Divorce can be one of the most stressful times in your life. We get it.
HLO does not have a one-size fits all approach. Instead, we focus on listening to you, understanding your unique situation and creating legal solutions that work for you.
Divorce is a process — sometimes a lengthy, turbulent, and costly one. Many people proceed without legal representation – not everyone needs to hire a lawyer. In fact about 80% of family law cases in Maricopa County are “pro per” (meaning the party is representing himself /herself). If the parties do not own considerable assets and agree upon division and arrangements for minor children; they may not need legal representation.
The process is complicated and easy to misunderstand. Many who try to save $ and do it themselves, come to HLO after and request assistance in “righting the wrongs” they suffered. Please realize that if your spouse /the other party has a lawyer- you probably need one. If you own a marital residence, have retirement, or other assets, if you have minor children or have concerns about previous marriages and children, it is likely you would benefit from representation. When there has been a significant imbalance of power in a marriage – people often do not realize their rights under the law.
And, because the court would like all parties to have access to legal representation, there is a provision, that a judge may order one party to pay the other party’s legal fees and costs when there is a considerable discrepancy in income, or one party has been unreasonable in the litigation.
After working with a family court judge and spending considerable time in the courtroom; and meeting hundreds of people involved in family law issues- many of whom did not know or exercise his or her rights – Ms. Hemingway has come to believe that most, if not all, people could benefit from consulting with / or hiring an attorney to represent them in family law disputes/ settlement. When a party does not understand the process, what is and is not acceptable, etc., that person could easily make poor decisions.
At HLO, we will consult at no cost for 30 minutes to inform you of your options, rights, and possible costs of hiring -or not hiring- legal representation. HLO believes that you should make decisions understanding your rights and options before the court issues orders. Although most parenting, child support, alimony orders may be modified, property and debt division is generally final at the first ruling. It can be costly to modify any court orders and may be worth it to ensure you get it right the first time.
The amount of time for a divorce to be granted can vary considerably – there is a minimum of 60 days from serving/ being served divorce papers to having the divorce finalized in Arizona. Most divorces take several months – and sometimes years in highly contested divorces.
Some litigants end up paying many thousands of dollars fighting over issues because of their high emotional state. HLO recognizes the difficulty of being rational and cognitively engaged when you are emotionally charged – and thus, HLO encourages negotiation, mediation, and settlement to reduce client’s legal fees and emotional costs associated with ongoing litigation.
- Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the court will not consider a spouses infidelity or other bad acts to grant a divorce- the only legal reason for which one may obtain a divorce in AZ is if one party claims the marriage is irretrievably broken and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation (quite different from previous generations).
- After divorce papers are filed, neither party is permitted to make changes to bank accounts, insurance policies, or sell / damage / withdraw / hide marital assets. If there are minor children, one parent may not take the child(ren) out of Arizona without consent of the other parent or court.
- If you and your spouse are parting amicably and need legal help to come to agreements together on issues like assets and parenting time, you may want to consider mediation before litigation.
- Or, if you believe your marriage may be saved, Maricopa Superior Court Conciliation Services offers free marital counseling which may be requested. If one spouse requests free counseling from Maricopa County to try to save the marriage, all processes around divorce will stop until counseling has been completed.
- You are not legally divorced until the divorce Decree is signed by the judge and filed by the the Clerk of Court.
- Pre-Degree refers to anything that happens before the divorce (or legal separation or annulment or Establishment of parenting-time/ legal decision-making / paternity) is officially granted.
- Post-Degree refers to anything that happens after (usually to modify or enforce previous orders).
- Before filing for divorce in this state, either the husband or wife must have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days.
- Community property is property acquired or earned by either spouse during the marriage; except for property received by gift, devise, inheritance or owned by a person before marriage (and not co-mingled with community property).
HLO understand that the primary complaint people have about their lawyers is that the attorney does not keep the client informed. HLO seeks to keep clients fully informed on all the details of your case- and requests clients review all letters, pleadings, court documents, etc. before finalizing them. HLO normally returns calls within 1 business day and generally responds to email messages within a few hours.
HLO is small and flexible. We seek creative, custom solutions and tactics that apply specifically to your situation. Our founder, Jennis Hemingway, has an extensive experience in finance, contract pricing, cost analysis, contract negotiation. She taught financial and cost accounting, and business management courses at community colleges – which gives HLO an edge over most family law firms which often lack mathematical or business acumen.
If you have other questions or are ready to find out if HLO can help you, click the button below to contact us to set up a free 30-minute consultation.
Thank you for your invaluable advise and assistance. [You] gave us great piece of mind. – M.