Legal Thoughts by Thomas A Morton

caring, family law attorney in Phoenix, AZ

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument next month on an Arizona case regarding a retired service member’s retired pay and disability pay.  The couple’s divorce decree ordered them to evenly divide the service member spouse’s military retired pay.  A few years later, he decided to accept disability pay in lieu of part of his retired pay.  This is a common decision because the government taxes military retired pay but not disability pay.  However, this decision reduced his military retired pay and therefore reduced his former spouse’s half of his military retired pay.  The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the service member spouse’s acceptance of disability pay could not reduce the dollar amount that his former spouse received. …
Thursday, 09 February 2017 10:10

Arizona Child Support Modification

What changes in circumstances affect the child support calculation in Arizona?  In Arizona, the family court can modify child support orders when a party shows a substantial and continuing change in circumstances.  The changes that may affect the child support calculation include an increase or involuntary decrease in income, a change in parenting time, a child’s emancipation, the birth of more children, and changes in the cost of medical or dental or vision insurance and day care.   When one or more of these factors significantly changes the child support calculation, it may be time to file a petition to modify child support.  Parents should not procrastinate if they decide to modify child support because the court will not modify…
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 14:42

When You Can Change Your Judge in Family Court

In Arizona family courts, every party gets one “free” change of judge and one “free” change of commissioner as matter of right.  This means that you can change your judge (or commissioner) once and not have to give a reason.  An experienced family law attorney may be able to tell whether you should strike a particular judge or commissioner.   The time limit to change the judge varies, depending on circumstances, but parties must in general file their notice of change of judge within 90 days of joining the suit, 10 days after assignment of a new judge, and more than three business before a hearing.  The rules of procedure contain several exceptions.   Also, a party wishing to change…
Thursday, 17 November 2016 10:44

Court Appointed Advisor in Arizona Family Court

I recently finished the report to the court on my most recent court appointed advisor assignment.  A court appointed advisor is someone whom the family court appoints to investigate the facts in a custody/legal decision making/parenting time dispute.  It usually involves allegations of abuse, neglect, drug use, domestic violence, or some combination of these factors.  The court appointed advisor is the court’s eyes and ears, who investigates the case, reports to the court, and makes a recommendation.  The court ultimately makes the decision.   The advisor has the authority to retrieve medical, school, criminal, department of child safety, or any other records. He or she interviews the parents and any other people whom the advisor deems appropriate to interview.  The…
The Arizona Supreme Court recently ruled that a father who had not established paternity or filed with the putative fathers’ registry could challenge an adoption when he acted quickly and filed a paternity action in Family Court within the notice period for John Doe fathers.   To understand this case, you must know the following facts.  Adoptions are in Juvenile Court and paternity and custody matters are in Family Court.  The putative fathers’ registry, though little known, can be very important in severance and adoption matters.  Registering with it ensures that a potential father will get notice of any case in Juvenile Court that will potentially affect his parental rights.  Failure to register with the putative fathers’ registry is a…
A mother in Minnesota who defied family court orders and hid her children from their father for two years has not only lost custody of her children to their father, but she has been convicted on criminal charges for doing so and will go to prison for eight months.   I have dealt with these extreme cases in Arizona.  Sometimes, the other parent even goes so far as to move the children to another state in an attempt to hide them and destroy their relationship with the other parent.  If this happens to you, don’t give up.  Immediate and aggressive action in Family Court will often ultimately result in you getting your children back.  Judges don’t like this sort of…
Thursday, 15 September 2016 10:23

Do's and Don'ts of Custody Cases in Arizona

Here are some things to avoid and some things to do when you have a custody/legal decision making/parenting time battle with the other parent of your children.   DON’T:   1. Send angry text messages or email to the other parent.  Anything you write that is inappropriate or makes you look violent, threatening, reckless, etc. will hurt your case if the judge sees it and you can bet that the other parent will show it to the judge.   2. Post anything dumb on social media.  The same goes for social media.  Also, portraying a party lifestyle, or posting pictures of guns, or posting about the new person you are dating can also hurt your case.  In fact, don’t use social media…
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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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