Fromm Smith & Gadow - Family Law Specialist

Frequently Asked Questions

CAN ONE LAWYER REPRESENT BOTH OF US?

It Is unethical for one lawyer to represent both parties to a divorce.

HOW LONG WILL THE DIVORCE TAKE?

In Arizona, there is a mandatory 60 day waiting period from the time the petition is served on the other party until the divorce could be final.  This does not mean that anything automatically happens at the end of 60 days – just that the divorce could not be final before then. 

You can imagine that if your case becomes complicated, or if you and your spouse cannot reach agreements, the case will take longer to complete.  On the average, a divorce takes between six to twelve months.

HOW MUCH WILL MY CASE COST?

Unfortunately, we cannot predict what the total fees will be at the beginning of the case because that will depend on so many things:  the difficulty of the case, the time involved, the level of your spouse’s cooperation, the availability of information and the like.  As your case progresses you will know whether it is becoming complex and time-consuming and your lawyer should be able to give you an estimate of what it is costing.  Discuss those costs with your lawyer in light of potential benefits to your case.  An exhaustive “leave no stone unturned” approach can end up not being cost effective and may be unwarranted. Our attorney fees are as follows: Steve Smith and Jennifer Gadow - $450/hour, James Cork II - $325/hour, and Kathleen Stillman - $225/hour.

WHAT ARE SOME COMMON PARENTAL ACCESS ARRANGEMENTS?

The courts will typically approve of any parenting scheme that you and your spouse agree on.  Often, cooperating parents will have a custody arrangement structured in their parenting plan and will never refer to it again, using common sense and being flexible with one another.  For minor changes or occasional deviations, you do not need to go back to court.  The “visitation police” are not going to come and find you.

If you are not able to work that well with your spouse, then a specific schedule is recommended.  That way, you each will have the same expectations of when you will be with the children.

Since each family is unique, you need to figure out which schedule works best for you and your children.  This may change as the children get older.

In Arizona, there are Model Parenting Plans which are often helpful.

Some common arrangements include the following:

  • Alternating weekends beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday evening or Monday morning as well as midweek period, either for dinner or an overnight. This is considered to be basic “guide line” access. Typically, a legal Monday holiday would extend a weekend for 24 hours.
  • “5-5-2-2” plan which alternates weekends and gives one parent every Monday and Tuesday overnight and the other parent every Wednesday and Thursday overnight.  This is an equal time sharing scheme, or “joint physical custody.”
  • “2-2-3-2-2-3” plan which alternates weekends and gives one parent Monday and Tuesday overnights one week and that same parent Wednesday and Thursday overnights the second week.   This is also joint physical custody.
  • One week/ one week with a mid week dinner visit.  This is another joint physical custody arrangement.

Most parenting plans will include the following:

  • Dividing school vacations and recesses.
  • Alternating major holidays.
  • Mothers Day with Mother;  Fathers Day with Father.
  • Reasonable telephone access.
  • Vacation access.

WHAT ABOUT ACCESS TO GRANDCHILDREN?

Arizona law does allow for grandparents to seek visitation with their grandchildren if certain prerequisites have been met.  Grandparent visitation matters can be extremely legally complex.  If you have questions about such issues, you should ask your attorney.

WHO DECIDES HOW MUCH CHILD SUPPORT I PAY?

In response to federal legislation, each state has adopted official child support guidelines.  To receive federal funding, each state is required to have a standardized system for determining child support.  These guidelines establish the method for calculating child support in each case and are designed to ensure consistency and predictability in child support amounts.

WHAT ARE THE CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES?

The child support guidelines are a set of rules and calculations used to determine the proper amount of child support.  Factors that are considered include each party’s income, the cost of health insurance and day care, and the time spent with each parent.  In Arizona, using the guidelines is mandatory, however, the court or parties could deviate from the guidelines so long as there are specific reasons for doing so.


DO I QUALIFY FOR SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE?

Typically the spouse seeking maintenance is one who is not in a position to maintain the marital standard of living after separation or divorce.  Also, vast discrepancies in earnings or earning potential may entitle the disadvantaged spouse to receive spousal maintenance from the other.

There are many factors that are taken into account in the awarding of spousal maintenance and they must be looked at on a case by case basis.

HOW LONG WILL I PAY SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE AND HOW MUCH WILL IT BE?

The length and amount of the award of spousal maintenance depends on a number of factors including but not limited to the following:

  • The income and property of each party
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The ages of each party
  • The health of the parties
  • The present and future earning capacities of each party
  • The ability of the party seeking spousal maintenance to become self-supporting and, if applicable, the length of time necessary for training
  • The reduced or lost capacity of the party seeking maintenance as a result of having forgone or delayed education, training, employment or career opportunities during the marriage
  • The presence of children of the marriage in the respective homes of the parties
  • Contributions and services of the party seeking maintenance as a spouse, parent, wage earner, homemaker, and to the career or career potential of the other party.

WHEN DOES PROPERTY GET DIVIDED?

If you and your spouse can agree on the division of some or all of the property you can do so at any time.  If you are unable to agree on an equitable division of any of the property and require a trial, the judge will decide for you.

WHAT PROPERTY GETS DIVIDED?

Arizona is a community property state.  Simply put, all property acquired during the marriage except for gifts or inheritance is considered to be community property.  Assets that were brought into the marriage by one party are considered to be that party’s sole and separate property and are not subject to division.  In some cases the appreciation or increased value of a separate asset might be considered to be community property but you will need to check with your lawyer to see how that property would be treated in your specific case.


Meet Attorneys Sandy Fromm, Stephen Smith, Jennifer GadowStephen Smith, AttorneyJennifer Gadow, AttorneyJames Cork IIKathleen Stillman, Attorney








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