top of page

By: Riisa


Congratulations, You're having a baby! As a proud father, you have signed your name to the bouncing baby's birth certificate. Its officiall! That means you have parenting rights, correct? Unfortunately that isn't always true. If you are not married to the mother, putting your name as the father on a child's birth certificate does not do much for you. You are now presumed to be the father in the eyes of the law, but the mother retains full custody. Could she move the child to another state without so much as a phone call? Yes. So how do you secure your parenting rights? The first step is a trip to court, where you must file for paternity. Once done, you have formally requested legal decision making rights with regard to your child's future, as well as court ordered parenting time. Essentially, establishing legal paternity will ensure that you are as much a parent as the mother is. So how do we start?


Easy. Call or send me an email to schedule a free consultation. We will discuss your case privately, assess your options and move forward from there. I have successfully handled many paternity cases and personally authored numerous parenting plans, all accepted by the court. Remember, establishing paternity is a crucially important step in securing your parental rights. Like most legal processes, it can also be very complicated. Lets talk it through together. 


Call Petersen Law Firm PLLC for a free consultultation at 520-631-3286.



Are fathers awarded rights simply by signing the Birth Certificate?

Is Arizona a Mother’s rights state?

By: Riisa


I get this question frequently from potential clients.  Before January 1st of this year, Arizona certainly was a “Mother’s Rights” state. In the 2012 State Legislative session however, a series of reforms were passed placing emphasis on a rounded upbringing by two active parents. In essence, there has been an effort to do away with the idea of “custody” in favor of shared parenting time and joint legal decision making. These measures took affect in the beginning of this year. 



Though some of the terminology has changed, the central questions surrounding your custody arrangements have not. In most cases however, it will be rare for a mother to answer those questions alone. Arizona has decided to recognize the philosphy that offering parents Joint Legal Decision-Making will be in the best interests of their children. This is a near reversal of decades worth of Arizona Law, and it WILL impact your family as you move forward. 



This is certainly welcome news for fathers, many of whom are emerging from a system in which the deck was decidedly stacked against them. To their benefit, courts will no longer assume that infants and toddlers will be better off under a mother’s care due to young age. Today, both parents will be awarded as near an equal amount of parenting time as possible. Should one party argues that the court should reduce the other parent’s time with their children, the level of proof which must be demonstrated will be far, far higher. 



Serious issues, such as ongoing alcohol or drug abuse, domestic violence, etc., supercede these new legislative requirements. In those cases, the courts can address specific problem areas in a parenting plan tailored to the circumstances of the case and aimed at providing a parenting arrangement that best provides for the needs of the child involved. similar arrangements can also be made in cases where a shared parenting arrangement is impossible due to distance or complex working schedules.



In short, the system is now different, but no less complicated. If anything, it may be even more so. Divorce and custody battles can be stressful and difficult for everyone involved. If you need help, I’m here. Call the Petersen Law Firm at 520-631-3286 to schedule your free consultation. 

By: Riisa


Family law encompasses a variety of legal issues.  It typically describes issues that deals with family-related matters and domestic relations, including: marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships; adoption and surrogacy; the termination of relationships and ancillary matters, like divorce, annulment, property settlements, spousal maintenance (typically termed alimony), legal decision making for children (child custody), parenting time (visitation) and child support.  It also deals with parenting issues with unmarried or “special paternity cases.”


Family law varies from state to state.  Among others, there is a difference between “community property” states and “non community property” states with regard to division of assets in a divorce.  What most people do not know is that procedures vary greatly even from county to county.  Requirements as to what paperwork that is included with each family law filing differs from Maricopa county to Pima county to Santa Cruz county etc.  These are called “local rules.”


Many of the bigger counties have checklists for people looking to file each action for themselves.  The problem these people often run into presents itself when the two parties disagree on one point or another, at which point the checklist offers the belated suggestion, “you should seek the advice of an attorney.”  In fact it is best to consult an attorney before any action is filed that knows the intricacies of filing in that particular state and in that particular county.


In many cases the outcome of a family law issue can impact the rest of that individual’s life.  Many clients enter my office with final decrees that have devastated them and they want to know what they can do about it.  In some cases, such as those in which a decree has declared an issue such as spousal maintenance “non-modifiable” it is extremely hard to reverse.  The lesson behind this blog is that Tucson family law is a unique jurisdiction with its own legal intricacies. You need an attorney who is both experienced and familiar with the potential pitfalls and entanglements that present themselves along the way. 


My number one recommendation is call a family law attorney for a consultation. Specifically, I’d recommend you call me. Lets sit down together and discuss your unique case and your unique needs. It costs you nothing, and you have a lot to gain. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney call me, Riisa Petersen at Petersen Law Firm PLLC at 520-631-3286.

Tucson Family Law

By: Riisa


Did you know that divorce laws can differ significantly from state to state? Think about it: there is no federal marriage or divorce law, which means that states have individually adopted their own laws regarding marriage and divorce. There are two categories that most states fall into. Many of the states on the East coast are called "common law" states,  while many of the states out west - including Arizona - are known as "community property" states. 


What exactly does "community property" mean?  Essentially, It means that everything you have accumulated before your marriage (assets and debts), anything you inherited before and during the marriage, most gifts received during the marriage, and some lawsuit settlements during the marriage are your separate property, and is yours to keep upon divorce. On the flip side, everything which you and your spouse have accumulated during the marriage (debts, assets, property...really anything not listed in the previous category) is community property from the moment you get married to the moment your divorce is granted.  


The implications here can be pretty broad. If you were the sole income earner during your marriage, every penny is half owned by your spouse. Arizona also says that your spouse is entitled to half of whatever retirement you have accumulated and vice versa.  Did your spouse rack up a whole lot of debt while you were married?  You could be on the hook for half.  Did your spouse attend college or university during your marriage and rack up some student debt as well?  Despite the fact that  your spouse incurred it, you could be held responsible for half of that as well.  


Arizona law says that all of these things can happen. It doesn't state that they have to. This is where having an experienced divorce attorney comes in handy. I can answer your questions and guide you to the best possible outcome for your case.  Every single divorce is different, and one size does not fit all. As your attorney,  I'll give your case the personal attention it deserves and work tirelessly to ensure that you and your future are protected.  My office phone number is my cell number and I frequently answer phone calls from my clients after hours and on weekends. More importantly, I offer free consultations. Give me a call today and tell me about your situation. Call 520-631-3286 to talk to me, Riisa Petersen, managing attorney at Petersen Law Firm PLLC.

Tucson Divorce

We've Moved the Blog!!

Happy New Year, everybody! We thought this would be as good a time as any to introduce a more organized, user friendly blog format for you all to enjoy. Click the the giant "Blog" below to check it out!


BLOG <----Click that.



bottom of page