Legal Thoughts by Thomas A Morton

caring, family law attorney in Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Family Courts have for many years resolved conflicts between parents who cannot agree on which school their children attend or which medical treatment their children receive.  Last month, the Arizona Court of Appeals put an end to the Family Court making legal decisions on behalf of children.   In Nicaise v. Sundaram, the father believed that the child was developmentally delayed and sought various treatments for the child.  The father also wanted to place the child in a public school with an IEP (Individualized Education Program).  Mother disagreed, opposed any treatment, and wanted to home school the child.  The mother and father had an extremely volatile relationship and were unable to agree on any of these issues.  The Family…
People always want to recover their attorney’s fees from the other side in a family law case.  Most judges are hesitant to make an award of attorney’s fees, but they do award fees sometimes.   The statute for attorney’s fees in Family Court in Arizona is A.R.S. § 25-324.  The statute provides two bases for a Family Court judge to award attorney’s fees and the judge must consider both of them.  The first basis is relative ability to pay.  If one party has a high income and a lot of assets, and the other party has a low income and few assets, then that is a basis to award attorney’s fees to the low-income party.  The other basis is if…
Every branch of the United States Armed Forces has a general order regarding family support.  Each order applies to service members until the civilian court enters an order for family support.  For example, if a service member separates from his spouse, and files for divorce, his branch’s family support order says what he must do or pay to support his spouse until the civilian court enters an order granting or denying spousal maintenance and determining child support if the couple has children.   The orders vary from service to service, but they are generally based on the service member’s Basic Allowance for Housing (“BAH”)and the number of dependants the service member must support.  For example, when I was on active…
Many people ask when they can stop worrying about their ex-spouse collecting child support.  The short answer: never.  Many other people ask if it has been too long to collect unpaid child support.  Arizona has no statute of limitation on child support that the court ordered a parent to pay.  Arizona also has no statute of limitation on a judgment for unpaid child support.   If a judge entered an order that a parent pay child support, there is no time limit on when the other parent may collect any unpaid child support.  Also, a court cannot retroactively change child support.  Therefore, if a parent loses his or her job and stops paying child support, that parent cannot get out…
For many years, Arizona courts would enter orders granting visitation to grandparents if the courts found that one of three conditions existed (parents unwed, parents divorced, or a parent deceased) and that it was in the child’s best interest.  However, the statute for grandparent visitation changed in 2013 and a recent Arizona Court of Appeals decision interpreting the statutory change has made it more difficult for grandparents to get a court order for visitation with grandchildren over a parent’s objection.   The amended statute, A. R. S. § 25-409, requires the courts to give “special weight” to a parent’s decision to oppose visitation between a child and a nonparent.  The Arizona Court of Appeals in Goodman v. Forsen, 239 Ariz.…
Thursday, 11 January 2018 10:06

Types of Attorney's Fees Can Vary

Attorneys typically have three ways to charge fees to their clients: a flat fee, a contingency fee, and an hourly rate.  The attorney considers the type of work in deciding which type of fee to charge.   The most simple fee is the flat fee.  The attorney charges a set amount, for example $500.00, to do a specific job, for example to write a will.  Attorneys usually only use the flat fee for very standardized work.  Examples include a basic Chapter 7 bankruptcy, writing a will, writing the documents to create a business entity, and writing a deed or other standard document.  The advantage to a flat fee is that the client knows exactly what he will pay.  The disadvantage…
Thursday, 24 August 2017 16:51

"In What State Should I File?"

I often get questions like, “In what state should I file for custody, child support, etc.?”  Arizona has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, along with most other states.  In order for Arizona to have jurisdiction over a child to establish a first custody order, Arizona must be the last state in which the child lived for six months.  For example, if a child lived in Arizona since birth until his or her ninth birthday, and then moved to California, Arizona would have jurisdiction over that child until the child had lived in California for six months, at which point California would have jurisdiction to enter a custody order for that child.  If the same child lived…
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Thomas A. Morton, P. L. L. C.
2916 N. 7th Avenue, Suite 100
Phoenix, Arizona 85013
(602) 595-6870
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