Divorce, Family Law, Child Custody (Decision Making) and Support FAQ
At Bishop & Martin Law Office, we are here to answer any questions you have about your divorce or family law concerns. To sit down with one of our lawyers to learn more about any of the following questions, contact one of our offices in Phoenix or Tempe, Arizona.
- What Do I Have To Show to Get A Divorce?
- How Long Will It Take to Get A Divorce?
- How Much Will It Cost?
- Should I Consult With An Attorney Before I Move Out Or File For Divorce?
- Should I Hire A Paralegal Service Or An Attorney?
- Should I Just Fill The Forms Out Myself?
- About Division of Property and Debt
What Do I Have To Show to Get A Divorce?
Arizona is a “no fault state.” In other words, you do not need to state any specific reason why you want a divorce, nor does your spouse have to agree to a divorce.
How Long Will It Take to Get A Divorce?
Once the divorce petition and other documents have been served on the other party, you need only wait 60 days if you and your spouse agree on all issues. This can be done through a “default hearing,” or you can obtain a “consent decree” without ever having to go to court. Even if you and your spouse do not agree to all terms in the beginning, Bishop & Martin Law Office has been successful in settling the vast majority of its clients’ cases. Bishop & Martin Law Office commits itself to settling your case if the issues can be settled in your best interests.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on all issues, the only other way to obtain a divorce is through a trial. Most trials in divorce cases generally last about four hours. In such event, the judge makes all decisions (there is no jury in divorce cases). How long it takes to get to trial depends upon the complexity of your case and how backed up the judge is.
Bishop & Martin Law Office is committed to expedite your case and to conclude the proceedings for you as soon as possible so that you can get on with your life.
How Much Will It Cost?
The total fees and costs in divorce proceedings vary depending upon a number of factors. If you and your spouse agree to most or all terms, the fees and costs should be minimal. It is our belief that no matter how simple the divorce, it is always in your best interests to consult with an attorney. This does not mean that you cannot do your divorce yourself. However, many people who do not consult with attorneys may leave out certain very important provisions that can come back to haunt them later on, and cost them a great deal. A little “preventive medicine” may save you a lot of headaches in the future. Bishop & Martin Law Office is committed to providing its clients with quality representation at an affordable cost. Find out more about our fee structure here.
Should I Consult With An Attorney Before I Move Out Or File For Divorce?
If possible, it is always in your best interests to consult with a family law attorney before you move out of your residence or file for divorce, even if you decide to represent yourself. What happens early on in a case may turn out to be very important. Each case is different, and many of our clients have special circumstances. Again, some “preventive medicine” may save you a lot of heartache and headaches in the future.
Should I Hire A Paralegal Service Or An Attorney?
One does not have to have any special training or certification to call themselves a paralegal in Arizona. Some people who call themselves paralegals have never even worked for a law firm. Although there are schools for paralegals and certifications, one does not need to go to school or obtain any certifications to call themselves a paralegal. Although there are undoubtedly some excellent paralegals, it is difficult to find out who has the experience and training necessary to assist you. Paralegals are precluded by the Supreme Court Rules from providing any legal advice, although some do - often-poor advice, which leads to major problems.
Many people have had very bad experiences with independent paralegal services. Often the forms are not prepared properly, causing unnecessary delays. Paralegals sometimes attempt to represent both sides, which is a conflict of interest, or align themselves with one side. Many people are not protected in the end. The biggest insult is that people sometimes end up paying more for a paralegal than they would have paid for a family court attorney to take care of them properly. Paralegals cannot represent you in court.
Paralegals are not subject to the jurisdiction of the State Bar of Arizona. If your attorney does something wrong, he or she may be subject to discipline. There are strict rules of conduct which govern attorneys. There are no such safeguards with regard to paralegal services.
The Supreme Court of Arizona has adopted certification requirements for “document preparers”. Document preparers cannot by law provide you with legal advice. Bishop & Martin Law Office recommends that you consult with a family law attorney first to assess your case and circumstances.
Like many family law firms, Bishop & Martin Law Office has paralegals on staff. These paralegals have been trained by our attorneys and are under the direct supervision of our attorneys. Our use of paralegals generally save our clients fees based on their lower hourly rates. At the same time our attorneys are involved in all aspects of your case.
Should I Just Fill The Forms Out Myself?
In many cases, especially ones that are uncontested, you may be able to represent yourself. The Supreme Court Office of Administration has family law and other forms available online at the Self Service Center. You can obtain forms and packets in person from at the Self Service Center located in the Superior Court facilities in downtown Phoenix or the east-side Superior Court facilities in Mesa. Maricopa County forms are available online at the Maricopa County support web site.
These forms are free of charge or provided for a nominal sum. There is often no reason to hire a paralegal to simply fill out your forms, nor is there any reason to purchase forms at a “forms store.” If you have questions regarding your forms, you can simply schedule a ½ or 1-hour conference with our firm or another family law attorney and make sure you get the best advice.
As we have stated, we highly recommend that you at least consult with an attorney. A little bit of preventive medicine may save you a lot of money, heartache and headaches. In many cases, Bishop & Martin Law Offices provides consult services without the necessity of formally retaining the firm and without having to pay a deposit or retainer fee. See Legal Fees for more information.
For answers to these or any other family law or divorce questions, contact a lawyer at Bishop & Martin Law Office for an initial consultation.