Family Law 101: All the Basics You Need to Know


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by | Nov 18, 2021 | Family Law

The attorneys at GillespieShields practice family, employment, civil, criminal, probate, appellate, and immigration law.

Family law is a very complex area of the legal system. It has many different facets that can confuse even the most seasoned family law attorney. If you are in need of some information on your own case, this article provides everything you need to know about family law basics. From what defines marriage to how assets are divided in divorce proceedings, these topics will help prepare anyone for anything that might arise throughout their legal process. Whether you’re looking for more information on child custody or property division procedures, this article covers it all!

What is Family Law?

Family law is the legal code that pertains to family matters like marriage, divorce, and adoption. Family law has its own set of rules and regulations which differs from state-to-state or country-to-country.

It is a broad area of legal practice that covers everything from family mediation to family violence and child support. It’s actually quite an exciting field as it deals with some pretty important issues such as family breakdown, children’s rights, and domestic abuse.

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What Makes Family Law In The State Of Arizona Different From Other States?

There are several factors that make family law in Arizona different from family laws in other states.

Family Law is very complex and it affects the lives of millions of people across the United States each year. There are many aspects to family law including divorce, child custody, property division, and alimony among others which we will discuss below:

Family Law In Arizona Is Considered To Be Equitable

This means that family laws are applied and enforced equally on both parties involved in a family dispute, disregarding gender or other social characteristics. Gender neutrality is the basic principle for family law in most states however not all apply it with equal rigor or fairness. 

For example, child custody has been traditionally awarded to mothers after divorce even when fathers were better suited for such responsibility due to their stability and income level which impacted their ability to maintain close contact with children post-divorce. Child support was also often ordered at higher levels than appropriate taking into consideration the actual needs of each parent. 

These practices have changed over time thanks to the rising number of female breadwinners who create different dynamics within families while women have also taken their rightful place in family law.

Community Property

Another major difference between family laws across states has to do with property division, including marital assets and debts after divorce or legal separation that is settled either through mediation or litigation. 

The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act that applies to family law cases provides guidance on the settlement of debt but it does not regulate how family courts decide what percentage each party must contribute towards paying off these obligations which leaves room for interpretation by individual judges who may favor one spouse over another based on gender stereotypes or other considerations which are not always justified. 

Arizona family courts have been more amenable than others when dealing with issues related to equitable distribution of a marital estate during divorce proceedings however this practice varies depending upon jurisdiction (county) as well as family court judges.

Arizona Family Law Act

Arizona family law has specific laws in place to protect spouses during divorce proceedings including the Family Law Act which deals with spousal support and maintenance while also outlining child custody arrangements among other aspects of family law. 

The presiding judge plays a crucial role in ensuring that all parties are treated fairly especially when dealing with difficult family disputes such as those involving domestic violence or abuse. 

A powerful tool for making sure that family courts do not favor one parent over another is mediation where two parents agree on how to best settle their family issues without going through unnecessary battles at trial thus impacting children who serve as innocent bystanders throughout these legal processes.

Child Custody

There are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the child’s rights and responsibilities, such as making important decisions like where they go to school or what medical procedures they get; whereas physical custody refers to the parent with whom a child lives most often.

The family court judge will look at several factors before deciding which type of custody is in the best interests of your family. The focus should be on what would be “in their best interest and welfare” according to Arizona law (A.R.S 25-403). There may need to be a trial to determine custody, but family law mediation may help you reach an agreement before trial.

Family Court judges are required by Arizona law (A.R.S 25-403) to give equal consideration in child custody cases to both parents’ preferences and the court cannot favor one parent over another because of gender or marital status.

Child Support

Child support is the financial assistance paid by one parent (or both parents) to help cover some of the everyday expenses for their children. According to Arizona family law, in order for child support payments to be made, there has to be a court case with someone named as either an “obligee” or an “obliger” which means they are required under family law obligations and duties. In cases where paternity needs to be established, this will have been done during the initial family law proceeding that resulted in custody being awarded. 

There may also need further proceedings if issues such as medical insurance coverage for dependents arise from time to time. The amount payable can vary depending on many different factors including income levels, family size, and the needs of the child.

Domestic Abuse

The following answer varies depending on the circumstances surrounding your case: If you are a victim of domestic violence or someone who has been accused of committing an act against another person within the household there may be separate criminal charges brought against you by either the state or federal government along with any civil action for damages filed in court by your spouse or children involved in this incident.

There is no one size fits all solution for family law. Every case is unique and requires an individualized approach while working closely with your family lawyer to ensure that you are receiving the best possible outcome for your family’s situation.

Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, or other crimes may file for domestic abuse protection orders or DVPO. They must provide proof that there was an incident between them and their abuser which gives rise to safety concerns if the order is not granted.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance serves as financial support to an ex-spouse after divorce proceedings are complete. Arizona courts dictate whether or not somebody needs to pay spousal support based on family law guidelines, which include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s income and earning potential
  • Whether or not one spouse was a stay at home parent during the marriage

Family law is in charge of all the legalities that come with family life. Whether you’re looking to start a family, divorce your spouse, or get custody of your children; it’s important for you to know what steps are needed and when they need to be taken. Contact our office today if you want expert advice on how these issues might affect you or someone close to you.

Are You Looking for a Family Law Attorney You Can Trust?

The attorneys at GillespieShields are well-versed in a variety of different legal fields, ranging from family law to civil suits, employment disputes, and probate cases. Although we specialize in several areas of practice, our greatest passion is family law. We believe in giving families peace of mind no matter their situation, and we fight hard to maintain that peace. Whether you’re filing for dissolution or divorce, determining custody of your children, or thinking about adopting children, our experienced attorneys are here to help you every step of the way.  During our private, one-on-one consultation, we’ll take the necessary time to answer all of our questions surrounding Arizona’s family laws, your family’s unique situation, and the possible court outcomes. Contact us today for your consultation!


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