understanding qdros

Understanding QDROs

Retirement accounts and pension plans are an important part of the community property division in a divorce.  If either you or your spouse have an employer pension plan that was added to during your marriage, it is a marital asset and community property, even if only one spouse’s name is actually on the account. This asset is divided in the divorce, but divvying it up is much more complex than simply splitting up a bank account or changing the title on a car. Because the money in these accounts generally cannot be transferred by the owner’s request, there is a complex process that must take place to be able to move the funds out and give them to the other spouse as part of the divorce settlement or order.

To access the funds in the account that you and your spouse or a judge has decided should be transferred, your attorney must prepare a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, called a QDRO (pronounced “quadro”). This document must be prepared to meet the specifications of the individual pension plan or account. The court signs the order and it is sent to the company that manages and administers the account. If the document meets the requirements set up by the Administrator of the Plan being divided, the funds can be transferred to an account for the receiving spouse. In other words the receiving spouse now has a “sub-account” in the ex-spouse’s Plan, in her name. She is restricted by the same rules as the Plan Participant when it comes to withdrawing the money. Occasionally the Plan will allow the receiving spouse to roll her share of the Plan into a Rollover IRA account. Talk to your attorney to get details about QDROs and whether one is needed in your case.  Your attorney can also advise you as to the actions you need to take if you receive QDRO funds to avoid tax issues.

The Sampair Group handles complex financial divorces in Maricopa County, Arizona. Our office is conveniently located to serve you and is ready to take your call. Make an appointment now.

good divorce decisions take time

Good Divorce Decisions Take Time

When you begin the divorce process you most likely want nothing more than to get the case over and done with so that you can move on. The divorce process may seem like it takes a long time and you’re itching to just rip the bandage off and get on with your life. Because you may be anxious to move forward, it can be easy to make quick decisions and then later regret your choices. As you move through your divorce, you will have to make decisions about what you will ask for or settle for when it comes to spousal support, child support, parenting time and decision-making, and property division.  These decisions will impact the rest of your life, so it is very important that you take the time to think them through and decide carefully. Follow these tips to ensure your decisions are good ones.

  • Talk everything over with you lawyer and make sure you understand all the consequences of each decision. Ask about alternatives and always ask what your attorney recommends you do.
  • Take the time to think through all decisions you are presented with. If you want to go home and mull it over, do so. There are times when you may be asked to decide something in a split second, particularly in the midst of courtroom negotiations. If you need more time to think about something, say so.
  • Listen to your common sense. Everyone around you might advise you about the best way to handle something, but in the end you are the one who has to live with it. Do what feels right to you. Most decisions in divorce can be made with knowledge from your lawyer applied to your own common sense.

The Sampair Group is ready to help you work through all of the decisions involved in your divorce or family law case. Schedule an appointment with us in the Glendale, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale and Phoenix area.

additional expenses and child support

Additional Expenses and Child Support

Child support in Arizona is calculated using a formula that takes income and the number of children into consideration. There are additional adjustments that can be made to this amount before it is finalized.

The order must take into account how the parents share time with their child and reduce the amount of child support by the total number of days the non-custodial parent has the child within one year. This recognizes that when the child is with the non-custodial parent, that parent is meeting the child’s needs.

The order must include coverage for the child’s medical, dental, and vision coverage, which can be prorated based on the number of family members on the plan.

There are a number of additional expenses that child support orders may include and these include:

  • Childcare costs. The court will consider the federal child care tax for which the custodial parent is eligible. Childcare expenses must be reasonable in light of the parents’ financial situations (so, for example, a full-time nanny for parents who earn minimum wage would not be appropriate).
  • Education expenses. The court may include the reasonable and necessary costs of sending the child to public or private school, if the parents agree about the decision.
  • Extraordinary child costs. Children who are gifted or disabled often require additional services, and the court can add these costs to the order.
  • Older children. Arizona recognizes that older children usually require more expenditures as they become involved in extra-curricular activities, sports teams, and music education. Child support for children age 12 or older can be increased by 10% in response to these costs.
  • Travel expenses. If you and your ex live more than 100 miles apart, the cost of traveling to and from visitation or transfers can be added to child support.

The Sampair Group represents men and women in child support in Maricopa County. We understand how important having child support set correctly is for you and are committed to making the best case possible. Make an appointment with us today.

dividing the home in divorce

Dividing the Home in a Divorce

Your home may be the largest asset in your divorce. It also is usually one of the most emotionally important assets because you have a history there and may still have children in the home. The home is symbolic of your marriage and your security and as such it can be hard to make decisions about it.

Because Arizona is a community property state, the assets of your marriage divided equally. Your marital home is a community property asset if it was bought during the marriage. It may also be community property if it was bought prior to the marriage and both spouses contributed to its upkeep and payments during the marriage.

Who gets the house is often a hot point and the decision may come down to who can afford to keep the home. If one spouse can refinance the mortgage, it may make sense for her to keep the home. Of course, the other spouse is still entitled to half its value, which is distributed through other assets.

If you can’t afford to keep the home, you may be able to do so if you receive spousal support from your ex after the divorce, or if you receive enough other property in the divorce to enable you to afford the mortgage payments.

If neither one of you is able to take on sole responsibility for the home, it’s possible to co-own it. This could be a temporary situation until it increases in value enough to be sold, or you might decide to co-own it until the children move out as adults.

If you can’t agree about what to do with the home, the court will consider custody of the children, which one of you is presently in the home, how other property is being divided, and what your financial resources will be after the divorce.

The Sampair Group is your firm for divorce or family law matters. Make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable attorneys in Maricopa County today.

child support myths

Child Support Myths

If child support is part of your divorce or family law case, you know that it is a complex financial ruling. It’s also often one of the most difficult parts of a case because emotions run high about child support. Because this is an emotional topic, there is a lot of misinformation about it. Learn the truth about these common child support myths.

  • Child support is supposed to cover all the costs of raising a child. Child support is one parent’s contribution. Both parents are expected to contribute to the financial costs of raising a child. Neither one alone is responsible for all expenses.
  • We can alter the child support ourselves. You and your ex can agree to anything, but nothing you do is enforceable unless it is in the form of a court order. You can agree to increase child support by $50 a week, but unless a court issues that in an order, you can never enforce it. And if you agree to reduce child support and you pay less, you can be held in violation of the order unless it is officially modified.
  • A parent with no visitation does not have to pay child support. In fact, spending time with your child can reduce the amount you owe, since the parenting plan is taken into consideration in calculating child support. A parent who has no contact with his or her child is still liable for child support.
  • Child support has to be used directly for the child’s expenses. Child support can be used by the receiving parent in any way he or she sees fit and there is no requirement that is be used specifically for the child alone.

There are many complex issues in divorce and family law cases. The Sampair Group is your choice in the Glendale, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale andPhoenix areas of Arizona when you need a firm that will listen carefully and advise wisely. Make an appointment for a consultation with one of our attorneys today.

financial impact of divorce on women

Financial Impact of Divorce on Women

Divorce creates financial challenges for men and women. Anyone going through a divorce knows that it challenges your bottom line. However, a recent government study has shown that divorce hits women harder financially than men. The statistics show that a man’s household income falls 20% on average after a divorce, but for women the decline in household income after divorce is 41% on average, more than double the impact on men.

If you are a women, this can sound devastating. Protect yourself in the following ways:

  • Ask for child support and spousal support. Some women feel uncomfortable asking because they feel it makes them dependent on their ex at a time when all they want is to move forward alone. Child support and alimony are crucial in rebuilding your financial life. Talk with your attorney about what you are entitled to.
  • Think about retirement now. Retirement assets are marital assets and you should make sure you get your fair share. Many women choose to take more liquid assets, but if you don’t start planning for your future now, you may never accumulate what you really need to retire comfortably. You also need to think about developing your own savings plan moving forward. Talk to a financial planner to create a sensible strategy.
  • Get what is owed to you. Make sure you actually get everything your divorce decree entitles you to, from furniture to lawn tools. If your ex doesn’t pay spousal support or child support on time, hold him or her accountable in court. If your ex is supposed to provide health insurance or pay for school expenses for your child, make sure it happens. Yes, it’s challenging to keep track of payments and upsetting to have to go back to court, but it’s the only way to ensure your rights are protected.

For help with your divorce or post-divorce modifications, contact the Sampair Group.

what to do when visitation is skipped

What To Do When Visitation Is Skipped

Your parenting time plan is designed to give both parents meaningful access to your child. This time is important not only for you as a parent, but it is essential for your child’s development to have real relationships with both parents. Learning what to do when visitation is missed or skipped is something you need to know as you move forward after your divorce or custody case.

If you are the residential parent and the other parent skips his or her scheduled parenting times, you may be frustrated by the schedule changes. While it’s important to be flexible with each about necessary schedule adjustments, if your ex is simply not showing up on a regular basis without rescheduling or letting you know, it’s stressful for you and your child. There is nothing you can do to force a parent to utilize his or her scheduled parenting time, except lay guilt trips about how disappointed your child is. What you can do is seek to modify the schedule so that visits are planned at times when your ex might actually use them. If visits continue to be completely missed, you can seek to have them completely removed from the schedule.

If you are the nonresidential parent and your ex, the residential parent, is doing things to prevent you from using your scheduled parenting time, like constantly moving dates and times, or simply not being there for your pick up, you need to talk to your attorney. You can enforce the schedule in court and you can use these evasion techniques as a basis for asking for more time with your child, and possibly even a change in legal custody.

The Sampair Group has experience in difficult parenting time cases in Glendale, Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona. Make an appointment to meet the attorney that will help you with your case.

how to write a parenting plan

How to Write a Parenting Plan

Creating a parenting plan may feel like a daunting task, particularly if you and your ex don’t agree. The parenting plan is absolutely essential as it lays out your rights and responsibilities as you move forward and sets up a framework that allows your child to have a relationship and time with both of you.

Keep in mind that your parenting plan should detail all of your agreements about how you will share time with your child, so make sure everything is in writing.

When you first begin to consider how to organize your time, take a look at your schedules, where you live, where your child goes to school, and the activities your child has. It often makes sense to write out everyone’s schedule on a calendar so you can really see how it looks. You can maximize your respective time with your child by scheduling parenting time at times when you are each the most available. Having time while your child is at school or you are at work benefits neither you nor your child.

Try to minimize transfers if possible. Transporting your child back and forth becomes tiring for everyone, so longer times with each parent can help decrease that craziness. Make your lives easier by specifying exact transfer times and exactly how much leeway is going to be allowed. Set up a system for making changes to the plan and specify how changes must be requested and how far in advance.

Your parenting plan will affect your life and that of your child for many years to come, so it’s important to get it done right. The Sampair Group offers experienced help in creating parenting plans in the Glendale, Mesa, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Phoenix areas of Arizona. Call us now to make an appointment with one of our skilled attorneys.

what is contempt of court

What Is Contempt of Court?

You may have heard the term “contempt of court” and wondered what it is or how it might apply in your divorce or family law case. Contempt of court happens when a person under the court’s jurisdiction (such as you or your spouse, or even one of the attorneys in your case) does something that defies the court’s authority or is severely disrespectful to the court. It’s up to the judge to decide that someone is in contempt of court and the judge has broad discretion about making this call. Examples of contempt of court actions might include failing to pay child support, refusing to follow a parenting plan, failing to pay spousal support, or insulting or defying the judge.

In family court cases, a hearing is held when a court chooses to invoke a contempt order, giving the person accused of contempt the opportunity to present a defense. If the person fails to appear, a warrant can be issued and the person can be held in jail for up to 24 hours.

A finding of contempt can result in jail time, fines, or seizure of property. If the person found in contempt in a family law case is sentenced to jail time, a hearing must be held every 35 days throughout the jail term.

To avoid a contempt order, it is essential that you exactly follow all court orders in your case, appear in court at all scheduled times, and remain polite and civil during all proceedings. If you disagree with an order or are having problems meeting its requirements you need to talk to your attorney immediately so that you can avoid facing a contempt of court charge.

When you need help with a family law case, call The Sampair Group. We regularly represent clients in Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Phoenix in divorce and family law cases and are ready to provide the representation you need.

how to afford divorce

How to Afford Divorce

You’ve agreed your marriage isn’t working and that your conflicts are not healthy for your kids to witness. You’ve agreed how to pay for your legal fees. But you can’t get around one big sticking point. How are you going to afford to live separately after your divorce?

When you are married you have X amount of dollars coming into your home and a set amount of expenses. When you divorce and physically separate there is still only X amount of dollars coming to the two of you yet suddenly you have two sets of household expenses to cover. It can be a stunning and sobering realization and may seem like a nearly impossible situation. Here’s how to make those dollars stretch to cover two homes.

  • Consider downsizing all around. If one of you stays in the marital home and one of you gets another apartment or home, your expenses may be more than your budget can handle. If you both move to smaller or less expensive places, your dollars will go further.
  • Share expenses. Roommates, friends, or family can all help you by contributing to your household budget or providing rent-free places to stay.
  • Increase your income. An obvious, but not always easy solution, is to increase the amount of money being earned. If one parent has been at home with children, becoming employed can make two homes possible. A raise, second job, or side income can also be helpful.
  • Reduce your expenses. This may be a good time to refinance the mortgage on the family home, reduce your cable subscription, buy a less expensive car, etc.
  • Be creative. You might be able to remain in the same house, sharing the same costs with some creative remodeling or rearranging. You might rent the marital home out and both live elsewhere, making a profit on it.

 

The Sampair Group has the advice you need to help you get through your divorce in Maricopa County. Call us today so that we can begin helping you.