Boundary Disputes Attorneys

San Antonio, Texas

The land you have purchased for your business represents a significant investment. When questions arise regarding the parameters of that property, you need a lawyer who will represent you and protect that investment. We at Escamilla, Poneck & Cruz, LLP represent clients caught up in boundary disputes. No matter how we choose to approach your case, you can rely upon our strong client fidelity and our supportive representation.



Our Approach to Resolving Boundary Disputes

Our first priority in resolving your boundary dispute is checking ServiceNow Event Management first because it help qualify things and involves gaining an accurate picture of the situation and . First, we need to get an accurate survey of the property. To do this we examine county deed records as well as the title history. This gives us an idea of how the land had been measured in its history of ownership. The survey is performed based on this research.


Litigation, Mediation and Arbitration

Sometimes litigation is unavoidable. In some cases, parties simply cannot come to resolution on their own. For this reason, we at Escamilla, Poneck & Cruz prepare each case as if it were going to court. This level of preparedness ensures that you will get the representation you deserve should your case go to court. We will also inform you of your options. Alternative dispute resolution may be the best way to resolve a boundary dispute. We are happy to coordinate a mediation or arbitration hearing to help you settle matters out of court. We always look for ways to save you time and money.



To schedule an appointment with a commercial real estate attorney.We provide ethical, energetic, and above all effective, legal services to business clients throughout South Texas. We look forward to represent you in your boundary dispute.

Kansas Criminal Law

R. v. Stone (1999) SCC

Accused attacked and killed his wife then fled to Mexico after she made a series of “psychologically sadistic” remarks about his sexual prowess.  The automatic accused does not necessarily have to be acting unconsciously but their unconsciousness must be so impaired that they have no control over their actions.  The issue in this case was how to distinguish between insane and non insane automatism when a psychological blow prompts it.  To satisfy the evidentiary burden for automatism, the defense must make an assertion of involuntariness and then call expert psychological witnesses confirming that assertion.

The trial judge must follow a holistic approach to evaluating defining a disease of the mind, which includes:

1.    Were there factors of internal cause?
2.    Does a continuing danger exist?
3.    Policy considerations

The trial judge is to look at the situation on a case by case basis to determine whether a properly instructed jury could find the accused guilty on a balance of the probabilities.


Types of Automatism:

Issue: Was the accused suffering from a disease of the mind?
1.    Insane Automatism – disease of the mind – held not guilty by reason of mental disorder.  Generally hospitalized.
2.    Non Insane Automatism – no disease of mind – simple acquittal


R. v. Parks (1992) SCC

Accused drove  long distance to his in-laws and killed his mother-in-law all while sleepwalking.    The SCC found that the trial judge had not erred in instructing the jury re: the defense of automatism rather than insanity.  La Forest J distinguished sane and non insane automatism.  When the defense of non insane automatism is raised by the accused, the trial judge must determine whether the defense should go to the trier of fact (must be satisfied that evidence supports this defense).  Sleepwalking is not a disease of the mind but may be considered so in certain contexts.  In this case, there was uncontradicted evidence that sleepwalking is not a mental disorder but rather a sleeping disorder for which there is no cure.  Because of the uncontradicted evidence, the SCC focused on medical issues – was it likely to recur (recurrence suggests insanity)? No – did the accused pose a continuing danger to the public? No.  There is no cure for sleepwalking other than good health practices.


Since Stone

An accused who raises the defense of non insane automatism must establish on a balance of the probabilities that they acted in an involuntary manner.  The majority in Stone was concerned that this defense might be faked under traditional law that allows the defense to go to the jury so long as evidence is presented that, if believed, would raise a reasonable doubt about the voluntariness of actions.  The reverse onus regarding the burden on the defense violates 11d but is saved under s.1.


Sleepwalking is not a disease of the mind but it gives rise to the defense of automatism.  Denning in Bratty stated that no act is punishable if done involuntarily – act done by muscles without the control of the mind while suffering from a concussion or sleepwalking.  See also: Parks.



Courts distinguish between voluntary and involuntary (case of the impaired driving from drug from a medication) intoxication.  Extreme intoxication is similar to automatism under CC16.  Under this, the violation to 11d is fine because only the accused can give evidence regarding how much alcohol they consumed and the effect it had on him.  Expert evidence is required to show that the accused was in a state similar to automatism when the crime was committed.  Intoxication (from drugs or alcohol) may be a condition that prevents that the Crown from proving that the accused had the fault element required for a particular offence.  There must be an air of reality to the intoxication defense.


Beard’s Rule: 3 Rules

1.    Intoxication could be grounds for insanity defense of it produces a disease of the mind.
2.    Evidence of drunkenness, which renders accused incapable of forming specific intent essential to constitute the crime should be taken in consideration with the other facts proved in order to determine whether or not he had this intent.
3.    That evidence of drunkenness falling short of a proved incapacity in the accused to form the intent necessary to constitute the crime, and merely establishing that his mind was affected by drink so that he more readily gave way to some violent passion, does not rebut the presumption that a man intends the natural consequences of his acts.

Beard killed a woman in the course of rape.  Shortly after the killing, he was admitted into a trade union where he answered questions intelligibly.  Drunkenness was no defense in this case because the accused was able to form the necessary intent.


What about Beard today?

It would be relevant today because it involved murder (specific intent), not manslaughter (general intent).  Today, the prosecution would have to prove that it was likely that the victim would die.  CC never included provisions re: intoxication as a defense.  Beard has been criticized but the SCC followed them for a long time.  In Canada, Beard has been interpreted as distinguishing between general and specific intent offences.

Colorado Criminal Law Lawyer



Both first and second degree murder carry a mandatory life sentence; however, they are distinguished by eligibility for parole.  This is set out in CC231, which states that a first degree murderer, with few exceptions, cannot be released on parole until he has served 25 years.  The second degree murderer is eligible for parole after 10 years.  First degree murder is defined as “planned and deliberate” under CC231.2.  More v. R. (1963) defined “planned” as “arranged beforehand” and “deliberate” as “considered, not impulsive.”


R. v. Smith (1979) Sask. CA

The issue was whether or not there was evidence of planning and deliberation upon which the jury could properly find the appellant guilty of first degree murder.  The accused went with two others to an old farmhouse, which they vandalized.  All three had taken guns with them.  Argument between two of them resulted in one dying (shot five times).  The killing was deliberate but there was no evidence of planning.  Therefore, there were no evidential grounds for the jury being instructed on first degree murder.  On appeal to the SCC, a conviction of second degree murder was substituted.  Reynolds previously established that planning should be viewed in its everyday meaning and only occurs after the intent to murder has been formed.  For planning to exist, there must be proof that the murder was the result of a scheme or design previously formulated by the accused.  A sudden impulse without prior consideration, even though an intent to kill is proven, would not constitute a planned murder under CC231.2.



R. v. Nygaard and Schimmens (1989) SCC

Deceased purchased a stereo from N using a cheque that bounced.  N and S returned to the deceased to collect the money.  Deceased was hit by S with a baseball and died.  The issue focused on what is the specific mens rea required for 212.a.2. for which an element of planning and deliberation must be in place.  The SCC found that a vital element of the requisite intent is causing such bodily harm that the perpetrator knows is likely to cause death and persists in the assault, which is to be linked up with intent.  N and S formed the intent to repeatedly strike the victim on the head with a baseball bat realizing full well that death would probably result.



R. v. Munro and Munro (1983) Ont. CA

Under CC 231.4, it is necessary for the Crown to prove that the offender knows that he was shooting at a police officer acting in the course of his duties.  This happened in the basement of a tavern.  The appeal was based on a claim by the accused that the trial judge should not have instructed the jury with respect to the CC provision re: murder of a police officer.  The SCC rejected this appeal on the basis that the accused must have been conscious of the risk that he was firing at a police officer – on the evidence no other conclusion could be made.


R. v. Collins (1990) Ont. CA

A police officer dressed in uniform was killed by the accused in a shopping mall.  The accused then took the officer’s gun.  Evidence from an informant was used to obtain a search warrant of the accused’s premises.  Police found guns there, including the one that was used to kill the officer.  The onus is on the Crown to prove that the accused had knowledge that the victim was a police officer acting in the course of his duties.



R. v. Arkell (1990) SCC

The accused argued that the classification of first degree murder in CC214.5 of a murder committed in the course of committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault was a classification that violated the accused’s s.7 and 11d rights.  This was dismissed because the requirement of subjective foresight of death was met.  As a result, s.7 was not violated.


•    Willful Blindness
•    Intent
•    Recklessness
•    Motive

CC 148, 155, 163.2 – Parliament makes it clear what the subjective mens rea are.  Where such words don’t appear, there is a common law presumption in favour of subjective mens rea.

R. v. Lucas (1998) SCC

Cory J states that in the absence of an express legislative provision it should be presumed that proof of subjective mens rea is a requirement of criminal offences – most fair to the accused.  There is no definition of intent in the CC.  Rather, it is construed loosely as purpose, aim and actual desire (no way to come to a definitive definition).



Lewis v. R. (1979) SCC

Accused appealed a murder conviction on the grounds that the trial judge failed to charge the jury on the question of motive.  An electric kettle rigged with an explosive was sent to the co-accused’s daughter, which resulted in murder.  No evidence was lead by the Crown regarding motive and the accused claimed that he was innocently duped by the co-accused into sending the package.


The SCC dismissed the appeal because motive is not part of the requisite mens rea that the Crown had to prove for murder.  The words “intent” and “motive” are frequently used interchangeably, but in the criminal law they are distinct.  The Mens Rea usually relates to intent.  INTENT – the exercise of free will to use particular means to produce a particular result.  MOTIVE – that which precedes and induces the exercise of free will.

Documents Needed for a Divorce Investigation About Hidden Assets

A divorce lawyer or investigator usually will need the following documentation in order to begin an investigation into hidden assets:

Financial disclosures Tax returns Bank statements Check registers Financial disclosures Typical divorce procedures require that a divorcing couple disclose their assets and liabilities.

These disclosures serve as the starting point in any financial investigation seeking assets that have been excluded from the marital estate (i.e., hidden assets). The information revealed in these disclosures ranges from the simplistic (e.g., if an asset is listed, it isn’t being hidden) to the basis for more sophisticated analyses and comparisons.

Tax returns

The tax returns of an individual or a couple may be imperfect representations of the actual economic income of the person(s) filing the return. However, a tax return showing significant income increases the odds that a claim of hidden assets might be valid. A tax return showing little, or no, income should prompt the question, “If assets are being hidden, where did they come from?” Tax returns also provide authoritative documentation concerning sources of income.

For example, interest income is reported from the payer of the amounts to the Internal Revenue Service. This usually means that the taxpayer will report the amounts on his or her tax return. If there is interest income on the tax return and no asset disclosed that would generate interest income, the basis for an inquiry arises.

Bank statements

The couple’s bank account usually serves as the financial framework of the marriage. The monthly bank statements serve as evidence of what went into the account and what was paid out. Bank statements are useful for their summary information in that they quickly show all income and all expenses which can be used to illustrate missing income, or to illustrate the relationship between the income the couple was generating versus what they were spending.

They are also useful in identifying inter-account transfers and automatic payments, and may describe other unusual transactions. However, while bank statements record deposits and checks written, they do not usually provide the detail necessary to analyze specific transactions. Therefore, obtaining the check registers of the couple is necessary.

Check registers

“Check register” is an accounting term that refers to the couple’s checkbook and the manner in which the deposits and expenditures related to their account were recorded. Check registers generally come in three forms. The first is totally manual. That is, every deposit and every expenditure is recorded by hand in a register provided at the back of the check book.

The second is a duplicate system. That is, when a person writes a check a copy of it is produced. The copy has a place to keep a running balance and to record deposits. The third is electronic. As information technology becomes the norm, more and more individuals will move toward paperless transactions. For example, automatic withdrawals from checking accounts to make loan payments are paperless transactions.

Regardless of how they are recorded – with or without paper – all transactions give rise to evidence which can be pursued in discovering hidden assets. Sometimes it is possible to obtain the actual canceled checks related to an account under investigation.

This situation may arise in highly contentious divorces or when an investigation evolves from a divorce investigation into a criminal investigation. However, banks and other financial institutions have stopped, to a considerable degree, returning canceled checks to customers.

This is a cost reduction move by the institutions. While it is still possible to obtain the canceled checks, the banks usually charge a considerable fee for their retrieval. Accordingly, you and your divorce lawyer or investigator should weigh carefully the evidentiary value of the actual check in relation to its cost.

Dealing With Loans from Relatives During a Divorce

The blurring of loans and gifts Normally there is very little trouble in valuing a debt or establishing its validity. The oblige will send monthly statements with the amount due and take steps to ensure that regular and timely payments are made. However, this may not be the case when debts are owed to mothers, fathers, or other relatives.

The problem with these obligations is that they may in fact be gifts or that there is no method or means available to distinguish them from gifts. For example, assume that a father has provided $20,000 for his daughter and her husband to put a down payment on a house. There was no note acknowledging the debt, no interest specified, no payment on the note was ever made, and the father made no attempt to collect the debt. In this example, it is possible that the father had never intended to collect the debt and had intended it to be a gift.

Alternatively, he may have treated it as a gift as long as he was provided due respect, got to see his grandchildren, and the daughter and son-in-law stayed married. In this situation, the father may change his position on the debt and assert his right to collect it in the midst of the divorce of his daughter and son-in-law.

Naturally, this will complicate the divorce process.Determining whether money was a loan or gift The presence of the following items or provisions is an indication that an obligation is a true liability and should be included in the marital estate for resolution. The absence of the items indicates that the liability is a gift and should be excluded.

An agreement by both parties that the debt is marital. Written document defining the obligation. Fixed terms of repayment in the terms of the obligation. The presence of interest due on the obligation outstanding. Regular payments made on the obligation. Involvement of a third party, such as an escrow company, in the management of the debt. Collection attempts by the lender.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

The divorce process known as “collaborative divorce” is a variation on the concept of attorney-assisted mediation. Before I explain how the collaborative divorce process works, a few words about the genesis of this process will be helpful.Why did the process of collaborative divorce develop? The concept of collaborative divorce is generally credited to Minneapolis family lawyer Stuart Web, who came up with the concept in the early 1990s.

Today, it is estimated that there are over 20,000 attorneys in nearly every state and a number of foreign countries involved in the collaborative practice. The appeal of the collaborative process stems from the fact that the traditional American system of justice is not particularly well equipped to deal with the emotional nature of a divorce case. Marital dissolution cases tend to be like square pegs trying to fit into the round hole of civil litigation.

Although legal rules and trends have attempted to recognize the unique nature of divorce cases and the issues they bring to the court, the fact is that in our Anglo-American system of jurisprudence, there must be a defined outcome – a winner and loser – but that type of finality does not often arise in the break-up of a family. In divorce, the winners and losers are not so easily defined, and certainly where children are involved, there is no “finality,” in the classic sense of the word.

It is these shortcomings of the traditional mediation/litigation system that make collaborative divorce an attractive alternative to many people.How does the collaborative divorce process work? The key concepts of collaborative divorce involve the mutual, free and voluntary exchange of information, and a climate of civility and respect for the individuals involved.

Each party hires his or her own independent counsel to provide advice and representation, but the parties’ expressed intention is to negotiate a settlement that treats everyone fairly, not to litigate. In fact, the attorneys for the parties commit to exercise their best efforts to negotiate and finalize, in a civil, courteous and open fashion, a global settlement, and to withdraw from further representation and not take part in litigation should the collaborative process not be successful.

The process can, and frequently does, involve the engagement of professionals who are neutral in their approach to the facts, to provide expertise and recommendations to the parties and their counsel on financial and non-financial issues, such as the division of parenting rights and responsibilities. The collaborative process begins by putting these key concepts into writing, with the execution of a “Participation Agreement.”

The participation agreement contains a general provision that all persons involved will treat each other with civility and courtesy, and more specific provisions for the free, voluntary and mutual exchange of information, so that everyone involved in the process will have complete knowledge and understanding of all salient facts.

The agreement also formalizes the disqualification of the attorneys involved in the event of the failure of the collaborative process. The participation agreement will also commonly provide that neither party will attempt to take advantage of mistakes by the other party or by counsel; again, the spirit and intent here is to serve the best interests of all involved and eliminate some of the “gotcha” moments prevalent in a contested, litigated divorce.

Confidentiality is a hallmark of the collaborative process, and the parties agree not to disclose, or attempt to use in subsequent litigation, anything that is said or done during the process. From a legal standpoint, this confidentiality provision probably is not necessary, since the rules of evidence would likely bar any attempt to offer an admission made in settlement negotiations against a party’s interest, but the inclusion of this confidentiality provision serves two essential purposes. The first is to encourage the parties to speak freely and candidly, and the second is to achieve a result which will keep the parties’ personal and financial business out of the courtroom and away from the public eye.

Ultimately, this serves the parties’ interests and keeps the children out of the line of fire, thereby minimizing the impact of the divorce process on the children. As noted above, the participation agreement will also provide for the engagement and compensation of neutral professionals, such as accountants, tax and financial advisers and mental health professionals, who will advise the parties on matters relating to finance and parenting choices.

Due to their role as neutral advisers, the “hired gun” mentality, which often is so costly to the parties in contested litigation, is eliminated. Presumably, the parties receive professional advice unfiltered and unfettered by the professional’s usual desire to serve his or her master by shading things to suit the best interests of the person paying his or her fee. The parties benefit from knowing they are receiving advice based upon the professional’s true feelings and analysis, and can, therefore, comfortably rely upon the professionals’ opinions.

Information on Family Law

Information on Family Law At Weingart Law Firm, our mission is to learn and understand our client’s needs and the external factors affecting them so that we may aggressively and profession lay represent them throughout the legal process. We clearly communicate our knowledge and experience, thereby enabling our clients to make well-informed decision for themselves.

Our approach is to provide a personalized attorney-client relationship based on our commitment to provide experienced advice to our clients. We are dedicated to full value for every dollar invested in legal services. Our clients can expect prompt personal service and u uncompromising, quality legal representation delivered in a cost-effective manner.

At Weingart Law Firm, we constantly seek to improve performance in order to be prepared for the challenges facing our clients. We keep pace with the latest innovations in the delivery of legal services by continually investing in training and technology. Our work environment is based on diligent work effort, community involvement and a commitment to the profession.

Divorce Pre-Nuptial Agreements Child Custody and Access Child Support Division of Community Property & Debts Spousal Maintenance Paternity Step-Parent Adoption Child Custody and Access

As a general introductory observation to custody and parenting time access, there is a strong institutional belief in the family law courts that children will benefit by having ongoing, meaningful and unrestricted relationship with both parents after the parent’s marriage is dissolved. To make a court depart from this belief, there must be some fairly convincing evidence that a parent presents a immediate and significant risk of physical or emotional danger to the children.

The courts also have a strong institutional belief that the children will benefit if the custody and parenting time access (visitation) issues can be settled can be without a court fight as this encourages future co-operation between the parents which creates a happier and less stressful environment for the child. The court will almost never reject a settlement agreement reached by the parents in respect to custody and access unless on it’s face it appears to involve some risk of harm to the children. Child custody has two components.

The first, normally referred to as legal custody , is concerned with decision making in respect to the children’s educational, medical, religious, and financial issues. It can be “sole custody” in which one parent gets to make all these decisions without the other having any say in the matters, or “joint legal custody” because this encourages both parents ongoing involvement with the children unless there are reasons, such as a documented history of significant domestic violence between the parents, which precludes the parents from being able to confer with on another.

The second component is “physical custody” which refers to the residential arrangement for the children. This can be set up to that one parent is designated as the “primary residential custodian” with the other being awarded “parenting time access (visitation)” or as “shared physical custody” in which the children reside for an essentially equal amount of time with each parent.

Most court’s do not favor “shared physical custody” as this stresses the children’s sense of stability. but will award it if the parents agree to such arrangements, or if there are older children who really want such an arrangement. Where one party is designated the “primary custodial parent”, the courts are granting more liberal access to the non-custodial parent than was in the past granted.

In cases where the parent’s cannot agree as to custody or parenting time access, the court is directed by statue and by previous appellate court’s interpretation of the statue to consider various factors in determining what arrangements it should order. The court is mandated overall to base it’s orders as a child custody and parenting time access on the best interest of the children.

Beyond that, the statute does not direct the court to give more weight to any one of the factors than to any other. The various factors include the following. The court can consider the wishes of the child, but varying weight will be given to such wishes depending on the child’s age and on how well they are able to express themselves. Little weight is given to the expressed wishes of your children as they are too susceptible to parental pressures.

More weight is given to the wishes of teenage children. Which parent is more likely to allowing the child to be a meaningful ongoing relationship with the other parent. As above stated, unless bad circumstances are shown to exist, the courts believes children benefit greatly from an ongoing relationship with both parents after the divorce. If one parent is attempting to alienate or withhold the children from the other, the court will look unfavorable towards that parent.

Whether one parent has made false allegation of child abuse or neglect against the other. This rarely happens, but if it has, it evidences a strong propensity by the parent making such false claims to impair the relationship between the child and the other parent.Who has been the primary care giver to the children. Who gets them up in the morning and puts them in bead at night.

Picks up after school outings and helps wit homework. Who takes to the children to the doctor, stays home with them when they are sick, Who cooks their meals, takes them shopping, does their laundry, gives them baths, takes them to their after school activities, coaches their teams, etc. If one parent has willing assumed this roll in the past, the court can have some assurance that such care will be extended in the future. The child’s contacts with their home, school and neighborhood.

Since divorce is emotionally traumatic for children, a parent who can or is will provide stability to child’s pre-divorce environment is looked upon favorable by the court.The relationship that historically exists between the respective parents and the child, the child and any siblings the child may have or extended family or family-like relationships. If one parent has extended family relationships which whom the children have been close historically, continuing such relationship by awarding primary residential custody to that parent enhances the children’s sense of stability and enlarges the children’s emotional safety net.

The mental and physical health of the parties. IF these would impair either parent’s ability to effectively parent children or create emotional or physical safety issues for the children, then the court will consider the parent’s health status. Be requesting custody or parenting time access, a parent for the most part waives any physical/patient relationship which that parent has with treating health care providers. There certain negative histories which will or may work against a parent seeking custody or parenting time access.

These include a fairly recent history of drug abuse or alcohol abuse. a recent history of domestic violence, a recent history of other criminal conduct. If one parent alleges that the other is using drugs or alcohol and requests that the other be tested for such substances, most court will offer that both parties, not just the one making the allegation, submit to same day urine and hair follicle testing at TASC.

At times one parent does believe that the other constitutes an immediate, significant danger to the children, if parental access is allowed, and that parent can request that the other parent’s visitation be ordered to occur only in the presence of a third party, normally a court recognized supervisory facility such as Parenting Skills.

Such allegations should not be lightly made, as they can backfire in for supported by objective evidence. If parenting time access is ordered supervised, such supervision is normally mandated by the court only for so longs as is needed to alleviate any danger presented. For example, if one party tests positive for controlled substances, that party may not be allowed unsupervised access with the children until that party has successfully completed a series of random drug tests. If that part can successfully complete such a drug testing regimen, such access will cease to be supervised.


Child support must be paid in whatever amount, if any, is determined to be applicable for any child that is eighteen years of age or under or that is eighteen years of age and still attending high school. Once a child is both eighteen years old and is no longer attending high school, or once a child attains nineteen years of age without regard to whether the child is in high school or not, the obligation to pay child support ceases unless the child is disabled and is in need of such support because of such disability.

Courts are required by statute to follow the “child support guidelines” in calculating the amount of child support to be paid. The guideline is a formula which will yield a specific amount of support as a result of the inputs inserted into the formula. Controversies over the among of support to be paid normal involve disputes as to these inputs.

The inputs which the courts consider, and which parents may contest, include the following: the gross (before tax) income of each parent; if a parent is unemployed or underemployed the amount of gross income that should be imputed to that parent; the amount of spousal maintenance either parent pays or receives; the number of minor children who are common to the parents; the number of such children who are 12 years old or older; the cost of health care insurance and who pays such costs; the cost of day care and who pays such costs; any costs associated with the special needs of the children, whether “shared physical custody” or by way of “parenting time access” where one parent is designated a the primary residential parent.

The court will also determine the allocation of the children between the parents as tax exemptions on the parent’s respective post-dissolution tax returns. This allocation is normally made on the basis of each parent relative income percentages as determined on the child support worksheet prepared in accordance with the child support guidelines. The parties can by stipulation agree to support in an amount different than is calculated by the guidelines calculation, and the court will accept such stipulation if it is shown to be in the children’s best interest.

As a practical matter the court will usually adopt such stipulations with little critical scrutiny. The obligation to pay or the right to receive child support begins the first of the month immediately following the date the parents began to live separated and apart, without regard to when the Petition for Dissolution was filed or served. Child support is not normally ordered if the parents continue to live together even if a dissolution action is initiated.

If the parent owing support has been making such payments to the other spouse without a court order being first entered, the paying parent will normally be given credit for such payments if it is reasonably clear that the payments have been for child support rather than for some other reason. If the beginning date results in one parent owing child support which has been unpaid, the court will normally give the party owed such support a judgment against the other party in that amount. This judgment bears interest at the legal rate of 10% per annum, simple interest.

The parent owing on such judgment will normally be ordered to make monthly payment to the other party in addition to the ongoing monthly child support obligation in an amount sufficient to cover the interest accruing monthly and to make some payment towards reducing the principle. As a rule of thumb, this additional payment towards the arrearage will be in an amount roughly twice the monthly interest owed on judgment.

Child support is usually ordered paid by wage assignment against the payer’s employer and is paid through a court related agency, the Support Clearing House. This is primarily for the court’s convenience and constitutes no reflection on the character of the payer. Until the wage assignments come into effect, the payer is excepted to make such payments as are owed in the Support Clearing House.

Once the court orders that payments be made through the Support Clearing House, payments made directly to the payee are presumed to be gifts to the payee and not child support payments.


In Arizona there are two types of property, separate property and community property. In a dissolution action, the court has no power to award one party on portion of the other’s separate property. The court is required to divide the community property “equitably” between the parties. This normally means equally unless some good cause exists to split it unequally. Separate property is any property owned by either party before the parties’ married, or received by either party after marriage by gift or inheritance. All other property is community property is community property.

Community property in brief description essentially consists of any earnings by either party after the marriage or anything derived from or purchased by such earnings. It includes such things as bank accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, money market accounts, stocks or bonds purchased during the marriage, 401(k) accounts, IRA accounts, deferred income accounts, stock options, cash value of insurance policies, residences, cars, boats, trailers, and all manners of tangible personal property.

The nature of property as either separate or community property is determined at the time of its acquisition. In some instances, separate and community property may be mixed up. For example some money may be paid into a 401 (k) before the parties marry and additional money added after the marriage. If the court can separate these mixed funds, it will do so, If adequate records have been kept or can be obtained, the court will normally make such as separation.

If it cannot sort out the property, then it will treat all such hopelessly co-mingled property as community property. In dividing community property, a court will not normally divide each asset individually, though it may do so in respect to large dollar items. Rather, it will try to divide the property so that each person receives assets having roughly an identical aggregate value.

The court normally will not deal with trivia, i. e. the knives one spouse wants is worth more than the spoons the other gets. In such cases, the court will order such disputes be resolved through a court ordered sale of the assets with the proceeds being divided. The court will consider an unequal division of assets if one spouse can evidence that an even division is unfair.

For example, if the court determines one spouse is hiding assets from the other or has wasted community assets. The term “waste” is a term of art and does not mean that community property was used unwisely. It means that the asset was used in a way that any reasonable person would conclude it did not benefit the community.

For example, a spouse has used community funds to take a boyfriend or girlfriend to Paris for a romantic interlude.

As this obviously did not benefit the marital community, but rather was detrimental to the communities’ ongoing existence. The other spouse can be compensated for this “waste”. Debts are likewise either separate of community. A court cannot order a spouse to pay the separate debts of the other spouse. Community debts are split equitably. Any debt incurred by either spouse before the marriage is the separate debt of the spouse which incurred the debt.

Debts incurred after the marriage are usually community debts. And equitable division of community debts normal requires an equal split of such debts. There are exceptions to this. IF a debt goes with an asset, for example a car payment is owned on a car which is awarded to a party, the party who gets the asset is responsible for its related debt. If a debt uniquely benefits one party post dissolution to the exclusion of the other, for example a school loan, the party realizing the benefit may have to pay the debt.

If a debt arises out of the waste of community assets, for example the trip to Paris with the girlfriend or boyfriend was put on a credit card, the person wasting the community property by incurring such debt may have to pay the debt. It is important to realize that even though the court can order one party to a pay a particular debt, the court does not have the power to forgive the other party that debt.

If the one ordered to pay the debt does not pay it, then the creditor can pursue the other party of if chooses to do so. If the other party has to pay the debt, the other party can get a judgment for reimbursement against the one ordered to pay the debt.


Spousal maintenance is awarded for one of two purposes. The first purpose is “Rehabilitative”. The second is “Permanent”. Rehabilitative spousal maintenance is awarded in marriages of intermediate duration. This normally refers to marriages of over three years in duration but less thank twenty. It is awarded to a spouse who lacks assets or an earning capacity sufficient to meet the spouse’s reasonable needs and is designed to give that spouse the opportunity to develop such and earning capacity. It is awarded as a fixed monthly payment for a fixed period of time.

Permanent spousal maintenance is may be awarded in marriages of long duration, that is, over twenty years, where one spouse has little if any work experience ad is of such and age, usually over 50 years, that there is little realistic chance that the recipient spouse will ever be able to accumulate the assets or achieve an earning capacity sufficient to meet that spouses reasonable needs. If may be awarded in other circumstances, for example, where the spouse seeking maintenance has no assets and is completely disabled from any employment whatsoever.

Permanent spousal maintenance is awarded as a fixed monthly payment for an “indefinite” period of time. The term “reasonable need” is especially important. It is not a fixed or presumed amount, and does not suggest that spousal maintenance is to be awarded in the bare minimal amount need by an ex-spouse to just barely get by. It term is defined by reference to the standard of living enjoyed by the spouses during the course of their marriage. Thus the “reasonable needs” of the spouse of a person who earns $100,000 per year are different than the “reasonable needs” of the spouse of a persons who earns $20,000 per year.

At the same time, as least in respect to rehabilitative spousal maintenance, the primary purpose of such award is enable the recipient’s entry into the work force, and it should not bee awarded in an amount or for such a period as to thwart this purpose. The determination of spousal maintenance is a two step process.

First the court determines whether any one of the following applies: the spouse seeking such maintenance lacks sufficient property to provide for that spouses reasonable needs (in respect to the property criteria, the court looks to the earning capacity, real or imputed, of the property and the spouse seeking maintenance is not required to spend down the principle to support himself or herself); or, the spouse is unable to provide for such reasonable needs through appropriate employment or cannot work because of the age or condition of minor children in that spouse’s custody; or, the spouse contributed to the educational opportunities of the other, or, the marriage is of long duration and the spouse seeking maintenance is of an age that may preclude the possibility of the spouse’s gaining employment sufficient to meet that spouse’s reasonable needs.

Once a determination is made that a spouse qualifies for spousal maintenance, the court then must determine the amount and duration of such award. The court by statutory directive must consider thirteen factors, as applicable, in making this determination.

These include:

the standard of living established during the marriage;

the duration of the marriage; the age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;

the funds that will be left available to the spouse paying maintenance after the award to meet that spouse needs;

the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including earning capacity; the contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the other earning capacity (includes enabling conduct such as staying home and caring for children and residence to lift this burden from working spouse, attending or hosting promotional functions, frequent relocation, actual work in working spouse’s business, etc.);

the extent that the person seeking maintenance has given up career opportunities to further the spouse’s opportunities;

the ability of parties to further children’s future educational costs;

the earning capacity, actual or imputed, of the financial resources available to the person seeking maintenance;

the time needed for the person seeking maintenance to develop a sufficient earning capacity;

excessive expenditures or waste of community assets by the spouse against who maintenance is sought;

the future cost of health care and health care insurance which will be incurred by the spouse seeking maintenance and any reduction in cost that will be realized by the personal against whom maintenance is sought;

any actual damages or judgments suffered by or awarded to the spouse seeking maintenance, or the parties minor child, against the other spouse as a result of conduct which results in the criminal conviction for the spouse against whom the award will be entered.

Court decisions have held that several of these factors are intended to allow the recipient spouse to share in the financial success that the spouse helped create, so that the award of maintenance is not limited just to the “reasonable needs” of the spouse seeking such and award. Spousal maintenance is not usually awarded in marriages of short term duration, that is, a term of less than three years.

The statutory factors as to amount and duration are for the most part not present in such cases, though if a unique circumstance exist there is no absolute prohibition against a court ordering spousal maintenance in short term marriages. If you spousal maintenance is not awarded in the original decree, it cannot be later awarded. Spousal maintenance, if awarded by the court in a contested case, and without record to whether the award is for a fixed period of time or “indefinite” is always modifiable both as to its amount and duration should future circumstances make such modification equitable, provided that such modification is requested prior to the expiration of the term for which it is set.

Modifiable spousal maintenance terminates with the death or remarriage of the recipient if either occurs during the term established. The parties can by stipulation agree to make spousal maintenance “un-modifiable”. This means that regardless of what future circumstances occur, the spouse maintenance award cannot be changed either in amount of duration.

The benefit to the payer of an “un-modifiable” award is that there is a definite amount, beginning and end to the spousal maintenance award around which the payer can plan. The detriment to the payer is that the payer will continue to owe such award without regard to any changes in the payer’s earning capacity, health or evolving needs. The benefit to the recipient of an “un-modifiable” award is that it continues without regard to the payer’s ability to pay.

The determent to the recipient is that it cannot be modified if unforeseen future circumstances preclude the recipient from attaining self sufficiency. In general, all thins equal, payer’s often prefer awards to be “un-modifiable” and recipients prefer that they be “modifiable”. Each case is unique.

Spousal maintenance is an adjustment to (i.e. a deduction form) the gross income of the payer. It is taxable income to the recipient. If child support is also at issue, it decreases the income attributable to the payer and increases the income attributable to the recipient. Thereby, payment of spousal maintenance can decrease the amount of child support owed, though the decrease is proportional and is not a dollar for dollar decrease.

There is no guideline providing for the calculation of spousal maintenance as exits in respect to child support. There is a formula which has never been formally accepted by the courts that can be applied to give a rough “rule of thumb” estimation of the amount and duration of such an award. It is as follows.

The number of years of marriage is multiplied by 1-1/2% to yield a percentage called the “duration factor”. The difference between the earning capacity of the respective spouses is then determined, and this difference is multiplied by the “duration factor”. This calculation yields a rough estimation of the amount of spousal maintenance. The duration of spousal maintenance would be for a period of time between 1/3 and 1/2 of the duration of the parties marriage.


A paternity action is an action to establish a father/child legal relationship whenever the child is born out of wedlock. This usually occurs under circumstances where the mother and the putative father were never married, but also may occur when the parties marry after a child is born. In the latter situation, paternity can be established in a subsequent dissolution action, should one ensue, without having to file a separate paternity action.

If a dissolution action is not involved, a father might wish to have paternity established if there are subsequent children born in wedlock to make certain the child born out of wedlock has co-equal rights with those children. Paternity actions may be initiated by the natural mother, the putative father, or by the Arizona Attorney General.

The Arizona Attorney General will initiate this action of the natural mother has been the recipient of benefits from the state relating to the minor child. This is done to minimize the state’s financial obligations or to recoup benefits paid by the state. Paternity can be established in several ways, first voluntarily by the execution of a notarized or witnessed statement acknowledging paternity that contains the social security number of both parents and is signed by both parent’s, or by two separate statements complying with the stated criteria.

A statement that is witnessed must contain the printed name and address of the witness. The witness must be an adult who is not related to either party by marriage. It can also be established by an agreement of the parties to be bound by genetic testing, if such testing is done by a certified laboratory using a test accepted by the court, or any combination of testing agreed upon by the parties, and the laboratory certifies by affidavit that the tested father has not been excluded by the test from being the father.

The documents arising out of these voluntary actions must be filed with either the clerk of the superior court, department of economic security or department of health services. The filing of such document establishes paternity and has the same force and effect as a court order.

A voluntary acknowledgement of paternity can be rescinded in writing within 60 days after the last party signs the acknowledgement by filing the written rescission with the department of economic security. Otherwise, the establishment of paternity cannot be set aside unless the person seeking to set the establishment aside can show that the acknowledgement of paternity was obtained by fraud, duress or material mistake.

If there is no voluntary acknowledgement of paternity by the parties, either the mother or the putative father may initiate a paternity action in court to establish paternity. The party initiating the action alleges that the putative father is in fact the natural father of the child in the petition. If the other party fails to respond to this petition in a timely manner after being served with a summons, paternity will be established by “default”.

If the person being served admits in the response that the putative father is the natural father of the child, paternity is thereby established by judicial stipulation. A man is presumed to be the father of a child if both he and the mother sign the birth certificate of a child born out of wedlock. This presumption does not “legally” establish paternity.

This must be done by filing an action for paternity with the court requesting that a court order be entered based on the birth certificate. This presumption is an evidentiary presumption, and it can be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. A genetic test that excludes the man from being the father will normally constitute such evidence. If a party to an action for paternity denies that the putative father is the natural father of a child, the court will order the putative father and child to submit to genetic testing.

This is a non-invasive procedure requiring only the swipe of a cotton swab in the mouth of the subjects. Genetic testing by a certified lab using commonly accepted procedures is practically unimpeachable as the odds against a false positive are astronomical. If the test indicates that the putative father is the natural father of the child, the court will find paternity unless the party objecting to the result can show by absolutely indisputable evidence that it was physically impossible for the putative father to have fathered the child.

If a party is ordered to participate in genetic testing and fails to do so, paternity can be established by “default” in the same manner it would be if the party fails to respond to a petition to establish paternity. Once paternity is established, the father has all the legal rights and obligations which the father of a child born in wedlock would have. That is custodial and parenting time access (visitation) rights and child support obligations.

The nature and extent of those rights and obligations is determined using the same legal standards and guidelines as would be used in a dissolution action, except in a paternity action child support can be made retroactive in time back to the birth of the child, but for no more than a maximum of three years unless special circumstances exist which would make it equitable to make the award retroactive for a longer period.

The determination of these issues does not occur automatically. Either the mother, father or the Arizona Attorney general must request a hearing from the court to determine these issues.

Children with Special Needs in Family Law Proceedings 

Family law courts today are increasingly dealing with issues facing families of children with special needs. Often, the marital and family dysfunction which led to the breakup of the family was compounded by the challenges inherent in caring for a child who has special needs.

These children tend to require high maintenance. Ordinary parenting skills are simply insufficient to address the myriad of issues presented. These parents must become mini-experts as to their child’s specific needs, and must advocate tirelessly to ensure that the child’s necessary medical, educational, developmental and psychological needs are met.

It is critically important for the attorneys, bench officers and professionals involved in these cases to have specialized knowledge of the issues, resources, available special needs systems, as well as the child’s specific and individualized needs. The legal and physical custody orders made by family law judicial officers for these families are literally “quality of life” decisions that can drastically effect and/or substantially enhance the special needs child’s daily life as well as his/her future.

There are a number of categories of children with special needs. These include those with chronic or life-threatening medical conditions, such as asthma, food allergies, diabetes, developmental disorders, including learning disabilities, ADHD, autism or autism spectrum disorders (Asperger’s Syndrome), and psychological or behavioral disorders, such as depression, bipolar or conduct disorders.

Each of these diagnoses presents unique challenges for separating or separated parents who are also dealing with the stress, emotions and changes involved in the break up of the family unit. In custody disputes involving these children, first and foremost, the court must immediately be made aware of the child’s individual issues, particular specialized needs, and parameters of required care. Unlike parenting plans and custody orders for “typical” children, those for special needs children must, in many ways, be micro-managed.

The family law lawyer must be able to educate the court and provide information needed to ensure that the parenting plan he as detailed and comprehensive as is necessary to ensure the child’s best interests are met. Initially, the court will need to know if the child has been diagnosed. If so, was it self-diagnosis by a parent or by a professional? (Because many disabilities are genetically based, the parents themselves often have histories of dealing with the same or similar issues.)

Are there differing opinions by various professionals? Do both parents agree with the diagnosis, or is one parent in denial (which can be critically dangerous in an asthma/allergy situation, in particular). Do the parents differ in their opinions as to treatment? Diet? Medication? Discipline? School selection? It is incumbent that the attorney highlights the extreme dangers and unique risks the child may face ii one parent fails to appreciate the seriousness of the child’s special needs.



Often the court must consider which parent is better educated and trained in dealing with the child’s needs and specialized core and to what degree each parent is involved in the treatment process and treatment options. If the child is on medication, do both parents know which medications, the dosage and times they are to be administered? Can the parent identify specific triggers or unique issues that may provoke an attack or behavioral episode? Do the parents have differing philosophical views on their child’s treatment, medication or care giver? Another critical issue is whether or nor the child has or needs an IEP (Individualized Education Plan).

Often both parents are not in agreement about this process or one is in denial and/or worried about the child being “labeled.” The unfortunate reality is that in Los Angeles County, L4USD will usually side with the parent who is in denial about the child needing special education services. For this reason, it may be necessary and appropriate for the court to award the. other parent sole legal custody as far as educational decisions are concerned.

The same goes for differences of opinion concerning medication. If one parent does not believe in medication and refuses to medicate the child, in spite of the fact that the child’s doctors, teachers, and therapist believe medication is helping the child, it may be necessary for the court to award the other parent sole legal custody concerning medication issues. In these instances, that parent may also be awarded physical custody during all school time (Since the medication may he required for the child to concentrate).

Several years ago, Heidi Perryman, PH.D, developed an adaptation of a program used in the juvenile justice system for dealing with children with learning disabilities and other diagnosable disorders. Her IPP or Individualized Parenting Plan model, used in family law proceedings, requires the analysis of specific information about the particular child’s functioning in a number of areas, including the child’s home environment, education, extracurricular and social activities, family dynamics, medical and psychological needs, advocacy and financial needs.

The residence of the child who has special needs may require specific structural accommodations, such as wheelchair access or TDD phone service. The child may need his/her own bedroom to allow for a quiet, non-stimulating environment. The child’s psychological needs may be such that one primary residence, in which the primary parent has established specific routines and/or other strategies to assist the child in coping are in place.

The distance between the parents’ residences and the child’s school, physicians, and therapists should be considered. Issues for consideration may be how much time the child will spend riding in the car each week and whether the child can tolerate long commutes. As previously indicated, it is imperative that the child’s IEP be considered if one is in place. If neither parent can effectively advocate for the child, minor’s counsel, a special master, or a parenting plan coordinator may need to be appointed to make decisions or to help parents make decisions in this area. Extra-curricular activities for special needs children are often a source of conflict between parents.

One parent may feel the child absolutely needs to be involved in one or more activities to develop social skills and self-confidence. This may involve a social skills class, soccer, or dance. The other parent may complain of missed custodial time during “his or her time” or the other parent over-indulging the child who may not be able to handle too much activity. For these reasons, the parenting plan should be specific regarding which activities the child is to be involved in and how each parent is to participate in those activities. Other family members, and their role in the child’s life, must also be considered.

The attorney should consider whether the family understands, accepts and appreciates the child’s special needs. Is there a step parent or step-siblings involved in the child’s home? Is transitioning between a home in which the child may be the only child and a home in which there are several step-siblings too stressful? Even minor changes to a child’s daily routine can be overwhelming for some children with special needs. Of utmost concern must be the child’s medical and psychological needs. If the parents cannot agree on treating physicians, therapists, treatment, medications, the court will have to dictate which parent has decision making authority or may appoint some other professional to provide the court with information to allow it to make decisions on behalf of the child.

The child’s psychological age, rather than his/her chronological age must be considered. A ten-year-old child with particular needs may be far more emotionally attached to one parent than a “typical” five-year-old. The court must be presented with proposed orders addressing all areas of concern to ensure the child’s best interests are protected. Children with special needs often create complex financial issues for families which raises issues of child and spousal support as well as areas of reimbursement.

While many of the required services may be covered by medical insurance and/or federal and state government or school district programs, that is not always the case. An insurance company may pay for speech, occupational and physical therapy for an autistic child, but may deny coverage for desperately needed behavioral therapy. An IEP may provide for individualized treatment with a resource specialist and other professional services, but the child may additionally need a private tutor and/or group social skills training, in order to meet his/her full potential.

It is also possible that a child may never be able to be self-supporting, even after reaching the age of majority, and this may require the court to extend jurisdiction over child support beyond the age of majority. Families of children with special needs need specialized representation in family law proceedings. Attorneys representing these parents must be familiar with the special needs systems, must be competent to advise on when to seek further resources and assessment options, must be readily familiar with expert professionals for referral purposes and must know precisely what to request of the court to enhance the lives of these children and their families.


Bankruptcy and Divorce | Family Law Center

Bankruptcy and Divorce Please keep in mind that we are not bankruptcy attorneys and do not specialize in bankruptcy. We offer this article for general information only, and strongly suggest that you consult with a bankruptcy attorney to clarify or expand upon any information contained in this article.  

As family law attorneys, the possibility of bankruptcy is one of our concerns when structuring a divorce settlement. You should be aware of some problem areas related to bankruptcy so you can help us structure your agreement. If bankruptcy is a possibility for you or your spouse, we encourage you to talk with an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy law to get complete legal advice tailored to your specific situation.

The affect of a bankruptcy is that the debts of the filer are “discharged”, that is they are rendered null and void, except insofar as the bankruptcy trustee determines that a portion shall be paid with the liquidation of the debtors assets or through a payment plan. If your divorce settlement establishes you as a creditor of your former spouse then you may stand in the same shoes as any other creditor.

Most people think that divorce terminates all of their joint financial obligations with the former spouse. It doesn’t. A bankruptcy filed by your former spouse can leave you as the only one legally liable on a joint debt. Bankruptcy can sometimes void an agreement that one of you “buy out” the other spouse’s interest in a house, business, or other property, particularly where the obligation is not secured.

A bankruptcy after the divorce could significantly disrupt the equitable distribution of the divorce and have a tremendous financial impact on one or both of you. For these reasons, you should carefully consider your options in the settlement in the context of bankruptcy, if it is a realistic possibility.



Child support and alimony are not dis-chargeable in bankruptcy. If the payments your spouse is supposed to make are for “support”, then he or she still has to make them even if they go through a bankruptcy. By contrast, property settlements or similar payments ordered through a divorce ARE dis chargeable in bankruptcy.

This distinction can become very important if you are agreeing to take property instead of alimony or to take less alimony in exchange for payment of your joint debts by the other spouse. If bankruptcy of the other spouse is imminent or obvious then it is in your interest to take immediate transfers of assets or money, or alimony or child support, rather than payments over time that could be discharged.



Joint debts to third parties survive the divorce as joint debts, regardless of any agreement between the parties or order entered by the court. That is because the creditor contracted with both of you to repay the debt, and since the creditor is not a part of the divorce, there is nothing that binds them to the agreement or order. If you and your spouse are jointly responsible for a debt, and one of you decides to file for bankruptcy and include that joint debt, the creditor will likely try to collect from the other spouse for full payment of the debt.


This is true even if you agree in your Marital Settlement Agreement that the spouse declaring bankruptcy is supposed to pay for these debts. Bankruptcy eliminates the legal obligation to pay the debt. However, you can agree that the spouse agreeing to pay the specific debt will indemnify the other spouse in the event the creditor ever comes to them for payment.

Unfortunately this is not a perfect method of assuring payment, as even the agreement to indemnify is subject to discharge. The preferred method of ensuring payment of a debt by a spouse is the have the payment made from the proceeds of the sale of a joint asset.

There are other options as well, and they should be considered in your settlement HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF You cannot prevent your former spouse from filing for bankruptcy or to totally protect yourself if you have joint debts with a former spouse, but there are a few methods that can help. If you don’t believe that your spouse will pay a joint debt if he or she is ordered to pay it, then you should consider finding a way for the joint debt to be in your column rather than theirs.

Your good credit is a valuable asset that is worth protecting, even if it may mean that you will take on the lion’s share of the marital debt. If your spouse declares bankruptcy, but only has personal and not joint debts, your credit and finances would not be affected by the bankruptcy. If you are going to get a cash settlement to be paid over time by your spouse, it is extremely important to secure the payments.

Secured creditors get priority in bankruptcy, meaning that they are first in line for liquidation and payment, or they can retain the security. Real property, such as a house or a lot, is usually excellent security, and personal property, such as stocks, bonds, jewelry, etc., can also be good to have as collateral. You can also structure the agreement so that joint debts get paid first, as part of the divorce settlement. For example, if the marital home is to be sold, an agreement to pay off all joint debts from the proceeds before you split what is left will minimize your exposure.

This could be applied to any source of funds, including the sale of another property, proceeds from a particular bank account, or otherwise. Or, if a spouse is refinancing a property, you could agree that out of that refinancing the joint debts would be satisfied. There are other options that your attorney can suggest as appropriate for your particular situation. TALK WITH A BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY IF NECESSARY We hope this information has been helpful to you. If your spouse has already filed for bankruptcy, or if it is imminent or likely, we suggest that you consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can advise you specifically about how to best handle your situation. 

Divorce Attorneys | Family Lawyers

How can a divorce attorney help you? Divorce laws vary from state-to-state and understanding how a divorce works can be very challenging, especially when you first get started.


It is important for you to learn what you should expect during this process, what rights you have, and what steps you need to take to protect yourself. Advice and guidance from a local divorce lawyer is a crucial part of getting through this time whether you were served with divorce papers or initiated the proceedings yourself.


Types of Divorce Divorce laws do differ from state-to-state. However, there are six basic types of divorce identified at the US Federal level of Family Law.


These include:No-Fault Divorce: A divorce that does not require any evidence that either party is at fault for the failure of the marriage.

At-Fault Divorce: A Divorce that assigns “fault” to a spouse for committing an act that compromised the marriage, such as adultery.

Uncontested Divorce: Both parties agree on the terms of the divorce.

Collaborative Divorce: This is when both parties agree to enter a formal negotiation to come to a mutually agreed upon resolution.

Mediated Divorce: Similar to a collaborative divorce but with attorneys and other separate parties creating the divorce agreement to be signed by both parties.

Summary Divorce: Special circumstances can warrant a summary divorce.

These can include: marriages of less than 5 years, marriages without children involved, and no (or minimal) joint properties. This is a quick summary of some of the issues to consider when filing for a divorce.


You can find more in-depth divorce information on the divorce wiki at . Family law divorce attorneys will be able to advise you of the best divorce type for your situation as well as how your particular state’s divorce laws apply.Divorce affects all those involved Keep in mind that although this is an emotional and difficult time, the decisions you make now could have long-term consequences and therefore should be based on good advice and accurate information which is why obtaining a family divorce attorney is typically recommended.

There are many issues for you to take under consideration at this time, for example:Child Custody & Divorce If child custody and child visitation are issues in a divorce, you will need to file a separate petition and it is possible that you will need to obtain custody counselors and witnesses.

Child custody can be a complicated issue and the advisement of a local child custody lawyer is recommended to help ensure a child friendly divorce and protect all parties and ensure agreements are within federal and state laws.Child Support & Divorce Child support laws can vary significantly between states as well.

General calculation of child support amounts is determined at the federal level by the office of child support enforcement. However, each state has the authority to create its own child support guidelines too. Seeking the advice of a child support attorney in your state will help you understand the laws as they relate to you in your state.

Division of Assets Many factors also go into decisions surrounding dividing assets with a divorce. Property appraisals, insurance statements, and tax information are necessary for this part of the process. Does your property qualify as marital or non-marital? Do you and your spouse still owe a balance on a loan? There are also questions about pensions, medical insurance, debt, and spousal support that you will have to deal with. An informative overview of these issues to consider can be found here.