Family Law Blog

The Time and Place for No Fault Divorce

November 30, 2010

by Elizabeth Feldman

If you are thinking about getting a divorce (or separation), or are in the midst of divorce litigation, you will hear (maybe all too often) that Arizona is a “no fault” state.   What this means is that neither party has to prove that the other party is “at fault” in order to get a divorce.  In other words, if you or your partner wants a divorce, you get divorced.  It doesn’t matter if he/she is a dirty, rotten, mean, cheating scoundrel.  And usually a court won’t even be interested in any of the juicier details.

Almost every state in the country is now no-fault.  Prior to the change, most states required that one party provide evidence of the other spouse’s wrongdoing (for example, adultery or cruelty) for a divorce to be granted, even if both parties wanted out.  New York is the final remaining state and is now considering no-fault.

There are many good points and bad points to a “no fault” divorce.  These include the fact that you don’t have to re-live the pain of your marriage in order to prove that you “deserve” one, and you can procure your divorce more quickly and easily than if you had to show fault.  However there are other times when “fault” can be relevant.  For example, if your spouse is cheating and spending community funds (using the joint bank account or credit card) to fund his/her dalliances, it could signal that he/she is “wasting” community funds and you may have a right to be compensated.  Also, if you share children, and one spouse has problems with drugs or alcohol then that spouse may be unfit for custody.

In other words, although we live in a “no fault” state, there may be times when you and your attorney should push the issue of fault.  A Judge may not be eager to hear the grim details of why you are getting divorced, but it may be very relevant to other, more important issues surrounding your separation such as property division or parenting.  As such, in these cases the issue of fault simply cannot be ignored.

Why Do I Have To Pay Child Support Through The Clearinghouse?

February 11, 2010

By Sandra Burt

My clients often ask me why they have to pay through the clearinghouse. “Isn’t that an extra step between the money and the children?”  As you may or may not know, all child support (and sometimes spousal maintenance) payments go through the Department of Economic Security Clearinghouse.

While divorcing parties can choose to have direct pay, most opt for the payment to be made through the clearinghouse for record keeping purposes.  The clearinghouse will track all monies in and out for about $2.25 a month.  The clearinghouse is not necessarily a policing service; they will not they do not “contact” a party if their payment is late, but they do provide their records if a party has to take the paying parent back to court for nonpayment.

Some parties express as concern about a “delay factor” with the clearinghouse, but there is really no delay.  The clearinghouse pays the payee as soon as the money is received from the payor, usually by direct deposit into a bank account.  In fact, the clearinghouse disperses funds so fast that they can and do sometimes get stuck with bounced checks on which the payor would obviously have to make good.

There will certainly be concerns whenever you are dealing with something as sensitive as money, and especially when you feel as if you’re handing control of that money over to a third party; but the Department of Economic Security Clearinghouse is a trustworthy middleman, and in many cases necessary.  With no delay in the transfer of money and close to perfect recordkeeping, the clearing house can be an invaluable ally.