“Part of the process of beginning anew, or changing directions is to know where you want to go. I know this sounds simplistic and easy, but this is one of the most difficult of choices to make with clarity."
Byron Pulsifer, May Is Not Just For Flowers
Fearless, candid, caring and aggressive Arizona advocate of your rights
The Law Office of Donna M. Hougen, also known as Hougen Family Law, offers individuals and families compassionate, strategic and customized representation. Whether you are ending a marriage, protecting assets, modifying an original divorce decree, seeking a pre-nuptial agreement or involved in paternity issues, we are here to help you.
We believe in educating clients about the legal issues and processes they face. We make sure you know what to expect. It is important to know how your life will be affected during the divorce and to prepare for life afterwards. We help you make the best decisions for your unique situation.
We also have extensive experience. Our firm has been a part of this legal community since 1998, and we know it well — the judges, the opposing attorneys, the best strategies to use with them and how to guide you through the legal process to the most favorable outcome that benefits both you and your family.
We advocate for you and your family in the following areas:
- Divorce and related issues — Dissolution of a marriage occurs when a marriage is legally terminated, and the court divides your assets, debts, provides for minor children and deals with any maintenance issues. Included in this arena are legal separations (your marriage is not ended but you wish to live separate and apart, and the Court will end your community and distribute assets and debts, arrange for custody and deal with support issues) and annulments (your marriage is found void or voidable, the court will divide your property and may divide your debt, and it will establish rights and obligations regarding minor children). Dissolution actions can be uncontested or contested. We provide you with experienced guidance.
- Spousal support or spousal maintenance — Arizona uses the term spousal maintenance for what is elsewhere called spousal support or alimony. If divorcing or legally separating spouses cannot agree in writing to spousal maintenance, then the court awards it. We help you understand maintenance issues, we work with you to come to a settlement and when we have to go to trial, we work as a team to get you a favorable outcome.
- Child custody — We effectively negotiate, and litigate child custody matters (legal decision making and physical parenting time schedules) in detail to reduce future modifications. We handle out-of-state matters that fall under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, and we assist people addressing supervised parenting time. Contested child custody matters require a clear team approach and concerted action.
- Child support — Generally, child support is determined by formulas set by the state. Deviation from state guidelines is sometimes appropriate. Back child support and child support arrearages can involve complex issues. We ensure the court has accurate information, including proper review of deductions to gross income, to reach a fair decision on your behalf.
- Modifications — These are changes made to final agreements or court orders relating to child custody, visitation and support when there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Oftentimes, modifications involve emergencies and requests for interim or temporary orders. We can protect your interests.
- Temporary orders — These are special interim orders that we seek for people who need immediate redress of their grievances or distribution of support, income, assets, debts and to deal with interim custody matters. They can provide for housing, custody, attorney fees, spousal support, child support and temporary property and debt divisions until a trial or agreement disposes of the ultimate issues and a final decree is entered.
- Emergency orders — When physical harm is alleged likely to result or alleged to have occurred, immediate ex parte orders may be granted. They can take the form of Orders of Protection, Exclusive Use and Possession of the Family Home, Injunctions Against Work Place Harassment, Expedited Child Custody Orders, Emergency Child Custody Orders and the like can often be obtained. Emergency Child Custody Orders can prevent harm, but they can be used harmfully as well. Courts are wary that some people abuse the Emergency Child Custody process and may either wrongfully deny a party emergency relief or hold against a party their acquisition of emergency relief. Therefore, it is best to consult with an attorney before seeking Emergency Orders.
- Paternity actions — These are actions filed in order to assist a parent in acknowledging and protecting important visitation, custody and support rights. Substantial prejudice can occur to a parent whose child is born outside of wedlock because presumptions favoring married parents are not present in cases involving children born out of wedlock, and this is so even of the parents later marry. We advocate for your interests in these types of actions.
- Parent relocation — Parents wishing to move out of state must comply with statutory notice requirements, as well as make a clear showing that their move will improve their lifestyle and that of their child. Typically a moving parent will need the court's permission to take the children with them if a non-moving parent disagrees. Whether you are seeking or challenging a move, we help by presenting the best evidence in support of your case.
- Prenuptial agreements — We draft this type of agreement to protect your separate assets from those of your intended spouse, counseling you and entering you into agreements that set the future acquisition rights in your marriage, make provisions regarding duties of respective spouses to one another as you deem fit, waive or establish support rights and provide direction for inheritance and support obligations that might arise over time.
- Domestic partner agreements — A contract for unmarried couples to address the sharing of income, expenses and property, a domestic partner agreement supports your ownership rights and clarifies your intentions for the distribution of your property if you die or your relationship ends. We can draft this contract for you.
Safeguarding you and your family in Mesa and Gilbert, Arizona
When you need a legal advocate for your divorce and family law matters, call the Law Office of Donna M. Hougen at 480.657.7505 or contact Donna directly to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mesa, Arizona, Hougen Family Law lawyers practice in the family courts throughout the State of Arizona, including the Maricopa County cities and towns of Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, Paradise Valley, San Tan and Queen Creek.