February 2011 News: The Phoenix Family Law News Blog

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February 2011 Archives

Should Undocumented Immigrants Be Allowed to Marry in Arizona?

There’s a wave of controversial immigration bills now hitting Arizona lawmakers, with some people saying that the new proposed measures are even more extreme than SB 1070. Last week, the state Senate Appropriations Committee approved of Senate Bill 1611, which would strip undocumented immigrants of many basic rights that they currently have, including the right to marry.

Yet marriage might be the least of worries for illegal immigrants. The Arizona Republic reports that if passed, SB 1611 would require proof of legal status to drive a car, enroll a child in school, attend a public university, get a vehicle title, get any federal public benefits, including emergency medical services, or get any sort of license, including a marriage license. The Senate Appropriations Committee also gave approval of two bills that challenge birthright citizenship.

Parental Rights? Mother Hits Child to Prove a Point to Father

When you get into an argument with your spouse or significant other, it’s important not to prove whatever point you’re trying to make with physical violence. It may seem obvious, but hurting a child to get back at the other parent can especially be problematic and lead to legal trouble.

The Phoenix New Times reports that a 31-year-old mother was arrested in Phoenix after punching her son in the lower-back. The mother Debra Kastner allegedly took a swing at her own son to prove to her son’s father that he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Yet it looks like the father did do something about it. He turned the law against Kastner and reported the incident to police.

What is a Postnuptial Agreement?

If you're thinking that you need to set some guidelines about issues of spousal support or the division of marital property in the case of a divorce, it's not too late to create a court-enforceable contract long after your wedding day. While many people in the state of Arizona might be familiar with prenuptial agreements, residents of the Phoenix metro area still might find postnuptial agreements to be somewhat of a foreign concept.

The Huffington Post reports that postnuptial agreements have become more popular in recent years because of their use by famous celebrities going through break-ups, including Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, or Frank and Jamie McCourt. While postnuptial agreements are often formulated when married couples are contemplating separation or divorce, the formal agreement can be made at any time during the marriage.

Facebook Adds Domestic Partnership Option for the Relationship Status

What’s your relationship status? Now people have more options to choose from when defining their relationship on Facebook.

Phoenix is one of a handful of cities in Arizona that has a domestic partnership registry, where registered domestic partners in the city are granted some of the same benefits as married couples in the state. Yet some domestic partners in the city and around the state may have once been upset that they weren’t able to properly define their relationship on the world’s largest social networking website.

Phoenix Police Warn Frankie Muniz After Domestic Dispute

The former child star Frankie Muniz, once the star of Malcom in the Middle, had the police called to his Phoenix home last week after he got into a heated argument with his girlfriend Elycia Turnbow about past relationships. It looks like 25-year-old Muniz is all grown up and needs to watch how he acts in order to avoid both bad press and legal troubles.

The Arizona Republic reports that Turnbow told Phoenix police officers that Muniz threw her into a wall and punched her in the back of the head, but officers said that they saw that the woman had no noticeable injuries. Muniz's publicist also denied the assault allegations and said that there were no arrests made.

Arizona's Domestic Partnership Benefit Case Heard in 9th Circuit Court

The state of Arizona spends about $625 million a year on employee benefits for state workers, $5 million of which goes toward the benefits of domestic partners of the state employees. Yet some lawmakers are trying to cut off benefits to all domestic partners in order to save money in the midst of a budget crisis.

Is it lawful to deny domestic partners benefits when the state does not have an avenue to allow for same-sex couples to legally get married? The Arizona Republic reports that a lawsuit filed on behalf of 10 state employees argues that such a policy violates the U.S. Constitution's equal-protection clause by making it impossible for same sex couples to get health coverage for their partners.

Dwight Wesley Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison, But Avoids Divorce

When 46-year-old Delores Glover told her husband Dwight Wesley that she wanted to file for a divorce in Phoenix, Wesley's reaction was to stab his wife several times, killing her while she was driving in their car. As we reported in a blog post last April, Wesley drove to the Phoenix Police Department headquarters after the slaying and confessed that he had killed his wife. Several months later, the husband pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charge.

According to The Phoenix New Times, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Glenn Davis recently sentenced Wesley to 22 years in prison for the murdering of his wife. So while the very idea of divorce might give some people a great deal of grief and anger, it does not give a person license to kill the other spouse. Almost anybody would say that a dissolution of marriage is easier to cope with than 22 years behind bars.

Valentine's Day is Popular Time For Divorce

The day to celebrate love may also be the perfect day to dissolve a marriage for some people. According to New York Post, family lawyers receive an average of a 40 percent increase in requests for divorce around Valentine's Day, compared to the previous six months before February 14. Other polls show that the questions people have about divorce increase by 36 percent during this same time period.

We reported in an earlier blog post that the month of January is the most popular time of year for divorce, but perhaps the sudden increase in divorce requests around Valentine's Day has to do with people being a little late on their New Year's resolution. On a day where pink and red hearts are plastered all over the grocery stores, many people may grow to loathe their spouse and might go as far as to consider separating.

Arizona Lawmakers Look to Put Limits on Abortion

Women seeking abortions in the state of Arizona may have to go through some extra steps if new laws are passed this legislative session. The East Valley Tribune reports that Rep. Kimberly Yee has proposed a law that would require women to have an ultrasound and listen to the heartbeat of the fetus at least one hour before an abortion procedure. In addition, doctors would have to point out the fetus' various extremities, describe its position and offer a picture of the ultrasound to the woman seeking an abortion.

These procedures have been proposed through House Bill 2416, which was approved by the Health and Human Services Committee last week with a 6-3 vote. Conservative groups say that the procedures, which include providing ultrasounds, often encourage women not to go through with an abortion.

Changing Your Last Name When Getting Married

According to ABC News, the Lucy Stone League reports that 90 percent of brides drop their surnames and take on the last name of their husbands. However, it's important to realize that women do not have to legally change their name when getting married and that there could in fact be some advantages to a bride keeping her birth name.

Studies show that women who change their last name when getting married make nearly $400,000 less during their lifetimes than women who do not change their names. Researchers say that this is because women who change their names can be judged as unmotivated or less educated even if they're being compared to somebody of the same age and background. On the contrary, a woman that keeps her maiden name upon marriage might be seen as more independent and more ambitious.

Proposed Law Seeks to Extend Arizona's Divorce Waiting Period

Divorce cases in Phoenix and throughout the state of Arizona soon might take more time to resolve because of Senate Bill 1187. This bill would allow a party to a divorce to ask the court to extend the current 60-day waiting period to a waiting period up to 120 days. The Arizona Republic reports that a person requesting a longer divorce waiting period must include a reason in their request, as well as either a plan for reconciliation or a counseling schedule.

We reported in an earlier blog post that state lawmakers rejected House Bill 2650 last year, which would have allowed either party in a divorce to request an extension of the divorce waiting period up to 180 days. It looks like Senate Bill 1187 is only slightly different than last year's rejected law from the House.

Single Parent Adoption Could Be More Difficult With Senate Bill 1188

Should married couples be given preferential treatment when it comes to adoption? Utah is currently the only U.S state that requires priority for married couples in the adoption process, but Arizona may soon follow in Utah's footsteps with the growing support for Senate Bill 1188.

The Arizona Republic reports that Senate Bill 1188 failed to win support last year in the Legislature, but that the bill is being brought up once again in this legislative session. The idea for the law was reportedly proposed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative organization in the state that lobbies for family values and the sanctity of marriage.

Father Seeks Sole Custody of Padma Lakshmi's Baby

The host of the Bravo show Top Chef, Padma Lakshmi, has been telling her old flame to "pack his knives and go" as she says that she wants little to do with him other than for him to be the biological father for their 11-month old daughter. However the father, Adam Dell, has a different agenda and has filed court papers in New York to change the current child arrangement that went into effect last Spring.

People Magazine reports that Dell is seeking sole custody of his daughter Krishna. He says that he wants more involvement in his daughter's life and that Lakshmi's jet-setting lifestyle is less than ideal for taking care of the infant. Currently, Dell is only allowed to see his daughter for seven hours a week under the court order. Sources told People that each visit with his child is to be no more than three and half hours long and that he may only have a maximum of nine visits per month.