Sandra Bullock and Jesse James Finalize Divorce

June 29, 2010 by Alexander D. Nirenstein  
Filed under Family Court

The pair filed divorce papers under seal last week in Texas to finalize their divorce after their nearly five-year marriage crumbled amid reports of cheating by James, PEOPLE confirms.

The Oscar-winning actress, 45, initiated the divorce case in April in Texas, where she has a home. The papers cited "discord or conflict of personalities" as the reason for the split.

Bullock's rep confirmed Monday that the divorce is now final.

Though it's unclear if the two had a prenuptial agreement, James won't be entitled to spousal support since in Texas a spouse must be married for at least 10 years to qualify for support.  In Arizona, there is no similar time requirement for a spouse to be entitled to spousal support, or as it is sometimes referred to as spousal maintenance and/or alimony.

Medical Pot Can Cost Parents in Custody Disputes

June 21, 2010 by Alexander D. Nirenstein  
Filed under Family Court

Gene Johnson of the AP, discusses the family court's handling in various states of a parent's use of medical pot and their custody cases. This isse is becoming more and more newsworthy lately.

NGS Wishes Attorney Brian D. Carroll, Esq. “All The Best”

June 10, 2010 by Alexander D. Nirenstein  
Filed under Family Court

It is with great sadness and also joy that Nirenstein Garnice Soderquist PLC (NGS) announces the departure of Brian D. Carroll, Esq., an associate attorney with the firm, whose practice primarly focused on divorce and family court matters.  Mr. Carroll began his legal career with NGS in its summer law clerk internship program and continued as an attorney after his admission to the State Bar of Arizona.

Mr. Carroll and his wife are relocating to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania so that Mrs. Carroll may begin her two-year residence program in pediatric dentistry.  Mr. Carroll will be sitting for the Pennsylvania Bar Examination this summer and expects to be practicing law in Pennsylvania by the end of 2010.

All of us at NGS wish Brian and his wife all the best in their future endeavors, and provide our heartfelt thanks and respect to Mr. Carroll  for all the tireless effort and work that he has put forth on behalf of the Firm's clients in which representation he was involved. He will be missed.


Arizona Court of Appeals Rules on TDRL Benefits in Arizona Divorce Case

June 10, 2010 by Alexander D. Nirenstein  
Filed under Family Court

In Davies v. Beres, FC 2007-091006, Husband appealed the decision of the family court which concluded that post-dissolution military Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) benefits were partially community property, subject to apportionment. The Court of Appeals, Division One, concluded that TDRL benefits are the separate property of the disabled spouse. In this case, Husband and Wife were married approximately 11 years. During the marriage, Husband served in the United States Air Force, accumulating 121 months of service.

Husband maintained Wife had no interest in his TDRL benefits because he was ineligible for retirement for longevity, he was not retired and his status on TDRL was temporary. Wife believed she was entitled to a percentage of the TDRL benefits based on the fixed formula in the divorce Decree. The Court of Appeals found:

Although neither Williamson nor Thomas addresses the
first formula available to calculate TDRL benefits, we find the
cases persuasive. Both cases concluded the USFSPA, 10 U.S.C. §
1408(a)(4)(C), prevented their respective courts from dividing
TDRL benefits as marital property when the benefits were
21 calculated based upon percentage of disability. Williamson, 205
P.3d at 542; Thomas, 286 S.W.3d at 666. We agree with that
conclusion. To the extent Husband’s TDRL benefits could have
been calculated pursuant to the first formula, we decline to
find such benefits constitute community property for the reasons
previously explained. Accordingly, we vacate the family court’s
order awarding Wife an interest in Husband’s TDRL benefits.

For more information on Arizona community propertly law see ourwebsite.

Recent Legislation

May 13, 2010 by Alexander D. Nirenstein  
Filed under Family Court

Arizona Bills passed affecting divorce and child custody law include:

  1. The Court must now make specific findings regarding its disposition of community property and debts;
  2. The court is prohibited from awarding sole legal custody unless a finding is made that a parent is unfit or incapable of being a parent (unless both parents agree to sole legal custody);
  3. The court must make specific findings in its rulings regarding parental fitness, parenting time and custody;
  4. While the statute now creates a presumption that joint legal custody is in the best interests of children, it does not create a presumption of joint physical (i.e. 50-50 parenting time) custody.

For more information, see SB1314.

Bankruptcy Does Not Releive Spouse From Paying Alimony or Parent From Paying Child Support

May 13, 2010 by Alexander D. Nirenstein  
Filed under Family Court

During these difficult economic times, and especially in Arizona, divorce attorneys often hear from  clients that their spouse or significant other has told them “You won’t get one dime of alimony. I’ll file for bankruptcy first.” The threat has been repeated countless times.

Don't buy into it.  Neither alimony obligations nor child support obligations can be changed by a bankruptcy court from what family court ordered.

However, to be safe many bankruptcy attorneys recommend filing a nondischargeability complaint in the bankruptcy case to ensure notice and protection of the receiving spouse’s interests.

And if there are arrearages in support, the spouse who is owed back-support is actually at the top of the list of creditors. Back support obligations come off the top of the “bankruptcy estate” (what the bankrupt spouse has left).

For more information, check out the article written by Sally Heirgstad, "Bankruptcy doesn't absolve spousal support payments."

Judge Rules in Interfaith Custody Dispute

April 16, 2010 by Alexander D. Nirenstein  
Filed under Family Court

A judge has ruled that a father may take his 3-year-old daughter to Mass even though her mother is raising her Jewish.

Ilinois Judge Renee Goldfarb said this week that Joseph Reyes may take his daughter to "church services during his visita- tion time if he so chooses" and that he have visitation rights every Christmas and Easter. Likewise, the order stipulated that Rebecca Reyes always have their daughter on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Passover.

Goldfarb refused to bar Reyes from taking his daughter to church as long as no evidence exists that it would harm the child. Although Rebecca Reyes said that contrary religious teachings could confuse the preschooler, Goldfarb avoided doctrinal questions, saying it was not the court's place "to focus on or attempt to interpret or judge official religious doctrines."

"She is 3 years old and, according to Joseph, while at church, she waves at the other children, looks around and giggles," Goldfarb wrote. "This court found that testimony credible."

Rebecca Reyes said her husband, raised Roman Catholic, converted to Judaism after their marriage and agreed to raise their daughter in the Jewish faith. He said they agreed to raise her in a secular home, expose her to both faiths and let her decide.

Tuesday's ruling in the divorce proceeding between Joseph and Rebecca Reyes lifts restrictions placed on Joseph Reyes last year that barred him from exposing his daughter to any non-Jewish religious activity.

The injunction was imposed after Reyes sent photos of their daughter being baptized to his estranged wife, who had not known about the baptism.

A judge will rule later this month whether Reyes should stand trial for contempt after allegedly defying the injunction and, in December, asking television news crews to film him taking his daughter to Mass.

Reyes, a law student, said he defied the order because it was unconstitutional.

"Joseph compared himself to Rosa Parks," Goldfarb said. "Joseph Reyes is no Rosa Parks."

Joseph and Rebecca Reyes were married in October 2004, and split four years later. Rebecca Reyes was granted sole custody of their daughter last year.

Proposed Amendments to Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure

April 14, 2010 by Alexander D. Nirenstein  
Filed under Family Court

A Petition to amend Rules 5.1, 47, 67(b), 69, 74 AND 78 of the ARIZONA RULES OF FAMILY LAW PROCEDURE has been filed.  The amendments would, among other things, provide procedure for consolidation of dependency and child custody proceedings; make non-parent child custody cases susceptible to temporary orders; preclude attorneys from attenting parenting coordinator meeting; and make offer of judgment pursuant to Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure inapplicable to family law cases. 

Full Petition.


Recent Ruling: Enforceabilty of Aizona Tape-Recorded Rule 69 Agreements in Divorce and Family Law Cases

April 12, 2010 by Alexander D. Nirenstein  
Filed under Family Court

In Reeder v. Johnson, Husband appealed from the trial court's denial of his motion for new trial and challenges the court's approval of an Arizona Rule of Family Law Procedure 69 ("Rule 69") settlement agreement in a divorce action. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded.

Relevant Facts: 

Parties attended mediation with mediator acting "as a paid, private mediator".  Mediator was on superior court's approved list to serve as a judge pro tem at the time mediation took place, but he was not assigned by the court to act in this particular case.

Parties reached an agreement and then agreed to use mediator as a judge pro tem to place a Rule 69 on the record using a tape recorder as the recording device. Husband later filed an objection to notice of lodging and motion to set aside the Rule 69 agreement arguing that the division of property was not equitable and that the decree did not conform to the Rule 69 agreement.  The court overruled Husband's objection and signed the decree.

Applicable Law:

Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, Rule 69 provides for two types of agreements in family law matters that are binding: (1) written agreement between the parties, and (2) agreements made or confirmed on the record before a person authorized to accept such agreements, including a judge pro tempore of other person authorized by local rule. 


The appeals court agreed that "on the record" does not require that the agreement must be made orally in open court, and that "[t]he agreement merely must be memorialized by an authorized recording device", and therefore the agreement was properly "on the record".  However, the court further held that in this situation, the mediator was not authorized to accept the agreement under Rule 69 because he was not appointed by the court as a judge pro tem in this case at the time the agreement was entered into.  In other words, the parties agreement is not enough, an assignment must be made by the court.



Former ‘Jon & Kate’ star Jon Gosselin files for primary custody of kids

April 8, 2010 by Alexander D. Nirenstein  
Filed under Family Court

Arizona Child Custody Lawyers

According to TMZ, John Gosselin has formally begun his quest for primary custody of his eight children with ex-wife Kate Gosselin.

The former Jon & Kate Plus 8 patriarch filed the legal papers requesting primary physical custody on Wednesday in Berks County, PA family court, according to a copy of the documents obtained by TMZ.

In addition, Jon has also requested a judge review the current child support arrangement -- claiming an arbitrator in the couple's divorce filing "failed to take into consideration the numerous factors provided for by the law in Pennsylvania," according to the documents.

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