Spousal maintenance (often referred to as alimony) is a payment, generally monthly, from one divorced spouse to the other. For a Maricopa County court to award spousal maintenance, divorcing spouses must be married for at least 3-4 years and there must be a meaningful disparity in income or potential income.
The legislature believed that the public did not understand what the word “custody” meant. Many confuse “custody” with “parenting time”. “Parenting time” refers to the actual time a parent spends with children, and it is the focus for most parents. “Custody” refers to legal decision making for the children related to medical, educational and to some extent, religious decisions. The legislature thought that changing “custody” to “legal decision making” would clarify the term for the public.
I have received many phone calls over the past few months from clients, friends and colleagues about child custody and parenting time issues. As I explained to them, while parents are married, they both have the right to custody of their children. There can be no court order regarding legal custody and/or parenting time until a dissolution, paternity, or custody action is filed with the Court.
These days, family members, including step-parents and extended family members play a large role in raising our children. If families are broken up as a result of a divorce, the children are often left in a position of losing their relationship with the newly bonded family. In Arizona, people who have acted in a parental role to a child, whether or not they are biologically related to the child, may under certain circumstances petition for and be granted custody and/or visitation with the child, under a legal theory known as the role of “in loco parentis.”