Beginning January 1, 2013, the Court will no longer use the term “sole custody” or “joint custody.”  Instead, the Court will use “sole and joint legal decision-making.” The relevant definitions are set forth in A.R.S. § 25-401: 2. "Joint legal decision-making" means both parents share decision-making and neither parent's rights or responsibilities are superior except with respect to specified decisions as set forth by the court or the parents in the final judgment or order. 3. "Legal … [Read more...]

Mediation May Save Twinkies

USA Today News reported in a November 19, 2012 article entitled:  “Long Live Twinkies? Hostess, Union to Mediate” that Hostess Brands and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union are going to mediate their dispute. The union members have been on strike since November 9, 2012 resulting in Hostess Brands’ decision to file for bankruptcy. The wise bankruptcy Judge, Robert Drain, asked the Union’s attorney if his client would agree to mediate (mediation is a … [Read more...]

A Recent Review of Family Law Mediation in Arizona

Mediation is a way to minimize the pain, anxiety and cost associated with a litigated divorce (or other family law matters).  The mediator works with the parties to reach an agreement out of Court.  With a full agreement, neither party has to set foot in a courtroom.  Mediation is successful most of the time; even spouses experiencing high conflict can successfully utilize mediation. If you are still unsure whether mediating your family law dispute is the right choice for you, read some … [Read more...]

Do We Have To Be In The Same Room to do a Mediation

In most of the family mediations I conduct, the parties are in the same room throughout the process.  However, when a party requests it, or if the dynamic between the parties is too hostile or uncomfortable, the parties can stay in different rooms for some or all of the mediation. There are pros and cons for being in the same room during the mediation.  One recent mediation participant had this to say about the issue:  “I was in the same airspace with my wife so there was no confusion over … [Read more...]

The New York Times Embraces Mediation To End Dispute

The New York Times is in a contract dispute with the Newspaper Guild of New York.  The parties have agreed to mediate their dispute.  An article entitled “New York Times Turns To Mediation To Break Contract Deadlock" by Katherine Fung, published on October 10, 2012 in The Huffington Post describes how the parties agreed to mediation on the heels of a employee walkout and management’s sudden termination of a negotiation session. Donald G. McNeil Jr., who has been active in the conflict, stated … [Read more...]

Why It May Make Sense to Mediate When One Party is Behind on Child Support

Whether you are the party who is not current on his/her child support obligation, or the party who is due the funds, there may be very good reasons to mediate the matter and reach an agreement out of court. First, I will address the party who owes the money:  There can be very serious consequences to not paying child support.  If the other party (or the Department of Economic Security, if it is involved), files an enforcement action or contempt action, and the Court finds you had the ability … [Read more...]

Do I Have to Respond to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Arizona?

If you were served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or a Petition for Legal Separation (hereinafter “Petition”), ignoring it may result in unfair or otherwise undesirable orders. If you fail to formerly respond to the Petition within 20 calendar days of service (or within 30 days, if you were served outside of Arizona), your spouse could file an Application and Affidavit of Default.  You should receive a copy of this document in the mail.  If you fail to respond to the Petition … [Read more...]

Division of Debt in an Arizona Divorce

As a general rule, spouses are responsible for each other’s debts.  A.R.S. § 25-214(C).  The law presumes that debts incurred during a marriage are community debts, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.  See Hofmann Co. v. Meisner, 17 Ariz. 263, 267, 497 P.2d 83, 86 (1972).  A debt is considered community if it was intended to benefit the community (even if the primary intent was not to benefit the community).  Cardinal & Stachel, P.C. v. Curtiss, 225 Ariz. 381,384, 238 P.3d … [Read more...]

Failure To Comply With A Contractual Requirement To Mediate May Bar Claim For Attorney’s Fees

On June 7, 2012, the Third District Court of Appeals in California ruled that a failure to participate in mediation prevented a prevailing party from recovering attorney’s fees and costs.  Cullen v. Corwin, 2012 DJDAR 7533 (2012). The case addressed a real estate dispute involving the alleged failure to disclose a defective roof.  The parties utilized a standard form purchase agreement, which included the language that a party who: “commences an action without first attempting to resolve the … [Read more...]

At What Age Can Children In Arizona Decide Where They Want To Live?

Parents of divorced or separated parents often want to know when their children can decide where they want to live.  In fact, Arizona has no “magic age” at which the children can choose their own parenting time schedule. The Court does consider the wishes of the children in determining custody and parental access.  The Court has the authority to interview the children or have court personnel or a private custody evaluator interview the children.  Parents can request such an … [Read more...]

Alona M. Gottfried, Esq.
8160 E Butherus Dr, Suite #7 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Phone: (480) 776-8271