Legal Thoughts by Thomas A Morton

caring, family law attorney in Phoenix, AZ

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…
A recent Arizona Court of Appeals decision addressed attributing overtime income and use of a medical insurance cost incurred for multiple people in calculating child support.  The court ruled that under the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, the family court may not attribute income over a normal full-time work schedule without a showing that the parent historically earned overtime income and anticipates earning the overtime income in the future.    Also, the court must prorate the amount a parent spends on medical insurance when the amount is for the children in the child support calculation and others.  For example, a father pays for medical insurance through his employer for himself, Child A, and Child B.  Child A and Child B have…
For many years, fathers in Arizona have not been treated fairly when their children were born out of wedlock.  Recently, the Arizona Court of Appeals changed that.  Children born out of wedlock in Arizona are in the sole care and custody of the mother until a court orders otherwise.  This makes sense because the maternity of a child is beyond question, while that is not the case with paternity.   However, Arizona has long had statutes that say that when a father has established paternity, he has a right to access to his child and that one parent may not deny access to the child to the other parent.  For years, however, courts have not held that these statutes mean…
Sometimes the court making the award for child support or spousal maintenance is only the first step in actually receiving support. Often, the challenging part of being a divorced or single parent is dependence on the other party even though the parties’ marriage is over.  The other party may move from job to job, move to another state, or just plain refuse to pay. Examples of Enforcement Issues Other orders in a divorce decree may need enforcement action. For example, one parent may might limit or prevent parenting time/visitation in violation of the court’s orders.  The other party might not make payments that the court ordered, like mortgage or car loan payments.  The other party might not pay insurance premiums…
Late last year the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled on a case in which the former husband filed for bankruptcy one month after the Family Court entered his divorce decree dividing the former wife's pension and a substantial amount of community debt.  People often consider filing for bankruptcy after their divorce or worry that their former spouse may file bankruptcy.  This case directly addressed the subject.   The Family Court evenly divided the former wife's pension and ordered each party to pay one-half of the wife's student loan debt, and allocated about $15,000 in credit card debt among the parties.  The former husband then immediately filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief and received a discharge as to all of the debt.  The…
Sometimes it seems like I can't think of everything about which to warn my clients.  This story is a little old, but it serves as an example.  Don't let your child's grandfather take your five-year-old child into the desert and leave her under a tree with a cocked and locked (i.e. very nealry ready to fire) .45 so he can go have a cheeseburger and some beer (and don't do this yourself!).  This will not help you in family court.  No one should ever have to tell someone something like this, but here is a guy who actaully needed someone to tell him to not do it: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/southwest-valley/breaking/2015/11/02/mcso-says-man-left-granddaughter-5-desert-loaded-gun/75060252/  You must always protect your child and can't always trust your loved…
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Thomas A. Morton, P. L. L. C.
2916 N. 7th Avenue, Suite 100
Phoenix, Arizona 85013
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