Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of parental rights permanently ends the legal parent-child relationship. Once these rights are terminated, a child may be adopted without parental consent.

Termination of parental rights may be voluntary, based on the informed consent of the parent, or it may be involuntary, a result of court proceedings brought against the parent.

In Arizona, courts will only involuntarily terminate parental rights in extreme situations, such as the child being in serious emotional or physical danger, and the termination of the parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

A parent is deemed unfit if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Abandonment of the child
  • Sever or chronic abuse or neglect
  • Long-term illness or deficiency of the parent
  • Long-term alcohol or drug induced incapacity of the parent
  • Abuse or neglect of other children in the household
  • Felony conviction or incarceration
  • Failure to establish paternity
  • Murder or manslaughter of a sibling child
  • Felony assault of child or sibling
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Failure of Reasonable Efforts

There are circumstances, however, that are not considered valid grounds for termination. Some parties that have been through a divorce seek to terminate a parent’s rights because they do not pay child support or do not follow the visitation schedule. These are not sufficient grounds for a termination of parent rights proceeding.

If parents decide to place their child or children for adoption, it is considered to be voluntary termination of parental rights.

Under Arizona law, the right to file an action for the termination of parental rights goes to any person or agency with an interest in the welfare of the child. The action can be filed as long as the person taking the action has sufficient grounds to base the claim. The people and agencies that often petition for termination of parental rights are relatives, foster parents, physicians/nurses, Arizona Child Protective Services, and child welfare agencies.

If you are thinking of relinquishing your parent’s rights or have been served with an involuntary termination proceeding order, it is best to get legal advice from a Phoenix Family Law Attorney at the Sampair Group. The experienced child custody attorneys at Sampair represent individuals throughout the valley with locations in Phoenix, Glendale and Mesa.

Eight Conversations That Are Essential After Divorce

Once the ink on your divorce decree has dried and you have given yourself the time needed to move past the pain of divorce, it might be time to start dating again. For many the idea of getting back “out there” after divorce is scary, because the fear of history repeating itself is great. No doubt going through a divorce takes a toll; physically, emotionally, and financially. And, in most cases the entire family is impacted by the news that divorce is imminent. In order to take positive steps after divorce, it is important to look at your marriage and divorce process, and see where change can be made.

A big part in identifying areas of opportunity for growth lies in being honest with yourself about your expectations. If you have begun dating again, sharing these thoughts with a new romantic partner is essential. Eight conversations you should have after divorce, if you want to avoid going down that road again in the future, include:

  • Be honest about your shortcomings, so you can hold yourself accountable for your actions; past, present, and future.
  • Be honest about your ex’s shortcomings, which includes being able to articulate good points about your former spouse. If you are able to find good in your ex, you will be better equipped to find good in yourself as well as a new mate, despite any flaws.
  • Talk about how to handle disagreements, and commit yourself to being open and honest, while remaining fair.
  • Have a clear picture of your financial goals, and make sure any new love interest shares those goals. It has been said money is the number one cause of divorce, and tackling this sensitive topic early on can save you a lot of heartache down the road.
  • If you have children, make plans to include them in your new life with your new partner. If your new partner has kids, make sure those children are also included. Blending families can be tricky, but does not have to be impossible.
  • If you are blending a family, get on the same page about discipline and other important parenting issues.
  • Stand up for yourself when necessary.
  • Talk about the type of future you want, and come up with a plan to reach your goals together.

If you have been through a divorce and are considering remarrying, or have just begun a new relationship, it is important that history not repeat itself. However, life does have a way of being unpredictable, even when best efforts are given. If you are considering divorce for the first, or a subsequent time, call us for help.

For more information about divorce, contact us for an appointment today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your initial visit.


Three Financial Blunders To Avoid After Divorce

Once your divorce is final and you are ready to establish yourself as a single force to be reckoned with, one of the most important things to do is make sure your finances are in order. Being able to support yourself and to make decisions about your financial future without a spouse can be hard, but the reward is well worth the effort. A certain sense of accomplishment comes with being able to invest wisely, put something away for a rainy day, and help your kids as they move from high school to college and beyond. In order to do this it is important to have an awareness of your changed financial picture now that you are single, and it is also helps to know what money traps to avoid.

Three financial blunders to avoid when you are newly single include:

  • Avoid spending more than you have. This seems simple enough, but in practice is a very hard thing for most people. This is true when there are two incomes to rely on for paying the monthly bills and you might find yourself overspending simply out of habit. Try to remember that you alone are responsible for your financial health (especially if you were not awarded spousal support or it has come to an end) and make the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle. Downsizing your home, opting for an older model car, or taking your lunch to work rather than eating out are all good ways to save money when you are single.
  • Failing to review your budget and make the changes needed to take into account your status as a one income household. When you get divorced it is a good idea to take stock of what you have and what you need. Doing so will allow you to identify areas where you can cut back and save.
  • Allowing your emotions to take over and overwhelm you is also a mistake. We understand divorce is hard, but when you come to terms with the decision it will be easier to think rationally about your future. This includes coming up with a plan for your money that makes sense and is within your budget.

Our goal is to reach solutions in your case that allow you a fresh start, and also give you the chance to change. When necessary we suggest enlisting the help of a qualified financial planner, so you can be sure to start your new life off on the right foot.

For more information about divorce and what it means for your finances, call us today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

These Three Things Are Common Benefits Of Co-Parenting

Divorcing couples with children have to take extra care during their case to make sure the decisions made are in the best interests of their kids. It is beneficial for children to have both of their parents present on a regular basis, and at significant life events. Divorced parents who are unable to get along or agree on important aspects of raising their kids can wind up creating uncomfortable emotional situations for their children which result in social and behavioral problems.  But, when both parents are willing to work for what is best for their children, the results can be very rewarding.

Three common benefits that result when parents continue to work together even after getting divorced include:

  • Children are able to realize their full potential through seeing their parents work together, because emotions like fear and frustration are addressed openly and honestly. This can lead to an increase in self-esteem, which gives children the confidence and security they need as they face their changing family dynamic.
  • When kids see their parents working together even though they are no longer married, for their benefit, fewer conflicts tend to arise because the kids are less likely to “act out” at school or in other social situations.
  • Having both parents take a role in the day to day lives of their kids ensures each parent is an active participant in the things that matter most to their children. There is little that compares to the feeling a child gets when both parents are present for important awards at school, or after school events.

Continuing to parent as a unit also shows the children that there are expectations from each parent that must be met. Maintaining a routine and consistency helps children to thrive when with each parent and helps the parents know what to plan for visits and extended stays. Keeping your emotions in check and avoiding arguing with your ex about adult issues in front of the kids shows your kids that conflict can be resolved without escalation. This gives children a healthy example for conflict resolution and sets a good example for behavioral expectations.  For questions about how to develop a co-parenting plan that makes sense for you, call our office.

For more information about divorce, contact us for an appointment today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your initial visit.

How Divorce Impacts Immigration

The United States is full of residents that are allowed to live here because they are married to a U.S. citizen. With the national spotlight on issues of immigration, and our State’s close proximity to the border, it is important to understand how immigration status might be impacted by divorce. Specifically, what happens to the immigrant when he or she is divorced from a citizen? Will the non-citizen have to leave the Country, and if so what happens to the kids? The concern is real, and the following summarizes some of the common issues that arise in cases where one party is not a U.S. citizen.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) monitors residents that are not also citizens. Some of the concerns about marriage between a citizen and non-citizen are:

  • Was the marriage solely so the non-citizen could remain in the Country?
  • Is the couple living together?
  • Were any children born of the marriage?

Once married, a non-citizen can begin the process of petitioning for citizenship. When divorce is imminent though, this may all change. The authorities may review the legitimacy of the marriage and thus the ability of the non-citizen to gain citizenship. If there are children involved your entire strategy may need an overhaul. For competent representation in this type of special case, contact a qualified family law attorney.

For more information about divorce and immigration, consult a qualified legal professional. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

Five Questions To Ask Yourself Before Filing For Divorce

The decision to end your marriage does not come easy, and if you expect satisfactory results a lot of careful thought must be made before filing papers to dissolve your marriage. While discussing what leads to divorce might make for interesting conversation, it really only matters when it is relevant to your circumstances. Every couple that divorces would probably tell you a different story as to why their marriage did not last, but there is some common ground as far as preparing for the case.

Five questions to ask yourself before filing for divorce, which will help ensure you are ready to take this life altering step, include:

  • Are you emotionally ready for active participation in your divorce case? If the answer is no, you may want to wait. Sometimes taking steps to rehabilitate your relationship reveal a desire to stay with your spouse, and sometimes it helps to take a moment to re-evaluate your marriage because it confirms your decision to divorce.
  • What type of shape are your finances in, and can you support yourself post-divorce or will you require assistance? Division of assets and liabilities, including finances is one of the most hotly contested portions of a divorce proceeding. Taking stock of your financial picture before seeking a divorce will help to prepare you for what lies ahead.
  • Have you considered which issues will need to be resolved, and thought about what type of legal strategy will be necessary? Talking with a knowledgeable family law attorney about these things will give you an idea of what to expect during your case.
  • Are you ready to present a united front for your children on important issues such as discipline, education, and parental expectations? It is critical that parents continue to raise their children with common ideals, even after a divorce, because consistency in behavioral expectations will yield desired results. Kids also crave consistency as a way to adjust to their new family structure.
  • Have you made a list of questions about what concerns you most? Being prepared when you consult with a family law attorney will help to calm your nerves, and ensure the things that are on your mind are addressed.

Creating a new life for yourself after getting divorced starts early. Asking yourself these five things will lead to other important areas of concern, and with the help of a qualified family law attorney you will be in a good position to overcome the hurdles that can come with divorce.

For more information about marriage and divorce, call us today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.



What Is A Covenant Marriage?

If you are newly engaged and concerned about the possibility of divorce, there are steps you can take to help safeguard your marriage from dissolution. One popular method for couples entering marriage to fend off divorce is to participate in premarital counseling. In fact, some churches and other organizations will require sessions prior to allowing a wedding to take place. Another option at your disposal is to apply for and enter into a covenant marriage. This type of marriage is different from a traditional marriage, and should therefore only be entered into after careful consideration and thought.

Arizona statutes help explain the concept of a covenant marriage. It works like this:

  • You must declare your intent to enter a covenant marriage and engage in counseling sessions prior to the marriage.
  • If the marriage does experience difficulty that leads to divorce, a no fault divorce proceeding is not an option.
  • Specific grounds for divorce must be cited in order to obtain a divorce from a covenant marriage. These grounds include abuse, infidelity, felony, abandonment, or an extended period of time spent separated.

The purpose of this law is to prevent parties from getting married without giving the marriage serious thought. The idea of a covenant marriage is also meant to reduce the rate of divorce, and provide the couple with a deeper understanding of the consequences of ending their marriage. Whether these goals are actually obtained is debatable, but one thing is for certain: if you have entered a covenant marriage and want to get divorced, you can do so. However, the divorce process for this type of marriage is more complex than with a non-covenant marriage, and requires artful legal argument. Contact our office for more information, and to learn what you will face when seeking a divorce from a covenant marriage.

For answers to your questions about covenant marriages, consult our office. Put our valuable experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

Common Temporary Orders In Divorce Cases

When a divorce case is filed there are many issues to be resolved. The parties will seek Court determination of things like property division, child custody, support, and visitation. These orders become final when the case ends, but also must be handled at the outset of the proceeding. This is accomplished by entry of a temporary order that sets forth the parties’ rights and responsibilities during the divorce, until the final decree is entered.

Arizona statutes allow for temporary orders to be made while the parties negotiate the terms of the divorce, or while awaiting a trial of their case. Common temporary orders include providing for the following things:

  • Which parent will have custody of the kids and what the parenting time schedule will be like until a permanent order for these issues is made.
  • Who pays child support, and in what amount.
  • Whether any temporary spousal support is warranted.

Temporary orders provide answers to some of the most pressing issues faced when a case is filed. It is important to make sure these provisions do not become permanent though, unless they make sense for your future. It is critical you take a hard look at what your needs will be down the road and make sure the final order entered takes those concerns into account. Our qualified team of family law professionals will examine your needs and help you forecast for the future. Once your needs are made known, negotiation for results that work for you can begin.

For answers to your questions about how temporary orders in divorce cases work and what you can do to reach final orders that meet your needs, consult a qualified legal professional. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call the Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

Five Ways To Determine What Is “Best” For A Child Of Divorce

Nearly everyone has heard the phrase “best interests of the children”. This is the legal standard used by Courts across the country during divorce cases when issues about kids are involved. The idea is that when orders are entered that impact a child of divorce, the order will be what is “best” for the child. Not surprisingly, parties to a divorce have a different opinion about what is best for their kids so it can be confusing to understand what is included in this test. The ultimate decision is different in every case, because every case and every child is different, but there are some common themes that run throughout this legal standard and having an idea of what the Court will consider will help you to prepare for the case.

The “best interests of the child” test, as set forth in the state statutes, includes the five things:

  • How each parent is able to provide for their kids including the financial emotional, and physical needs of the children. A good example of how this part of the test is used in real life is to look at whether a parent earns enough to provide basics for their kids, such as food and shelter. Another example would be to examine whether a parent is fit to provide the emotional support kids need.
  • How old the kids are, and what their emotional needs are for their age. Being able to care for an infant is much different than being able to care for a teen child. Parents must be able to show they are able to tackle the issues their children face.
  • The level of communication between the parents and whether it is civil is also important. A parent that is unable to maintain some level of civility with their ex may not be the best choice for primary custodian.
  • As children age and mature them may express a preference of which parent to live with, and if that child expresses that preference the Court will take that into account when deciding what is best for the child.
  • The bond already form between the child and parent, and how involved the parent is in the life of their child. For instance, if mom always takes the kids to soccer and cheers them on at every game then it would be best to implement parenting plans and enter orders that allow that activity to continue..

Contact us today to discuss the specifics of your case. We will help to make sure your children’s interests are protected while aggressively advocating for results that are satisfactory.
For more information about divorce, contact our office today.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

What Are The Residency Requirements To File Divorce In Arizona?

We live in a mobile society, and in many cases a couple that splits up do not always continue to live in the same state. Or, it might be that one of the parties has only recently left the marital residence and moved out of state. If you have separated from your spouse in anticipation of, or in preparation of filing for divorce, it is important to know the residency requirements for filing your case in Arizona. This is especially true if you or your spouse have just moved either in or out of the State and are looking to dissolve your marriage.

The residency requirements for bringing your divorce action in Arizona include:

  • The requirement that at least one of the spouses lived in the state 90 days prior to filing the case.
  • You should file your case in the county in which you reside at the time the divorce is filed.

If you are able to establish residency for at least 90 days prior to filing, then you will be permitted to file a divorce in your county of residence. This is true even if your spouse does not live in that county, or even the State! However, it is beneficial to know that certain issues may be difficult for the Court to determine if your soon to be ex-spouse lives outside of the State of Arizona. To figure out how the residency requirement impacts you, contact a skilled family law attorney for more information. We will review the specific facts of your case, and provide you with options for your circumstances. In some instances it might be that you will have to wait a short time before filing your case, and if that is not an attractive option, you can consider filing in the state where you most recently lived. You might also think about seeing if your spouse, if they have been a resident of Arizona for 90 days, will initiate the case. These scenarios, while they do arise, do so infrequently and in most cases a person seeking to file divorce is able to do so right away.

For more information about divorce, contact our office. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.