Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C.

We are a family owned and operated company providing personalized services in certified legal document preparation. We also have affordable solutions for you to obtain legal advice from attorneys. Our prices are the best in the valley compared with any of the well-established competitive companies offering the same services. We also provide private investigations through Arizona Private Investigations, a subdivision of Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C., specializing in surveillance and family law cases. Kellie DiCarlo, co-owner and designated principal, has over 19 years of legal experience. Additionally, our paralegals received most of their experience and training from working with attorneys.

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Our Document Preparation Services:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Family Law
Divorce Without Children
Divorce With Children
Establish Paternity, Custody, Parenting Time and/or Child Support
Modify Custody, Parenting Time and/or Child Support Emergency and Temporary Orders Trial Preparation Stop Orders Enforcement of Court Orders LLC Formation Amendments Statutory Agent Real Estate Quit Claim Deed Civil Name Change Small Claims Justice Court Superior Court Discovery Requests and Responses Garnishments

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Kellie DiCarlo Kellie began her career as a legal secretary at Wiggin & Nourie in Nashua, New Hampshire in February 1993 where she supported a partner in complex transactional work relating to large commercial financings, restructurings and bankruptcy proceedings. Additionally, she supported attorneys in handling trustee work for Chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcy cases while managing a team of seven secretaries and fourteen attorneys. She moved to Arizona in October 1995 and was promoted to the position of paralegal. As a paralegal, Kellie has since assisted attorneys in the areas of civil, commercial, employment, personal injury, insurance litigation, securities arbitration, corporate law, intellectual property and family law. She is responsible for supervising all legal document preparers at Arizona Legal Document Services, LLC and is certified by the Arizona Supreme Court as a CLDP. Kellie also served in the U.S. Navy from 1986 to 1992 and was stationed in Rota, Spain.
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FORMATION OF LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY (LLC) - $325*
Check Name Availability
Articles of Organization

Consent of Statutory Agent
Employer Identification Number
Affidavit of Publication
*This price includes the required publication and filing fees.   

We may also serve as your statutory agent. Please call us for more information or to schedule an appointment. 480-307-9306
We take care of every step for you, including filing your articles with the Arizona Corporation Commission, publishing and applying for your EIN. 
WE CAN MEET WITH YOU IN PERSON AT OUR OFFICES IN DOWNTOWN MESA, BY PHONE, SKYPE OR FACETIME.

FORMATION OF LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY (LLC) - $325*

Check Name Availability

Articles of Organization

Consent of Statutory Agent

Employer Identification Number

Affidavit of Publication

*This price includes the required publication and filing fees.  

We may also serve as your statutory agent. Please call us for more information or to schedule an appointment. 480-307-9306

We take care of every step for you, including filing your articles with the Arizona Corporation Commission, publishing and applying for your EIN. 

WE CAN MEET WITH YOU IN PERSON AT OUR OFFICES IN DOWNTOWN MESA, BY PHONE, SKYPE OR FACETIME.

Trial Preparation for People Not Represented by an Attorney
by Kellie DiCarlo


It is always best to meet pretrial deadlines and attend trial with an experienced family law attorney. If you are seeking counsel, please call our offices at 480-307-9306 for a referral. Unfortunately, some people cannot afford an attorney and face their pretrial deadlines and trial alone. What are pretrial deadlines?Any deadlines that must be met prior to trial. To determine the deadlines in your case, carefully read the Judge’s minute entry setting the trial as Judge’s pretrial deadlines may vary. Typically, there are disclosure and pretrial deadlines and a deadline to deliver your exhibits to the Judge’s office for marking.DisclosureThis deadline is again, typically, 30 days prior to trial. Disclosure is when you provide the other party a list of your witnesses and what they are expected to testify about and a list of the exhibits with copies of the exhibits you plan to use at trial.Pretrial StatementPretrial Statement may be joint or separate depending on what is ordered in the Judge’s minute entry setting the trial and includes the following information:a.     The nature of the action;b.     The names and address of the parties, if not confidential;c.     Names and dates of birth of the parties’ minor children;d.     The length of the trial if shorter than that scheduled by the Court;e.     A list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses intended to be used by each party during the trial, indicating witnesses whose testimony will be received by deposition only. Each party shall list any objections to a witness and the basis for that objection.f.     A list of the exhibits that each party intends to use at trial, specifying exhibits that the parties agree are admissible at trial, or if not in agreement, a list of objections and the specific grounds for each objection that a party will make if the exhibit is offered at trial.g.     Stipulations or agreements of the parties;h.     A statement of uncontested facts;i.      Detailed and concise statements of contested issues of fact and law by each party;j.     A statement by each party that all pretrial discovery and disclosure has been completed by the trial date and that the parties have exchanged all exhibits and reports of expert witnesses who have been listed as witnesses;k.    A statement as to whether the parties have in good faith discussed settlement, and if not, the reasons for not discussing settlement;l.     A statement by each party on how a verbatim record of the trial will be made.Pretrial Statements are required to be filed, delivered to the judge and mailed to any other parties involved with the case typically 1 week prior to trial. Again, carefully read the minute entry or court order setting your trial.ExhibitsThe minute entry or Court order setting the trial will set forth the deadline to deliver the exhibits to the Judge’s office and the format in which the Judge wants the exhibits. For example, inserting colored sheets between the exhibits. Often times, the deadline to deliver the exhibits is one week prior to trial. A set of exhibits must be provided to the other party’s counsel or other party, if not represented by counsel.The Judge may have other pretrial requirements. To ensure full compliance, carefully read your minute entry or court order that sets the trial.

The information provided is based on Arizona family court procedures and specifically to the Maricopa County Superior Court. 

For more information, please visit the website for Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C.
http://www.arizonalegaldocs.com/arizona-divorce.asp


 
You may contact Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. by phone at 480-307-9306 or by email at:
 
kellie@arizonalegaldocs.com

Trial Preparation for People Not Represented by an Attorney

by Kellie DiCarlo

It is always best to meet pretrial deadlines and attend trial with an experienced family law attorney. If you are seeking counsel, please call our offices at 480-307-9306 for a referral. Unfortunately, some people cannot afford an attorney and face their pretrial deadlines and trial alone. 

What are pretrial deadlines?

Any deadlines that must be met prior to trial. To determine the deadlines in your case, carefully read the Judge’s minute entry setting the trial as Judge’s pretrial deadlines may vary. Typically, there are disclosure and pretrial deadlines and a deadline to deliver your exhibits to the Judge’s office for marking.

Disclosure

This deadline is again, typically, 30 days prior to trial. Disclosure is when you provide the other party a list of your witnesses and what they are expected to testify about and a list of the exhibits with copies of the exhibits you plan to use at trial.

Pretrial Statement

Pretrial Statement may be joint or separate depending on what is ordered in the Judge’s minute entry setting the trial and includes the following information:

a.     The nature of the action;
b.     The names and address of the parties, if not confidential;
c.     Names and dates of birth of the parties’ minor children;
d.     The length of the trial if shorter than that scheduled by the Court;
e.     A list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses intended to be used by each party during the trial, indicating witnesses whose testimony will be received by deposition only. Each party shall list any objections to a witness and the basis for that objection.
f.     A list of the exhibits that each party intends to use at trial, specifying exhibits that the parties agree are admissible at trial, or if not in agreement, a list of objections and the specific grounds for each objection that a party will make if the exhibit is offered at trial.
g.     Stipulations or agreements of the parties;
h.     A statement of uncontested facts;
i.      Detailed and concise statements of contested issues of fact and law by each party;
j.     A statement by each party that all pretrial discovery and disclosure has been completed by the trial date and that the parties have exchanged all exhibits and reports of expert witnesses who have been listed as witnesses;
k.    A statement as to whether the parties have in good faith discussed settlement, and if not, the reasons for not discussing settlement;
l.     A statement by each party on how a verbatim record of the trial will be made.

Pretrial Statements are required to be filed, delivered to the judge and mailed to any other parties involved with the case typically 1 week prior to trial. Again, carefully read the minute entry or court order setting your trial.

Exhibits

The minute entry or Court order setting the trial will set forth the deadline to deliver the exhibits to the Judge’s office and the format in which the Judge wants the exhibits. For example, inserting colored sheets between the exhibits. Often times, the deadline to deliver the exhibits is one week prior to trial. A set of exhibits must be provided to the other party’s counsel or other party, if not represented by counsel.

The Judge may have other pretrial requirements. To ensure full compliance, carefully read your minute entry or court order that sets the trial.



The information provided is based on Arizona family court procedures and specifically to the Maricopa County Superior Court. 

For more information, please visit the website for Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C.
 
You may contact Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. by phone at 480-307-9306 or by email at:
 
When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.Cranky Old ManWhat do you see nurses? ……What do you see?What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?A cranky old man, … …not very wise,Uncertain of habit .… … . .. with faraway eyes?Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’Who seems not to notice …the things that you do.And forever is losing … …… A sock or shoe?Who, resisting or not … … lets you do as you will,With bathing and feeding … .The long day to fill?Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.I’ll tell you who I am … . .. As I sit here so still,As I do at your bidding, .… . as I eat at your will.I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,Brothers and sisters .… .. . who love one anotherA young boy of Sixteen … .. with wings on his feetDreaming that soon now …… a lover he’ll meet.A groom soon at Twenty … ..my heart gives a leap.Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.At Twenty-Five, now … . .I have young of my own.Who need me to guide … And a secure happy home.A man of Thirty . .… . . My young now grown fast,Bound to each other …. With ties that should last.At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ‘round my knee,Again, we know children … . My loved one and me.Dark days are upon me … . My wife is now dead.I look at the future … … . I shudder with dread.For my young are all rearing .… young of their own.And I think of the years … And the love that I’ve known.I’m now an old man … … .. and nature is cruel.It’s jest to make old age … … . look like a fool.The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigor, depart.There is now a stone … where I once had a heart.But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,And now and again … . . my battered heart swellsI remember the joys … . .. . I remember the pain.And I’m loving and living … … . life over again.I think of the years, all too few …. gone too fast.And accept the stark fact … that nothing can last.So open your eyes, people .… . .… open and see.Not a cranky old man .Look closer … . see .. .…. …. . ME!!Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!(originally by Phyllis McCormack; adapted by Dave Griffith)The best and most beautiful things of this world can’t be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart!

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? ……What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, … …not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .… … . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice …the things that you do.
And forever is losing … …… A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not … … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding … .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am … . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .… . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .… .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen … .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now …… a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty … ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now … . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide … And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .… . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other …. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ‘round my knee,
Again, we know children … . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me … . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … … . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .… young of their own.
And I think of the years … And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man … … .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age … … . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone … where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again … . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys … . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living … … . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few …. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact … that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .… . .… open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer … . see .. .…. …. . ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!

(originally by Phyllis McCormack; adapted by Dave Griffith)

The best and most beautiful things of this world can’t be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart!

Happy New Year from Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C.

Happy New Year from Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Haha. Love them all. 

A Consent Decree is basically an agreement when all terms of the divorce are agreed to by the parties. 
 
Step 1: Initiating the Case
 
All cases start the same by initiating the action. The initial documents are prepared, reviewed, revised and signed by the Petitioner, the person initiating the case, and filed with the Court. The Petitioner will either pay the required filing fee, or file an application to defer or waive the filing fee, at the time of filing the initial documents.
 
Step 2: Service
 
The next step is to serve the documents filed with the Court. Service is accomplished by one of the following methods:
 
Process Server
Acceptance of Service
Certified Mail and an Affidavit of Service by Certified Mail 
Publication (used as a last resort when you cannot locate the other party for service) 
 
Step 3: Parenting Class
 
A parenting class is required to be taken in accordance with the Order and Notice to Attend Parent Information Program Class, filed with the initial case documents, within 45 days from the date the Respondent is served with, or accepts service, of the Petition.Step
 
3: Wait for the Response Time to Pass
 
Step 4:  Parties Review and Sign the Consent Decree 
 
The parties will review, revise and sign the Consent Decree and other required documents. Respondent’s filing fee is paid or an application to defer or waive the filing fee is filed with the court. 
 There is also a 60 day waiting period for divorce in Arizona pursuant to state law. This period begins the day after service. The parties may sign the Consent Decree prior to the expiration of the 60 days but the Consent Decree and other required documents cannot be submitted to the Court until after the 60 day deadline has passed.   
 Step 5: Submission of Consent Decree to the Court 
The Consent Decree and other required documents are submitted to the Court with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for each party. Once the Court signs and files the documents, a set is mailed to each party directly from the Court. The divorce is final at this point.  
 
The information provided is based on Arizona family court procedures. This information is strictly informational and not legal advice. If legal advice is required, please consult with an attorney. Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. has references available for family law attorneys.
 
For more information, please visit the website for Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C.
 
http://www.arizonalegaldocs.com/arizona-divorce.asp
 
You may contact Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. by phone at 480-307-9306 or by email at:
 
kellie@arizonalegaldocs.com
 

A Consent Decree is basically an agreement when all terms of the divorce are agreed to by the parties. 

 

Step 1: Initiating the Case

 

All cases start the same by initiating the action. The initial documents are prepared, reviewed, revised and signed by the Petitioner, the person initiating the case, and filed with the Court. The Petitioner will either pay the required filing fee, or file an application to defer or waive the filing fee, at the time of filing the initial documents.

 

Step 2: Service

 

The next step is to serve the documents filed with the Court. Service is accomplished by one of the following methods:

 

Process Server

Acceptance of Service

Certified Mail and an Affidavit of Service by Certified Mail 

Publication (used as a last resort when you cannot locate the other party for service) 

 

Step 3: Parenting Class

 

A parenting class is required to be taken in accordance with the Order and Notice to Attend Parent Information Program Class, filed with the initial case documents, within 45 days from the date the Respondent is served with, or accepts service, of the Petition.Step

 

3: Wait for the Response Time to Pass

 

Step 4:  Parties Review and Sign the Consent Decree 

 

The parties will review, revise and sign the Consent Decree and other required documents. Respondent’s filing fee is paid or an application to defer or waive the filing fee is filed with the court. 


There is also a 60 day waiting period for divorce in Arizona pursuant to state law. This period begins the day after service. The parties may sign the Consent Decree prior to the expiration of the 60 days but the Consent Decree and other required documents cannot be submitted to the Court until after the 60 day deadline has passed.   


Step 5: Submission of Consent Decree to the Court 


The Consent Decree and other required documents are submitted to the Court with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for each party. Once the Court signs and files the documents, a set is mailed to each party directly from the Court. The divorce is final at this point.  

 

The information provided is based on Arizona family court procedures. This information is strictly informational and not legal advice. If legal advice is required, please consult with an attorney. Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. has references available for family law attorneys.

 

For more information, please visit the website for Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C.

 

http://www.arizonalegaldocs.com/arizona-divorce.asp

 

You may contact Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. by phone at 480-307-9306 or by email at:

 

kellie@arizonalegaldocs.com

 

Personality Disorder Diagnoses in Family and Divorce Court: Pros and Cons
http://www.shrink4men.com/2011/03/25/personality-disorder-diagnoses-in-court-pros-and-cons/

Personality Disorder Diagnoses in Family and Divorce Court: Pros and Cons

http://www.shrink4men.com/2011/03/25/personality-disorder-diagnoses-in-court-pros-and-cons/

All Or Nothing: AZ Same Sex Couples and Legal Decision Making Over Their Kids

by Stefano Ceroni from Hernandez Family Law
More and more frequently, our practice is seeing cases involving same-sex couples who are going through the process of separation.  Generally speaking, because Arizona law does not recognize same-sex marriage, there is not much legal protection afforded to these couples.  As a result, there is usually little that can be achieved by way of the courts when it comes to the parties’ separation.
For example, because same-sex couples cannot achieve marital status in the state, they are not offered any of the benefits of Arizona community property law. In other words, an Arizona family law court will not help the parties distribute their property or make any findings regarding spousal maintenance.  Unfortunately, as a result of this hands-off approach, same-sex couples are often left to their own devices for resolving their post-breakup disputes.
The problem, however, is that sometimes the separation issues regarding same-sex couples involve more than just property and money, they involve children.  In fact, with the advent of reproductive technology and the proliferation of single-parent adoption, more and more same-sex couples are cooperatively raising children together.  As a result, when same-sex couples decide to go their separate ways, there is usually an intense dispute over which party is entitled to parental rights.
How Do You Define Who a “Legal Parent” Is?
According to Arizona law, a “legal parent” is defined as a biological or adoptive parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.  This definition is significant to Arizona same-sex couples for two (2) reasons.  First, and most obvious, because same-sex couples cannot both be genetically related to the child, it logically follows that only one of the parties could potentially have parental rights as a result of biology.  Second, because Arizona law only permits joint adoptions to couples defined as “husband and wife,” same-sex couples are barred from mutually adopting a single child.  And, because a child cannot be adopted without the termination of both the child’s biological parent’s rights, it is essentially impossible for same-sex couples to both have “legal parent” status over the same child in the State of Arizona.
That being said, only one party in a same-sex relationship will be afforded presumptive legal decision-making rights over a child.
The end, right?!
Not so fast.
A Non Legal Parent Could Still Have Rights Over The Kids
Presumably, there are times when despite the lack of “legal parent” status, a same-sex partner has formed a meaningful parental relationship with their partner’s legal child.  In these cases, the non-legal same-sex parent is not always without recourse. In fact, Arizona has a statute dedicated to outlining the rights of third-party non-legal parents over children. (See A.R.S. § 25-409…formerly A.R.S. § 25-415).
The problem, however, is that in order to be granted legal decision-making rights (f.k.a child custody), the non-legal parent will have to show that it would be significantly detrimental to the child at issue to be placed in the care of their former partner.  In addition, they will also have to overcome a presumption that it is in the minor child’s best interest that the legal parent be awarded sole legal decision-making authority. Obviously, these are not easy burdens to overcome.
Reasons for Having an “All or Nothing” Approach Regarding Same Sex Couples and Legal Decision Making
Now, some of you might be wondering why the court can’t just simply divide legal decision-making rights like it so often does in traditional cases involving two legal parents (i.e. jointly or equally)?
The reason is that Arizona also recognizes the importance of protecting the inherent rights of legal parents with respect to their children.  As a result, when a legal parent objects to a non-legal parent’s access and decision-making authority over their child, the Court defends the legal parent’s rights by awarding deference to their decision.  In fact, Arizona Courts have held that it would be impossible to protect a fit legal parent’s constitutional rights to make decisions about their children while simultaneously allowing a non-legal parent to have equal decision-making rights and/or access to the legal parent’s child. Therefore, in order for a non-legal parent to receive any legal decision-making rights at all, they must be able to prove that they are entitled to all rights (sole legal decision-making/custody); not just equal rights.
This is significant because in order for the Court to award sole legal decision-making authority, it will generally need to find that the opposing party is unfit and incapable of making any decisions in the child’s best interest. As a result, absent a showing of mental illness, drug abuse or domestic violence, the non-legal parent is going to have a tough case to prove. That being said, it really is an all or nothing approach when it comes to the Court’s authority regarding same sex couples and legal decision making over their kids.
 

All Or Nothing: AZ Same Sex Couples and Legal Decision Making Over Their Kids

by Stefano Ceroni from Hernandez Family Law

More and more frequently, our practice is seeing cases involving same-sex couples who are going through the process of separation.  Generally speaking, because Arizona law does not recognize same-sex marriage, there is not much legal protection afforded to these couples.  As a result, there is usually little that can be achieved by way of the courts when it comes to the parties’ separation.

For example, because same-sex couples cannot achieve marital status in the state, they are not offered any of the benefits of Arizona community property law. In other words, an Arizona family law court will not help the parties distribute their property or make any findings regarding spousal maintenance.  Unfortunately, as a result of this hands-off approach, same-sex couples are often left to their own devices for resolving their post-breakup disputes.

The problem, however, is that sometimes the separation issues regarding same-sex couples involve more than just property and money, they involve children.  In fact, with the advent of reproductive technology and the proliferation of single-parent adoption, more and more same-sex couples are cooperatively raising children together.  As a result, when same-sex couples decide to go their separate ways, there is usually an intense dispute over which party is entitled to parental rights.

How Do You Define Who a “Legal Parent” Is?

According to Arizona law, a “legal parent” is defined as a biological or adoptive parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.  This definition is significant to Arizona same-sex couples for two (2) reasons.  First, and most obvious, because same-sex couples cannot both be genetically related to the child, it logically follows that only one of the parties could potentially have parental rights as a result of biology.  Second, because Arizona law only permits joint adoptions to couples defined as “husband and wife,” same-sex couples are barred from mutually adopting a single child.  And, because a child cannot be adopted without the termination of both the child’s biological parent’s rights, it is essentially impossible for same-sex couples to both have “legal parent” status over the same child in the State of Arizona.

That being said, only one party in a same-sex relationship will be afforded presumptive legal decision-making rights over a child.

The end, right?!

Not so fast.

A Non Legal Parent Could Still Have Rights Over The Kids

Presumably, there are times when despite the lack of “legal parent” status, a same-sex partner has formed a meaningful parental relationship with their partner’s legal child.  In these cases, the non-legal same-sex parent is not always without recourse. In fact, Arizona has a statute dedicated to outlining the rights of third-party non-legal parents over children. (See A.R.S. § 25-409…formerly A.R.S. § 25-415).

The problem, however, is that in order to be granted legal decision-making rights (f.k.a child custody), the non-legal parent will have to show that it would be significantly detrimental to the child at issue to be placed in the care of their former partner.  In addition, they will also have to overcome a presumption that it is in the minor child’s best interest that the legal parent be awarded sole legal decision-making authority. Obviously, these are not easy burdens to overcome.

Reasons for Having an “All or Nothing” Approach Regarding Same Sex Couples and Legal Decision Making

Now, some of you might be wondering why the court can’t just simply divide legal decision-making rights like it so often does in traditional cases involving two legal parents (i.e. jointly or equally)?

The reason is that Arizona also recognizes the importance of protecting the inherent rights of legal parents with respect to their children.  As a result, when a legal parent objects to a non-legal parent’s access and decision-making authority over their child, the Court defends the legal parent’s rights by awarding deference to their decision.  In fact, Arizona Courts have held that it would be impossible to protect a fit legal parent’s constitutional rights to make decisions about their children while simultaneously allowing a non-legal parent to have equal decision-making rights and/or access to the legal parent’s child. Therefore, in order for a non-legal parent to receive any legal decision-making rights at all, they must be able to prove that they are entitled to all rights (sole legal decision-making/custody); not just equal rights.

This is significant because in order for the Court to award sole legal decision-making authority, it will generally need to find that the opposing party is unfit and incapable of making any decisions in the child’s best interest. As a result, absent a showing of mental illness, drug abuse or domestic violence, the non-legal parent is going to have a tough case to prove. That being said, it really is an all or nothing approach when it comes to the Court’s authority regarding same sex couples and legal decision making over their kids.

 

Mother-Daughter Team Helping Others
Melanie and Kellie are a mother-daughter team providing services at Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. 
 
Often clients ask us on the phone, “Are you the daughter or the mother?” We sound exactly alike on the phone. My husband cannot tell our voices apart. I am Kellie DiCarlo, the mother part of the team. My daughter, Melanie Dean, joined me over a year ago in running our company. 
 
Melanie and I primarily assist people who are not represented by counsel by preparing and filing legal documents with the court. We specialize in family law. We can prepare and file legal documents for divorce, custody, child support, emergency orders, and assist people with meeting their pretrial deadlines.  
 
Melanie has gained legal knowledge at an accelerated rate. She is outstanding on the phones and a truly empathetic individual. She treats each client or potential client with the utmost respect and sincerely cares about the issues they are going through. Our clients adore her and ask for her specifically. 
 
We also prepare legal documents for LLC formation, guardianship, and quit claim deeds. We stay very busy. Our services are in high demand. This year, Melanie and I plan to become more involved in juvenile cases after experiencing our own personal case. Melanie and I share an interest in helping children and their families.  
 
I am currently a licensed private investigator and Melanie is training in this field as well, primarily under the supervision of my husband, Jeff Kimble. Jeff is the lead investigator for the investigation side of our business. Melanie is also completing her psychology degree at ASU and will be attending law school in the future. 

My mother, Cheryl Garnier, will be joining us in 2013 providing legal transcription services. We also have Kate MacDonald who is an independent contractor assisting with Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. We consider her an adopted family member. 
 
Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. is a family owned business assisting families with their legal needs. Melanie and I are passionate about what we do and are looking forward to the next year and the new families we will help. 
 
 

Kellie DiCarlo is the designated principal of Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. with over 19 years of legal experience and training. She may be contacted at kellie@arizonalegaldocs.com or by calling 480-516-4968. For more information regarding Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C., please visit www.arizonalegaldocs.com.
 

Mother-Daughter Team Helping Others

Melanie and Kellie are a mother-daughter team providing services at Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. 
 
Often clients ask us on the phone, “Are you the daughter or the mother?” We sound exactly alike on the phone. My husband cannot tell our voices apart. I am Kellie DiCarlo, the mother part of the team. My daughter, Melanie Dean, joined me over a year ago in running our company. 
 
Melanie and I primarily assist people who are not represented by counsel by preparing and filing legal documents with the court. We specialize in family law. We can prepare and file legal documents for divorce, custody, child support, emergency orders, and assist people with meeting their pretrial deadlines.  
 
Melanie has gained legal knowledge at an accelerated rate. She is outstanding on the phones and a truly empathetic individual. She treats each client or potential client with the utmost respect and sincerely cares about the issues they are going through. Our clients adore her and ask for her specifically. 
 
We also prepare legal documents for LLC formation, guardianship, and quit claim deeds. We stay very busy. Our services are in high demand. This year, Melanie and I plan to become more involved in juvenile cases after experiencing our own personal case. Melanie and I share an interest in helping children and their families.  
 
I am currently a licensed private investigator and Melanie is training in this field as well, primarily under the supervision of my husband, Jeff Kimble. Jeff is the lead investigator for the investigation side of our business. Melanie is also completing her psychology degree at ASU and will be attending law school in the future. 
My mother, Cheryl Garnier, will be joining us in 2013 providing legal transcription services. We also have Kate MacDonald who is an independent contractor assisting with Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. We consider her an adopted family member. 
 
Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. is a family owned business assisting families with their legal needs. Melanie and I are passionate about what we do and are looking forward to the next year and the new families we will help. 
 
 
Kellie DiCarlo is the designated principal of Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C. with over 19 years of legal experience and training. She may be contacted at kellie@arizonalegaldocs.com or by calling 480-516-4968. For more information regarding Arizona Legal Document Services, L.L.C., please visit www.arizonalegaldocs.com.

 

Stepparents “Stepping-up”-Third Party Custody Rights in Arizona

If you are a stepparent who is going through a divorce and you’re looking to “step-up” to stay a central part of your stepchild’s life, fear not! You might have some hidden third party custody rights most people don’t know about.  From grandparents and stepparents to domestic partners and distant cousins, the increase in non-traditional family dynamics has resulted in a paradigm shift where Courts are now focusing less on the who (meaning who are the legal/biological parents) and more on the what (as in what type of relationship does the person have with the child).

You might have some third party custody rights if you have a “full house.”

Over the past few decades, many state legislatures (including Arizona’s) have expanded the rights of non-legal parents to increase the options available to a Court when making a best interest determination regarding minor children.  As a result, divorce and family law cases have seen a dramatic increase in the involvement of non-traditional players when it comes to custody (legal decision-making) and visitation cases.

The justification for this change arises from the notion that the Court’s most important role in making determinations about child custody (legal decision-making) and visitation is deciding what is in the “best interest” of the child[ren] at hand.  And, it doesn’t take much creative thought to imagine a hypothetical where it would not be in the best interest of a child to be placed in the care of a legal parent (as opposed to a non-legal parent-like figure).  For example, imagine a family scenario not too unlike the one portrayed in the famous TV sitcom “Full House.”

You remember–this is the show where a single dad is forced to raise three young girls alone because of the early passing of the children’s mother.  Overwhelmed and ill-prepared, dad (a.k.a. Danny Tanner) survives the tribulations of fatherhood by calling on his brother-in-law (Uncle Jessie) and best friend (Joey Gladstone) to help lighten the child-rearing load.  As we all know, the three men live in the same house and each takes turns caring for the three young girls.

Now, let’s twist the facts a little bit so the point I’m trying to make can be seen a little clearer.  Let’s first say that the mother of the young girls did not pass away. Instead, let’s say she left dad and the girls to “find herself.”  Mom would send some money every month along with an occasional birthday card, but, for the most part, she was non-existent.  Now let’s say Dad, Mr. Tanner, unexpectedly passed away.

You see where I’m going, yet?

So, now they find themselves in Court: non-existent Mom, Uncle Jessie and Joey Gladstone, fighting over custody of the girls.  Mom wants to take the children and move them to Florida, where she has been successfully residing in a 5 bedroom home for the past four years.  Uncle Jessie and Joey want to keep the kids right where they are, in the same neighborhood, school and home in which they grew up.

You see the problem?

Although Mom may be completely “fit” to take care of the girls, an argument could be made that it would not be in the girls’ best interest to move to Florida with Mom. And, if there were no laws protecting third party rights (for people like Uncle Jessie and Joey), it would be a foregone conclusion that the girls would move to Florida with Mom.

Fortunately, in Arizona, the state legislature has addressed cases like this and has implemented a set of laws directly related to third party rights (See A.R.S § 25-409).  Now, it is still worth mentioning that legal/biological parents still have the upper-hand when it comes to traditional custody and visitation disputes between non-parents.  In fact, A.R.S. § 25-409 is full of “red tape” that specifically limits what people can actually seek custody (legal decision-making) and visitation rights.  For example, a third party must not only stand in loco parentis (See A.R.S.§ 25-401(1)) to the minor child[ren] at issue, but the child[ren]’s legal parents must not be married at the time the petition for rights is filed.

Third party rights cases are some of the most complex and fact intensive cases that exist in the area of domestic relations and child custody (legal decision-making).  However, stepparents and third parties alike should take solace in knowing that they may have some legal rights to gain not only visitation, but sole custody (legal decision-making authority) if they are willing to “step-up” for the children they love.

by Stefano Ceroni

http://www.hernandezfirm.com/stepparents-stepping-third-party-custody-rights-arizona/