Legal Thoughts by Thomas A Morton

caring, family law attorney in Phoenix, AZ

Friday, 25 January 2019 07:52

Same Sex Divorce

I have seen and heard more questions about same sex divorce recently.  Same sex divorce is mostly just like any other divorce.  For example, the division of property and debt is the same, any award of spousal maintenance is the same, and calculation of child support is the same.  The fact that the parties are the same sex makes no difference on these issues.   The only issues that have a different analysis for same sex couples are legal decision making (“custody”) of children and parenting time (“visitation”).  Because same sex marriage is so new, the law on these issues is still developing.  However, the reason that these issues are different is because only one spouse in a same sex…
Thursday, 17 January 2019 15:56

The Basic Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Process

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy process starts when a debtor files a petition and schedules in the bankruptcy court.  The debtor must include information about property, debt, and income.  The debtor must also file a means test.  The bankruptcy means test is a relatively new requirement that Congress designed to weed out abuse of the bankruptcy system.  It adds up income and expenses, many of which are set by IRS standards, and determines if income exceeds expenses by more than a few dollars.  Unfortunately, the means test is poorly drafted and illogical, and does not do much to stop abuse.   After the debtor files the petition and schedules, the bankruptcy court assigns the case to a bankruptcy trustee.  The trustee…
The Arizona Court of Appeals recently ruled that trial courts do not have the authority to choose a school for a child.  Courts may choose the parent who may make the decision, and courts may take into account in which school the parent would choose in making that decision, but the courts may not impose their own decision.  I wrote about that decision here: https://www.thomasamortonlaw.com/blog/item/94-family-courts-may-no-longer-decide-education-and-medical-decision-disputes-between-parents   Now the Court of Appeals has further limited trial courts’ authority to impose decisions on parents, recently ruling that the Family Court may not choose counselors for the children, prohibit discussing certain things with the children, and make other parenting decisions for the children.  The Court of Appeals again ruled that the Family Court…
Ever since I have practiced law, a former spouse who paid spousal maintenance could deduct the amount paid from his or her taxable income, and the recipient of spousal maintenance had to declare the payments as income and pay income taxes on them.  This is a useful negotiating tool in settling spousal maintenance cases.   Starting in 2019, the IRS will no longer consider alimony payments as tax deductible for the party making the payments or as taxable income to the party receiving the payments.  This is a major change and it was a part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump earlier this year.  This is very favorable to…
I frequently see questions in online forums regarding in which country a couple must seek a divorce.  The answer is you seek a divorce in the country in which you live.  In Arizona, the only requirement to get a divorce is that you lived in Arizona for the 90 days immediately preceding the day you file your petition for dissolution of marriage.  It does not matter whether you got married in another country, like Mexico, or you got married in Arizona, or you got married in another state in the United States.  In Arizona, you can get a divorce no matter where you were married.
Thursday, 21 June 2018 12:22

Adult Guardianships in Arizona

Sometimes people have to go through the sad task of obtaining an adult guardianship.  Sometimes they need a guardianship over an elderly parent or other relative because the parent or relative has a diminished capacity in his or her old age.  Sometimes, an adult child, parent, or other relative has had an accident with a brain injury, for example, that has left him or her unable to address daily needs.  Sometimes an incapcitated child becomes an adult.  In all three situations, someone, usually a parent or child of the proposed ward, must seek a court order in the Probate Court of the Arizona Superior Court in order to have a guardianship over the incapacitated person.   The guardianship will allow…
Domestic violence is a factor in divorce with children and paternity cases in Arizona.  It can have a big impact on legal decision making (custody) and parenting time orders.  Significant domestic violence can be the most important factor in the Family Court’s determination.   If the court determines that there has been significant domestic violence between the parents or if there has been a significant history of domestic violence, it will not award joint legal decision making.  The Family Court judge must consider any domestic violence as contrary to the children’s best interest and must consider the safety and well-being of the children and victim of domestic violence of primary importance.  The court will consider a party’s history of harming…
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Thomas A. Morton, P. L. L. C.
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