August 2010 News: The Phoenix Family Law News Blog

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August 2010 Archives

Are We Turning Into A Divorce Culture?

Bruce Feller, a reporter for the New York Times shares with readers that he recently celebrated his seventh wedding anniversary. He wrote that this particular milestone in marriage is not really known for anything special other than the infamous need for spouses to cheat on another. Perhaps a Phoenix family attorney can vouch for veracity of that claim. Feller says we are now in a divorce culture.  

The myth that spouses feel the need to cheat comes from a play and movie called "The Seven Year Itch." But it seems that while the notion was a fresh concept in 1952, it is definitely a concept that many spouses can attest is true now. From finding an old flame through Facebook, to trolling hookup sites like AshleyMadison.com, it is getting easier to have an affair. The news is filled with stars going through divorce. From Tiger Woods to Sandra Bullock, it seems that this country is saturated with divorce.

Pre Owned Wedding Dresses Are Popular In Phoenix

Weddings are meant to symbolize a couple's public commitment to each other. However as AZ Family notes, weddings can get expensive. 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper recommends that brides looking to save money on their weddings to try out pre owned wedding dresses. A lot of Phoenix brides are realizing that their dream dress doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Claire Tully told AZ Family that she felt special on her big day but that the deal on her dress was even sweeter: "I think the original price was probably about $2,000 and I paid $600 for it, so I saved quite a bit of money."

Melissa Williams Charged With Child Neglect

Melissa Williams has been charged with child neglect after leaving her sleeping baby at home in order to drop her boyfriend off to work. AZ Family reports that Melissa Williams was pulled over by police for a broken windshield and detained after smelling like marijuana. Police also discovered that the mother was driving without a license. She admitted to police that she left her baby at home so that she can drop her boyfriend to work.

Once she told police that, she was arrested. After her arrest, police went to her apartment in Mesa where they allegedly found marijuana in the baby's bassinet. They claim that the baby's cries could be heard outside the apartment. Sgt. Ed Wessing told AZ Family: "The officers who were there said they could hear the baby screaming from outside the apartment. They made entry and ended up changing and feeding the baby."

Remains Of Child Could Possibly Be Sylar Newton

Authorities have revealed that skeletal remains found in a gully in northern Arizona may be the remains of missing two year old Sylar Newton. ABC News reports that Yavapai County Sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn told news outlets that the remains were found less than two miles from the campsite by a relative of Sylar Newton. The toddler was last seen on July 25.

A press release by the Yavapai County Sheriff read: "The remains were located at the bottom of a wash and likely came to rest in this area due to recent flash flooding. At this time, the remains are believed to be that of Sylar Newton, but final confirmation is still pending." The family member had been searching the area since the toddler vanished. While he is not considered a suspect, police still questioned him.

Ashley Kelley Loses Son While Smoking Pot

A three year old boy was found wandering the street with no shoes on in Prescott Valley. AZ Family reports that at approximately 11:00 a.m. on Thursday of last week, a storeowner saw a little boy walking the street alone across from her business. She took the boy in and called police. Prescott Valley police were finally able to locate the boy's home. 

When they arrived at the apartment, they allegedly smelled burning marijuana and found drug paraphernalia. The boy's mother, Ashley Kelley told police that she was smoking marijuana with a friend inside the apartment. She said she was not aware that her son was missing and may have left the apartment through the back door. Police claim that there is no evidence to back this assertion.

Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren Divorce

It's been nine months since it was revealed that Tiger Woods was cheating on Elin Nordegren. This week, CBS reports that Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren have offically divorced. The broken up couple has agreed to share custody of their two children, 3 year old daughter Sam and 19 month old son Charlie. Each parent has finished a four hour parenting course. While the divorce is now official, there is no specifics on the settlement.

The couple filed court documents that stated that their marriage is "irretrievably broken." Elin Nordegren has requested that her name be changed back to her maiden name of Elin Maria Pernilla Nordegren.

Cheryl Hines Files For Divorce, Hoping to Share Custody of Daughter

Summer is the season of weddings, but this year it also seems to be the season for separation and divorces. Cheryl Hines, the star of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, is another celebrity that can be added to list of famous people currently going through a divorce.

According to E! Online, the actress filed for a divorce last month in California and is looking to split from producer and manager Paul Young after almost eight years of marriage. Together, the couple have one 6-year-old daughter named Catherine Rose. The couple are reportedly looking to share custody of their daughter.

California Passes Law to Make Divorce Easier For Same Sex Couples

Same-sex couples living in Arizona that are married and part of a registered domestic partnership may feel a sense of relief knowing that California is about to have a law allowing same-sex couples to legally separate through a consolidated process. According to the California Chronicle, the California Senate and Assembly have marked their approval of AB 2700, which amends the California family code to allow couples who registered as domestic partners and who are legally married thereafter to dissolve both contracts through a single, uniform procedure.

Michael Jackson's Parents Getting a Divorce

The past year has certainly been tough for the Jackson family, but now things are about to get even more rough with the rumors of Katherine and Joe Jackson getting a divorce.

The Denver Post reports that the parents of the King of Pop became estranged five years ago, but that they are just now calling their family lawyers and filing for a divorce after 60 years of marriage. Many people are surprised that the couple is seeking a dissolution of marriage at such a late age (they're both in their 80s), but Katherine is reportedly insisting on the divorce because she claims that her husband is blaming her for her son Michael Jackson's death. Up until now, the woman has been hesitant to go through with a divorce because of religious reasons.

Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva Discuss Child Support in Court

Aside from a dramatic domestic dispute, Russian Singer Oksana Grigorieva and actor Mel Gibson are in a huge legal battle over child support for their 9-month old daughter Lucia. Fox News reports that Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva appeared in court last Wednesday to discuss how much child support Mel Gibson should be paying.

The Lethal Weapon star is reportedly trying to limit his child support payments to just $6,000 a month, which Oksana Grigorieva claims is just one percent of the actor's $600,000 per month income. The two parties met in a closed-door court hearing with their family lawyers.

When the Other Parent is Mistreating Your Child

It might be frightening to find out that your child's mother or father is harming your child. When such a situation occurs, it's best to take action right away in order to prevent future forms of child abuse on your son or daughter.

The Maricopa County Superior Court website suggests that parents contact Child Protective Services at 1-888-SOS-CHILD or the local police department as soon as you suspect that your child is being abused. When the other person has been suspected of abuse by authorities, you as the other parent may ask the family courts for an Order of Protection that includes the child. With an Order of Protection, the other parent will be ordered to stay away from you and the child.

Hilary Duff and Mike Comrie Sign Prenup

The former Edmonton Oiler hockey player and the former Disney star had their dream wedding in Santa Barbara, CA this past weekend, but not without signing a prenuptial agreement first. The New York Post reports that Hillary Duff and Mike Comrie are doing everything they can to protect their legal assets. And why shouldn't they? Mike Comrie's family reportedly owns the furniture and appliance retailer The Brick, which is worth $500 million. Hillary Duff has also raked in quite a bit of dough as the star of Disney Channel's Lizzie McGuire and has also acquired money and fame through acting gigs, pop albums and a signature fragrance line.

Studies Show Long-Term Relationships Reduce Stress

Did you know that multiple studies over the years have shown that marriage relieves stress? This has to do with the idea of commitment and that such commitment gives people a more stable attitude on life.

Yet AOL Health News reports that new studies show that it's not marriage itself that is a stress reducer, but the general idea of commitment in any romantic relationship. Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University have found that unmarried people in long-term romantic relationships show the same milder hormonal reactions to stress as married people do.

Palin and Johnston Reach Child Custody Agreement

The Palin family is making media headlines once again. This time it's over the child custody arrangement of Tripp Palin Johnston, son of Bristol Palin and her ex-boyfriend Levi Johnston.

The Miami Herald reports that the young couple have come to an agreement, where Bristol will have primary physical custody of their son. Levi will be able to visit Tripp two days a week between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturdays and noon and 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. The couple will, however, share legal custody of their son.

Joe Villasenor Still in the Midst of Divorce

Former senior assistant to Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon, Joe Villasenor, says that he will not be returning to work with City Hall even after a judge has cleared him of a domestic assault case.

According to the Arizona Republic, Joe Villasenor was charged with domestic-assault after he had a dispute with his wife last December. However, a Maricopa County judge dismissed the charges last June. In July, a judge denied the county's request to have the court reconsider the case. Phil Gordon's senior assistant also resigned from his position at City Hall last February and is now doing independent consulting work.

Ex-Girlfriend Seeking Child Support From Donald Bren

One of the richest men in the world is now being sued over child support in Orange County. So it's no surprise that family lawyers all over the country have their eyes on Donald Bren, the Irvine Co. chairman that allegedly owes money to his two adult children.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the billionaire land developer's ex-girlfriend filed a lawsuit for child support in 2003. After seven years of a long battle, their case is finally going to trial this week.

Family lawyers representing the ex-girlfriend Jennifer McKay Gold say that if Donald Bren was officially ordered to pay child support, he would have had to pay between $3 million and $5 million per month. Yet Donald Bren's attorneys have disputed over this amount amount.

No Fault Divorce Coming Soon to New York

The state of New York has finally jumped on the bandwagon by becoming the last U.S. state to approve no fault divorces. The New York Times reports that the state governor David Patterson signed a set of bills on Sunday that have to do with divorce; including a bill that will allow couples to dissolve marriages by mutual consent.

Teen Mother Arrested For Child Abuse

A 16-year-old mother from Phoenix was arrested last Saturday after police suspected that the girl had faked her daughter's kidnapping. ABC News reports that the teenager called police to report that a group of men had kidnapped her 1-year-old baby at gunpoint near 67th Avenue and Van Bruen Street, where a large number of police officers proceeded to assist with the search for the baby.

Ronald McIntyre Jumps Out Window to Avoid Child Support Payments

It seems that there are some non-custodial parents that will do anything not to pay child support. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that a 35-year-old man from Cook County, Illinois jumped out of a third-story apartment window last week to escape sheriff's deputies that were trying to arrest him for failing to pay almost $6,000 in court-ordered child support.

It's not too surprising that the man, whose name is Ronald "Boobie" McIntyre, injured himself after landing on artificial turf covering concrete, making him unable to successfully escape from the deputies. Ronald McIntyre reportedly broke both of his legs and was hospitalized after his attempted flee. He now has a court date set for Oct. 19, where he could be facing criminal charges.

No More U.S. Adoptions From Nepal

If you're thinking about adopting a child from Nepal, it's probably best to make alternative arrangements since the State Department has halted Nepalese adoptions. Associated Press reports that the suspension of adoptions from Nepal is due to concerns about unreliable and fabricated documents about abandoned children.

The decision to suspend adoptions from Nepal came after the State Department found that numerous birth certificates of Nepalese children were falsified and that orphanage officials refused to assist efforts to confirm information. Numerous other countries have also reportedly suspended adoptions from Nepal based on similar concerns, including the countries of Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy and Britain.

Megan Serrano Arrested on Suspicion of Child Endangerment

Authorities with the Pinal County Regional Narcotics Task Force arrested a 22-year-old mother earlier this week after law enforcers found methamphetamine, glass pipes, marijuana, and two digital scales inside of her apartment in Florence at the 900 block of South Desoto Street.

A statement issued by the Pinal County Sheriff's Office said that the drugs and drug paraphernalia were all found within reach of the woman's 20-month-old daughter. So it might not be too surprising that the mother, Megan Serrano, was arrested not only on drug charges but also on suspicion of child endangerment. The Arizona Republic reports that the woman was booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center after authorities seized the illegal items from her home.

Restricting Citizenship Status of Children Born In The U.S.?

According to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center, babies born to undocumented immigrants made up 8 percent of U.S. births in 2008. This means that one out of every 12 babies born in this country is the offspring of illegal immigrants.

Yet their offspring become U.S. citizens when they're born on the U.S. soil. Under the Constitution's 14th Amendment, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Child Support Payments in Pinal County

The Pinal County Attorney's Office Child Support Division has received a record number of child support payments this year, with a grand total of $21.5 million being collected as stated in the Coolidge Examiner. This number is quite significant to many parents since the total amount of child support income collected in by the Pinal County Attorney's Office was just $2.7 million when the Child Support Division in Pinal County was first established.

The Coolidge Examiner reports that Pinal County actually has one of the highest out of wedlock and teen pregnancy birthrates in the state of Arizona. Hence, there's a great deal of demand for child support in the area.

NFL Player Mark Fields in Heated Battle Over Child Custody

Former NFL star Mark Fields has been part of an ongoing legal dispute with his ex-girlfriend over the custody of his 6-year-old daughter. It's not exactly clear what the current child agreement is, but it looks like the former linebacker of the Carolina Panthers may have gotten himself into more legal trouble after a dispute earlier this week.

The pro-football player was arrested at his Litchfield Park, Arizona home on Monday after witnesses told police that he beat the mother of his daughter and put her in a chokehold. The Arizona Republic reports that the man was then booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix on felony counts of aggravated assault and interference with education, and misdemeanor counts of endangerment and disorderly conduct, according to booking documents. He has since been released on $10,000 bond.

Missing Arizona Children Found With Mother Janeth Valenzuela

The Arizona Republic reports that two Phoenix brothers, ages 5 and 7, were recently found in Puerto Rico with their mother. However, the mother is now facing criminal charges because the boys were reportedly supposed to be with their father in Arizona after the mother Janeth Valenzuela lost custody of the boys at an Arizona court hearing.

The mother has been on the run from authorities for the past six months with her two boys. Authorities initially thought that Janeth Valenzuela was hiding in Mexico, but the three people were all found in Puerto Rico last week. The two boys were flown home to their father in Phoenix on Saturday, while the mother accused of abduction remains in Puerto Rico awaiting extradition. She faces criminal charges that include custodial interference, forgery, and multiple counts of fraud.

Mom Gives Up Baby Through Safe Haven Law

A mother dropped off her 2-day-old baby at the Mesa Fire Department Station on Monday for good and will not be taking her baby back. While some people might argue that the woman abandoned her baby, she will not face criminal charges that have to do with child neglect or child abandonment.

According to the Arizona Republic, the woman was able to legally surrender the newborn child anonymously under the state's Baby Safe Haven Law. The law, which was passed in 2001, allows parents to give up an infant that is unharmed to a Safe Haven provider with no questions asked. This is as long as the baby is 72 hours old or younger

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston Break Off Engagement...Again

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston once again made media headlines last month when they announced that they were engaged for the second time during their on-again, off again relationship. However, People Magazine reports that their engagement lasted a mere 20 days before the young couple broke off their engagement once again.

At the age of 17, Bristol Palin became the most well-known teenage mother in America. As the daughter of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, she became a public icon and gave birth to her son Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston while still in high school. She and the baby's father Levi Johnston first announced their engagement during the 2008 presidential campaign but broke off their relationship one year after baby Tripp was born. Most recently, the couple announced the second round of their engagement through US Weekly.

Child Support Awareness Month Is Here

Did you know that the month of August is Child Support Awareness Month? Around the United States, many local governments are recognizing the non-custodial parents that are committed to the success of their children and who show that commitment through child support payments.

The Eastern Arizona Courier reports that Governor Jan Brewer proclaimed August as Child Support Awareness month in the Grand Canyon state in hopes of shedding light on the local communities and state support systems that provide economic security to families and children. The Department of Economic Security Division of Child Support Enforcement, the Office of the Attorney General, county attorneys, state and local clerks of court, and child support enforcement agencies are just some of the state support systems that are being recognized through the proclamation.

Arizona Governor Makes Commitment to End Child Abuse

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has joined the governors of the other 49 U.S. states in a commitment to eliminate child abuse around the country. This commitment through the anti-child abuse organization Childhelp will likely raise awareness on the concerns of child abuse in America and the action that needs to be taken on the issue.

ABC News reports that the number of Arizona cases dealing with child abuse have skyrocketed in recent years with 50 children dying of child abuse last year in the state of Arizona alone. According to UNICEF, those child abuse deaths add up to more than 1,700 children annually across the United States as a whole.

North Carolina Company Offering Divorce Insurance

It seems like you can get insurance for almost anything these days, including insurance for your divorce. That's right, SafeGuard Guaranty Corp., based in North Carolina, is now releasing what the New York Times calls the "first world's first divorce insurance product."

Sean Penn and Robin Wright Divorce

A judge in Marin County, California signed off on the divorce between actors Sean Penn and Robin Wright, making their divorce officially finalized. Their split, which became official on July 27, shows just how complicated a divorce can get.

E! Online reports that "Forrest Gump" star Robin Wright first filed for divorce in December 2007, but withdrew the divorce petition in April 2008. The couple then filed for legal separation in 2009, but their case was later dismissed after the two reconciled. Later that year, Robin Wright's divorce filed the divorce papers for a second time, citing irreconcilable differences.

How the Prop 8 Decision Will Impact Arizona

All eyes are now on California after a federal judge in San Francisco overturned Prop 8, the voter-approved same-sex marriage ban in California. This decision can potentially have a huge impact on the definition of marriage around the country, but the impact probably won't hit us anytime soon.

The Arizona Republic reports that California's decision on the legality of gay marriages could affect the marriage laws of the Grand Canyon state, since the state of Arizona also has a voter-approved ban on same sex marriages that was passed in 2008. California opponents of gay marriage are looking to appeal Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which also covers the state of Arizona.

Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt Divorce

Reality television star Heidi Montag from The Hills told People Magazine that her divorce from her MTV co-star Spencer Pratt is "heartbreaking" and that the split might be difficult for her to work through. The couple reportedly filed for a divorce last week after already filing for a legal separation in June.

Woman Risks Losing Custody of Unborn Child

After giving birth to two children, Brittainy Labberton of Washington state lost custody of her second baby when the child only gained one pound during her first two months of life. According to Seattle Weekly, the 21-year-old mother was able to see her daughter during a supervised visit and said that the baby looked fat. When her baby got diarrhea, tests revealed that the mother had given the baby laxatives.

The Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody

When deciding on a child custody arrangement for your child, it's important to be aware of all the different options that you have. Courts can give custody of a child to one or both of the parents through two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.

What's the difference between these two types of child custody? FindLaw states that legal custody gives a parent the right to make long-term decisions about the raising of the child as well as key aspects of the child's welfare. This can include decisions related to a child's education, medical care, or religious instruction. Physical custody, on the other hand, is the right to provide day-to-day care for the child. In most child custody situations, the child will live with the parent that has physical custody.

The Splitting of Finances During A Settlement In Divorce

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that long-term finances are often ignored in divorce settlements, hence the divorce settlements can be unfair for one party if he or she is left with long-term financial consequences.

One of the most common mistakes that the Montgomery Advertiser points out during a settlement in divorce is that the spouse that gets custody of the children typically wants the family home. Yet this can be financially problematic. The parent with the children may not have the resources to take care of both the home and the children, especially if he or she gives up other financial resources in exchange for the house. Perhaps it would be more fair to sell the home and split the proceeds.

Birth Mother and Adoptive Mother Search For Baby Sylar

The mystery behind a 2-year-old that disappeared from a northern Arizona campground last week has yet to be solved, but now the boy's biological mother is stepping in and helping the adoptive mother find their child.

Birth mother Charity Newton told ABC News that she "can't just sit around and do nothing" while her biological baby Sylar is missing and that she's doing the best she can to locate him. The woman has posted fliers with pictures of baby Sylar around the state.

Jon and Kate Gosselin Reach Child Custody Agreement

Reality television watchers might be wondering what will happen to Jon and Kate Gosselin's eight kids now that the couple is divorced. But even after a child custody agreement has been reached, the public may still never know the exact details of the settlement between Jon and Kate Gosselin.

The couple became famous for the TLC show Jon & Kate Plus 8, which featured the lives of the parents raising their eight children. After a dramatic divorce, New York Post reports that Jon Gosselin filed for primary custody of the couple's twins and sextuplets last April after Kate had already been temporarily granted primary custody of the children. Jon also requested to renegotiate his $20,000 a month payments in child support and spousal support.

Check Out The Arizona Child Support Calculator

If you're in the middle of a paternity or child support dispute and you haven't looked at the Arizona child support calculator yet, then you should go ahead and check it out on the Arizona Judicial Branch's website.

The Arizona Child Support Calculator provides an estimate of the amount of money that a person will owe in child support based on the Arizona Child Support Guidelines that took effect in 2005. While the information that a person receives from the child support calculator does not substitute that of a Phoenix family law attorney, the calculator can be a great starting resource for figuring out an estimate on how much money you will likely owe.

The Advantages of Open Adoption

A closed adoption means that there is no contact whatsoever between the birthparents and the adoptive parents once the adoption takes place, where as an open adoption means that the adoptive parents actually meet and stay in touch with the birthparents.

FindLaw states that open adoptions have become increasingly more common in recent decades and that adoption agencies often encourage at least some degree of openness. With an open adoption, the adoptive parents are often able to witness their child's birth and meet with the birthparents during the pregnancy.