Many people seek answers to their family law questions on the internet. My website has a lot of information and answers to peoples' questions. I have also answered a lot of actual questions from people on Avvo.com. A good example of this family law Q & A is my last answer:
What can I do? She works 10 hour days and leaves him with whoever will watch him.
If there is no order and you were never married to the mother, she has the right to take your son at any time because children born out of wedlock in Arizona are in the sole care and custody of the mother until a court makes an order to the contrary. Therefore, if this is the case you should probably act quickly and file to establish paternity, legal decision making and parenting time.
If there is a court, order, you have to abide by the court order. Either one of you can file to modify the court order, assuming that it has been long enough since the court entered the order.
If you are married and there is not court order, then neither one of you has a superior right to the other.
To see all of my answers on Avvo.com, go here: https://www.avvo.com/attorneys/85013-az-thomas-morton-419854/answers.html
You can also browse answers from many other attorneys.
The Arizona Court of Appeals has recently issued some decisions regarding a few miscellaneous child support issues. These cases include a parent attempting to recover an overpayment of child support, a court that modified child support after it modified parenting time even though neither party asked the court to modify child support, and a parent who worked part time at an hourly rate who had full-time income attributed to her at the same hourly rate as her part-time income.
In the first case, the children’s father overpaid child support because the mother started receiving SSI on behalf of one child. Meanwhile, the oldest child emancipated. The father waited one year to terminate child support. The father argued that his child support obligation should end because one child had emancipated and the other child received SSI. He also argued that the mother should pay back the overpayment caused by her receipt of SSI. The court denied the request for reimbursement because the father had waited so long to terminate child support, it was within the court’s discretion to not order reimbursement, and Arizona law precludes a retroactive reimbursement (meaning that an order for reimbursement under these circumstances would amount to a retroactive child support modification, which Arizona law does not allow).
In the second case, the mother asked the court to modify joint legal decision making regarding school choice. The father filed a counter-petition seeking equal parenting time. Neither parent asked the court to modify child support. The trial court granted the father’s request for equal parenting time and modified child support accordingly. The mother appealed. The Court of Appeals ruled that Arizona law requires the Family Court to enter a child support order pursuant to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines every time it enters a parenting time order. Therefore, every time a court modifies parenting time, the court must also address child support, even when neither party has asked the court to do so. This reminds me of a case I handled several years ago. In that case, the opposing party had asked to modify parenting time to decrease my client’s time with the child. Her petition backfired because the court ended up increasing my client’s parenting time. The judge then proceeded to modify child support. When the opposing party objected that she had not asked for a child support modification, the judge said that modification of parenting time and modification of child support go together, like peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, and chips and dip.
In the third case, the mother, whom the court had ordered to pay child support, lost her job due to "performance issues" in 2007 and remained unemployed until 2013. In 2013, she began to work part-time for $11.60 per hour. In calculating child support, the trial court used $11.60 per hour and 40 hours per week for the mother’s income. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court had implicitly found that the mother had not provided any reasonable basis for not having full-time employment. The only evidence that she had offered was her statements, which the trial court could accept or reject.
As you can see, not every issue in a child support matter is so easy to resolve.
Sometimes parents who were never married to each other want to change their child’s last name. The result is often a hyphenated name. The legal standard for changing a child’s last name when the parents do not agree to change it rests on a determination of the child’s best interest. In Arizona, there is very little legal authority to guide us on a disputed child name change.
The Arizona Court of Appeals recently issued a memorandum decision regarding a disputed child name change. The decision is not published, which means that parents and attorneys cannot use it as legal authority in the future, but it contains a useful discussion on two aspects of the legalities of a disputed child name change.
The first aspect of the name change issue is the finality of a decision on a child’s name change, or whether the parties may bring more than one petition to change their child’s name. The father in this case had twice brought unsuccessful petitions to change his child’s last name, and both times the mother opposed it. Both times the court denied the petition for name change. The father later brought another petition to change the child’s name. This time the court granted the petition. On appeal, the mother argued that the previous petitions for a change of name were denied and that the court could not revisit the issue. The Court of Appeals ruled, "We disagree with Mother that once the court denied Father’s name-change request, it could not revisit the issue, as this is a decision controlled by the child’s best interests, which may change over time."
The second aspect of the name change issue is the factors that the court must examine in determining a child’s best interest regarding a name change. The factors are 1) the child’s preference; 2) the effect of the proposed change on the preservation and development of the child’s relationship with each parent; 3) how long the child has had his or her current name; 4) the difficulties that the child may experience in having the current or proposed name; and 5) the motives of the parents and the possibility that a name change will cause insecurity or a lack of identity. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court had properly considered these factors and affirmed the ruling.
You can review the Court of Appeals decision here: https://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/0/OpinionFiles/Div1/2015/CV14-0328%20FC.pdf
If you have questions about a child’s name change or any other family law matter, please call Thomas A. Morton, PLLC for a consultation.
Thomas A. Morton, P. L. L. C.
2916 N. 7th Avenue, Suite 100
Phoenix, Arizona 85013
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All information on this website is not, and is not intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation, as each case is different and contains different facts. I invite you to contact me and welcome your calls, letters and e-mail. Contacting me does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information until you establish an attorney-client relationship with me.
Attorney Thomas A. Morton is located in Phoenix, Arizona, and serves clients throughout Maricopa County, including Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Gilbert, Chandler, Goodyear, Surprise, Avondale, Cave Creek, Carefree, New River, Anthem, Black Canyon City, Sun City, Laveen, Buckeye, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Tolleson, Youngtown, Queen Creek, Guadalupe, Fountain Hills, Paradise Valley, Wickenberg, Apache Junction, and El Mirage.