In this case, as part of the divorce, the Mother petitioned to relocate with the parties’ children to another state. Mother retained a divorce attorney in Scottsdale who thoroughly attacked Father’s parental fitness, alleging substance abuse and general neglect.
After initially trying to represent himself against these serious allegations, Father retained our law firm to oppose the relocation and represent him through the conclusion of the underlying divorce. We were able to immediately resolve the financial issues and divide the community property, but Mother would not drop the relocation, so the matter was set for trial.
Mother’s litigation strategy centered around Father’s previous DUI convictions and current use of medical marijuana. Mother’s attorney argued that Father’s medical marijuana use constituted substance abuse under A.R.S. § 25-403.04 and made him presumptively unfit, apparently unaware of A.R.S. § 36-2813(D), which expressly prohibits that presumption.
In Arizona family law cases, the litigants are typically required to submit pretrial statements in advance of a trial or an evidentiary hearing. These statements comprehensively contain each party’s position(s) on all contested issues, legal theories and evidence in support, and all relief requested. The outcome of the case often depends on the quality, specifically the reasoning and persuasiveness, of the pretrial statement. Accordingly, legal writing is an aspect of the case that our family law attorneys take very seriously. In fact, during this trial, the judge invited the attorneys into chambers where he candidly explained that, based on the respective pretrial statements, he was already inclined to deny the relocation and rule in our favor. In other words, based on the quality of our writing, our client entered trial with an advantage.
Trial continued and the custodial relocation was denied. The parties’ children were ordered to remain in Arizona where our client’s parenting time would continue uninterrupted.