Common Types of Family Law Case

Most Common Types of Family Law Cases

No one wants conflict in their family, but life happens, and there is no shortage of family problems that can require legal intervention. From two people dissolving a marriage to addressing how to support a child, family law can be incredibly complicated and emotionally intense. At their core, family law cases involve people deciding matters close to their hearts, with major implications for the rest of their lives – and completing several family court documents to ensure a smooth, seamless case.

Common Types of Family Law

Arizona family court most often handles legal cases that have to do with marriage, children, and domestic violence. For instance, Arizona judges frequently address divorces, spousal maintenance, marital agreements, property division, and name changes as romantic partners navigate changing terms of their relationship. They also make major decisions that impact children’s futures in cases like child custody, child support, emancipation, guardianship, adoption, and termination of parental rights. Unfortunately, common Arizona family law cases involve domestic violence as well.


Ending a marriage is never easy, but it is quite common in Arizona. The state categorizes divorces into two types, distinguished by how the involved parties feel about the terms of the split: uncontested and contested divorce. Regardless of the type of divorce you’re facing, you might need legal support to navigate the complexities of the process.

file a divorce petition

Uncontested Divorce

If you and your partner both agree on the terms necessary to dissolve the marriage, the divorce can proceed smoothly. In Arizona, this is called an uncontested divorce and doesn’t require the stereotypical legal battle. You’ll still have to file a petition and complete the necessary paperwork for an uncontested divorce, but you can expect it to be a great deal more straightforward than a contested one.

Contested Divorce

On the other hand, if you and your partner disagree on the conditions of the divorce, like how to split your property or who will spend more time with the kids, you might be in for a long legal battle. Arizona law calls this a contested divorce. You may need to utilize negotiation and mediation, but if you cannot arrive at a decision with your soon-to-be ex, the courts will need to settle your differences in litigation.

Spousal Maintenance

If you dissolve your marriage, you or your partner might need to provide financial support to your former spouse. You may have also heard this called spousal maintenance, spousal support, or alimony. Family court will determine whether spousal maintenance is necessary to help one spouse maintain the standard of living to which they have become accustomed.

Spousal maintenance is typically temporary but may be permanent, depending on the details of the case. For instance, if one partner has been unemployed, the judge might issue temporary spousal support to help them readjust after the legal separation. If a spouse is disabled, permanent support may be necessary. Both spouses must submit documentation of income, property, and other pertinent financial information.

Property Division

Property Division

If you’re legally separating from a spouse and you share property, especially in a contested divorce, you will need legal guidance to divide the property according to community property laws in Arizona. For instance, the court must determine how to divide large assets like family homes or how to divide assets that need special attention, like stocks or debts. The goal of community property division is to ensure each spouse receives roughly half of all shared property. You will need to complete and file financial documents to ensure a fair division of assets.

In Arizona, events in a marriage like infidelity do not influence how assets will be split. However, if one of the partners was convicted of a crime that created damages for their spouse or kids (such as destruction of joint property), the judge would consider this in the division of assets. The court must analyze documentation of income and all assets to make this determination.

Marital Agreements

You might think that marital agreements are only for the wealthy, but that’s not the case. Drawing up a marital agreement is a way to stay organized and protect your assets before getting married. While most people choose prenuptial agreements, you can also protect your assets after marriage with a postnuptial agreement.

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements

No one wants to think about getting a divorce before the wedding day. However, if you’re planning on getting married and want to predetermine the financial rights of each partner, you should consider drawing up a prenuptial agreement, called a prenup for short. These documents can help you and your partner avoid heated emotional conflicts in the event that you consider separating or filing for divorce.

For example, you can plan ahead for how you will divide property in the event of a divorce so you don’t battle about it in court years later. Prenuptial agreements are also very effective for protecting an individual’s separate property.

Postnuptial Agreements

Once you’re married, you and your spouse might consider a postnuptial agreement, nicknamed a postnup. Just like a prenup, a postnup lets you plan ahead about the division of assets. Even if you had a prenup before getting married, you could also get a prenup year into your marriage to update your previous plans. While many people choose a postnup if they’re considering separating, you can also draft a postnup while you’re in a stable relationship, just to stay organized for the future.

Domestic Violence

Every day, more than 20,000 phone calls are made to domestic abuse hotlines throughout the United States. Arizona law defines domestic violence as any form of harassment or assault among people in a specific relationship, including the following:

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • People who are or used to be in a romantic and/or sexual relationship
  • Parent
  • Grandchild
  • People who live in the same household

Instances of domestic violence can impact how a judge makes a decision about child custody. Family court judges work tirelessly to ensure children are in the best environment possible. If there were any instances of child abuse or domestic violence by one or both parents or in a household, it could affect the custody decision. Also, if there is proof that one parent falsely accused the other of child abuse, the judge will also take that into consideration when approving a custody order.

Individuals divorcing or separating from a spouse who has been abusive – or anyone who has experienced domestic violence – may wish to file for an order of protection while the proceedings occur. This can be done by petitioning for an order of protection.

Name Changes

We all go through transformative times in life, and there are many reasons you might want to change your name, like getting married or divorced. In order to legally change your name, you’re in for a relatively easy process, but you will have to complete and file an application with the court. You’ll also usually have to pay a filing fee, but you can apply for deferral if necessary.

Family Court Cases Involving Children

Family court cases involving children are often closely tied to divorce, but other parents who were never married may wish to determine issues like paternity, child custody, and the like.

Child Custody

Determining who will hold parenting time and decision-making rights regarding any children can be one of the most drawn-out parts of a contested divorce. However, even if you and your spouse agree regarding these determinations, you must have the parenting plan approved by the Arizona family court.

Child Custody

The court’s primary consideration is the well-being of the child, and it will consider all the facts of the case, including aspects like the parents’ work schedules, salaries, their relationships with their children, and potentially even the child’s wishes. You must submit financial documents and other custody documents to determine parenting time and decision-making rights

Child Support

Family courts try to minimize the damage to children during tough times in their families. When a marriage ends, and the couple has children together, the court typically orders the noncustodial parent (the parent who holds less parenting time) to contribute financially. If one partner has substantially more income than the other, they may have to pay child support. Again, financial documents and an application for child support are necessary, and paternity documents may be required.


Proof of paternity is often required for child custody and support cases to ensure the right individual is responsible for the child. While paternity is assumed at the time of birth when a married father is placed on the birth certificate, known as the presumption of paternity, other fathers may need to voluntarily accept paternity. If there is a question regarding paternity, either parent may request adjudication of paternity.


From family conflicts on the rise to a unique job opportunity presenting itself, there are endless reasons a teenager may seek independence from their legal guardians. Known as emancipation, the legal process of liberating oneself from family requires quite a few legal hurdles. You must be at least sixteen, file a petition, notify your guardians, and then wait for the court to evaluate whether or not they think emancipation is in your best interest.


If you want to take care of a child, but that child isn’t yours by birth, you will need to apply for guardianship. You can only do this if the parents are not able to fulfill their responsibilities as parents or if there are serious concerns about the child’s welfare, such as abuse in the household. Applying for guardianship involves several steps, but if you are a trustworthy individual with a clean background, it should be straightforward. You will need to file a petition and appear at a court proceeding where evidence is presented about the parents (if they’re living) and how fit you are to take care of the child.

You can also apply for guardianship of an adult in the event that they are temporarily or permanently incapacitated. For example, if someone is recovering from a serious brain injury and is unable to make decisions for themselves, you might consider filing for guardianship so you can do things for them, like sign contracts and make medical and health decisions. Similar paperwork must be submitted in this case.

Adoption and Termination of Parental Rights

If you want to adopt a child in Arizona, you must often locate a trustworthy adoption agency and go through a lengthy application process, including a home study in which a social worker addresses if you are a suitable parent. If the social worker finds you a good potential parent and a child is matched to our home, you will have a visit with them and may be supervised for a temporary period to ensure the adoption goes smoothly. Finally, you must submit adoption paperwork and attend a hearing in which a judge reviews the adoption process and makes the adoption official.

Another common family law case involving parenting is the termination of parental rights. This is a serious, irreversible process in which a parent loses custody and visitation of their child. Someone in the child’s life, like a teacher, doctor, therapist, or adult family member, might be concerned about concerning actions occurring at home, like the following:

  • Serious substance abuse in the home
  • A parent’s mental health problem prevents proper childcare
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of children
  • Long-term incarceration of a parent
  • Parental failure to adequately provide financial support
Child protection services (CPS) investigates reports of abuse and, if necessary, can initiate termination proceedings. Once parental rights are terminated, a relative like a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other close family member often adopts the child. In this case, adoption paperwork again becomes necessary.

Juvenile Issues

No child should have to endure abuse or neglect or find themselves in a situation in which they have broken local or state laws. Unfortunately, the reality is that these things are quite common in Arizona, and the family court must address them. Juvenile issues include:

Child Neglect

Family courts, unfortunately, deal with a wide range of child neglect. For example, if parents do not give children the right clothes for freezing cold weather or raise children in an unsanitary environment, they might lose custody or face penalties for child neglect. Other types of neglect include failing to provide necessary medical care, leaving young children alone for extended periods of time, or emotionally abusing children.


Parents are legally required to enroll their children in school. If a child is not going to school, whether as a result of the parent’s actions or their own actions, the family court may step in. School neglect is called truancy, and Arizona law can intervene in many ways, including mandating counseling, mandatory attendance plans, fines for parents, or court-mandated interventions.

Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile Delinquency

If a minor commits a crime, they will typically face different consequences than adults will since the courts want to teach young people how to become law-abiding citizens. For small crimes like shoplifting, they might have to go to educational programs, pay restitution, or do community service.

For more serious crimes, they might have to attend a juvenile detention center where adults focus on rehabilitation and preventing children from committing crimes in the future. A family court judge will determine the rehabilitative steps necessary depending on the child’s juvenile court history, the offense, and other factors.

Arizona Family Law Services

No matter what type of family law case you’re navigating, you can be sure there will be no shortage of paperwork required of you. It is essential to ensure all documents are drafted correctly and filed in a timely manner, which can be the most challenging part of many family court cases.

At Draft My Legal Docs, our experienced Arizona attorneys provide a range of family law services. We know how tense and high-stakes family law legal processes can be, so we’ll be by your side to draft and review crucial legal documents.

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Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting an Arizona Divorce

Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting an Arizona Divorce

Divorce is widely accepted as the most emotional family law case an individual can go through. From intense conflicts to constant court dates and legal fees, no amount of planning or experience can properly equip you for a divorce. However, there are useful tips out there that can help you better understand what you may have to go through. Here’s everything we wish we knew before going through an Arizona divorce.

Ten Things to Know Before an Arizona Divorce

Everyone knows that divorces can be complex, regardless of whether or not they are amicable. These complications can cause emotional, physical, and even financial stress. Fortunately, you are not the only person who has had to deal with the circumstances of a divorce. Below is a collection of tips from professionals who have gone through similar situations:

1. Conflicts Are Tough to Avoid

Because a divorce deals with intimate subjects and the separation of two people’s lives, conflicts can be incredibly hard to avoid. Dividing personal property, determining parenting time and decision-making rights, and assessing spousal support payments can all lead to disputes between separating spouses. If you are considering a divorce or are currently in the middle of one, you must be emotionally prepared to handle the different kinds of conflict that will arise. You should also be ready to have constructive conversations and make compromises. This can help to combat potential disputes and also aid you in getting the outcomes you hope for.

2. Determine What Is Important to You

Divorces bring up complex emotions and often leave you overwhelmed and exhausted. It’s essential that as soon as you are considering or presented with divorce, you take time to decide what is most important to you. Realistically, you are unlikely to retain everything you want, like sole custody, physical property, financial assets, and more, when you and your spouse separate. Determining which matters are most important to you and being ready to make compromises can help save a great deal of time and energy during your divorce. For example, when one spouse consistently disputes a judge’s decision because they believe they should get a replaceable piece of property, the process only becomes more grueling and expensive. Conversely, if retaining the family home is important to you, consider compromising on other issues to give you a better chance to reach your goals.

Suggested Reading: Arizona Divorce Guide-FAQs

3. You Will Need Records of Everything

Your divorce proceedings will address everything from where your child lives to who gets the family home. Because the court must legally separate the lives of a married couple, you’ll need to provide a large amount of your personal information to do so. Records of your marriage, your family information, your finances, and all your assets will need to be provided to determine an appropriate division of property and child responsibilities. If you have valuable separate property, you’ll need the proper documentation to demonstrate that you owned it prior to your marriage or purchased it after the date of separation.

You Will Need Records of Everything

4. You Should Get a Prenup or Postnup

Prenuptial agreements are often overlooked due to the falsely-held belief that they “promote” divorce. However, prenuptial agreements can be extremely helpful to protect both spouses’ separate property and are now commonly used across the state. In fact, most individuals who own valuable property and assets before they get married opt to create a prenup. This allows them to legally document the assets they owned prior to their marriage and protect them against Arizona’s community property laws. Businesses, inheritances, and valuable assets that you earned on your own should always be documented in the event that a divorce happens in the future.

Suggested Reading: Prenuptial Statistics

5. Be Prepared to Spend Money

While every divorce unfolds a little differently, you will need to spend money whether you’d like to or not. Consider the basic filing fee that comes with submitting a divorce petition, as well as the court and attorney fees that many individuals have to take on during their separation. In addition to fees from the actual divorce process, many separating spouses also need to find new places to live. Because of this, you may find yourself paying for a new house, an attorney, and a divorce all at once. This makes saving money whenever you can a crucial component of a smooth divorce. Fortunately, legal document services like Draft My Legal Docs can help you cut costs and, in many cases, may even help you avoid hiring a lawyer.

6. Start Separating Your Accounts

No matter how long your marriage may have lasted, there’s a strong chance that you and your spouse shared most financial assets. After one of you files for divorce, it is smart to begin separating yourselves in whatever ways you can. For example, you’ll need to create your own bank accounts, credit cards, and even your own phone, insurance, and medical plans. However, you should also note that there are some assets that you can’t touch until your divorce is finalized. These can include certain joint accounts, the family home, and other large assets that must be split according to community property laws.

Separating Your Accounts

7. Protect Your Assets

There are a collection of methods that can be used to protect your assets during an Arizona divorce. The methods that work best for you will likely depend on what kind of assets you have and whether or not they are separate property.

Some of the most useful tips for protecting your finances and assets:

  • Keep records of everything.
  • If you have valuable separate property, create a marital agreement that documents it.
  • Start creating your own financial accounts as soon as possible.
  • Have all assets evaluated by a professional.
  • Create your own list of marital assets and their values to compare to your spouse’s.
  • Make sure you have your own forms of insurance.
  • Remain amicable with your spouse.
  • Make sure both you and your spouse are documenting all assets and liabilities, as hiding them can result in severe court penalties.

8. Your Children Are the Most Important Case Factor

Arizona stipulates that the best interests of any children are always the top priority of a divorce agreement. This means that before you create a parenting time and decision-making rights agreement – and before a judge makes any decision regarding your plan – they must consider what is best for your child and how the divorce order will impact them. For this and many other reasons, it’s critical that you remember that your children are most likely struggling just as much as you. Try your best not to get lost in the chaos of conflicts and anger and instead focus on what you can do to prioritize your children in and out of court. Otherwise, a judge will end up doing it for you.

Your Children Are the Most Important Case Factor

9. You Need Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Divorces involve a massive amount of change. From leaving your home to separating your family, it is an absolute necessity that you find healthy coping mechanisms to process your divorce. Unfortunately, many people going through a divorce end up becoming so involved in their case that they forget to take care of themselves properly. Whether it’s therapy that gives you the outlet you need or you take up yoga once a week, finding healthy ways to release your stress during a divorce is critical. If you have children, it’s essential that you do the same for them. Healthy coping mechanisms can help to relieve some of the intense anxiety that divorce brings on.

10. There Is No “Winning”

Contentious divorces can bring out the worst in people. For that reason, throughout your divorce, you need to remind yourself that there is no “winning” in this situation. Remember, almost everything you obtain throughout your marriage is community property and must be split fairly. Your time with your children must also be divided equally, provided your child’s other parent is not abusive or otherwise unfit. Realistically, there is no winner in this situation – only two sides who are trying to make things work. It’s in your best interest to keep things amicable whenever possible and work constructively.

Arizona Divorce Advice for Women

While Arizona divorce laws are gender-neutral when it comes to decision-making, the general process of dissolving a marriage can sometimes differ for a woman. Here are a few helpful tips for women who have found themselves at the end of their marriages.

You Are Allowed to Stand Up for Yourself

Unfortunately, many women are unfairly stereotyped as “crazy” when they are direct, act decisively about what they want, or set boundaries. Because of this, women are often afraid to truly stick up for themselves in the courtroom or negotiating table because they don’t want to deal with the stigma. It is imperative that every woman stands up for herself during a divorce. Otherwise, your soon-to-be ex may try to take advantage of your indecision.

Women Going Through a Divorce

Don’t Be Afraid to Request Spousal Support

Many women make sacrifices when they get married. One of the most common of these sacrifices includes quitting your job or dropping out of school to care for your family. However, in most cases, when a mother does this, the father is able to continue pursuing their career and becomes the breadwinner. This can put a mother in a vulnerable position if a divorce occurs. If you made sacrifices for your household during marriage and are now unsure whether you can care for yourself, you should consider requesting spousal support.

Find Ways to Become Independent Again

Because divorces legally end a relationship, both individuals involved often find themselves having to start over. From creating a new bank account to finding a new home, you’ll need to become independent quickly after your divorce decree becomes final. This can be especially difficult for women, who often dedicate years of their lives to caring for their families. If you are going through a divorce, it’s important that you start finding ways to reclaim your independence.

Arizona Divorce Advice for Men

Divorces are often very different for men than they are for women. If you are a man who is going through the divorce process in Arizona, you should keep these tips in mind.

You Have Rights to Your Children Too

Many fathers worry that they will lose child custody simply because they are not the mother. Remind yourself that you have just as much right to your children as their mother and have the right to request equal parenting time and decision-making rights. To receive joint custody and shared rights of your children, you’ll need to demonstrate that it is in the best interests of your children.

Protect Your Finances and Property

Because Arizona is a community property state, there is a chance that your soon-to-be-ex may try and take advantage of your shared property rights. In an Arizona divorce, you must take extra steps to protect your separate assets and ensure they do not become involved in the property division process. All property that you owned before your marriage is separate, meaning your wife can’t attempt to ask for it during your divorce. In addition, inheritances, gifts, and some other assets may be separate.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

Whether it’s because they don’t wish to deal with their emotions or they don’t feel they have the time or resources to do so, many men do not process their emotions properly. This often means you’re at risk for poor coping mechanisms which can affect your mental and physical health. While a divorce can be difficult, you have to remember that it is not the end. Remember to stay in touch with your friends and family and keep your loved ones close. Good things can still come out of tough times.

File Your Family Law Documents

Family Law Services for Arizona Divorce

While divorce may seem daunting now, it’s important to remind yourself that you do have the strength, determination, and resources necessary to get through your divorce. Draft My Legal Docs provides document services that can help you handle your divorce case with ease. Our services include document preparation and drafting tailored to the unique needs of our Arizona clients. Contact Draft My Legal Docs today to learn how our professional family law services can help you through your Arizona divorce.

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