Legal Thoughts by Thomas A Morton

caring, family law attorney in Phoenix, AZ

The Arizona Court of Appeals has recently reminded Superior Court judges that they must make their own findings and make their own decisions in physical custody (parenting time) cases. In a case known as Nold v. Nold, the father moved out of the family home early in the proceedings. Prior to trial, the parties’ children lived equally with both parents. However, at trial the mother took the position that the children should live primarily with her during the school year and equally with both parents during the summer. The father asked the trial court to order that the children continue to reside equally with both parents. The trial court appointed a custody evaluator who recommended that the children live primarily…
Friday, 06 December 2013 13:53

Children Flying Alone

Children commonly visit parents and family members in other states, especially around Christmas and Thanksgiving. Sometimes the children fly to other states. However, many families just cannot afford for a parent to accompany the child on the flight. So, what are the laws and rules regarding when children can fly alone? Every airline has its own rules about allowing children to fly by themselves. Each airline has its own age restrictions. No major airline allows children less than five years of age to fly alone. Between the ages of five and seven years, many airlines require enrollment in a special unaccompanied minors program and prohibit travel on anything but direct flights. Children aged eight to 14 years are usually unrestricted,…
With rising student loan debt and diminishing income and job opportunities for college graduates, many people with student loan debt are seeking discharge of their student loan debt. Discharging your student loan debt in bankruptcy is difficult, and I have heard many people, including attorneys, that you cannot discharge student loans in bankruptcy. However, an exception exists and the 9 Circuit Court of Appeals (Arizona is in the 9 Circuit) has issued a decision in recent years laying out what a debtor needs to do to discharge his or her student loans in bankruptcy. I have also heard from various sources that debtors successfully discharge their student loans about 40% of the time when they try. This may not sound…
Saturday, 23 November 2013 16:21

Spousal Maintenance and Alimony Basics

Most divorcing couples in Arizona only have a vague understanding about spousal maintenance (also known as alimony). Most people think that spousal maintenance means that the former husband must continue to support the former wife indefinitely. That is the result sometimes, but there are many different results and variations in a spousal maintenance case. The State of Arizona has enacted specific statutes to guide judges and divorcing couples regarding spousal maintenance. Arizona’s Spousal Maintenance Statutes The court must first determine whether a spouse seeking spousal maintenance is entitled to an award of spousal maintenance. In making this determination, the court will examine whether the spouse seeking spousal maintenance meets the following factors: 1. Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to…
Saturday, 16 November 2013 20:16

What Happens to Real Estate in a Divorce?

What happens to jointly-held property, specifically real estate, when a married couple divorces in Arizona? It depends on what the divorce decree says, but first, let’s look at different ways couples hold joint property. They can hold property in joint tenancy, which means that each spouse holds an undivided one-half interest in the property and that, if one spouse dies, the other spouse owns the property: the deceased spouse cannot leave the property to someone else in a will. A married couple can also hold property as community property, which means that the marital community owns the property and if one spouse dies, the other spouse owns the property, like in a joint tenancy. Finally, a married couple can own…
What is the difference between guardianship and adoption? There are two key differences that have far-reaching consequences. First, adoption is permanent and guardianship is not quite permanent (even when called "permanent"). Second, in an adoption the birth parents become legal strangers to the child while the adoptive parents become the legal parents as if they had given birth to the child. In a guardianship, the birth parents still have parental rights and the guardian or guardians are not considered the child’s parents. Legal Status and Decision Making In an adoption, the birth parents have no rights or responsibilities. The adoptive parents have all rights and responsibilities that once belonged to the birth parents. For example, if the adoptive parents divorce,…
Some appellate decisions just warm my heart. The Arizona Court of Appeals recently issued such a decision, Calvin B. v. Brittany B., and ruled against one of the most despicable types of parent: one who does everything he or she can do to limit, control, and even eliminate the other parent’s relationship with their child. Calvin and Brittany divorced when their son was very young. They agreed to an arrangement wherein Brittany would have sole legal and physical custody of their son, but Calvin would have "liberal" parenting time as the parties agreed. Brittany then proceeded to limit Calvin’s contact with their son. As a result, Calvin sought the court’s help in securing more time with him. Over the course…
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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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