Family Law and Domestic Relations
Dissolution of Marriage
The Family Law and Domestic Relations practice at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon supports clients by helping them emerge from divorce with a sense of peace about the decisions they have made and hope for a future that is manageable and just. Our professionals are strong, compassionate and skilled in all of the legal facets of a divorce.They understand that each family is unique and assist clients by listening to their needs and guiding them through the best process to achieve their goals.
Our Family Law and Domestic Relations practice includes collaborative divorce, mediation and negotiation, pre- and postnuptial agreements, divorce litigation, child custody and support, spousal maintenance, property division, paternity, adoption and guardianship.
Jennings, Strouss & Salmon’s Family Law and Domestic Relations attorney, Norma Izzo, is formally trained in the collaborative divorce process and President of the Collaborative Divorce Professionals of Arizona.
Collaborative divorce addresses each dimension of a divorce – legal, financial, and emotional – and puts families first by allowing couples to maintain control over their decisions. The objective is to avoid the length, expense, and emotional trauma of a traditional divorce proceeding, while respecting the family’s privacy.
A collaborative divorce involves an attorney and a divorce coach for each party, a financial specialist, and a child specialist. Collaborative divorce attorneys agree to resolve their clients' differences without the threat of going to court. They also facilitate a transparent process by cooperating fully with disclosure and discovery requests, enabling both participants to make informed decisions.
Collaborative divorce allows for a private and dignified process, guiding couples through divorce and preparing them for the future. Moving from one household to two is part of the transition for divorcing couples. Collaborative divorce treats the transition with reverence and respect, while keeping the needs of the family and child(ren) at the forefront of the process.
Ms. Izzo is formally trained in private mediation. She can either represent an individual in the mediation process or serve as the neutral third-party for a divorcing couple.
Mediation is a voluntary process in which couples choose to work together with a neutral third-party to facilitate communication in an attempt to resolve differences. Mediation encourages couples to move away from theories of right or wrong and winning or losing. Mediators help couples work together to problem-solve and, ultimately, reach a compromise on divorce-related issues that both parties can live with.
There are many benefits of mediation. It can be a more cost-effective, non-adversarial and, at times, an emotionally healing process. Mediation is client-driven, allowing couples to have a sense of ownership over the legal and financial choices they make.
Ms. Izzo assists clients in uncontested matters through administrative guidance and legal drafting to memorialize the agreements divorcing couples entered into. She is also skilled in negotiating divorce matters, including high asset financial issues. If resolution of such issues proves to be a challenge, retention of an attorney can assist in ongoing settlement negotiations for matters that may not necessarily end up in court. At Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, we advocate for our clients while providing them insight as to the potential consequences of alternatives to a negotiated settlement.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Arizona community property law dictates that property and marital assets are to be divided equitably, although not necessarily equally. Couples who wish to address financial issues, such as the characterization and division of property and assets prior to, or during, a marriage should consider pre- or postnuptial agreements. Jennings, Strouss & Salmon helps clients identify the necessity and outline the parameters of such agreements so that couples can focus on their life together without worrying about their financial future.
When couples are unable to amicably resolve their disputes, they must look to an adjudicator to make final rulings on outstanding issues. When litigation is unavoidable, receiving skilled and experienced legal support is imperative.
Jennings, Strouss & Salmon attorneys are committed to providing honest and clear advice to clients facing litigation. They are knowledgeable about Arizona laws and rules of procedure and evidence concerning family law matters. The firm’s vast resources include quality and independent financial professionals who can assist with complex issues. Jennings, Strouss & Salmon is committed to being a strong and authoritative advocate for clients in and out of the courtroom, while maintaining a high degree of ethics and legal standards.
Jennings, Strouss & Salmon ensures that the needs of the child(ren) in divorcing families, or those involved in other family disputes, are a priority. Our consideration for the best interests of the child(ren) in any legal situation is unyielding.
In Arizona, child custody is easily divided into two main parts – Physical Custody and Legal Custody. Physical Custody refers to where the child(ren) will primarily live. Legal Custody refers to the decision-making authority of one or both parents regarding the child(ren)'s health, education and religious upbringing. We assist parents in developing a child custody arrangement that will be beneficial to their newly-defined family.
Arizona child support law holds parents responsible for the financial support of their children until each child reaches 18 years of age and graduates from high school. Generally, support payments are based on combined parental income and the parenting time schedule shared by both parents.
We advise clients on the state’s child support guidelines, what to expect regarding child support, and how the process of receiving or paying child support works in Arizona. We also assist with modifications or enforcement of child support orders after a divorce is final, in the event there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances of either party.
Spousal maintenance is a term used to define the financial assistance one spouse of a divorcing couple may be required to pay to the other. If a spouse is eligible for spousal maintenance, the court looks to a list of enumerated factors to determine the amount and duration. Spousal maintenance is a complicated legal issue in a divorce. Jennings, Strouss & Salmon assists clients in determining if an award of spousal support is appropriate under their specific circumstances.
Divorces become more complex when there are substantial assets involved. Generally, under Arizona community property law, marital assets are to be divided equitably, although not always equally. Our attorneys assist clients in identifying, characterizing, valuing and asserting ownership of marital and separate property.
Jennings, Strouss & Salmon is experienced with the legal issues surrounding paternity. We assist clients with establishing, defending, or denying paternity for a child, if the child is born outside of wed-lock. Helping clients establish paternity is the first step to securing and/or disputing rights and obligations, such as custody, parenting time and child support.
Jennings, Strouss & Salmon is experienced with both traditional and nontraditional adoptions. We help clients navigate the often lengthy, complex and bureaucratic adoption process, providing legal representation for adopting parents and step-parents.
In Arizona, before assigning guardianship, the court must first determine whether both of the child(ren)’s parents are deceased, both of the parental relationships have been severed by circumstance or court order, both parents have consented to the guardianship, or a combination of those factors exists. A guardianship can be temporary or permanent, and the court will always look to the best interests of the minor child(ren). Jennings, Strouss & Salmon is experienced with guiding clients through the legal process of obtaining a guardianship.