Can a court make the other party pay my attorney’s fees?
In Arizona, it is possible that one spouse will be ordered to pay the attorney’s fees and costs of the other spouse, in addition to their own fees. The two main factors a court will consider in deciding whether to award a party their fees are (1) the relative financial resources of each party (income and property) and (2) whether either party took unreasonable positions in the case. It is critical that a party and his or her attorney be mindful not only of their own fees and costs but also the reasonableness of their positions in order to minimize exposure for paying the other party’s fees and costs.
What are paternity rights?
Even if parents are not married, they still have certain parental rights to have legal decision-making authority and parenting time with their children, just as married parents do. Parents also have the legal duty to financially support their children. If paternity of a father has not been formally established, it may be a necessary first step before the other parenting rights can be fixed by a court.
How can I ask for a change to the existing Court orders?
Parenting time and legal decision-making orders are generally modifiable as long as a parent can establish that the change serves the child’s best interests and as long as there is a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. Under Arizona law (Arizona Revised Statute section 25-411), a parent generally cannot seek to change a court order within one year from the date of the last order unless there is good reason to believe the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health is seriously endangered. Additionally, some parenting plans require parents to try to mediate an issue before going back to court.
What if the other party isn’t following the Court orders?
When a party fails to follow a court order, it may be necessary to seek enforcement of the order back in court. For instance, if a party fails to comply with parenting time order, pay a support obligation, transfer property according to a court order, pay an award of attorney’s fees, or defaults on a debt ordered to be paid by the Court, the order can generally be enforced by seeking contempt of court and sanctions. It is also possible that the Court will award attorney’s fees to the party seeking enforcement.
What if I can’t wait for the case to finish before getting a Court order on something urgent?
Family cases can go on for 6-18 months on average. Sometimes parties cannot wait that long to have a court order on issues that need to be resolved before the case is over. Under those circumstances, either or both parties can ask the court for “temporary orders” on issues such as parenting time, child support, payment of attorney’s fees or costs for experts, use of the family home, spousal support, interim payment of marital debts or obligations, and so forth.
What is a marital agreement?
Sometimes, the default community property laws in Arizona do not reflect a couple’s wishes concerning their own property and debts. In an effort to avoid applying the default community property laws, or to more clearly define each partner’s property interests and obligations, couples may choose to enter into a written agreement.
The agreement can be entered before marriage (known as a pre-marital or pre-nuptial agreement), after marriage (post-marital or post-nuptial agreement), or during cohabitation and domestic partnerships.
Whether the agreement will be enforceable depends greatly on the circumstances under which the agreement was entered and whether the terms are fair and reasonable. The requirements for these agreements can be complex, so it is advisable to meet with an attorney to discuss whether an agreement is appropriate and how to best prepare an enforceable agreement.