VIEW THE WEBINAR: HOW TO REPRESENT YOURSELF IN FAMILY COURT

 The webinar “How to Represent Yourself in Family Court”

View a recording of the webinar here.

Webinar Description

If you are like the majority of Arizonans, you are representing yourself in Family Court. Family Law Attorney Billie Tarascio offers this webinar with specific instructions for how to best represent yourself in family court. The webinar will cover your initial filings, disclosure and discovery, ERCs, RMCs, ADRs, use of professionals, trial preparation and trial presentation.

This webinar is designed for anyone who has a family law case or anticipates having a family law case. We will focus on practical knowledge and solutions that allow you to best represent yourself.

Other Webinars:

Legal Decision Making, Parenting Time, Child Support

This webinar will discuss all things related to minor children in the Arizona Family Court system. Learn about the nuances of legal decision making, parenting plans and child support. Dive into factors such as the wishes of the children and parental alienation. A “must listen” for anyone with minor children in the family court system.
Click Here to View

 

 

How to eFile Your Documents

eFiling Online in Maricopa County

How to eFile Your Documents:

eFiling is awesome! It saves you the time and money associated with driving to the courthouse, waiting in line, and delivering copies manually where they need to go. You can eFile your family court documents in Maricopa County by following these step-by-step instructions. Email docs@accesslegaldocs.com with any questions.

eFiling Instructions

1. Visit https://efiling.clerkofcourt.maricopa.gov/fdlogin.asp

2. Follow the online instructions to create your eFiling account if needed.

3. Print and sign your document for filing. Scan and upload to computer.

4. Log in to your eFiling account and click “File Now.”

5. Enter your case number and all requested information related to the document (Name of document, type of filing, etc.)

6. Print the confirmation page of the filing and mail with your document (if not required to be served pursuant to Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, etc.) to the opposing party or counsel.

 

*NOTE: This is NOT a filed copy of the document. It may take up to 24 hours for the document to be filed with the court. You will receive a separate email once your document has been ACCEPTED and can be downloaded from the Electronic Court Records (ERC).

This is the copy that will be file-stamped and can be delivered to your assigned Judge. There may also be filing fees associated with filing your document. If so, you will receive a separate email from the clerk of the court notifying you of the filing fee. Your document will not be filed with the court until payment is made.

For additional questions, you may contact the eFiling Clerk at (602) 37-CLERK. Choose option 7, then 4.

Can You Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer

Can You Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer

How to Represent Yourself in Maricopa Family Court

Part 2: Default Through Discovery

You can get a divorce without a lawyer, and we will tell you how! In Part One, we discussed what to do prior to filing your family court action, determining your objectives and strategy, how to draft your initial pleadings, how to respond, and whether to request a motion for temporary orders. In Part two, we will discuss how to represent yourself in Default Proceedings and through Discovery.

Default

In the event you have served a petition on the opposing party and they do not respond, you have the opportunity to file for a default judgment. If the opposing party lives within the state of Arizona, they have 20 days to respond before you can initiate the default proceedings. If they are out of state, they have 30 days to respond. Another wrinkle to consider is that there is a 60-day waiting period before a judge may issue a divorce decree after you file. So, while the default rules allow you to ask for a default after 20 or 30 days, the Judge will not sign a decree of dissolution prior to 60 days after the service of the petition.

In the event that the proper amount of time has passed, you can prepare an Application and Affidavit of Default. We can help you create this document. Simply create an account to access all of our professional legal documents. Make sure that you bring two copies with you when you go to file the documents. You will need to immediately mail, hand deliver or serve a copy of the documents to the opposing party. They then have an additional 10-day grace period to respond to your initial petition. After the 10 days has passed, you can call the court to schedule a default hearing. In the event that you do not have children, you can submit your documents via mail to the court and await the Judge’s signature without scheduling a hearing.

To get a default judgment, you will need to submit a/an:

  • Completed Decree of Dissolution
  • Legal Separation or Order of Annulment and two copies
  • Parent Information Program Certificate (if it has not already been filed)
  • Signed Parenting Plan and two copies
  • Completed Child Support Worksheet and two copies
  • Order of Assignment and two copies
  • Completed Judgment Data Sheet
  • Wage information/pay stubs for both parties
  • Other financial information such as childcare costs, medical insurance premiums etc.
  • 9X12 envelope addressed to the other party with 3 standard current postage stamps and
  • Copy of any prior Child Support Orders/Birth certificate for children

A default hearing is very informal. The Judge will ask you questions about what you have included in your decree. The Judge may make changes to what you have included in your decree. Also, you cannot put anything in your decree that you did not include in your petition. The other party is entitled to notice of everything that may end up included in the final paperwork. Alternatively, if you do not have children, you can submit the paper documents to the court for the judge’s signature. If you elect to go this route, make sure you deliver a copy of your documents to the judge’s chambers.

Helpful hint: Consider getting the phone number for the judicial assistant so that you can make follow up calls regarding the status of your documents.

Discovery/ Mandatory Disclosures

In Arizona, evidence that is not properly disclosed cannot be used in trial. On top of that, Rule 49 of the Arizona Family Law Rules of Procedure lays out what you are required to disclose even without the other party asking for the documents. In reality, self represented litigants rarely follow all of the rules and rarely disclose everything that they need to under rule 49. But this list will help you determine what you may want to request and what you are required to disclose.

The most important and non-negotiable mandatory disclosure is the Affidavit of Financial Information (AFI). If your case involves child support, spousal maintenance or attorneys fees, you and your ex will need to submit a completed and accurate AFI. This is one of the only disclosure documents that must be filed with the court. Most disclosure documents are handled between the parties.

Rules of Evidence

In family court, the rules of evidence are relaxed unless one party files a “notice of strict compliance.” Under the relaxed rules, all relevant evidence is generally admissible unless it is repetitive or abusive. Generally, if it is relevant to the issues, a Judge will allow you to use the evidence. If a notice of strict compliance is filed, all of the rules of evidence including hearsay and authentication rules apply. If you are going up against an attorney and they have filed the notice, we suggest you seek advice from an attorney. He or she can help you properly prepare your evidence for submission to the court.

Interrogatories 

A frequently used and very useful discovery tool is interrogatories. You can send both uniform and non-uniform interrogatories to the opposing party. Interrogatories are questions that must be responded to in writing by the opposing party within 40 days of receipt. This locks in the answer of the opposing party and provides valuable information you can use in making your case. As an example, the uniform interrogatories ask for the party to list all bank accounts, assets, insurance policies, pending litigation claims, etc. If your case has hotly contested issues, consider using the uniform interrogatories as a fantastic discovery tool for your case.

Request for Production of Documents

Like the interrogatories, a Request for Production of Documents asks that the other party deliver to you the documents you are requesting within 40 days of receipt. You can ask for any and all relevant documents including Quickbooks files, criminal convictions, drugs tests, even medical records. This is a fantastic tool to accompany interrogatories.

Request for Admissions

Requests for admissions are used less frequently than the two tools above, but can provide valuable information and insight for less money than the cost of a deposition. In a request for admissions, the opposing party is asked admit/deny questions and must either admit or deny the questions that you ask.

Depositions

Arguably, depositions are the most powerful discovery tool available to you as a litigant. A deposition allows you to ask any question that you would like of the opposing party (with few exceptions) under oath and on the record. This gives you the ability to test out questions and determine the opposing party’s demeanor and ability to answer difficult questions. It also locks down their story. You can depose both parties and witnesses by serving a “Notice of Deposition” upon the party or witness(es) you intend to call. Then, you will want to schedule a court reporter to take the deposition. Give yourself enough time to get the written transcript well before trial.

Subpoena

A subpoena allows you to get documents from third parties such as banks, or command a witness to attend a hearing. A subpoena must be issued by the clerk of the court and served upon the intended recipient.

Each discovery tool can help you to achieve a given objective. As always, know your strategy and what you must prove to determine which tools to use. Consider the cost benefit analysis of each decision and take advantage of either a certified legal document preparer, lay legal advocate, or an attorney for further information.

Final Thoughts

If you plan to self-represent, create an account with Access Legal to access dozens of the professional quality documents you’ll need for your case. Some are even available for free, and every document you purchase comes with complimentary access to a Certified Legal Document Preparer (CDLP) who can answer your questions. Access Legal is an easy-to-use platform that guides you step-by-step to create professional quality legal documents for a fraction of the cost of hiring an attorney.

Read Part 3 of this series in which we cover the RMC, ERC, ADR, Return Hearings and Status Conferences.

New Maricopa County System Helps Cut Divorce Costs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Maricopa County System Helps Cut Divorce Costs

As many as 9 in 10 county residents try to divorce without help from an attorney

MESA, AZ, (Jan. 27, 2015) – Access Legal, a new automated system is now available for Maricopa County residents to create customized divorce and family law documents without the services of an attorney, is now online in beta mode. The first 100 people to use the document software will receive free personal assistance from a Certified Legal Document Preparer.

In Maricopa County alone more than 100,000 individuals are involved in a family court case each year, which can include divorce, child custody modifications, enforcing orders or establishing or modifying child support. For the 80,000 or more who try to do it on their own, the personal consequences of mistakes can be life-altering.

“That’s a ridiculous number of people who are struggling through a frightening and complicated situation that’s not a one-off deal,” said Billie Tarascio, the Mesa attorney who designed the Access Legal docs system. “This is a group of people who have been ignored by the legal profession because they can’t cover the average $20,000 cost for divorce.”

The Access Legal document system is user-friendly and can be applied by anyone who may need to file family court paperwork in Maricopa County. It creates documents that are identical to those used by attorneys.

The cloud-based system being rolled out locally is akin to a “Legal Zoom” model that allows individuals to use a simple question-and-answer wizard to create and customize the complicated legal documents necessary in a divorce. Current online document providers (like Legal Zoom) do not offer family law documents.

For the first 100 customers, Access Legal is offering an in-office appointment, assistance with the software, and document review by a certified legal document preparer. In exchange, the company is seeking feedback in order to test and validate the software before implementing a wider, go-to-market launch outside the county.

The new self-directed system includes county-specific documents for changes in child support, requests for temporary orders, creditor or health insurance notices, and petitions for divorce with or without children. The filer’s information is saved securely online and will automatically populate in new paperwork as needed.

“It’s comparable to using a tax preparation program to file your taxes without the added cost of a tax preparer or accountant,” said Tarascio. “The legal system is not designed for do-it-yourselfers, yet the vast majority of people are forced to go it alone. Access Legal’s mission is to empower each customer to “Be a Legal Ninja” and improve self-representation. The system creates access to justice for people who couldn’t otherwise afford it.”

Visitors to the website will also find a family law forum to connect and share with others, a list of referrals to professionals like process servers and private investigators, and articles with helpful information specific to self represented litigants in Maricopa County.

 

Media Contact:

Billie Tarascio

(480) 649-2905

1 North MacDonald, #201, Mesa, AZ 85201

www.AccessLegalDocs.com

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To become one of the first 100 people to use the system at 50% off the already reduced price, email your request to docs@accesslegaldocs.com or call 602-457-5798 to schedule an appointment. Access the website for legal documents, the family law forum, articles, and a list of legal professionals and divorce support.

Getting a Divorce Without an Attorney

Getting a Divorce Without an Attorney

Getting a Divorce Without an Attorney, you are not alone. It’s happening everywhere. The vast majority of Americans are trying to get justice from a system designed for lawyers. Yet, even for the middle class, justice is too expensive. Though poor litigants (people involved in the court system) often qualify for legal aid programs, middle class is denied access to these but still can’t afford the thousands of dollars legal representation often costs.

For this reason, more litigants – often savvy, educated consumers – are choosing to represent themselves in family court. Though some will experience success, others will make small mistakes that end up costing them thousand or, worse, costing them the result they needed from the courts. Access Legal is one of the first tools that helps family court litigants access to the professional documents they need to represent themselves with successful outcomes.

In addition to creating tools to help the middle class represent themselves in family court, how do we bridge the gap between high priced attorneys and the complexity of self-representation? Julie Kay’s article Middle Class is Getting Squeezed Out of the Courts. So What is Being Done About It?published on the Daily Business Review discusses the middle class’s limited access to justice, and we feature that article below for you. You may also read the original here.

The article was written after a panel of experts including Supreme Court Chief Justices and a District Judge found that more and more poor and middle-class litigants in Florida are showing up to court without attorney representation. A video of the panel, The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary, is here.

Middle Class is Getting Squeezed Out of the Courts. So What is Being Done About It?

Poor and middle-class litigants in Florida are increasingly showing up to court without lawyers, resulting in a significant access-to-justice problem throughout the state.

That was the consensus of a panel on “The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary” held Friday at the University of Miami School of Law. The panel was part of a Legal Services Corporation half-day seminar.

Panelists included Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga; U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami; Richard Leefe of Leefe, Gibbs, Sullivan & Dupre in Louisiana; Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Liana Fiol Matta; and William Van Norwick Jr., a retired judge from Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. The panel was moderated by Harvard law dean Martha Minow.

Cooke and other panelists said they are more concerned about the “working middle class” who are not eligible for legal aid programs like the poor.

“I have seen a lot of working middle class litigants in court without attorneys,” she said. “Where they might have had a neighborhood attorney representing them before, now they are in court alone. Somewhere the wheels have fallen off the bus for the working middle class.”

Labarga saw the same thing during his 15 years as a Palm Beach trial court judge, particularly in foreclosure cases.

“Every other case had one unrepresented party,” he said. “Today, it must be even more. There is nothing more heartbreaking than to have a foreclosure case, and the bank’s lawyer comes in all polished, well-dressed, and he knows exactly what to do, and you see a husband and wife all by themselves with a file. As a judge, you can’t say, ‘This is what you have to do so I can rule in your favor,’ but you want to.”

Labarga noted the New York Bar requires law school graduates to perform 50 hours of pro bono work before they are admitted to the bar and California allows nonlawyers to help litigants. “Here in Florida I’d get pushback from the Bar for trying that,” he said.

The governor has not been supportive, vetoing extra legal aid funding every year, panelists noted.

Legal forums and advice columns are helpful in simple situations—but not with complex foreclosure cases, noted Van Nortwick.

“We need more money to hire lawyers for the poor and middle class. That’s the sad problem,” he said.

Labarga called on “mega law firms” with hundreds of attorneys to “kick in and help out.”

Some programs exist but are not well-publicized. Cooke asked the audience how many knew lawyers who could volunteer for pro bono cases on the federal court’s website.

Cooke called on her fellow judges to be more flexible when dealing with pro bono lawyers, while Labarga encouraged them to simply thank lawyers handling such cases.

“I always did that,” he said. “It goes a long way.”

Labarga is hoping the situation will improve now that he launched the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice, which met for the first time this month. The major initiative of his two-year administration, the commission will study the unmet civil legal needs of disadvantaged, low-income and moderate-income Floridians.

The commission includes Gov. Rick Scott, members of the Florida House, law school deans, former American Bar Association president Martha Barnett and general counsel of Publix and Disney.

Having lawyers for two of Florida’s largest employers on board is important because they understand the difficulties of having their employees sidetracked by legal problems, Labarga said.

“I’m going to push this as hard as I can,” he said.

The situation is better in other states with so-called low bono programs to help middle class litigants, Minow said.

In Louisiana, several groundbreaking initiatives have made that state a leader in providing access to justice to all. One program seeks to mirror medical residencies, pairing recent law graduates with one-year internships representing indigent clients for a $36,000 salary. The program has been so popular that the unemployment rate for new lawyers, once 47 percent, is now non-existent. The only ones who aren’t fans of the program are some law firms that fear losing top job candidates, Leefe said.

“We think it’s a win-win,” he said. “We’ve had a great response from students.”

Additionally, Louisiana has kiosks staffed by volunteer lawyers at every courthouse and library in the state. These pro bono lawyers provide information and forms—but not legal advice—to litigants who lack lawyers.

LSC is the nation’s single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans. The organization has a budget of $365 million and dispensed about $20 million in grants last year to Florida legal aid programs, including two in South Florida.

Read the original article here.

How to Represent Yourself in Maricopa Family Court Part 1: Your Initial Filings

How to Represent Yourself in Maricopa Family Court

Part One: Your Initial Filings

This is the first in a multi-part segment on “How to Represent Yourself in Maricopa County Family Court.” My goal is to give as much information as possible so you can get the best possible outcome given your objectives.

Determining Your Objectives/Setting Expectations

The first step in family court is that you should determine your objectives. Let’s say you are going through a divorce. I understand your objective is to get divorced. What I am asking is for you to think about what is important to you within your divorce. There are five main issues that will need to be decided:

  1. Custody (Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time)
  2. Property and Debt Division
  3. Child Support
  4. Spousal Maintenance
  5. Other Issues (marital waste, attorneys fees, etc)

Create a Clear Picture

Picture your life after divorce with regard to each and every one of the issues above. Be as detailed as possible. Plan your post divorce budget considering where you will live and work. If you have a transition plan to live with family or friends for a brief period of time, think about what your life will look like when you are done with that transition. Choosing your ideal outcome and what is most important to you prior to filing any paperwork is an excellent place to start when you are representing yourself. Consider coming up with your ideal outcome on each issue and then determining what you could live with for each and every issue. Work with a counselor, mentor of friend to do some serious planning.

After you have determined your objectives, it is important to understand that the “process” of getting a divorce or going through any family law matter is not a quick one. Set your expectations to a realistic pace to get through the process with your mental health intact. It also gives you a better chance of meeting your objectives. Plan for a contested case to take a year or more. This is likely to be one of the most stressful events you will endure. Get a support structure (friends, family, counselors, support group, etc.) in place in advance to help you through the process.

The Initial Court Filings (Petition/Response/Temporary Orders) 

The first step in the process of the family court case is the initial filings. This includes the Petition (and all accompanying documents), Affidavit of Service, Response (and all accompanying documents), and potentially filing for temporary orders. You or your spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution with the court and serve the other party. Service must be according to the rules of procedure. Most often this is either through a process server or by your spouse signing an acceptance of service.

Whoever files the documents first is the “Petitioner;” the non-filing spouse is the “Respondent.” You will retain these titles throughout the duration of your case, even in modifications that may come years from now. In reality, it doesn’t really matter if you are the Petitioner or Respondent. There are strategic advantages to both.

What to Include in Your Filing

When deciding how specific you want to be in your petition, ask yourself if your spouse is likely to agree with each and every aspect of what you would like.

In the event that the two of you agree on everything, consider filing a very specific petition outlining all of the details of how you would like custody, property division, child support, spousal maintenance and any miscellaneous issues addressed. If you agree on everything, filing a comprehensive petition (with separate parenting plan and child support worksheet) allows the two of you the option to proceed via default. This allows the other party to bypass filing a response (and avoid paying the filing fee for the response).

In the event you and your spouse are not likely to agree on every aspect of the divorce, consider filing a more vague petition with requests such as “child support pursuant to the guidelines” or requesting “an equitable distribution of property and debt.” This allows you to take full advantage of the discovery process without committing yourself to a position that may change.

A Brief Introduction to Discovery

In discovery, you will have access to information that you may not have previously had. For instance, if your spouse owns a business you may want to have it valuated before you commit to your spouse taking the business in exchange for you keeping the house. You will likely need to discover how much of your retirement accounts are community property (earned during marriage) and how much might be separate (premarital) property. Leaving your petition rather vague gives you the opportunity to gather more information as you refine your position. By becoming educated on the law, you can better assess your position of what is fair or what you can live with during your divorce. It can also help you to negotiate what is really important to you.

For instance, let’s say you learn that you spouse spent $50,000 in secret gambling over the last three years. You may have a marital waste claim for $25,000. Instead, you may use that potential claim to settle other issues in the case that are very important to you.

The Response

Likewise, if you are the Respondent filing a response, consider also filing a “counter-petition” to address any issues that your spouse may have failed to mention. Also, you do not need to follow the traditional “admit or deny” format for each paragraph of the Petition. You can instead “plead affirmatively” and tell the court what you want. This allows your Response to be understood without having the Petition read side by side. All of the above guidance and suggestions apply to the response except for the paragraph regarding default. A respondent cannot ask for a default judgment on an initial divorce filing.

Motion For Temporary Orders

Finally, both Petitioner and Respondent may file a “Motion for Temporary Orders” along with the Petition or the Response. The request for temporary orders allows you to request that the court implement an order for temporary spousal maintenance, child support, use of the home, payment of the bills, attorneys fees, etc. In my experience about half of all cases have a temporary order in place. This is because divorce may take a year or more. In the mean time, arrangements have to be made. If the parties are unable to agree on the details of the arrangements, the court will need to put orders in place that allow for parenting time, payment of bills, and where someone will live. Other issues that may need to be addressed include where the kids will go to school, whether or not a child will be given a certain medication, travel arrangements between visits. Any issue that cannot be decided by the parties may be decided by the court as long as it falls within one of the five topics outlined above.

Final Thoughts

Part 2 in this series will cover rule 49 mandatory disclosures and other discovery tools available to you. Read Part 2 now.

As always, this general information is provided to offer guidance to the general public. It is in no way specific to your case and is not legal advice.

If you plan to self-represent, create an account with Access Legal to access dozens of the professional quality documents you’ll need for your case. Some are even available for free, and every document you purchase comes with complimentary access to a Certified Legal Document Preparer (CDLP) who can answer your questions. Access Legal is an easy-to-use platform that guides you step-by-step to create professional quality legal documents for a fraction of the cost of hiring an attorney.

What Happens if I Avoid Service?

What Happens if I Avoid Service?

Are YOU avoiding being served? Unfortunately “out of sight out of mind” does not work well with this situation. The court process will attempt to serve you, but if you do try and hide, the process will continue without you. Anything from divorce, parenting time, legal decision-making or child custody are legal matters that require you to be served. If you did find a way to avoid all attempts of being served, the court can serve you by publication, which means they will put the notice in the newspaper.

Again, just because you don’t respond to the court service, doesn’t mean you get out of the situation. There are negative consequences that will follow your neglect. Honestly, why wouldn’t you want some input in what is going to happen to your family? Filing a response is your chance to tell the court what you want.

I’ve Been Served, Now What?

As the respondent, you have 20 days to file a response or the petitioner can file for default judgment. That means, by default, the petitioner would be granted their request because the judge never got the opportunity to hear your side. After the petitioner files for default, it takes 10 days for it to be granted. If there is still no response after that 10 day mark, then the judge now has free rein to make decisions about your family. Unless you really don’t care what happens to you and your family, it is highly suggested that you take the time to file a response.

If for some reason you are unsure if a court process has begun, you can always contact your local clerk of court. It is best to check the clerk of court in the county that your ex is in as well. And just to be safe, we recommend checking the county where a court may have previously issued an order.

It is very important to keep up with deadlines. Checking with the court every few days will keep you on top of things and make your life easier. A simple phone call can keep you out of trouble and stress-free. When you call, make sure you ask, “Is there anything that has been filed in the family court that I need to respond to?”

 

List of Clerks for Each Arizona County:

Apache County Clerk of the Superior Court 928-337-7550
Cochise County Clerk of the Superior Court 520-432-8570
Coconino County Clerk of the Superior Court 928-673-7600
Gila County of the Superior Court 928-425-3231
Graham County Clerk of the Superior Court 928-428-3100
Greenlee County Clerk of the Superior Court 928-865-4242
La Paz County Clerk of the Superior Court 928-669-6131
Maricopa County Clerk of the Superior Court 602-506-3754 (Phoenix)602-506-2137 (Mesa)602-372-9437 (Northwest)602-372-7710 (Northeast)
Mohave County Clerk of the Superior Court 928-753-0713
Navajo County Clerk of the Superior Court 928-524-4188 (Holbrook)928-532-6003 (Show Low)928-289-6803 (Winslow)928-535-7103 (Heber)
Pima County Clerk of the Superior Court 520-740-3200
Pinal County Clerk of the Superior Court 520-866-5300
Santa Cruz County Clerk of the Superior Court 520-375-7800
Yavapai County Clerk of the Superior Court 928-777-3040
Yuma County Clerk of the Superior Court 928-817-4222

Filing a Response

You can make a trip to the courthouse to pick up a blank Response form, or you can log in to Access Legal to access professional quality Response documents and 24/7 support from our Certified Legal Document Preparer. Filing the correct response with no mistakes in a timely manner is crucial to getting what you want from the court system. Our system guides you through the steps to create the professional quality legal documents you need without the expensive attorney fees.

Dealing With Difficult People in Divorce

Dealing With Difficult People in Divorce

This post is brought to you by certified divorce coach Theresa Trosky. She has drawn upon her own experiences in divorce to to develop a program specifically for women going through this very difficult time.

Dealing with Difficult People and Situations in Divorce

Awhile back I found myself in the spin cycle. Unable to maintain my focus, feeling anxious, overwhelmed and powerless, I had not been my normal willing-to-take-on-the-world, get-shit-done, spunky self.

There was this situation. A situation involving a certain someone. And I had no control over the situation or that person.

I used to try to make peace with difficult situations and people by chanting in my head, “I have no control over this.”

But that only left me feeling anxious and more confused as to why I didn’t feel totally peaceful. I remember pondering the situation when I was hit with one of those AH-HA! moments.

If you’re dealing with a challenging situation and/or person and you have tried the I-have-no-control tactic, there’s something you need to know:

You’re focused on the wrong issue.

It isn’t about control.

Control is an illusion. In this mighty and powerful universe of incomprehensible miracles, thinking that control is even a possibility is only a way to drive yourself crazy and leave you feeling frustrated, powerless and maybe even a little depressed.

In fact, something really interesting happens when you think it’s about control. External forces (that is, anything outside of you such as circumstances and other people) can seem bigger and more powerful than you are. Like they have control instead of (and maybe even over) you.

That’s because if you believe it’s about control and you don’t have it, someone or something else must, right?

Oy! Now there’s the rub. But luckily, it isn’t true.

The truth is there is no control.

Now, trust me, I really resisted getting on board with this idea at first, but something kept calling me back.

I realized that I had been equating control with power. That’s why my mental chanting “I have no control” made me feel anxious and uncomfortable.

The “I have no control” mentality was actually undermining my sense of power and confidence. If your sense of power is in any way equated with control, using the I-have-no-control tactic will leave you in the spin cycle. It’s kind of a hopeless, wringing your hands, what-am-I-gonna-do-about-this feeling. And, quite frankly, it sucks.

If you’re ready to start feeling powerful, if you’re ready to face difficult situations and people from a place of power, stop focusing on what you don’t have and focus on what you do have.

Choice.

Choice is the antithesis of control. It is kind, it is open-ended, it is powerful and it is there to help you.

And it’s available in many different great tasting flavors. You have the power to choose your attitude which gives you the power to choose your responses, your actions, and your intentions.

Choice gives you exactly what you need to deal with difficult situations and people in your way and on your terms.

Now that you know that control is a myth and choice is where your power lives, you can approach each challenging situation knowing that they aren’t any bigger or more powerful than you.

Power isn’t about lording something over someone or making them submit. Power is about taking responsibility and ownership of your situation. It’s about self confidence and trust in yourself and your abilities. Just as other people and circumstances have no power over you, you have no power over them.

When you feel powerful, the confidence that radiates from you changes the way you approach everything. Instead of focusing on the frustration of fixing problems, you start focusing on the expansion of creating solutions. The door to a world of possibilities swings wide open and what was once difficult becomes easier.

That’s what it did for me. Now I want to hear from you. What do you think? How does this change the way you think and feel about a challenging situation or person? How might this change the way you deal with difficult people and situations? What do you need to understand more deeply to put this in play in your life? How can I help you?

Peace out,

Theresa

Theresa Trosky specializes in helping women transform the emotional turbulence of divorce into the power to lead their divorces and their lives with courage and confidence. She is a Master Certified Life Coach, Divorce Coach, writer, speaker and teacher. Shocked by how scared, lost and alone she felt during her own divorce, she dedicated herself to learning how to create a happy, successful life, not in spite of divorce, but because of it. Her humble mission is to save the world by empowering every divorced woman to live life on her own terms, to play as big as her dreams and to create a rich, full life as an expression of her true self. For details on the Empowered by Divorce Program or upcoming workshops, contact Theresa at theresatrosky@gmail.com.

 

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Help! How to Divorce Without a Lawyer

Q. Help! How to Divorce without a lawyer? I have run out of money, and my lawyer has withdrawn. What are my options now?

Welcome to the majority! More than 80% of individuals in Maricopa County represent themselves in family court.

While the reasons are varied, most people represent themselves because they cannot afford, or do not want to spend, the money necessary to hire an attorney. Smart, educated individuals are asking themselves, should I spent my children’s’ college fund for my divorce, or should I represent my own interests?

Now that you are among the majority of people representing themselves, rest assured you can turn to Access Legal for assistance and information as you become your own Legal Ninja. Access Legal offers customized and professional documents for every aspect of your Maricopa County family law case.

Help Without the Huge Cost

Access Legal will also provide you with a professional network of private investigators, process servers, business valuators, financial analysts, attorneys and more. After talking about self-representation, why would you want an attorney? Some people opt to receive help with the more complex elements of their case. This is called limited scope legal services.  Limited scope legal services allow you to hire the attorney for pieces of your case that you would like assistance with.

Access Legal will provide you with referrals to attorneys who will give you a free consultation and limited scope legal services thereafter. Consulting periodically with an attorney while you represent yourself is an excellent idea for most individuals.

The bottom line is that you are now in control of your budget and your case. There are pros and cons to self-representation, and the best candidates are organized, informed, and level-headed. Peruse the resources on Access Legal, and let us know if you would like to schedule with a certified legal document preparer.

Seven Misconceptions about AZ Child Support

AZ Child Support

One of the most difficult tasks for a family law attorney is overcoming all the myths and misconceptions surrounding divorce and AZ Child Support. Clients will hear stories from friends and family member’s divorces, not realizing they’re rarely getting the full story including all extenuating circumstances of the other situation – after all, emotionally charged events are rarely recalled perfectly. If you base your case on hearsay, you could end up having to do even more paperwork or even having to involve an attorney when you would rather self-represent.

Thus, our local Maricopa family law attorney Billie Tarascio has compiled a list of misconceptions about child support laws in Arizona. Read these to start your case off with accurate information so you can pursue the best outcome for you and your family. Get the calculator here.

Remarriage and Child Support Modification

This might be hard to swallow, but just because your ex marries someone with a considerably higher income doesn’t mean your child support expenses will decrease. The new spouse and his or her income has zero relevance to you and your ex’s child support agreement.

Equal Parenting Time

Many believe that if each parent is spending an equal amount of time parenting, then child support is voided. False. Parenting time is taken into account, but is not the only influence. Things like income, insurance, child costs, and other things are all considered when calculating child support.

Recently Unemployed

So you lost your job, but you already entered your child support. There are rules about waiting one year before you can modify some legal decisions, like parenting time, but child support is not one of them. You can ask the court for a modification at any time if you encounter a problem that would change your child support obligation by 15% or more.

Going to Prison

Prison, alone, does not excuse your child support duty. Because of this common misconception, there are many individuals released from prison with thousands of dollars of debt to child support. The only way to receive a suspension or reduction on your payments is to file for a modification with the court.

Written Agreements vs. Filing with the Court

When it comes to legal matters, filing the correct documents is vital. Child support can be a roller coaster of changes, but just submitting a written agreement between you and your spouse runs the risk of being ignored by the court. Parents must fill out a stipulation form and file that with the court. The costs of filing this form now may seem high, but in reality are minimal compared to the charges that will come up later if filing is done incorrectly.

Child Support Calculator

The child support calculator is only a reference when deciding costs. There are several circumstances that can deviate you away from the suggested amount. The child support calculator does not take into consideration things like your child’s trust account or their therapy needs; therefore the court can modify expenses according to these conditions.

A Fair Amount

The judge does not have to accept any proposed child support amount, even if you and your ex agreed it was fair. The judge will decide what is best for both parties and will also take the child into consideration.

Some parents may receive state assistance, like food stamps. These cases are referred to as IV-D, which means not only are both parents a party in the case, but the state is as well. To avoid conflict, the dependent parent must include the state as a party and serve them with a copy of everything so reimbursement to the other parent can occur.