Complete family law with attorney Keith Singer, the family law attorneys and legal professionals at the law office of Keith Singer, offer personally crafted legal solutions in the areas of family and juvenile law each week on this program. Attorney Keith Singer provides practical information on a different topic relating to family and juvenile law. You can find a complete list of programs by topic at the firm’s website located at keithsingerlaw.com. If you or someone you know would benefit from experienced and practical legal adviser representation in the areas of family law and juvenile law contact the attorneys and the law office of Keith Singer at 520.795.1800 to schedule an initial consultation and now today’s program.
I’m Keith Singer. In this program, I’m going to show you where to find the family law that applies to cases that take place in Arizona. Many people don’t know where to start on how to find the family law. Well, listen and I will tell you. First of all, there are statutes, laws, passed by the state legislature that define family law in Arizona and that’s where we start. Most of the family law is located in Title twenty- five in the Arizona revised statutes. You think to yourself how do I access these statutes? Well, as many of you already know, it’s available online. Simply by typing “ARS”. Arizona revised statutes first letters ARS Twenty-five dash whatever provision we are going to be referencing as we go through the various topics of family law in the program. With respect to juvenile law, most of the law relating to the subject is located in title eight. So you will be typing into your internet browser “ARS 8-“ whatever provision we are referencing relating to juvenile law and you can find the law that applies to your situation pretty readily in this day and age.
Driving a bit deeper into the family law statutes in Arizona. It starts with Section 25-101. That describes void in prohibited marriages. This is the basis for the law relating to which marriages are eligible for annulment in Arizona. 25-103 describes the purposes of the title as determined by the legislature. This section has become extremely significant of late in the practice of family law as we get into in later shows. It’s worth reading the section that has had such a profound impact on family law since the beginning of 2013. It states “It is also the declared public policy of the state in the general purpose of this title that absent evidence to the contrary, it is in the child’s best interest to 1) have substantial frequent meaningful and continuing parenting time with both parents 2) to have both parents participate in decision making about the child.
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Podcast #2: Where to Find Family Law, Juvenile Law, and Rules of Procedure)
Moving on at 25-111. There is a section on their requirements for marriage, for a valid marriage in Arizona and this has certainly become a topic of interest to some in the community of opening up marriage to a different group of people than was the case in all of Arizona history. A section of Arizona law certainly worthy of its own program some later time. The section would also include the discussion of common law marriage which doesn’t exist or at least can’t be formed in Arizona but potentially is recognized under Arizona law validly formed in another state that does recognize common law marriage. This provision of law is located at section 25-112 and again you’d find that on the internet simply by typing in “ A.R.S. 25-112”. The law is literally at your fingertips just like it’s at my fingertips. I have a tool as a member of the Arizona state bar that allows me to search court of appeals decisions which are not readily available on the internet in that type of format. But the laws themselves which are the basic home tools the courts use to make decisions and family law cases and in juvenile cases are readily available to the public. You can and should make yourself knowledgeable about them and I will help.
The statute that relates to the consent required of the parent when a minor wishes to marry in Arizona is located at Arizona revised statutes section 25-122. Though I don’t know you or your situation I am not afraid to say no when that comes up. Encourage a long engagement until they are old enough to make that decision wisely. This comes from a divorce lawyer, so you can tell them that I told you to say no if that helps.
Arizona revised statutes sections 25-201 through 25-205 are the Arizona uniform premarital agreement act. This is a Uniform statute which is created by Think Tanks and States adopted if they wish through their legislatures and we have adopted it along with several other states and it applies to premarital agreements their formation and their enforcement. This is a subject as well that we will cover in great detail in another program.
Section 25-211 of the Arizona revised statute speaks of property acquired during the marriage as community property. This obviously is a critical area a family law and one that we’re going to cover in a program limited to this subject. In fact, there are books written on the subject of community property breaking it down and all of its different iterations and we could spend a dozen or hundred programs on just that subject.
ARS 25-213 describes the law of separate property and is is a complicated subject to family law that we will cover in great detail. There are also court of appeals decisions that affect the trial courts in their determination of what is community property and what is separate property. That probably is beyond the scope of what we will be doing in this program, but you should know that the courts also rely on appellate authority to guide and interpret the laws as they apply to your case.
Section 25-214 is entitled management control. It is kind of an antiquated concept in this day and age but in the past it was the presumption that the men would control the property in a marriage and the women would take care of children. We have seen in family law a fundamental change in and this and often it is the other way around and we see everything in between. This statute makes it clear that in Arizona each spouse has the sole management control and disposition rights of their separate property and the spouses have equal management controlling disposition rights over their community property and equal power to bind the community for debts, which has significant implications with respect to family law on the debt side.
ARS Section 25-218 is a perfect example of a statute that is significantly affected by a court of appeals decision. This statute is designed to make surrogate parent contracts prohibited in Arizona and which really reverts all rights in a surrogate parent case back to the surrogate. The case was found unconstitutional. That was the case of Soos vs. Superior Court in the county of Maricopa, heard in the Arizona court of appeals division one in 1994. I found it at 182 Arizona 470 and at 897 P.2 1356, Review denied by the higher appellate court making that the final word on the matter. I will refrain from going into too much appellate authority over the course of the series.
Arizona revised statute section 25-301through 25-381 contain a number of very significant statutes relating to disillusion of marriage, divorce, the laws pertaining to annulment, the nuts and bolts of dissolution of marriage, the Arizona child support guidelines, the domestic relations education on children’s issues are what we call the parent information course as well a four hour course that’s required of parents in many family law cases involving children. The laws pertaining to attorney’s fees are in the section, the laws relating to the court of conciliation, which is the social service arm of the family law court, all these are subjects that we will get into much more detail in later programs.
In sections 25-401 through 25-415 of the Arizona revised statutes you will find the laws relating to legal decision making in parenting time. This in my humble opinion is the heart of family law. Within these sections of law you will find not only the detailed statutes that define how courts decide legal decision making and parenting time, but you will also find the legal requirements for a court approved parenting plan – the factors courts consider when there is a dispute relating to sole or joint legal decision making. At ARS 25-403.03 you will find the law that guides courts in addressing issues of domestic violence and child abuse when considering parenting time, legal decision making, and placement of children. Similarly, at ARS section 25-403.04 help courts addressed the issue of substance abuse in families with children. The statute that gives parents the specific legal right to have access to prescription medication records and medical records, therapeutic records, all records, educational records pertaining to their children, is located at ARS 25-403.06.
At ARS 25-408, we find the statute that addresses when parents wish to relocate with children to another state or even more than a hundred miles within Arizona, and the factors courts use to determine those very difficult decisions. At ARS 25-409, we find the statute relating to third party rights. This is the rights of grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters who are adults to request legal decision making, visitation because they are not parents, and even placement of children that are not their own.
ARS 25-411 is the law relating to modification of legal decision making in parenting time. This area of family law has been developing very extensively over the last several years and some significant changes have occurred in the practice. There is a different procedure applied to the modifications of legal decision making nowadays than there is to the modification of parenting time. I will explain all about how that works in a later program for now a brief break I’ll be back in a few moments.
You’re listening to family law with Attorney Keith Singer. Each week on this program attorney Keith Singer provides practical information on a different topic relating to family and juvenile law. Find a complete list of programs by topic at the firm’s website located at keithsingerlaw.com. If you or someone you know would benefit from experienced and practical legal adviser representation in the areas of family law and juvenile law contact the attorneys and the law office of Keith Singer at 520.795.1800 to schedule an initial consultation. Now back to the program.
In the first half of the program I described how most of family law is found in the statutes- Arizona revised statutes Title 25 – and I walked through numerous sections of that title to illustrate how it is laid out and how you can find the law through resources that are available to all of us. In looking on into the statutes we can find dozens and dozens of interesting additional family laws under ARS that address a range of issues many of which we will go into in later programs. But the point is, start with the statutes. But that’s not where it ends and I want to use the time that I have to cover another body of family law that we use just about as frequently and that has a very significant impact on the practice of family law, and that is the Arizona family law rules of procedure.
The concept of procedure refers to how we do family law. This is a lot of the mystery that the public feels so uncomfortable with in navigating this area of practice. But the family law rules of procedure, along with the local rules of practice that we won’t have time to get into in this program, provide another set of rules and in a sense, laws that define how family law works. The family law rules of procedure are so significant in my practice of family law that I literally have a yellow tab of that section of the law book that I take with me to court and keep on my desk at the office. There are separate rules of procedure for the juvenile court and although we will have time to get into them in this program, if you are in that court please do refer to them in your practice. These rules were originally just folded into the Arizona rules of civil procedure in without getting all legalese on you, these are rules that apply generally to civil actions in Arizona courts. But family law has become more specialized, as have many areas of law over time and it became apparent that a specific set of rules that apply it in a customized manner to the court proceedings involving families needed to be developed and that’s what we have now. They are updated occasionally and you should review them and learn them if you want to become knowledgeable in this area.
There are some crucial areas family law that are only found in the Arizona family law rules of procedure. Let’s dive into some of them. The rules of family law procedure are generally broken down into an order that is following the proceeding. It starts with some matters that would be addressed in beginning of the proceeding and then moves to the preparation for the trial. This is what we call the discovery phase and that would be the process of gathering information using the tools that are available that are also described in the family law rules. Moving towards the trial, including a temporary orders that if need be, and then the trial itself and post trial actions. I’m going to start at the beginning of the rules of family law procedure and explain just a few of them as time allows in this program and for the purpose of illustrating and even with a few of them how important this body of law is to the practice of family law.
Starting at the beginning, Rule 2 provides a mechanism for selecting a more restrictive rule when it comes to the presentation of evidence at trial or a less restrictive more inclusive rule that generally applies to family law cases also described in those rules a family law procedure at a later point. Rule 4 talks about how time is computed in a family law case. When you have to respond to something or you have a deadline, you want to know whether your weekends are being counted or whether just the work days are being counted, well there’s a rule for that and it’s right here. Rule 5 about consolidation. This is how an order of protection case can be consolidated with the family law case and temporary orders issued that address both the domestic violence issues and the parenting issues together. Rule 5. What happens when a dependency proceeding in the juvenile court is taking place at the same time as a family law proceeding in the adult family law court. The short answer is the juvenile court proceeding is superior and the family law case waits until the juvenile court cases done. I have always found that law to be so interesting because there is this sense and the legal community or perhaps it’s just the family law community that what goes on in the juvenile court is somehow less than because the big financial cases occur in the family law courts. But when it comes to a situation where the juvenile court and the family law court had the same case, there is little question that the juvenile court takes the case and the family law court waits until the juvenile court is done. So in that sense what happens at the juvenile court is considered as a matter of law to be more significant than anything that could possibly be dealt with in the family law court, particularly financial matters. And that’s of course as it should be because when a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, when a parent is unwilling or unable to care for a child, these the definitions of what creates a dependency in the juvenile court that needs to be attended to first before anything else. Though as I was reminded this week by a more learned colleague. It may be possible in this situation to bifurcate the financial aspects of a family law case at least those that needed to be attended to in a critical manner if that were the case and allow those matters to proceed in the adult family law court, while the matters relating to the children were exclusively addressed in the juvenile court. I’m not certain that that would be allowed but it’s a legal theory that I would be willing to try to propose to court if necessary.
Rule 6 of the Arizona rules of family law procedure that relates to Changes of judges. Although that rule refers one to the Arizona rules of civil procedure basically saying follow that rule when it comes to that request. Rule 7: The rule on protected and unprotected addresses. There are mechanisms within family law that have been developed over the last several years to protect the information of families from just general dissemination to the public. There is now a sensitive information sheet that’s filed along with initial family law proceedings that has the confidential information that you wouldn’t want in the public record. More and more, it is our practice to redact the court documents, to exclude social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers and to put that information in the sensitive information sheet and just refer to it so that the court has access to it but that the general public can’t just go to the second floor of the Superior Court downtown and look up this information on a computer that is public access. And when it’s appropriate, under Rule 7 and others, there is a mechanism to protect the address of a party in a family law case, though that’s a pretty significant request to make because, especially when there are children involved, the parent wants to know where the children are and having parenting time occur on a regular basis when you don’t even know where it the children are just generally with the other parent is not okay and really requires a pretty extreme set of circumstances to justify.
Rule 8 allows telephonic appearances in testimony. So if you are wondering I have a witness in California or New York and it would be really inconvenient to testify here in Arizona but I want them to be able to inform the judge what they know. A motion can be filed and the court can grant an order allowing telephonic testimony, if necessary a telephonic appearance by a party as well, though that’s not something that I would recommend, unless it’s absolutely necessary and that’s only something that the court can grant after a proper motion is filed beforehand and I don’t recommend that you just call it without permission beforehand. Rule 10 of the Arizona rules of family law procedure is about representation of children. The child advocates, a position that I hold very dear and that I consider to be the most honored position in family law and juvenile law when the opportunity presents itself to serve in that role. The Arizona rule family law procedure describes three different types of child advocates. We are going to do a separate program on this entirely. But as I am out of time for this program, it is good to end on that note and I encourage you to review if you wish the rest of the rules of family law procedure, there are 96 of them all together, not including the forms.