As much as everyone would like to agree on the terms of their divorce, unfortunately, that is not always the case. In these situations, the case has to be litigated before a judge and assets need to be divided, spousal maintenance may need to be awarded, and if children are involved, custody and child support need to be determined as well.
In a contentious divorce where the stakes are high, no stone should be left unturned. What should rightfully be considered marital assets should be justly divided, even if it is being disguised as a separate business or holding company, held under the name of a relative, friend, or fictitious person, or even located in a U.S. territory or foreign country.
Many spouses have built successful businesses together, invested extensively in stock options, purchased homes and other investment properties, and accrued retirement benefits such as a 401(k) or IRA. Some have set up trusts, built or expanded businesses, including franchises, hedge funds, holding companies, accounting firms, consulting firms, or medical or legal practices.
In a divorce, all of these types of assets can be considered marital property and thereby subject to division. In many cases, their value will need to be assessed. Business valuation is an essential component of determining marital assets. At Baybik Law Group, we guide you through the process in order to properly evaluate and ascertain the true value of a business or other asset so that your court order award or settlement agreement will accurately and positively reflect your contribution to the marriage and the business.
Whether it requires finding hidden assets in the United States or overseas, or enlisting a forensic accountant to get the whole financial picture, Baybik Law Group’s extensive knowledge of international banking and finance laws as well as U.S. immigration laws, and vast network of professional contacts overseas, can help assist you with getting you the division of assets you are rightfully entitled to.
Spousal maintenance to this day remains one of the top contested issues in a divorce proceeding. Many people worry that they will have to pay more spousal maintenance than they can afford to pay, while others worry that they won’t get enough spousal maintenance to be able to sustain their current lifestyle.
There are many factors that go into determining spousal maintenance, and oftentimes each situation can vary. For as many divorces as there are in Arizona, there are as many possible variations for spousal support. Baybik Law Group takes a proactive position and arms you with the knowledge you need to prevail, regardless of whether you are the spouse that may have to pay spousal maintenance or the spouse that needs to be awarded spousal maintenance. We understand and empathize with our clients and know that these determinations that are made during the divorce process can and will have long term effects for years to come.
Typically, spousal maintenance is calculated based on several standard factors such as the length of the marriage, the age of the divorcing spouses, and the earning capacity of each of the parties at present and going forward. There are additional factors that can be considered as well, depending on the individualized situation, such as if one spouse stayed at home to take care of the family while the other spouse worked and was the main earner. Necessary job training or education benefits can also be considered. Sometimes, infidelity and domestic abuse can also come into play. We at Baybik Law Group can advise you on how to maximize your chances of getting what you want in your divorce proceedings.
In an uncontested divorce, the parties either have a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement they can rely on, or are able to agree to all of the terms of their divorce themselves, including, the division of property, spousal maintenance, and child custody and child support. This is a non-adversarial process that focuses on achieving a fair outcome, and can also reduce the parties’ legal fee costs.
Negotiations for an uncontested divorce usually take place in an informal and private setting, allowing the parties to candidly confront their issues without the burden of a formal court procedure or the public disclosure of private family matters. Attorneys can be present to advise each party, but the parties set the agenda themselves.
Default divorces are another form of uncontested divorces, where one party files for divorce with the Superior Court of Arizona, serves the other party, and the responding party fails to respond. In these situations, the filing party can be issued what is called a default judgment, without any further action.
If you are seeking to dissolve a marriage, another option that may apply to you is an annulment. An annulment is completely different from a divorce in that it makes the marriage “null and void,” meaning that the marriage never existed. Annulments are often sought due to fraud or misrepresentation, irrespective of the length of the marriage. If this is something that you believe you qualify for, Baybik Law Group is able to advise you and assist you in filing for your annulment.
One objective of a post-decree modification is to revise an existing final divorce decree in situations where the lives and needs of those it represents has changed. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce case, you may have a variety of post-decree options. If your circumstances have changed since your original divorce, and you seek guidance on changing your final divorce decree order, Baybik Law Group, is ready to assist you.
Spousal maintenance, or what is commonly known as alimony or spousal support, may also be subject to change due to a change in employment, involuntary job loss, change in living conditions, remarriage, substance abuse, arrests, or incarceration, a deteriorating mental or physical condition, or other factors. The court can examine the details of the case and determine if anyone is attempting to avoid paying court-ordered spousal maintenance or if the requested changes are legitimate and worthy of review.
Child support, custody, and visitation arrangements are commonly the subject of a post-decree motion as well. Circumstances change after you get a final custody and child support order, and oftentimes the final court order does not reflect these new and significant changes. For example, when a party has moved or wants to relocate to another state, has a drastic change in his or her financial status, living conditions, the financial needs of the child, and the best interests of the child or children are affected.
If the agreed-upon parenting plan is not working and needs to be modified, parental responsibilities, parenting time/visitation, schooling, health care, and other issues can be subject to change. Attempts to alienate or isolate a child or children from one parent by another is also a just cause for a post-decree modification request.
If either one of the parties is not following the final order, whether it be not paying spousal maintenance, not signing a quitclaim deed to the marital home, violating your child’s visitation schedule, or failing to pay all of the allotted child support, you may need to file a motion to notify the court and ask for enforcement. Baybik Law Group is able to assist you with this.
Whether you are filing for child custody as part of your divorce, filing for custody independently of a divorce proceeding, or filing for a modification of a custody order that is already in effect, determining custody can be an often hard and emotionally charged process. We at Baybik Law Group can help you through the process and assist you in maximizing your chances of getting the custody order that is best for you and your children.
When filing for custody, there are two main determinations that need to be made: legal custody and physical custody. The parent that has legal custody is the one that makes the decisions about a child’s health and medical treatment, education, religious practice, travel, extracurricular activities and camp, and any other major decisions that would impact the child’s life. If both parents can agree, they share in this decision-making authority and are assigned joint custody. If the parents do not agree, they have the option for filing for sole custody, or joint custody with final decision-making rights. These situations can get very complicated and it may be in your best interest to go through an attorney at Baybik Law Group in order to maximize your chances of getting the type of legal decision-making order you think would be best for you and your child.
In contrast, physical custody refers to the parenting schedule and the amount of time you spend with you child. The parent who has more physical custody is also known as the primary caretaker or custodial parent. The parent that has less visitation time is often referred to as the non-custodial parent.
Judges recommend that parents try to agree on custody and visitation schedules on their own, but in some cases, when there is conflict between the parents, that’s just not possible. There are times when one or even both parents engage in the following behaviors, and this can be detrimental to the well-being of the child:
In these situations, child custody negotiations turn hostile and sometimes even dangerous, and you suddenly have a child who had a good relationship with both parents that is now scared and upset. It becomes even more important to make the right legal moves to ensure that your rights and reputation as a parent is kept intact and that your child is kept safe. The attorneys at Baybik Law Group can assist you with that. Our vast knowledge and experience with child custody modifications will help maximize your chances of getting the order that you believe is in your child’s best interest.
In Arizona, all divorces with children must include an arrangement for child support. The Arizona Child Support Guidelines follow the Income Shares Model, which approximates the amount that would have been spent on the children if the parents and children were living together. In turn, each parent’s pro rata share of combined income is applied to the formula.
In addition to paying basic child support, which is calculated by considering the amount of time share each parent has with the child and the income of both parents, both parents must also contribute, in an amount calculated by determining the pro rata portion of combined parental income, to the costs of the child’s health care costs, child care costs, and educational expenses.
Child support orders can vary, and in some cases, there are mitigating factors that can be presented to the Judge that may change the amount a parent must pay. This can include having additional children or changes in the timeshare allotted each parent. Sometimes, through no fault of their own, due to a job loss, or medical emergency, child support orders can be changed or reduced.
If this is something that you are facing, Baybik Law Group is able to assist you by presenting all of your mitigating circumstances to the Judge in order to get you a more favorable child support determination.
While paternity is presumed for married couples, unmarried couples may need to formally establish paternity in Arizona. If you are an unmarried parent and your name is not listed on the birth certificate, you can establish paternity voluntarily by signing an acknowledgment of paternity.
If either parent challenges paternity, paternity can be established through a voluntary DNA test or a court-ordered DNA test. When genetic testing confirms the father of a child, the court will establish paternity.
Once paternity is established, children will be able to gain access to their father’s health insurance benefits, life insurance benefits, social security benefits, veteran’s benefits, and any assets or inheritance from the father. In turn, the father will be eligible for parenting time with his child, legal-decision making rights over his child, and possible child support payments, depending on the individuated situation.
In Arizona, the family laws provide a mechanism for grandparents as well as great-grandparents, and other third-parties in interest to petition the court for visitation rights. In certain circumstances, they can even try to obtain legal decision-making authority or guardianship.
In terms of visitation petitions, grandparents can be awarded visitation rights after they file a petition with the court that previously entered legal decision-making and parenting time orders, or if there are no current orders, in the county in which the child resides.
The Judge need to determine if visitation to a grandparent is in the “best interests” of the child based on a variety of delineated factors. Assuming no impropriety has ever occurred, and there are no fitness issues pertaining to the grandparent, it is likely the Judge can grant at least some visitation to preserve and foster the relationship.
Grandparents are an important part of a child’s life, and they should seek legal advice from a competent and qualified attorney at Baybik Law Group, and not hesitate to take action to obtain visitation in the event that such visitation is being unjustifiably denied.
If you have homes in more than one state or even country, or have a spouse that lives in a different state from you, this can complicate your divorce, and create a venue shopping situation where one party will choose to file in the state that has laws that are more favorable for their interests in the divorce. Sometimes spouses will even move to another state just before filing for divorce in order to gain a tactical advantage in the divorce proceedings. This move can compound your divorce, as well as affect how the courts determine your rights to marital property, spousal maintenance, and child custody and support.
Baybik Law Group can assist you in dealing with situations where assets are located in multiple jurisdictions and spouses, who are residing, or have resided in multiple countries, or who have multiple residencies. We have the knowledge and experience with international banking and finance laws as well as U.S. immigration laws that can affect the outcome of your cross-border divorce and custody dispute.
Children can be the most heavily impacted by an interstate divorce, which is one of the reasons the federal government and forty-nine states, including Arizona, have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This law recognizes that we have an increasingly mobile society and attempts to provide legal clarity in the context of custody disputes across state lines. The UCCJEA looks to a range of factors to determine jurisdiction, which is exclusive and continuing, for child custody litigation. The attorneys at Baybik Law Group can assist you in navigating these complicated situations, and help clarify your options so that you can make the most informed decisions that would benefit you and your children in your custody proceedings.
The situation can become even more complicated if one or both of the parties live outside of the United States, or have dual citizenship. Not only can this affect your divorce proceedings, but it can also impact your ability to find hidden assets, or to enforce the final divorce order.
In cross-national divorce proceedings, the laws of the United States may or may not apply to your divorce, depending on the following factors: where you and your spouse currently live, and how much time you spend in a country other than the United States, where you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, where you ultimately got married and whether that was inside or outside the United States, whether you and your spouse share the marital property that is located outside of the United States, and whether you and your spouse are raising children outside of the United States, who are also citizens of a country other than the United States.
More than seventy countries have signed onto the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCPIL). The HCPIL has been adopted in whole or in part by a number of countries, which has helped create some clarity and stronger consistency in areas that can arise in an international divorce and custody dispute. This includes creating procedures to counteract child abductions, including parental child abductions, a stronger foundation for enforcing child custody and child support judgments, and protecting individuals with disabilities.
Even with many countries’ adoption of the HCPIL, however, implementation can vary wildly, depending on your particular situation and the country you are dealing with. The attorneys at Baybik Law Group can assist you with navigating this very murky terrain of international family law.
We can assist you with obtaining permission to travel or relocate your children abroad, preventing parental child abductions, enforcement of child support orders, enforcement of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that was executed in a country other than the United States, finding hidden assets overseas, registering foreign judgments, and properly serving a spouse who is currently living abroad.
Pet custody refers to the issues that arise when more than one person claims ownership of a dog, cat, or other small animals. Under Arizona law, pets are considered property, just like a car or a boat, and therefore a court can determine rightful ownership of the pet if there is a dispute over the family pet.
To determine pet ownership, the court will first classify the pet as marital or separate property, as it would any other item of property, and then consider the following factors, such as who the pet belonged to prior to the relationship, who bought the pet, who is the primary caretaker of the pet, who pays for the pet’s health care, food, toys, grooming, etc., who takes care of the pet currently and who is better able to care for the pet in the future and provide a better home. In some cases, judges have even awarded shared custody of the pets.
The bottom line is that if you deeply care about your pet and want to make sure you get to keep the pet after a divorce or legal separation, the best thing to do is to preemptively enter into an enforceable written agreement with your partner regardless of marital status, which the court can then uphold in the event of a breakup. Baybik Law Group can assist you with this, and make sure that your pet legal rights are protected.
For some people emigrating to the United States means that they are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and applied for their lawful permanent residence card or green card through that marriage. Others have qualified for their visa through their spouse’s job or asylum application. Whatever the case may be, filing for divorce can directly impact an applicant’s immigration status in the United States.
We at Baybik Law Group have over 15 years of relevant U.S. immigration law experience and can advise you on how your divorce may impact your current legal status in the United States, or even how it would impact your ability to remove conditions on your conditional lawful permanent residence card or your ability to file for U.S. citizenship.
Another important factor to consider is the Affidavit of Support. Most likely you filed this affidavit in order to sponsor your spouse for her green card, and now it can come back to haunt you in your impending divorce proceeding. Regardless of whether you were the one that signed the affidavit of support or are the beneficiary, we at Baybik Law Group can advise you on the legal repercussions of such actions.
Legally, military personnel who file for divorce have to go through the same process as non-military personnel, however, there are some additional factors that can affect your divorce if you are on active duty.
For instance, the process can take longer if one of you is on active duty in a remote area or stationed overseas. Some states acknowledge this circumstance and have relaxed the residency requirements for active duty service personnel who want to file for divorce. Baybik Law Group has experience with these types of cases and knowledge of international laws and U.S. immigration laws that can help better assist you with your cross border divorce.
Military couples should also know the role of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). The USFSPA provides a federal statute for the military, guiding them on how to accept state statutes regarding child support, spousal maintenance, and military retirement pay and pensions. While states have always had the authority to treat retirement and pension plans just like any other marital asset, in some cases, the USFSPA permits the states to classify military retired pay as property, as opposed to income. There are certain well-delineated rules governing military retirement pay and pensions, and we at Baybik Law Group are able to assist you with understanding them.
When most people think of a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement, they are filled with dread. Even when some clients hire us to do their prenuptial agreement, they still feel hesitant and leery of the process. It is not until something happens and they end up filing for divorce, that they truly appreciate the benefit of having one.
A prenup allows for full disclosure prior to marriage and may alleviate some of the financial insecurities and issues that often lead to the erosion of the marital relationship. It provides some certainty for all parties involved.
Baybik Law Group is ready to assist you in negotiating and drafting your prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement. When drafting these agreements, it is important to evaluate them to make sure they are not so unconscionable or so weak, that they would be invalidated by the courts later on.
When domestic abuse is present or alleged in a divorce or custody proceeding, there can be very real and dangerous consequences. It can pose a real danger for the parent and child involved. There are certain legal tools you can use to protect yourself, and among them are protective orders.
In Arizona there are five types of protective orders:
We at Baybik Law Group are able to assist you with drafting and filing the proper protective order so that you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the abuser, who oftentimes can be the other parent, another family member, or friend.
Unfortunately, in some instances, false allegations of abuse can be, and are, made during the course of a divorce in order to gain an unfair advantage over the custody of a child, or the marital home. As a result, parents may see their reputations damaged, their jobs lost, and their child prohibited from coming near them for as long as a year. Truly egregious abuse can also result in lopsided distributions of marital property, and inordinately high child support payments.
Baybik Law Group is able to assist you in defending yourself against these false allegations of abuse and against false orders of protection and other protective orders that have been lodged against you with false allegations and ulterior motives. Fighting back against these allegations and protecting your rights requires focus, determination, and strength, and we at Baybik Law Group are here to assist you.
Child custody relocation isn’t uncommon following a divorce or separation. But there are certain rules that parents should keep in mind before relocating with their child, especially if the non-relocating parent does not consent to the move. Courts often consider the Best Interest of the Child in determining whether to allow the relocation. Quite often, when the custodial parent or primary caretaker and the non-custodial parent head to court over relocation-related disputes, the courts will rule in favor of not disrupting the child’s life any more than necessary, which often means that the court will either deny the move or grant the other parent custodial rights over the child if the moving parent is required to move.
Courts often consider the following factors in determining whether or not to allow the custodial parent to relocate with the child: the age and maturity of the child, distance between the new home and the old home, and how the move will impact the child’s quality of life.
The parent that proposes the relocation should have a plan in place prior to filing the request with the court, including the school the child will attend, activities the child will be enrolled in, childcare, if needed, and services for any special needs that the child may have. Additionally, the relocating parent needs to recommend a fair and frequent visitation schedule for the non-relocating parent, and make sure that the child can frequently travel from the new home to the non-relocating parent’s home.
Relocation requests can be tricky, but we at Baybik Law Group can provide you with the tools you need to argue your relocation case effectively before the judge.
Parental abductions occur more commonly than most people think. It is generally defined as the “taking, concealment, or retention of a child by a parent, other family member, or an agent of a family member, for the purpose of withholding custody rights or visitation rights from another parent or family member.”
There are federal laws in place that protect parents and children who fall victim to parental abduction. Three such laws include the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, which is designed to avoid jurisdictional conflict between states, promote cooperation between states, and facilitate the enforcement of child custody orders from other states; the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act, which makes it a federal crime for one parent to remove a child from the United States with the intent to interfere with another’s parental rights; and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which ensures that states honor the custody determinations made in other states so long as the determinations meet the requirements listed within the Act itself.
Yet, even with these laws in place, parental abductions still remain a common occurrence. That is why it is essential that parents take preventative measures to stop it before it occurs, or have an immediate plan of action for situations where it has already happened. We at Baybik Law Group have dealt with these situations, and are able to advise you on what to do if it happens as well as steps to take to prevent it from happening.
In Arizona, any adult age 18 or older who is a resident of the State, whether married or not, is eligible to qualify to adopt a child. The process can often be confusing and difficult, especially when going through the certification process. If you are adopting a relative and you are the child’s uncle, aunt, adult sibling, grandparent or great-grandparent, you do not have to be certified. You will, however, need to pass a fingerprint-based criminal history records check in order to be approved by the court to adopt. We at Baybik Law Group can assist you in this process, and make it as seamless and smooth as possible.
If you are a family exploring your options for adopting a child from another country, you will first need to understand your options. If the country you are adopting from is a Hague Convention country, meaning it has become a signatory to the multilateral agreement, the rules and procedures for adopting a child will be more streamlined and uniform.
If you are adopting from a non-Hague Convention country, the rules and procedures will vary, depending on the country. Baybik Law Group can help you navigate this often complicated and bureaucratical process, and advise you on the steps you need to take under Arizona law, U.S. Immigration laws, and oftentimes the applicable laws of the foreign country you are adopting from. It is essential that you fully understand this process, including who can or cannot be adopted and the legal paperwork that must be filed in order to bring the child home, to the United States.