Saturday, December 29, 2012

SAY GOODBYE TO CUSTODY

Custody is now a relic of the past.  The Arizona legislature has spoken, and the term “Custody” has been banished from our statutes.  Beginning on January 1, 2013 parents coming before our courts will not be awarded sole custody, or joint custody . . . or any kind of custody.  Custody is dead and buried.  It has been replaced by the terms: “Legal Decision-Making” and “Parenting Time.”  From now on, the Arizona courts will either enter an order awarding joint legal decision-making to both parents; or they will give one parent the right to make decisions regarding the children.  The court could also split the decision-making rights and responsibilities between the parents (for example, the mother might be given the right to make medical decisions while the father has the right to make educational decisions).

Some experts view this new arrangement as an earth-shaking philosophical shift that will lead to a significant change in the way the courts decide family law cases.  Other experts take the position that the wording of the statutes is merely a matter of semantics, and that things will not change much at all.  Only time will tell.  Over the next year, as the law unfolds, I will keep you apprised of how the courts are interpreting the newly revised statutes.

For several years now, there has been a trend in this and many other states to award joint custody (rather than sole custody) in the typical family law case; and, today, court orders for equal parenting time and decision-making have become commonplace.  This represents a real departure from the past, when the vast majority of cases ended up with the children living primarily with one parent.  The recent changes to Arizona family law seem to reflect an extension of this trend.  While the statute does not contain a specific “presumption” of equal time and decision-making, at least one judge who has worked on the new law believes that joint decision-making and equal parenting time will now be the “starting point” for judges in determining family law disputes. 

This new philosophy is revealed in the language added to A.R.S. §25-403.02.  Section B of the statute states: “Consistent with the child’s best interests in section 25-403 and sections 25-403.03, 25-403.04, and 25-403.05, the court shall adopt a parenting plan that provides for both parents to share legal decision-making regarding their child and that maximizes their respective parenting time.  The court shall not prefer a parent’s proposed plan because of the parent’s or child’s gender.” (Emphasis added.)

A.R.S. §25-403 contains the factors that the Court will use in deciding what type of parenting arrangement is in the best interests of a child.  In the past, the court considered, as a factor, “whether one parent, both parents or neither parent has provided primary care of the child.”  However, that factor has been removed from the new statute.  Instead, the court will now consider “the past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.”  Some experts are disturbed by this change.  They argue that a parent’s track-record of providing primary care is important evidence that should be considered by the court in determining the type of parenting arrangement that would be in a child’s best interests.  Other experts disagree and point out that after the divorce, both the father and the mother will probably have to work full-time, and each of them will be required to “step-up” and become single parents. Therefore, in making its decision, the court should consider not only the past and present, but also the anticipated future relationship between the parents and the children.  They argue that because a parent was not the primary caregiver in the past does not mean that he/she is incapable of nurturing and providing excellent care of the children in the future.  This issue will certainly be a hotly contested one in family law litigation during the coming year.

Another new factor for the court to consider in applying A.R.S. §25-403 is contained in Section 7.  This section states that, in deciding which type of parenting arrangement is in the children’s best interests, the judge shall consider “whether one parent intentionally misled the court to cause an unnecessary delay, to increase the cost of litigation or to persuade the court to give a legal decision-making or a parenting time preference to that parent.”   The apparent purpose of the new provision is to place both parents on notice that if either one of them makes a false or improper allegation, or attempts to expand or delay the litigation, or acts in an unreasonable manner, it could be a basis for the court to take legal decision-making and/or parenting time away from that parent.  (To put it in terms of the old statute, if the judge believes you have acted unreasonably during the litigation, it could result in you losing custody of your children.)

Domestic violence continues to be an important factor that the court will consider in making its determination of legal decision-making and parenting time.  But based on the language of the new statute, the presence of domestic violence now takes on even greater importance.  The legislature has added a new factor to A.R.S. §25-403 which requires that the court shall consider “whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse pursuant to section 25-402.03.”  That section mandates that “joint legal decision-making shall not be awarded if the court makes a finding of the existence of significant domestic violence pursuant to section 13-3601 or if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been a significant history of domestic violence.  The statute also states that “the court shall consider evidence of domestic violence as being contrary to the best interests of the child.”  Under the law, abuse of a spouse is considered to be akin to child abuse, leading to “a rebuttable presumption that that an award of sole or joint legal decision-making to the parent who committed the act of domestic violence is contrary to the child’s best interests.”

Under A.R.S. §25-403 if the court determines that a parent has abused drugs or alcohol or has been convicted of a substance abuse offense within twelve months before a petition or request for legal decision-making or parenting time is filed, there is a rebuttable presumption that sole or joint legal decision-making by that parent is not in the child’s best interests.  What constitutes "abuse" of drugs or alcohol is not defined in the statute.  The issue will surely be the subject of much litigation in 2013 and beyond.

The Arizona legislature made a number of other important changes, as well, especially in the area of Third Party Rights (such as grandparent and non-parent visitation and legal decision-making); and in the area of Sanctions for Litigation Misconduct. 

Arizona's new approach to what was formerly known as "custody" is groundbreaking.  It is at the forefront of a growing national trend which views divorced parents as partners in raising children.  But is this view realistic?  Will it protect the best interests of children in divorce cases, or will it hurt them?  The answers to these questions will be determined as the new law unfolds.





Gary J. Frank is a litigation attorney and mediator with over thirty years of Family Law experience in dealing in divorce, custody, and parenting issues. Mr. Frank has served on the Governor’s Task Force for Prevention of Child Abuse, and has received a Volunteer Lawyer award from the Maricopa County Bar Association for his work with children. For many years he acted as a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, which gave him an insight into the inner workings of the courts that many attorneys lack. He can be reached by telephone (602-383-3610); or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org; or through his website at www.garyfranklaw.com. If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

 




Thursday, December 20, 2012

ANN SCOTT TIMMER APPOINTED TO ARIZONA SUPREME COURT

I am leaving in a few minutes to attend the investiture ceremony for Arizona's newest Supreme Court Justice, Ann Scott Timmer.  Judge Timmer was my first law clerk while she was still a student at Arizona State University School of Law.  Upon graduating from law school, she went on to work for a prestigious law firm in the Phoenix area.  After proving her worth as an attorney, she became a Maricopa County Superior Court judge and, later, was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals.  Now she will be a judge on the Arizona Supreme Court, making decisions of great import to our state and our country.

Judge Timmer has excelled at every level, and I'm confident that with her on Arizona's highest court, we are all in good hands.  Congratulations Judge Timmer.



Gary Frank, has been a courtroom litigator in the Family Law arena for over thirty years, and is a strong and committed advocate for his clients. In addition to being a litigation attorney, Mr. Frank has acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tem in the Maricopa County Superior Court. This has given him an understanding of the inner-workings of the court, and a unique perspective that the majority of attorneys lack. He has also acted, for many years, as a professional mediator of Family Law disputes. If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to give our office a call today at 602-383-3610; or feel free to contact us through our web site at www.garyfranklaw.com; or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"PREGNANT MAN" AND HIS WIFE CAN'T GET A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA

A man and woman file for divorce in Arizona. They have a child, and then two more. Custody of their children becomes a disputed issue. They ask the judge to decide. But the judge refuses. He claims the court does not have jurisdiction. Why? Because Arizona law states that a marriage is only valid if it is between a man and a woman. Same sex marriages are forbidden.

But hold on . . . we're not talking about a same-sex marriage. The parties obtained an official marriage license based on the fact that one spouse was a man and the other was a woman. And they went on to conceive and give birth to three children.

This is where the story takes an unexpected turn.

The wife, as it turns out, did not give birth to the children. The husband did. Thomas Beatie, the husband, was born a female. Throughout his life, he always felt that he was a man trapped in a female body – even when he entered beauty pageants and worked as a model. In 2002, Mr. Beatie underwent male hormone therapy and had his upper body reconstructed. He married a year later. When his wife was unable to conceive a child, her husband was the logical choice. He still had his female reproductive organs. So, with the help of a fertility doctor, Mr. Beatie became pregnant and gave birth to three children.

Now the couple has filed for divorce. However, a Superior Court judge has concluded that the Arizona court does not have jurisdiction of the matter. He reasons that the father (Mr. Beatie) is the biological mother of the children. Thus, the marriage is not between a man and a woman and it is, therefore, invalid under Arizona law.

We no longer live in the world of our grandparents. This is the 21st century. We have become a more tolerant and enlightened society. Science has made things possible that our ancestors could never have dreamed. And the law has to grow and transform in order to keep pace with advances in technology, medical ethics, and human understanding.

Change is coming, and it is coming fast. We must be prepared to meet the challenges that the future throws at us, in order to make this world a better place.




Gary Frank has practiced Family Law in the prestigious Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona for over thirty years. Mr. Frank has acted as a Superior Court Judge Pro Tem and a Mediator, in addition to representing clients as a courtroom litigator in divorce, custody, paternity, enforcement, modification, move-away, grandparent rights, non-parent rights, division of property, and other Family Law matters. If you are in need of a consultation, please give us a call today at 602-383-3610. You can contact us by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our web site at www.garyfranklaw.com. We'd be happy to help you.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

MASS VIOLENCE MUST BE STOPPED


The massacre of kindergarten children and their teachers in Newtown, Connecticut is the latest, and most gruesome, example of what appears to be a growing trend.  It's the new domestic terrorism.  Murder without motive.  No ideology.  No purpose other than to take innocent lives.  This insanity must be stopped, but how?  Stricter gun laws?  A greater focus on identifying and treating mental illness?  Ending the glorification of violence in video games, movies and television? Armed guards in schools?  Metal detectors in malls and movie theaters?  

How do we, as a society, protect ourselves and our children from random violence?  It's time for us to begin a dialogue and search for answers.




Gary Frank is an Arizona Family Law Attorney and a children's advocate.  He is a Family Law litigator and mediator, and for many years, he represented children in child abuse and neglect cases.  He was appointed to serve on the Governor's Arizona Child Abuse Prevention Task Force.  He won a Maricopa County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer of the Month award for representing a child in a Family Court Custody Action and successfully petitioning to have the case transferred to the Juvenile Court, where the child could be protected from her abusive parents.  Our law firm focuses on a wide array of Family Law Matters, including Divorce, Custody, Parenting Time disputes, Relocation/Move-Away cases, Enforcement and Modification actions, Child and Spousal Support, Paternity/Maternity, Grandparent and Non-Parent rights, Mediation, and all other matters involving families and children.  If you are in need of a consultation to learn about your rights, please call us today at 602-383-3610; or contact us by email at gary.frank@azbar.org.  To learn more about our firm, check out our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We'd be happy to help you.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

OUR TOP-TEN LIST FOR GETTING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS


Let’s face it, the holidays are stressful under the best of circumstances.  But for a divorced parent, or someone going through a custody dispute, the holidays can be a grueling experience.  The good news is that there are proven strategies that can help make the holidays bearable and . . . (dare I say?) . . . even fun.  Here is my Top Ten List for getting through the holidays:

1.         Plan in Advance

            Going into the holiday season with your parenting plans up in the air can be a source of stress not only for parents, but for the children, too.  Solidifying your schedules well in advance – and letting your children know what to expect – will allow parents and children to relax and look forward to their time together.  Planning in advance is the best way to avoid conflict, misunderstandings, and arguments. 

            Last-minute shopping is a also recipe for stress.  Slogging through traffic, searching in vain for parking spaces, and jostling masses of shoppers in malls and stores is not my idea of enjoying the “holiday spirit.”  Avoid desperation shopping.  Shop early.

2.         Be Flexible

            During the holidays, things can change on a moment’s notice.  A child gets sick.  Family comes into town unexpectedly.  The other parent calls and wants the kids for a special, but unscheduled, activity.  All of these things are sure to make the Stress-O-Meter rise.  Learn to go with the flow, when possible.  Doing so will make for a more relaxed you.  You might find that being flexible, or even spontaneous, is fun.

3.         Keep It About The Kids

            Divorced parents sometimes become so embroiled in their own problems that they can forget that the holidays are about the children.   Remind yourself every day that the children are your top priority.  They deserve a fun holiday, one that they will always remember – and you have the power to make it happen.  So, keep the children out of the middle of your adult holiday disputes.  Make an effort to communicate and compromise with the other parent.   Never badmouth the other parent in front of the children.   Let your kids look forward to their time with both parents.  Remember:  It’s all about the children.

4.         Enjoy Alone-Time

            The thought of spending time alone over the holidays can be frightening and depressing.   You may have never dreamed that you would be separated from your children during the holiday season.  But you will survive.  You might even find your time alone to be a nice break from the normal holiday chaos.  Look for ways to relax and enjoy yourself.  Staying home with a good book can be refreshing.  Hiking in the mountains, walking, riding a bicycle, or going to the gym may renew your spirit.  Attending a party, or meeting a friend for dinner or a movie, could be fun and exciting.   You will learn to relish your alone-time.  And the kids will be back before you know it. 

5.         Connect with Friends

            The holidays are a great time to connect with friends.  Plan a holiday party and invite your friends; or accept an invitation to another’s party.  Get together with a friend to go shopping.  Or simply pick up the phone and call a friend.  Friends are a blessing.  They are a source of enjoyment and support.  Just what you need to help you get through the holidays.  Connecting with a friend can help you to re-connect with the real you.

6.         Make New Family Traditions

            During the holidays, we tend to spend a lot of time trying to give our children the same wonderful experiences that we had when we were young.  Often, this is difficult or impossible.  For a divorced parent (or any parent, for that matter) trying to re-create the “holidays of old” only leads to stress and disappointment.  So, what the heck!  Try something new!  Make your own unique family tradition.  Take a ride around the neighborhood at midnight, looking for Santa.  Let the kids make Christmas dinner (hot dogs and pizza?  Sure, why not!).   Use your imagination.  Be creative.  Give the kids their own loving memory that they will always cherish.

7.         Exercise!

            I recently read that the average person gains 7 to 12 pounds during the holiday season.  Don’t be a couch potato.  Take some time out of every busy day to exercise.  Not only will it keep you in shape, but exercising will kick in the endorphins and give you a sense of well-being that will last throughout the entire day. 

8.         Avoid Toxic People

            The holiday season can be stressful and depressing enough on its own.  Spending time with people who put you down – or bring you down – will only make it worse.  So, to the extent possible, make an effort to avoid (or reduce the time you spend with) toxic people. 

9.         Stay Positive; And If You Need Counseling, Get It

            Self-talk is sometimes the enemy of happiness.  Listen to the things you say to yourself.  Pay attention to the messages you send to yourself.  You might find that that the data you are inputting into your internal computer (your brain) is undermining your own well-being.  So, eliminate the negative.  Try focusing on the positive.  When you catch yourself lapsing into negative thinking, stop, delete the negative message, and insert a positive statement.  For instance, if you hear your internal voice saying:  “I’ll never get my Christmas shopping done!” – delete that statement and insert a new message:  “I’ll get as much done as I can today, and if I’m not finished, I’ll try again tomorrow.”   Putting a positive spin on things is a simple and easy way to maintain a good frame of mind.

If you are sad or depressed and just can’t shake the feeling, then get counseling.  A good therapist can help you work through the fear, anxiety, and conflicted feelings, so that you can get back to being confident and in control.

10.       Cut Yourself Some Slack

            If you are separated or divorced and trying to make it through the holidays, there’s a pretty good chance that you will be struggling with your emotions.  Why?  Because you’re human.  Just like the rest of us.  What you’re feeling is perfectly natural.  So, don’t try to be a super-hero.  Cut yourself some slack.  The holidays are tough . . . and you’re human.  You will get through this, and things will get better.

Happy holidays!


Gary Frank, has been a courtroom litigator in the Family Law arena for over thirty years, and is a strong and committed advocate for his clients.  In addition to being a litigation attorney, Mr. Frank has acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tem in the Maricopa County Superior Court.  This has given him an understanding of the inner-workings of the court, and a unique perspective  that most attorneys lack.  He has also acted, for many years, as a professional mediator of Family Law disputes.   We handle a full range of Family Law matters, including divorce, custody, spousal and child support, division of property and assets, modification and enforcement actions, as well paternity/maternity cases, grandparent or non-parent custody and visitation actions, and relocation/move-away cases.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to give our office a call today at 602-383-3610; or feel free to contact us through our web site at www.garyfranklaw.com; or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org.   We look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It Does Not Take Two To Tango -- Dealing With A Spouse With A Personality Disorder -

Most people think that a "high-conflict divorce" necessarily involves two people who are angry and unreasonable. But that's not always the case. When one party to a divorce suffers from a borderline, narcissistic, or other type of personality disorder, he or she can pull the entire family into a "knock-down/drag-out" litigation.  A person with a personality disorder often lacks basic compassion and/or the willingness to compromise for the benefit of the children.  He or she may be driven by revenge or the desire to inflict emotional pain and suffering -- and appealing to this person's sense of reason and logic is of no avail.  This may make it difficult or impossible to negotiate a fair settlement, leaving no alternative but to go to trial.   If you find yourself in this situation, then you need a strong advocate, an attorney who will fight hard to protect your interests.


 The Law Office of Gary J. Frank has been a fixture in the Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona for over thirty years.  Gary Frank is a Family Law litigator, a mediator, and a former Judge Pro Tem.  Our firm handles a wide array of cases, such as divorce, custody, relocation, paternity, child and spousal support, division of property and businesses, modification and enforcement actions, grandparent and non-parent rights, and all matters relating to families and children.  If you are in need of a consultation, please do not hesitate.  Contact us today.  You can reach us by telephone at 602-383-3610, or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We'd be honored to help you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

NEW STATISTICS ON MOTHERHOOD

The 2012 U.S. Census Bureau statistics on motherhood in America paint a complex picture.  The number of single mothers living with children under 18 has almost tripled in the past 30-40 years.  Over five million mothers had child support orders that were unpaid as of 2009.  More than 55% of mothers who recently gave birth were working to support themselves and their children, as of 2010.  More children are in day care than ever before, and that number is growing.  There were more than 800,000 day care centers in the United States by 2009.

Our children are our future.  But we must keep in mind that the health and welfare of children and mothers are inextricably linked.  That is why mothers deserve our support.

Here are some interesting statistics on motherhood in America . . .





According to 2012 U.S. Census Bureau Statistics

Single Moms
10.0 million
The number of single mothers living with children younger than 18 in 2011, up from 3.4 million in 1970.
Source: America's Families and Living Arrangements <http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam.html> FM-2
5.2 million
Number of custodial mothers who were due child support in 2009.
Source: Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2009 <http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p60-240.pdf html>
38%
In 2010, of the 3.7 million women 15 to 44 years old who had a birth in the last year, 1.4 million (39 percent) were to women who were not married, who were separated, or married but with an absent spouse.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2010html> Table 4
In 2008, this number was 1.5 million. Of those mothers, 425,000 (28 percent) were living with a cohabiting partner.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p20-563.pdf>
Recent Births
4.13 million
Number of births registered in the United States in 2009. Of this number, 409,840 were to teens 15 to 19 and 7,934 to women age 45 to 54.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/births.htm>
<http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db58.htm#U.S.>
25.1
Average age of women in 2008 when they gave birth for the first time, up from 25.0 years in 2006 and 2007. The mean age from 2007 to 2008 reflects, in part, the relatively large decline in births to women under age 25 compared with the small decline for women in the 25-39 age bracket.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr59/nvsr59_01.pdf>
55%
Percentage of mothers with a birth in 2010 who were in the labor force. This decreased from from 57 percent in 2008.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010, table 6 <http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/fertility.html>
27.3%
The percentage of mothers who had given birth in the past 12 months who had a bachelor's degree or higher. Among states, New Hampshire had the highest percentage of recent mothers in this category with 48 percent. Mothers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland also had percentages higher than the national average.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p20-563.pdf>
83%
Percentage of women age 15 to 44 with at least a high school diploma who gave birth in the last year. For women age 30 to 44, the figure was 90 percent.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010, Table 8 <http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p20-563.pdf>
How Many Mothers
85.4 million
Estimated number of mothers in the United States in 2009.
Source: Survey of Income and Program Participation, unpublished tabulations
4.0 million
Number of women between the ages of 15 and 50 who gave birth in the past 12 months.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2008.html> Table 2
53%
Percentage of 15- to 50-year-old women who were mothers in 2010.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2010.html> Table 1
81%
Percentage of women who had become mothers by age 40 to 44 as of 2010. In 1976, 90 percent of women in that age group had given birth.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2010.html> Table 1
Employed Moms (and Moms-to-Be)
55%
The proportion of mothers in 2010 with a recent birth who were in the labor force decreased slightly from 57 percent in 2008.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2010 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2010.html> Table 6
In 2008, among states with higher than average levels of new mothers who were unemployed, the highest proportions were in Alabama and Delaware (10 percent) followed by Michigan, Alaska, Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Carolina (9 percent), along with several other states in the southeast United States.
Source: Fertility of American Women: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2008.html> Table 11
805,137
Number of child care centers across the country in 2009. These included 75,396 centers employing 869,468 workers and another 729,741 self-employed people or other businesses without paid employees. Many mothers turn to these centers to help juggle motherhood and careers.
Source: County Business Patterns: 2009 <http://www.census.gov/econ/cbp/> and
Nonemployer Statistics: 2009 <http://www.census.gov/econ/nonemployer/>
Stay-at-Home Moms
5 million
Number of stay-at-home moms in 2011 — same as in 2010 and down from 5.1 million in 2009 and 5.3 million in 2008 (the estimates for 2010 and 2009 are not statistically different). In 2011, 23 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15 had a stay-at-home mother, up from 21 percent in 2000. In 2007, before the recession, stay-at-home mothers were found in 24 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15.
Source: America's Families and Living Arrangements Table SHP-1 <http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam.html>
Compared with other moms, stay-at-home moms in 2007 were more likely:
·         Younger (44 percent were under age 35 compared with 38 percent of mothers in the labor force).
·         Hispanic (27 percent compared with 16 percent of mothers in the labor force).
·         Foreign-born (34 percent compared with 19 percent of mothers in the labor force).
·         Living with a child under age 5 (57 percent compared with 43 percent of mothers in the labor force).
Source: America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2007 <http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam/p20-561.pdf>

 
Gary J. Frank is an Arizona Family Law attorney and former Judge Pro Tem with over thirty years of experience.  He is a strong and compassionate advocate for his clients.  Our law firm handles all matters involving Family Law, including divorce, custody, parenting issues, child support, enforcement actions, modification actions, paternity, and grandparent and non-parent rights, as well as division of property and businesses.  If you are in need of a consultation to learn about your legal rights, please do not hesitate.  Contact us today. You can reach us by telephone (602-383-3610) or by email (gary.frank@azbar.org), or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We look forward to hearing from you. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

HOW TO BOUNCE BACK FROM DIVORCE


Divorce is a life-changing experience.  Anyone who has been through the experience will agree.  But although it is certainly difficult, it doesn’t have to be devastating.  With a positive attitude and good coping strategies, you can survive the transition and build a happier life than you ever thought possible.

1.    Accept that your life has changed:  Don’t live in a state of denial.  Accept the fact that you are now single and life will be different.  Look for ways to build new friendships and support systems.  Force yourself to get up off the couch.  Take small steps.

2.    Be open to counseling:  Pain, fear, and anger come with the territory when we go through a divorce.  After all, we are human.  But there are excellent psychologists and counselors in every city who can help you work through your feelings and find healthy ways to cope.  You would go to a mechanic if your car broke down.  They are experts at fixing the problem.  So, why wouldn’t you look for a good counselor to help you with trouble in your life?  Counselors have worked with hundreds, or thousands, of people whose problems are similar to your own.  They have developed techniques that work.  A professional counselor can assist you in overcoming the obstacles you are facing, and help you find your way to a better life.

3.    Join a support group:  If you are newly divorced, or in the process of ending your marriage, it may feel like you are the only person to ever have experienced such wrenching distress and loneliness.  But you are not alone.  Don’t try to navigate those difficult emotions all by yourself.  Look for a divorce support group in your area.  It’s not as uncomfortable as you think.  There are others who have experienced what you are feeling, or who are going through the same thing as you are now.  They can be a great source of friendship, inspiration, and support.  You may even meet new lifelong friends.

4.    Become involved in positive activities:  A person going through divorce can feel that he or she is literally drowning in troubles.  It is easy to fall into a pattern of obsessing over your problems and your misery.  You may find yourself “living in your own head.”  The best remedy is to become involved in something bigger than yourself.  Find an interesting job.  Volunteer with a charitable organization.  Join a gym, take yoga, or sign up for a Zumba class.  The choices are unlimited.  Once you become immersed in a positive activity, your own problems seem much smaller.

5.    Take time to exercise:  That old saying, “Strong Body, Strong Mind” . . . Modern science has proven it to be true.  The beneficial effect of exercise on the mind is now universally accepted by doctors, scientists, and behavioral health experts.  Exercise releases endorphins – the body’s own natural “feel-good” drug.  Exercise makes the heart and muscles stronger, lowers our blood-pressure, and provides a sense of well-being.  So, why wait?  Start an exercise program today.   

6.    Choose healthier foods:  Food is what fuels our body and our brain.  You can feel better, happier, and stronger simply by reducing or eliminating sugary sodas and fatty fast-foods, and replacing them with fresh vegetables of every color, along with fish, poultry, and lean meat.  This is an easy and delicious way to change your life.

7.    Get a good night’s sleep:  There is no more important factor on our mental functioning than sleep.  The problem is that, as a society, we are all sleep-deprived.  Your first step in bouncing back from divorce should be to make sure you get between 6 to 8 hours of sleep each and every night.

8.    Find a hobby:  Yes, we need to be able to support ourselves, but there is more to life than work and chasing children around the house.  Find an outlet, something you like to do – and pursue it.  It might be a sport, such as softball, running, or golf.  It could be music, or art, or reading.  Whatever gives you pleasure.  Having a hobby breaks up your day, and can make your life more enjoyable and exciting.   

9.    Plan for the future:  For someone going through divorce, it is often hard to see beyond today.  But planning for the future is crucial, and doing so can alleviate stress and anxiety and give you a sense of empowerment.  Find a CPA or divorce financial planner to help you prepare a budget and map out a game plan for saving and investing your money.  It may take some discipline today, but you will thank yourself tomorrow.

10. Create a New Mental Picture:  You are more powerful than you think.  None of us has the power to control all the circumstances of our life, but we can absolutely control our response to those circumstances.  Take action, despite the fear.  You will soon begin to see yourself as someone who is capable of controlling your own destiny.  Divorce may be the end of your old life, but it is the beginning of your new life.  You have the power to make that life great.  


Gary J. Frank is an Arizona Attorney and former Judge Pro Tem with over thirty years of experience in dealing with divorce, custody, and parenting issues in Family Court.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding any matter involving Family Law, contact us today.  You can reach us by telephone (602-383-3610), or by email at gary.frank@azbar.org, or through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We look forward to hearing from you. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

FIVE TIPS ON BECOMING THE BEST DAD YOU CAN BE


Being a divorced dad isn’t easy.  You are now a single parent.  You no longer have another parent to lean on.  When the kids are with you, they are really with you.  That’s the tough part.  But it’s also the great part.  You have not only the responsibility, but the opportunity, to develop a loving and lasting relationship with the most important people in your life – your children.

Here are five tips to help you become the best dad you can be:  

1.            Listen attentively. 

When your children are talking to you, put down what you are doing, look them in the eye, and actively listen.  Show your kids that you care about what they have to say.  Let them know that they are important.

2.            Attend school conferences, open-houses, and functions. 

School is a big part of your children’s lives.  Going to school conferences, open-houses, and other functions shows your kids that their education is important to you.

3.            Learn what interests your child, and become interested in it, too.

Sharing a common interest is a great way to build a strong bond.  It gives you something fun to talk about, and to do together.  But many dads insist that their sons and daughters participate in activities that the dad likes, even after it is clear that the child is not particularly interested.  This can lead to stress and conflict.  Try doing things differently.  Find out what your child is interested in, and become interested in it, too.

4.            Create memories.

You don’t have to take your kids on an African Safari.  Creating memories can be simple and easy.  The most precious gift you can give your children is your time.  So, set aside some time to be with them on a regular basis.  Look for fun activities . . .  A hike in the woods.  A bike ride.  Playing catch.  A game of bowling.  An evening playing Monopoly. These are the types of things that create memories your sons and daughters will remember for a lifetime.

5.            Tell your children you love them. 

Don’t leave it unsaid.  Don’t make your children wonder.  Don't assume they know.  Tell them you love them – and do it often.



Gary Frank has represented dads in divorce, custody, and parenting-time cases for over 30 years, and is a strong advocate for fathers’ rights.  Mr. Frank is an expert courtroom litigator, as well as a mediator, and a former Superior Court Judge Pro Tem.  If you are in need of a consultation regarding divorce, child custody, parenting-time, or any other area of Family Law, call us today at 602-383-3610; or contact us by email through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com.  We're always happy to talk to you.