of long-term missing children some hope. Amber Nicklas was placed into foster care after California officials found that her living arrangement with her drug addict mother and biological grandmother unsuitable. The girl was placed into foster care, but was abducted from her foster parents when she was 13 months old at a Chuck E Cheese restaurant in Norwalk, California. The abduction took place while the girl's biological aunts were on a supervised visit with the foster parents.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Files For Divorce From Second Wife

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of the assassinated senator and nephew to the assassinated President John F. Kennedy, has filed for a divorce from his wife of 14 years. Associated Press reports that divorce filing took place in Westchester County, New York, but it seems that the divorce is far from finalized.

The divorce lawyers for Robert Kennedy and his wife Mary Kennedy have kept quiet on details regarding the split, where AP reports that calls about their divorce have not been returned. The Kennedys have been married since 1994 and have four children together, ranging from ages 9 to 15. Perhaps issues of child custody and child support will come into play during their process of divorce.

Oksana Grigorieva Says Mel Gibson Isn't Paying Child Support

The relationship between Russian singer Oksana Grigorieva and her ex-boyfriend Mel Gibson has been plastered all over the media tabloids this week, where Oksana Grigorieva claims that the Mad Max star was abusive toward her over the course of their relationship. The singer has already filed for a restraining order against the actor, but Oksana Grigorieva may also want to hire a family law attorney so that she can collect child support from her ex.

MSNBC reported last month that Oksana Grigorieva was saying that she was not receiving any financial support from Mel Gibson and that the actor was not providing her with any money so that she could take care of their 8-month-old baby Lucia Gibson. According to New York Daily News, Mel Gibson is worth $900 million, so there certainly seems to be a need for him to pay up and provide support for his daughter Lucia Gibson.

John Marcotte in California Tries to Ban Divorce

John Marcotte of California is trying to organize a ballot measure in his state that would allow California voters to vote on a divorce ban in 2011. The San Diego News Network reports that John Marcotte is calling this measure the California Marriage Protection Act.

If 694,354 registered voters in California sign the petition for the Marriage Protection Act by December 9, voters will see this initiative on the ballot. While John Marcotte is a Christian political activist who has started an anti-divorce movement, many political analysts see his campaign as satirical. The man says that he is proposing the divorce ban in response to the approval of Proposition 8, a voter approved initiative that banned gay marriage in 2008.

Argentina Allows Gay Marriage

Yesterday was a day to be remembered for many gay rights activists all over the world. The South American country of Argentina chose to legalize same-sex marriage on Thursday with the Senate's approval in a 33-27 vote in favor of the measure, according to the New York Times.

The legalization of same-sex marriage was sponsored by the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, but was strongly opposed by the Roman Catholic Church. Church organizers led protests involving tens of thousands of people that expressed criticism of the same-sex marriage bill. On the other side, many gay rights activists are now happy that same-sex couples in Argentina now have the same marital rights as heterosexuals, including adoption and inheritance rights.

University of Arizona Takes Part in Kids' Court School

Children sometimes feel a great amount of anxiety when their parents are in the midst of an intense child custody case, especially if it means that the child has to go to court and offer testimony. Yet the Arizona Daily Star reports that the University of Arizona has adopted a new program called Kids' Court School, which teaches children how they can be at ease when they're inside the courtroom.

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston Planning to Get Married Again

Bristol Palin has in many ways become the poster child for teenage mothers everywhere. She gave birth to her son Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston when she was just 17-years-old, still in high school, and a public icon as the daughter of the former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Now at age 19, the young mother is in the spotlight again. CNN reports that Bristol announced her engagement to her baby's father Levi Johnston through US Weekly, even before she informed her parents of the engagement. Yet some Phoenix family lawyers might be skeptical of their love and plans to marry. After all, just a few months ago the couple each had their own attorneys in a huge legal battle of child custody and child support.

Harry Cooper And Barbara Cooper Inspire Couples

Meet Harry Cooper and Barbara Cooper from Los Angeles, CA. According to CNN, the couple have defied all U.S. divorce statistics and have managed to remain happily married for more than 72 years. The two call themselves "The OGs" which is short for Original Grandparents and continue to give relationship advice over the Internet.

Through their blog, Harry and Barbara have been offering wisdom, humor and advice on their relationship since 2008. The couple claim that they have been inseparable since they first met on a tennis court in 1937. They were then married just after several months of dating.

DOMA Ruling Could Spark Change in Arizona Marriage Laws

Gay couples around the country now have a new reason to be excited.  As reported in the Boston Globe, a federal district judge in Massachusetts struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman.

Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional because it prevented states from being able to define marriage, which violates the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In the ruling, Judge Tauro wrote that defining marriage is considered "such an essential element of state power" and that states have been able to set their own marriage laws since before the American Revolution.

Arizona's High Conflict Resolution Class

Studies show that when there's high conflict between two parents, the parental conflict can have a harmful effect on children. For this reason, the Maricopa County family courts offer what's called a High Conflict Resolution Class (HCR) that is ordered for some parents to take by a judge.

The HCR class is a single four-hour class taught at the Maricopa County family court in Phoenix designed specifically for parents in high conflict. The class focuses on specific strategies that parents can use to reduce their conflict so that they can avoid having a negative impact on their children through such conflict.

Domestic Violence Allegations In Mel Gibson's Child Custody Case

Actor, film director, and producer Mel Gibson is in a legal battle with his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva when it comes to child custody of their 8-month old daughter Lucia. The baby is Mel Gibson's eighth child and he is reportedly trying to work out an arrangement with his ex-girlfriend, who is a Russian singer.

Associated Press reports that both parties now have their own family lawyers to negotiate an arrangement on their behalf. The attorneys met for a closed session in Los Angeles with a judge earlier this month to discuss the custody of Lucia Gibson, where the hearing was closed to the public. Neither Mel Gibson nor the Russian singer were even present for the hearing and the work is being completely left to the experienced family lawyers. The couple split up in April and entered into a confidential agreement one month after their separation.

Is Facebook the Reason For Divorce?

Phoenix family lawyers are now learning that Facebook is a factor that's playing a bigger role in how relationships turn out, and thus leading to divorces. The social networking site could create problems within a relationship if one spouse finds that other spouse is having inappropriate sexual chats with other people. A recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer shows just how Facebook posts can ruin a relationship.

Ken Savage became suspicious of his wife's behavior when he noticed that she was constantly on her computer. He was then able to track his wife's Facebook posts and discover that she had met up with a former boyfriend in a hotel and told her husband that she was working that same day. Ken Savage separated from his wife and now runs the website, which provides people with information on how Facebook affects relationships.

Larry King Calls off Divorce

It looks like the 76-year-old CNN host won't be needing anymore help from his divorce lawyer, as New York Daily News reports that him and his wife plan on staying together. Both Larry King and his wife Shawn Southwick have filed petition in Los Angeles to dismiss their divorce case.

The couple filed for a dissolution of marriage last April, but at the time Larry King's divorce lawyers said that there was a "50-50 chance" that the divorce wouldn't happen. Shawn Southwick is Larry King's seventh wife. If the CNN television personality was to go through with the split after 12.5 years of marriage, it would be the man's eighth divorce.

Arizona's Adoption Consent Laws

In order for Arizona courts to allow an adoption, proper adoption consent must be given from all the necessary parties. ARS § 8-106 states that consent must usually be given by the birth or adoptive mother  or guardian of the child. The law states that the father must also provide consent for adoption if he was married to the mother at the time of conception, he is the adoptive father, or if he has otherwise established paternity.

There are some cases where consent from the parent or guardian is not needed. For example, if the parental rights have been terminated by a court order, then there's no need to get parental consent when adopting a child. A parent who has previously consented to an agency's or the division's placement of the child for adoption also does not need to provide consent.

About Divorce Decrees in Arizona

A divorce decree is the document that legally ends a marriage. The decree usually states how the marital property is going to be divided, how debts and assets are to be divided, and if any spousal maintenence (alimony) is to be paid out. If there were minor children involved in the marriage, the decree should also state information regarding child custody, parenting time and the amount of child support that is to be paid.

Once a judge or commissioner has signed the decree, all the rights and responsibilities are established between the ex-spouses and each ex-spouse must do what the decree says. If one spouse fails to follow the terms of the divorce decree, then a Contempt Order or an Order to Enforce can be requested, according to the Maricopa County Superior Court.

Mother May Lose Custody of Children After Abuse Charges

Arizona authorities have evidence that Phoenix mother Julia Teresa Varela-Valenzuela is unfit to be a parent after a search was conducted last January of the woman's home. After obtaining a search warrant, ABC News reports that Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies found drugs that were on a dresser within reach of the children. Deputies also found a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun under a 2-year-old child's crib and live rounds of ammunition right next to it wrapped in a magazine.

After these items were found in the Phoenix home, it might not be too surprising that the mother's three children were immediately placed in the care and custody of Child Protective Services. Julia Teresa Varela-Valenzuela was recently indicted on six counts of child abuse, possession of marijuana for sale, money laundering, possession of drug paraphernalia and misconduct involving weapons. The mother of three can face more than 12 years in prison if she is convicted of all the criminal charges.

Bobby Fischer's Body Exhumed For Paternity Test

Bobby Fischer, who is perhaps considered the greatest chess player of all time, has been lifted from his grave so that DNA samples can be taken for a paternity test. The chess legend died two years ago from degenerative renal failure and was buried in Iceland.

Yet an interesting case has come up where courts have found it necessary to take DNA samples from the chess champion so that paternity can be established. When Bobby Fischer died, he left no will and it was believed that he had no heirs. However, the New York Times reports that a woman is now claiming that Bobby Fischer had a child with her and that her 9-year-old daughter Jinky Young is his daughter. If this is true, the child could be the sole heir and entitled to his estate, which is estimated to be worth $2 million.

Maricopa County's Post Decree Child Support Court

If you're seeking a simplified child support modification, Maricopa County actually has a Post Decree Child Support Court that can often provide a quick resolution of post decree child support matters. The Post Decree Child Support Court was implemented in October 2005 and first came about so that child support issues can promptly be resolved and so that the number of times a party comes into court can be reduced.

Jenna Fischer And Lee Kirk Tie the Knot

While Angela Kinsey of NBC's The Office recently filed for a divorce, her co-star Jenna Fischer is on the other end of the spectrum and just married. The Money Times reports that she and her new husband Lee Kirk were married in a secret ceremony on the 4th of July.

Jenna Fischer, who plays the role of Pam on The Office, can perhaps be an inspiration for divorced women in America. The actress was married to director James Gunn for seven years before the couple divorced in 2007. Six months after the divorce, Jenna Fischer reportedly started dating Lee Kirk.

Will Gay Couples be Stripped of Domestic Partnership Benefits?

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer agreed to eliminate state employees' domestic partnership benefits for healthcare earlier this year for budgetary reasons, which aggravated many Phoenix family lawyers and LGBT activists. reported that this decision cost roughly 800 government workers in the state their health insurance coverage, but heterosexual workers were able to retain their same spousal health benefits. It reportedly costs the state of Arizona $3 million to cover the health benefits of domestic partners, but the state also pays $625 million for the health coverage of other state employees and their dependents. Jan Brewer apparently made her decision based on a budget deal, where she was allowed to raise taxes if she took away health care benefits from gay state employees.

How to Qualify For Emancipation in Arizona

Minors in Arizona who are at least 16 years of age, but not yet 18-years-old can file for emancipation, a court process in which a minor becomes self-supporting and assumes adult responsibility for his or her welfare. According to the Judicial Branch of Arizona, a state law went into effect on August 12, 2005 that allows minors to become emancipated if they're are financially self-sufficient and able to provide their own food, housing and medical care without parental assistance.

Arizona Court Procedures For Adoption

Whether your adoption is handled by an agency or done independently, it's necessary to have the adoption approved by a court. This is what makes the adoption official.

FindLaw states that prospective adoptive parents must file a petition to request approval of the adoption from the courts. Phoenix family lawyers can help the adoptive parents fill out all the necessary paperwork and represent the adoptive parents in court during the adoption hearing. At the hearing, it's up to the court to decide if the adoption is in the child's best interest, where a judge will issue an order that finalizes the adoption.

Arizona Child Support Fees Increase This Month

When non-custodial parents are ordered to make child support payments in the Grand Canyon state, they must usually do so through the Arizona Support Payment Clearinghouse. Child support payers are probably aware that Clearinghouse charges an additional processing fee of $2.25 per payment, however that fee more than doubles this month.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that as of July 1, child support payers have to pay a $5 fee, rather than $2.25. Employers who have been ordered to withhold income for child support payments, will also be deducting that extra fee. So while some non-custodial parents complain of the high cost of child support, they'll have something new to be upset about with this slight increase.

Angela Kinsey Divorcing Office Producer Warren Lieberstein

The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports that Office star Angela Kinsey is divorcing her husband of 10 years, Warren Lieberstein, who works as a producer and writer on the NBC. Divorce papers were filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court last week, which cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for their split.

Peoria Woman Charged With Custodial Interference

If you're unhappy with the outcome of a child custody case, you can always hire a Phoenix family law attorney to file an appeal of the determination or ask courts to modify a child custody agreement if there has been a "substantial change in circumstances." It's never a good idea to defy a court order and take a child away from another parent without permission.

A recent Arizona arrest shows how serious custodial interference can be. The Arizona Republic reports that a 5-year-old was taken away from her Gilbert father after the girl's mother took her daughter out of preschool last February and fled the state. The mother and father shared joint custody of the child, but the mother allegedly took the girl away from her father without permission of the father.

Online Marriage Therapy Could Become a New Trend

Many couples who face challenges in their relationship choose not to go through with marriage therapy for various reasons. Some people may feel that such therapy is expensive, inconvenient, emotional, or has the potential to bring out more troubles than the problems that already exist.

However, the Mental Health News Organization reports that a new type of therapy can become a popular alternative to traditional marital therapy. Professors at the University of California at Los Angeles and Miami University received a $1.2 million grant to study the development of an online marriage therapy program. Through the online marriage therapy program, doctors are working to provide treatment to distressed couples in a timely manner and provide more follow-up to the developments within a relationship. The study found that both traditional marriage therapy and online marriage therapy can provide lasting improvements in about half the couples who received treatment.