Considering Dissolution (Divorce) or Reconciliation?

| Divorce Legally Speaking | February 10, 2020

Marriage in General is Hard Work

If you’re reading this article and are married, have been married, or are getting married, you know (or should know) that marriage is hard work! Between juggling schedules, working, paying bills, raising children, it’s sometimes hard to remember why a couple became “they” in the first place.

Divorce

It is relatively easy to file for dissolution of marriage (divorce). Do people sometimes choose that over trying to work on a marriage? Absolutely. Should some people be getting divorced? I firmly believe it should be available to those whose marriage is just not working, for whatever reason. I recently read an article in a family law journal that suggested people should be required to wait 60 days to get married from the date they obtain their marriage license. Currently, the opposite is true. No time limit exists between obtaining a marriage license and getting married, yet people have to wait, at a minimum, 60 days from when the dissolution action is started in court and served on the other party, before submitting a decree of dissolution of marriage for the judge to sign.

But the idea of making people wait, at least for a short time, before getting married, is not a bad one. The hope is that people will enter into marriage having given thought to the person they are marrying and what marriage means. Will it stop divorces? Absolutely not. Would it stop some people from marrying? Probably. If someone is really committed to the other, then 60 days should not make a difference.

Alternatives

Consider the alternative. Marriage counseling can be very helpful for people. It is probably more common than you realize and can either help couples rekindle their relationship or affirm that a divorce is the best option. Either way, couples often talk of or think about divorce for years before filing. I’m not advocating that people be required to try marriage counseling before filing for dissolution, because I see too many potential problems for the person involved in an abusive relationship. But if it’s not an abusive relationship, then don’t you, your spouse, and your children, deserve at least an attempt to make it work?

I suppose the ultimate message is, don’t rush into marriage and, unless your safety is at risk, don’t rush into divorce. If you have questions about divorce or want to discuss options, please call an experienced family law attorney.

Duenas Eden Law is Here to Help

At Duenas Eden Law, PLC we are experienced, qualified and trusted attorneys in Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Serving Maricopa County including Phoenix, Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Dorian Eden Attorney at Law Duenas Eden Law Family Law Ahwatukee AZ
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the May 2013 edition of Ocotillo Living

Who do you turn to? Divorce & Family Law

| Divorce Legally Speaking | February 4, 2020

Turn to the Professionals (An Attorney)

If the “check engine” light comes on, you take your car to a mechanic for service. If you need a root canal, you go see your dentist. If you have a legal issue, do you go see an attorney? You are probably thinking lawyers are expensive. However, just like your car or tooth, it is usually more costly to fix errors down the road, as opposed to dealing with the issues correctly the first time.

Family Law

Case in point, my favorite topic – family law. People oftentimes think that using the self-service center through the court is the best option for them. For some, that is accurate. For others, their situation is a little more difficult. A lawyer will help identify those more complicated areas, the potential pitfalls and advise when it is important to include other professionals.

Divorce – When to Include other Professionals

What? You’re probably wondering who else would need to be included? Going through a dissolution of marriage is an emotional process, even if you are the one requesting the dissolution. It is always a good idea to talk with a counselor or other mental health professional to discuss the emotional side – the things a lawyer is not usually equipped to help resolve. If there are children involved who are old enough to understand what it means that their parents will now be living in different households, then it may be helpful for the children to be able to talk with a counselor as well. Children may not want to or be able to open up to a parent and no matter what the age, children should never be involved with the dissolution process by either parent. Although it does not happen very often, parents can go to family counseling together with their children during the process to ensure the children realize both parents love them and that the dissolution is not because of the children.

Many times it becomes important to talk with a financial planner as well. Financial planners can help create budgets, run projections and help the less financially savvy parent protect their money after the dissolution.

Accountants are also often necessary and helpful to offer tax advice or potential tax consequences on such things as dividing accounts, carry-forward losses or simply the taxes associated with spousal maintenance for either party.

If there is a business to be divided, then it may be important to have the business appraised to determine the value. A business can have value even if the business is based primarily on reputation. Of course, real estate appraisers may also be necessary to determine the current value of a house or other real property.

Speak with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer at Duenas Eden Law

A dissolution of marriage, or any legal proceeding, is not something that most of us experience regularly. Having the right professionals involved in your case can make an enormous difference. If you have a legal question, an experienced attorney can help you sort through these issues.

At Duenas Eden Law, PLC we are qualified, experienced and trusted attorneys in Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Serving the Valley including Phoenix, Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Dorian Eden Attorney at Law Duenas Eden Law Family Law Ahwatukee AZ
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the February 2013 edition of Ocotillo Living

When “Legal” Matters?

| Family Law Legally Speaking | January 29, 2020

For a lawyer, it always does!

However, “normal” people (nonlawyers) often have differing views. The two most often confused areas are whether Arizona recognizes common law marriage (it does not) and whether a period of physical separation counts as a legal separation (it does not).

It is increasingly common for parties to live together for a period of time before getting married. Many times they will purchase homes or vehicles together and will open joint bank accounts or incur debt together. Under Arizona law, the marriage is not recognized as starting until the parties are actually married – with the marriage certificate signed. Therefore, if one person purchased a home prior to marriage and the other contributed to making the mortgage payments, there is not a community property claim for reducing the balance on mortgage principal. There may be another claim, but that’s a topic for another article.

Cohabitation

In the future, there may be changes to the laws concerning cohabitation, but they have not occurred as of yet. Fair or not, there is no common law marriage in Arizona. It’s like the old saying “buyer beware.” That old adage also applies to cohabitating couples. Before you join bank accounts, loans and assets, it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney to delineate your rights in the event of a later separation. Otherwise, you may hear in the future that what you thought you were entitled to, you’re really not. That can be a tough one for clients to hear.

Legal Separation

The other area of confusion arises when married parties separate. When I initially meet with a potential client to discuss their dissolution of marriage, I ask if the parties are still living together. I am often told that they are legally separated. What they actually mean is that they are physically separated. A legal separation only occurs when a court enters a decree of legal separation. As with a decree of dissolution of marriage, in a legal separation case, the court has to enter rulings and orders related to any minor children, child support, spousal maintenance, division of assets, debts and attorney’s fees.

Legal separations are not as common as dissolutions of marriage. For one thing, if you are legally separated, neither person can remarry. There are potential differences for taxes and health insurance for people are who are legally separated versus divorced.

Under Arizona law, if parties are still legally married, then community property law still applies. That means that even if they are living in different households, they are potentially liable for debts the other incurs and potentially able to share in increases in assets during the period of physical separation.

Protect Yourself

As always, there are exceptions to every rule and ways to protect yourself. If you find yourself in a cohabitation arrangement or physically separating, it may be a good idea to consultwith a family law attorney to discuss the risks and options available to protect yourself.

Speak with a Qualified Family Law Attorney at Duenas Eden Law

Let us protect you! At Duenas Eden Law, PLC we’d be glad to discuss the facts of your particular case and work with you in your Family Law case. We are qualified and trusted attorneys in Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Serving the Phoenix metro area including Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Family Law Attorney in Phoenix / Ahwatukee Dorian Eden
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the November 2013 edition of Ocotillo Living

The Dreaded “A” Word: Alimony

| Alimony / Spousal Maintenance Divorce Legally Speaking | January 21, 2020

“Alimony” in AZ is called “Spousal Maintenance”

One of the most common questions I am asked as a family law (divorce) attorney is about “alimony” – will someone have to pay, how much will they have to pay, will someone receive alimony? Their neighbor “got” thousands in a divorce, why can’t they?

Luckily in Arizona, we don’t have alimony. Well, not entirely true. We don’t call it alimony in Arizona. Family law practitioners, judges and our legislature refer to it as “spousal maintenance.” Perhaps a better title would have been “The Dreaded SM words” but it doesn’t have the same ring.

Why spousal maintenance you might ask? Because the idea is if someone qualifies (and yes, they must qualify initially), it allows the lesser earning spouse time to become self-sufficient. Spousal maintenance provides a vehicle for that to occur.

Qualifying for Spousal Maintenance

There are specific factors that the court must consider when determining if someone qualifies for spousal maintenance. Then if they do, further factors to consider to determine the amount and duration of the award. There is no set formula to calculate or predict spousal maintenance in Arizona. This leads to difficulties in determining what is an appropriate amount because, as I always tell people, if you give ten different judges the same set of facts, you will probably receive ten different rulings.

With that in mind, what are the factors? The court must determine if someone has sufficient assets to be self-sufficient. Or, do they have the ability to be self-sufficient through employment? The court can also determine a person’s qualification if s/he contributed to the other party’s education or if the marriage was of such length that the party may not be able to become employed to a sufficient level to provide for his/her reasonable needs. A person’s age may preclude their ability to achieve self-sufficiency through employment.

13 Qualification Factors

Once the court determines qualification, then the judge has to examine each of the following:

  1. the standard of living during the marriage;
  2. the length of the marriage;
  3. each party’s age, health and employment history;
  4. the ability of the payor spouse to meet his/her own needs while paying spousal maintenance;
  5. comparative earning abilities;
  6. the contributions of the lesser earning spouse to the payor spouse’s earning abilities;
  7. has the lesser earner reduced career opportunities in order to advance the payor spouse’s career;
  8. ability of both parties to contribute to the education costs of their children after dissolution;
  9. financial resources of the lesser earner;
  10. time necessary to obtain adequate employment;
  11. excessive or abnormal expenditures during the marriage;
  12. cost of health insurance for the lesser earning spouse;
  13. actual damages and judgments from conduct resulting from a criminal conviction following child or spousal abuse.

“Reasonable Expenses”

One of the biggest arguments that arise in spousal maintenance cases is what constitutes reasonable expenses for both parties? This varies on a case-by-case basis and generally the parties have differing thoughts as to how the other should be living. Judges also may disagree.

Speak with a Qualified Divorce or Family Law Attorney and other Professionals

Spousal maintenance not only affects financial security, but also child support and has tax implications for both parties, thus parties should also consult with their tax advisor. You should be very cautious if an attorney ever guarantees you a spousal maintenance amount. Because, unlike death and taxes, an amount of spousal maintenance is never certain. If your case involves a request or award of spousal maintenance you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. At Duenas Eden Law, PLC we’d be glad to discuss the facts of your particular case. We are trusted attorneys in Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Serving the Phoenix metro area including Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Family Law Attorney in Phoenix / Ahwatukee Dorian Eden
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the October 2013 edition of Ocotillo Living

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