Money – and using every legal means to keep as much of it as possible from your soon-to-be ex-spouse, is a very important objective of ours in a divorce case. Nevertheless, our primary focus should be on your children, especially considering some recent legal developments in Arizona.
If you are getting divorced and have children, and if custody of your children is going to be a major issue in your divorce case, you need to be aware of a recent important court ruling that may affect your rights as a father for many years to come. The Arizona Court of Appeals issued a ruling in April 2018 that could substantially affect your odds of getting joint legal decision-making rights. For a very long time, judges have been increasingly awarding joint legal decision-making authority (commonly referred to informally as “custody”) to fathers in Arizona. Previously, if post-divorce disputes arose regarding a parenting issue, the parties would go back to court and the judge would often act as a sort of referee, if you will, issuing rules and orders about those disputed matters. However, there has been a trend over the past few years in which judges in Arizona are increasingly reluctant to get involved in disputes between two fit parents who share joint legal decision-making authority. And to avoid future disputes in cases where the parents are not likely to see eye-to-eye, judges in Arizona recently have begun to increasingly award one of the parents sole legal decision-making authority. And guess who is the parent who is more likely to be awarded sole legal decision-making authority? Do I have to spell it out for you? But it doesn’t have to be that way.
This recent Court of Appeals ruling will likely have the effect of greatly accelerating this shift toward awarding one of the parties sole legal decision-making authority. As a man, you are probably already at a disadvantage. Some lawyers in the family law bar jokingly refer to this as the “penis penalty.” All joking aside, the stakes have just been raised. You must now fight harder than ever before, right from the outset, to secure sole legal decision-making authority if you are dealing with a contentious, soon-to-be ex-wife. Judges like to keep things as they are, and if she is awarded sole legal decision-making authority from the outset, it will be difficult for you to convince a judge to change his mind if you file a modification case in the future unless you’ve got strong evidence of a substantial and continuing change in circumstances.
Yes, the money issues are very important in divorce cases for men in Arizona. We must aggressively fight to keep as low as possible the amount of money your ex can take from you. A fair division of the assets and a low award of financial support are important objectives. But obviously, the most important part of your case is your children and what happens to them. Because judges are probably going to be less frequently awarding joint legal decision-making authority to the parents in Arizona divorce cases if the parties don’t get along well, you could lose your ability to participate in the raising of your own children, turning you a mere helpless observer to bad decisions their mother makes. You need to fight hard not to end up in that helpless situation. Now is the time to fight. Please call us for a consultation before it is too late.