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How much will my case cost?

The cost of each case varies based on the complexity of the issues involved. Simple uncontested divorces and other matters can usually be handled for flat fees of $2,000.00 or less, plus out-of-pocket costs such as filing fees and process server fees. Cases involving contested issues of child custody, child support, spousal maintenance and so on are usually more expensive. Although flat fees are available in some cases, most clients in contested cases pay a refundable advance fee deposit (retainer fee) upfront and are billed based on hourly rates at monthly intervals. You should speak directly with one of the firm’s attorneys to get an estimate of the cost for the firm to handle your particular case.

Does Ellsworth Family Law offer any Divorce Financing? What is Divorce Financing?

Yes, we now provide access to Divorce Financing through BBL Churchill. Divorce Financing is specialized lending specifically designed for people involved in divorce proceedings. Unlike banks or other finance companies, Divorce Financing assesses your eligibility based on your expected settlement from your divorce proceedings. Additionally, as the loan is repaid in full at the time of settlement, you are not required to demonstrate your ability to make monthly repayments. Also, no repayments are required on the loan until the settlement of your case, you can, however, make payments against your loan at any time. For more information on divorce financing, visit www.bblchurchill.com.

What grounds must I prove to get a divorce?

Unless you have entered into a “covenant marriage” (a marriage license that requires premarital counseling, must be specifically requested by the parties and only became available starting in 1998), you will be able to get a divorce in Arizona if you believe your marriage is irretrievably broken. There is no need to prove adultery, abuse or any other grounds for divorce. If you have entered into a “covenant marriage,” a divorce will not be granted unless both parties agree or the party against whom the divorce has been filed has committed adultery, has committed a felony and has been sentenced to prison, has abandoned or abused the spouse filing for divorce, or has habitually used drugs or alcohol. A person must also prove specific grounds to get an annulment. If you wish to seek an annulment or dissolve a “covenant marriage,” you should speak with one of our attorneys to determine whether you have sufficient grounds.

How long will it take to get divorced?

The time required getting a divorce varies based on whether the case is contested or uncontested. If the parties have agreed on all issues, including child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, division of assets and debts, and payment of attorney’s fees before filing for divorce, the divorce can usually be completed in approximately 90 days. If the parties cannot agree on one or more of the issues, the case could take a year or more.

What determines who will receive custody of the children?

Child custody in Arizona is based on the best interests of the children. Where the parents do not agree on custodial arrangements, a judge must consider all relevant factors, including such things as the wishes of the parents and the child, the child’s relationship with each parent and other significant persons in the child’s life, the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, whether one parent has provided primary care for the child in the past, which parent is more likely to allow the child a meaningful relationship with the other parent, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse. In cases where the parents do not agree, the judge must determine who will have legal custody, or decision-making authority, as well as the amount of time the child or children will spend with each parent.

How much will child support be?

Child support can be easily calculated under the Arizona Child Support Guidelines after several other variables have been determined. Specifically, the following information is required to calculate child support:

      1. Each parent’s monthly gross income;
      2. The amount of spousal maintenance paid or received by either parent;
      3. The amount of Court-ordered child support paid by one parent for support of children not common to the other parent;
      4. The cost to one parent of supporting children not common to the other parent;
      5. The amount of the medical insurance premium for the children;
      6. The child care expenses; and
      7. The physical custody schedule.

Once this information has been determined or can be closely estimated, one of the firm’s attorneys can assist you in estimating the amount of the child support.

Does Arizona allow alimony?

Arizona law allows a Court to award spousal maintenance, which is the same as alimony if certain conditions are met. Arizona judges have broad discretion in determining whether or not to award spousal maintenance and in determining the amount and duration of spousal maintenance awarded. It is best to speak directly with one of the firm’s attorneys regarding your specific situation to get an idea whether spousal maintenance might be awarded in your case.

How will the assets and debts be divided?

Unless you and your spouse have a premarital agreement, you probably own some community property. In Arizona, community property generally is any asset acquired between the date of your marriage and the date the divorce papers are served, except any asset acquired by gift or inheritance. Separate property is generally any asset owned prior to marriage, any asset acquired after the divorce papers are served, and any asset acquired by gift or inheritance between the date of the marriage and the date of service of the divorce papers. In an Arizona divorce case, separate property is allocated to the party who acquired the separate property, and community property is divided equitably, which generally means substantially equally. Again, every case is unique, and it is best to speak with one of our firm’s attorneys about the particulars of your case.

Can either parent move the children out of the house or out of the State?

If the parents are married, either parent may move the children out of the house and even out of the State of Arizona without violating the law if a Court order has not been entered determining custody or visitation or otherwise specifically prohibiting the relocation. It is generally not advisable for one parent to move out of the State with the children when a divorce is contemplated, however, since it may appear to the Court that the relocating parent has attempted to deprive the other parent of a relationship with the children. Such conduct could result in a loss of custody in the divorce case to the relocating parent. Once a divorce case is filed, a Court order specifically prohibits either parent from removing the children from the State without the other parent’s written permission or the permission of the Court. If there is no divorce case pending, but both parents reside in the State and have at least visitation rights under a Court order or written agreement, neither parent may relocate the children out of the State or more than 100 miles within the State unless certain notice requirements are met. Temporary relocation is allowed under some circumstances. The non-relocating parent can ask the Court to prevent the relocation of the children, and the Court will generally set a hearing to determine whether the relocation should be allowed.

What if the other parent won’t let me see the children?

The parent being denied visitation may petition the Court to enforce visitation if Court orders are in place that have established visitation. The Court may assign the matter for a conference with a Court Officer to determine the reason for one parent’s withholding visitation and whether or not the visitation issues can be resolved without further Court intervention. It is generally not advisable for one parent to deny the other parent visitation with the children since it may appear to the Court that the parent denying visitation has attempted to deprive the other parent of a relationship with the children. Such conduct could result in a loss of custody of the parent not allowing visitation. If the parties cannot resolve the visitation dispute without Court intervention, the matter will be set for an evidentiary hearing at which time the Court will determine how to resolve the dispute in the best interests of the children. If the Court finds no reasonable basis for the denial of visitation, the Court will take steps to ensure the non-custodial parent has an ongoing relationship with the children. This could include holding the custodial parent in contempt of Court until he or she complies with the Court’s visitation order or even changing custody. Denial of visitation may also be prosecuted criminally under certain circumstances.

How do I get started?

Because every case is unique, you should speak with one of our firm’s attorneys regarding the facts and issues involved in your particular case. The best way to proceed is to contact our office and schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys. The cost of the initial consultation is $250.00 and lasts for approximately one hour. During the initial consultation, the attorney will be able to review any Court documents you have filed or received and will be able to answer your questions regarding your options, fees, and an appropriate strategy. We look forward to having an opportunity to assist you in your family law case.