A divorce is often a stressful and emotionally difficult time. Divorce involves complex issues such as, child custody, parenting time, visitation, property division, child support and spousal maintenance. There are a number of legal and financial issues that must be considered before a settlement is achieved. That is why it is so important to retain an experienced attorney; one who knows how to help you avoid common mistakes, to guide you through this tumultuous time.
Arizona Courts recognize the importance of fostering healthy and fulfilling relationships between parents and children. However, these rights can be restricted under certain circumstances. Our primary concern is to protect your rights as a parent and your relationship with your children. We have assisted many clients through the contentious process of child custody disputes. We can help you develop a parenting plan that is realistic, enforceable and reasonable.
Complex custody is a term of art used to refer to parenting issues that do not fall squarely into the pattern of a shared parenting schedule following a divorce. These are often issues that involve parental fitness, drug abuse and child abuse/neglect. Child Protective Services may have been involved based on allegations of abuse or maltreatment.
We have been involved in all levels of complex custody litigation throughout Arizona as well as interstate and international (Hague) issues.
Grandparents have rights, in some circumstances, to be awarded grand parenting time with their grandchildren. Recognition of grandparents' rights is a fairly recent trend. Grandparents, step-parents, and other caretakers often form deep, bonded and meaningful relationship with the children in their lives. Yet when death, divorce, or estrangement tares families apart, these important people in a child’s life may find themselves excluded. We can help to open the door and establish quality time with your grandchildren.
We have assisted many grandparents and relatives in obtaining custody in cases where the parents are unfit.
Arizona is not a ‘gay friendly’ state. The conservative political environment in Arizona has resulted in same-sex parenting, custody and property division issues becoming tremendously taboo. The Court of Appeals has further limited the ability for same-sex couples to share custody in a case called Thomas v. Thomas.
Our attorneys are committed to the equal treatment of all people, irrespective of sexual orientation. Our understanding approach to the complexities of same-sex issues has led to our firm being sought out to consult on legislative issues pertaining to same-sex parenting issues. Additionally, we advise civil rights organizations seeking to address the inequities and prejudices in Arizona law.
Being accused of child abuse or molestation will change your life forever. Allegations of abuse often come from school teachers, family members and medical providers. These matters may be investigated by both the police department and Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS may take action, including the immediate removal of your children from their home, if certain criteria are met.
What you say and do when CPS is called can have long lasting ramifications. A 'substantiated' finding of abuse can have adverse impact on your livelihood, future custody determinations, and may be the beginning of a process where the State seeks to permanently terminate your rights as a parent.
Having handled hundreds of CPS removal cases, we are versed in identifying the issues even in the face of the most heinous and shocking accusations. Attorney, Gregg Woodnick, has served as a Guardian ad Litem representing children and victims of abuse and neglect. He has instructed and trained many GAL's and Court Appointed Advisors throughout Maricopa County. Gregg has handled abuse allegation cases throughout Arizona and is often called upon to consult with other attorneys and agencies in cases involving child abuse and neglect.
Sometimes the allegation is not as straight forward as drug or physical abuse. In recent years CPS has actively removed children from their homes for complex issues such as medical neglect and Munchhausen’s syndrome. Issues such as children's unique medical challenges may be misidentified as abuse. While CPS is generally well meaning in their efforts to 'protect the best interests of children,' they do make mistakes. A well-reasoned defense may help the Court understand that there are legitimate medical explanations for what has been improperly identified as abuse.
It is our job to defend your rights in the face of allegations involving neglect and abuse. If you are under investigation by CPS or the Police, do not hesitate to hire an attorney who is qualified in this complex arena.
Unfortunately, false allegations of sexual abuse have become rampant. Studies indicate that as many as 80% of allegations that arise during custody proceedings are fabricated. Despite these statistics, CPS, police departments and the Courts tend to err on the side of caution.
A parent may file child sexual abuse charges against another parent for reasons of revenge, anger or jealousy. A relative or parent may coax a child into making false allegations in an effort to gain custody of a child. Sometimes a person may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time and was therefore falsely accused of an impropriety when nothing actually took place.
Allegations arise not only from parents and family members, but sometimes as the result of bad therapy. Our attorneys have been involved in a number of complex sexual abuse allegation cases where the victim’s memory was ultimately determined to have been caused by bad therapy. This phenomenon of ‘false memory’ has been the subject of numerous professional articles and publications. Gregg Woodnick’s work and professional relationships with psychologists throughout the country helps him to understand the complexities of these situations and effectively advocate for his clients.
Sexual abuse allegations are an area of law that everyone, attorneys included, are uncomfortable discussing. Notwithstanding, parents need representation as these cases tend to take on a life of their own. Being accused of inappropriate sexual contact with a child may affect your employability, reputation, custody of your children and ultimately your freedom if you are convicted of an offense. Sexual offenses and child abuse are very serious crimes under Arizona law. Some offenses are designated Dangerous Crimes Against Children (DCAC). If convicted of one of these crimes, you will face mandatory prison time.
We are experienced in handling criminal cases. Our attorneys have represented the accused in counties and cities throughout Arizona. Some of the more high profile cases have included: drug trafficking, kidnapping, conspiracy, child molestation and serial arson. We also represent clients accused of drug offenses, child abuse, DUI’s and other felony and misdemeanor matters.
YOU ARE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY
Protecting Your Rights
Due to their age, children receive special treatment in Arizona. Unfortunately, because of their youth, they often do not comprehend the ramifications of their actions until it is too late. A juvenile conviction (known as an 'Adjudication') may cause immediate and irreparable harm to your child's future. A record can interfere with your child's admission to a university and their ability to secure a good job.
Under some circumstances a child can be charged with a crime as an adult. This can happen by ‘direct filing’ from the County Attorney's Office or by a 'transfer' proceeding.
Our job is to aggressively defend your child's rights and develop a defense strategy which mitigates the effects of the charge on your child's future.
We do not handle regular civil matters such as contract disputes and fender-benders. However, we do represent parties seriously injured at the fault of another. While there are many attorneys in Arizona who handle ‘personal injury’ matters, our civil representation is focused on those with serious and catastrophic injuries. Many of our cases involve children who are seriously injured due to negligence of others. This may range from a child who was hurt in a car accident while in the care of others or a child who was abused while in CPS custody.
We have successfully litigated cases involving ‘negligence’ and intentional injuries such as our representation of a disabled child who was beaten by a teacher at a school in Phoenix.