Who Can Serve Divorce Papers in Arizona?

If you have filed a motion to open a child support, paternity, or custody case, it’s then your responsibility, rather than the courts, to provide notice to the child’s other parent. Due to the significance of this type of proceeding, it is no shock that there are strict rules related to how the other parent […]

Does Getting a Divorce in Arizona Affect Your Credit Score?

Divorce is a very serious and disruptive experience in anyone’s life that can change everything. During this time, you will have to adjust your entire living situation, consider all your assets, and think about the effects the divorce can have on your credit score. Also, all debts, regardless of if they are separate or marital will have to be settled after you have split up.

If you don’t have enough information on the situation or if you don’t plan ahead of time, a divorce may wind up impacting your credit score negatively. Keep reading to learn more.

How Can Divorce Impact Your Credit Score?

While there are quite a few people who understand that the dissolution of their marriage can impact their credit rating, they don’t exactly know how. While the divorce itself will not cause your score to lower, splitting up with someone can cause financial problems. Some specific things that may impact your credit rating after a divorce include:

Getting Behind on Your Bills

Life is something that comes with many expenses and during a divorce it is easy to get behind on payments due, which can impact your credit rating. By communicating with your ex-spouse in a civil manner about the bills can be both troublesome and stressful. In most cases, you are going to be impacted more if you made less than your former spouse.

Community Property Laws

Arizona is considered a community property state. What this means is that all the property that you gathered during the course of a marriage belongs to both you and your partner after a divorce. With community property, this means that if your partner took a loan out while you were married, it may also count toward your debt. If you can’t afford this and aren’t able to make the required payments, then you may be sued by the lender, which can result in a reduced credit score.

An Unpaid Joint Account

Chances are, if you were married, then you probably had a joint account with your spouse as well as a shared car loan, mortgage, credit card, or something similar. Even if you have no plans to stay with your spouse, you are still required to take care of any debts you have. Also, if your ex opts not to pay the bill, this may hurt your credit score.

If you get a divorce, then the decree will designate who is over every account. For example, you may have to cover the electric bill and credit card payments while your ex-spouse needs to cover the car loan and mortgage. However, if your ex does not pay or if they make a late payment, this will impact each of your credit ratings. The best way to handle this is by planning ahead and closing any joint accounts or transferring them to one person or another.

Vindictive Spending

When a divorce is amicable, there are some spouses who opt to punish their partner by using a credit card and accumulating more debt. If they have the legal authorization to use the card, they are able to do this with no consequences, all while your credit is ruined. One way to avoid this issue is to never add your spouse as an authorized user, or remove then quickly.

Tips to Protect Your Credit While Getting Divorced

There are several things you can do to help protect your credit score while getting a divorce. These include:

  • Close all joint accounts
  • Watch your spouse’s spending
  • Resist unnecessary spending
  • Maintain records
  • Pay off your debts

If you want to ensure your divorce doesn’t impact your credit score, use the tips here. You can also call the team at The Sampair Group at 623-777-3926 to learn more.

Are There Benefits To A Legal Separation?

When some couples believe their marriage has reached its end, a last ditch effort to salvage the relationship may be made. In some cases, the parties prefer to begin the dissolution process by legally separating before taking the plunge and getting divorced. A separation can give the parties perspective, and often times will help a couple come to a decision about their marriage that is acceptable.

Some things to know about legal separations include:

  • If both parties are not agreeable to the separation, the Court may designate the case as a divorce.
  • If you have not yet met the residency requirements for a divorce in Arizona, you may opt for a separation until the requirements are met.
  • The grounds for a separation are the same as those for obtaining a divorce.

When seeking a separation, many of the same issues as in divorce must be considered. This means you have to seek court determination as to where your kids will live, when visitation will take place, and how assets are divided. Keep in mind that at any time during the separation, one or both of the parties may change their mind about their circumstances. If a change of heart takes place, the parties can reconcile and work on their marriage. However, if it is clear the legitimate aims of marriage can no longer be met; the request for a legal separation can be changed to a request for dissolution. Taking the step to separate before divorcing is helpful for many couples, because it gives the parties a taste of what it is like to no longer be together. For others, separation simply prolongs the process. We will work with you to develop a plan that works for you.

For answers to your questions about separation, consult a qualified legal professional. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today.

 

The Most Common Causes Of Divorce

Life has a way of never staying the same. Just when you think you have hit your stride, an event might come along and derail you. Sometimes the event is minor, other times catastrophic. The way in which people deal with life’s little curveballs can determine the outcome of their relationships. Some of the changes may be positive, while others may be less so. And, there are those circumstances that at first glance seem to be negative, but upon taking a closer look are blessings in disguise.

While it is unfortunate that families split, and children are shuffled back and forth between parents, divorce does happen. Turning this event into a positive life moment, and learning from it depends on several factors. A good starting point is to determine the cause for the dissolution, and then take steps to ensure history is not repeated.

Common causes for divorce include:

  • Financial struggles.
  • Death or serious illness, either of a child or of your spouse.
  • Failing to fully commit to the marriage.
  • Ineffective communication, or too much fighting.
  • Infidelity, either physically or emotionally.
  • Getting married at a young age.
  • Expecting your partner to change, or failing to compromise on issues that are important to both parties.

No one cause can be identified, and likely there are multiple reasons for why marriages end in divorce. Your case is unique to you, and the reason for your divorce will not be the same as in any other case. If you have exhausted all attempts at reconciliation, and still believe divorce is the answer, call our office. We can help to make the process less painful, and will work to make sure your interests are protected. Having a skilled family law attorney on your side works to ease the burden somewhat, and can give leave you with the feeling that your post-divorce life will be happy. Throughout the process we will keep you updated, and fully advised of the status.

For more information about the causes of divorce, call us today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

Homeschooling and Child Custody

Homeschooling has become more and more popular in recent years. Some parents choose this option for religious reasons, others because they simply believe their child will be better served by education at home. Homeschooling can become an issue in a custody case in several situations. When a parenting plan is being created, the plan has to work with the schooling schedule. Sometimes one parent opposes homeschooling and would prefer a child attend public or private schools and will not consent to homeschooling.

In Arizona, the parent with legal decision-making authority makes the decision about how and where the child will be educated. If legal decision-making is being decided by the court and the parents have differing views on schooling, this may play a part in the decision the court makes. The custody decision is made based on what is in the child’s best interests. One of the factors considered by the court in this analysis is the child’s adjustment to school. If a child is currently homeschooled, the court will examine how the child is doing and if remaining in homeschooling would benefit the child. If the child is currently in a traditional school, the court will again examine the child’s progress and determine if remaining in the school or switching to homeschooling is best.

Homeschooling is legal and is considered an appropriate education as long as the parent providing the education meets the standards and requirements set by the state. In the past, homeschooling may have been a negative factor, but today it is considered acceptable.

If you are involved in a custody battle involving homeschooling, gather records and evidence that demonstrate your child’s progress (or lack of progress) in the current schooling environment. If your child was previously involved in a different kind of schooling, evidence of how well your child fared in that environment will provide needed contrast.

Call the Sampair Group for advice in your custody case in the Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix areas of Arizona. We are ready to help you with your case.

Paying Off Child Support Early in Arizona

Do you have just a couple years left to pay child support before your dependent turns eighteen? If so, paying off child support in one lump sum may sound appealing. By paying off your child support early, you won’t have to worry about the monthly payments anymore or having money withheld from your paycheck. Sound convinced?

Hold on a minute. The fact is that most attorneys advise against paying off child support early. This is because when the state of Arizona is involved, it typically does not go along with the deal, even if both parents are ready to sign the papers. States are reluctant to have child support paid off before the dependent turns eighteen because child support can be modified at any time, meaning the payment could be increased or reduced. Also, you need to consider that your financial situation may change in the future and that money you used to pay off child support is something you could really use.

Child Support Law Arizona

Child support is paid until the child reaches the age of eighteen. However, if he or she is still in high school at this time, the child support continues until he or she graduates or turns nineteen, whichever happens first. Also, if the child has a disability, the state may require child support be paid past the age of eighteen. Payments are determined by the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. These consist of factors that are considered when determining obligation. The most important obligation the state takes into account is the current financial needs of both the child and custodial parent. Once an amount is decided upon, this is formalized in court with a child support agreement.

Unless otherwise arranged in a divorce decree, child support payments are typically gained through income withholding. The state will collect child support payments through your employer and in turn pay the parent who is caring for the child. While this can sometimes create tension with an employer, he or she is obligated to comply and can not fire you due to the withholding.

Written Agreement for Paying off Child Support

If the state is not involved in your child support payments, you have the right to pay off the support in one lump sum that reflects the child’s current support obligation. You will need to reach an agreement with the custodial parent while keeping the best interests of the child in the forefront. It’s best to work with an attorney when writing up a draft agreement, which should include the following provisions:

  • The payment is for child support and is not a gift
  • The payment is a lump sum that intends to pay off your child support obligations in full
  • The agreement will contain the current payments, months remaining, total owed, and total paid

These provisions must be clear and concise so there is no confusion on the part of everyone involved. All parties must sign the agreement and issue the payoff check to the clearinghouse. Never give the check to the custodial parent as this could be misconstrued as a gift rather than child support payment. It’s also important to keep a record of the payment on file.

If, however, the state of Arizona is part of the child support case, it will need to sign off on the agreement. That probably won’t happen. The state would rather continue collecting monthly payments through income withholding since your original child support agreement could change at anytime in the future.

When a Child Support Agreement is Modified

If a parent has experienced a change in circumstances, the state of Arizona has the right to modify the child support order. These circumstance may include:

  • A major change in a parent’s health insurance coverage
  • Loss of employment
  • Substantial pay decrease

This does not include a parent quitting or getting fired from their job, however.

The biggest con of paying off child support early is the possibility of the order being modified in the future. When you pay child support in full, you are no longer able to modify or terminate the agreement. However, by keeping that lump sum in the bank, you know you have access to monthly payments and have a lump sum tucked away in case you need it. To learn more about your child support case, contact the team at The Sampair Group today. We can be reached at 623-777-3926.

Three Ways To Break The Divorce News To Kids Without Breaking Their Hearts

Nearly every child of divorce can tell you the how, when, and where of learning their parents planned to divorce; but the “why” is usually missing. Most people, and especially children need to know why things happen in order to process the event and move forward. For kids, being provided an explanation as to why their parents are splitting can help immensely with the adjustment to post-divorce life. And, when the kids are able to adjust without significant struggle, it can make it easier for the parents to do so as well.

If you are looking for advice on how to tell your children you are getting divorced, here are three good ways to break the news that may not also include breaking their hearts:

  • Avoid a confrontation, or a heated discussion that is just a room away from where your child sleeps. If your kids overhear you arguing, they are likely to hear all of the emotion and regrettable words, which can live on well past the entry of the divorce decree. Instead of closing the bedroom door and having a discussion that could easily escalate, sit down with your kids and tell them what is going on together. This will show that you trust your kids enough to let them in on family decisions, and will also help give them a sense of security of their place in the family structure.
  • Avoid breaking the news around a holiday or birthday. If you decide to tell your kids about the divorce around Thanksgiving, they are likely to form a negative association with that holiday for the remainder of their adult life. While there is no good time to get divorced and to tell your children you are doing so, there is an element of timing to consider. Try to find a time that is not close to a holiday or other event your child enjoys. Doing so will help to make those times of the year less stressful on your kids for years to come.
  • Be honest with your kids about the facts rather than trying to sugar coat everything. The amount of information you provide your kids is up to you, and of course their ages are a factor in what is said. But the more you are able to tell your kids, while also letting them know some issues are off limits as adults only issues, the more prepared your kids will be to face life as a child of divorce.

Our team of qualified family law professionals is here to help you in any way you need before, during, and after your divorce. Call us today to find out more.

For more information about divorce, call us today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

How to Keep Your Inheritance in a Divorce

If you’re facing a divorce, you may not realize that you may not automatically be entitled to keep things you personally inherited. Property obtained, earned, or received during marriage is considered community property. There is an exception for separate property and inherited items fall into that category, but only if they are not converted into community property. If you inherited money from your grandmother and put it in a joint bank account with your spouse, that property may have become community property when you put it in the account. If you inherited a vacation home from your aunt and you put your spouse on the deed or if your spouse assisted in upkeep, improvements, or helped pay a loan you took out against the property, it may have been converted to community property.

To protect your inheritance from divorce:

  • Have a prenuptial or post-marital (created after the wedding, but serving the same purpose as a prenup) agreement created that protects inherited property.
  • Keep proof. Wills, gift tax returns, and other documentation showing something was intended as a separate inheritance can help prove your case.
  • Keep assets as separate as possible during marriage so there is no commingling.
  • Create a living trust, placing your inherited assets into the trust, thus keeping them out of the marital pot. You can control and use the assets during your life, but they are passed on to your beneficiaries after your death and there is no question about ownership.
  • Keep titles and deeds in separate names after they are inherited to prevent claims by your spouse.
  • Discuss all inherited property with your attorney when you begin to discuss your divorce.

The Sampair Group provides confidential and compassionate assistance with your divorce or family law case. We serve clients in Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix, Arizona.  Schedule an appointment today.

Mental Health in Divorce

If you’ve found yourself in the situation of divorcing a mentally ill spouse, especially if children are involved, you’ll need to research all your options. You or your spouse may be the one initiating the divorce. Either way, do not leave the outcome up to chance. You’ll need an experienced lawyer to help you through these muddy waters.

Arizona is a no-fault state, which means that the court can grant a divorce no matter who or what is at fault. Also, when it comes to child custody cases, mental illness plays a large role regarding custody, alimony, and divorce in general.

Grounds for Divorce

You do not need a specific reason for filing for divorce in Arizona. However, you may still be requested to submit a reason or circumstance. For example, if your spouse has been seeking treatment in a mental institution for one or several years, then your reason for getting a divorce will clearly be mental illness on the part of your spouse. In other cases, a judge can actually deem a divorce as “at fault” if, for example, your spouse has committed a serious crime, has drug or alcohol dependency, or has a mental illness.

Can I Void my Marriage?

In some cases, yes. This is especially true for cases of mental illness. Your spouse may have married while not understanding what they were doing and the court finds this reason enough to void your marriage. Another reason to annul a marriage is if your spouse was intoxicated at the time of the ceremony and was unable to understand the implications.

Mental Health and Child Custody

When children are involved in a divorce, this is often the biggest concern on a parent’s mind. Unlike in the past, custody is not automatically given to the mother or the parent who is more financially stable.  In Arizona, the court will take into consideration multiple factors when determining child custody. This oftentimes includes the health of the parents, including mental health.

Determining Custodial Rights

If one parent has mental health issues, this not does automatically exclude them from custodial rights. Many parents with mental illness continue to have nurturing and positive relationships with their children. If however, a mental illness prevents a parent from caring for a child, this will be seriously considered by the courts in Arizona. The judge may also look at the implications of hardship for the child if they need to move, as well as the employment situation and the amount of time the parent has available to care for the child.

Terminating Parental Rights

There are cases where a parent with a mental illness loses their custodial rights. A spouse, concerned family member, or anyone else, like a doctor or agency, has the right to request the court terminate a parent’s custodial rights due to a mental illness. When this happens, the termination is permanent so the circumstances must be extreme. The child must be at serious risk of mental, emotional, or physical neglect or abuse. Furthermore, if a parent has a history of abusing drugs or alcohol, the court may deem this reason enough to terminate parental rights. When a child is removed from a home, the court does everything in their power to reconcile the family relationship. However, if the parent’s mental illness is severe, the reunification attempt may prove fruitless.

Arizona Family Reunification

Reunification of families is undertaken by the Arizona Department of Child Safety. They create a plan and conduct background checks on all adults in the household. If reunification is successful, the organization will continue to monitor the situation to help avoid the child being separated from the parent again.

Alimony and Mental Health

Alimony is given to a spouse who can not afford to support themselves after a divorce. These benefits are given to spouses who are unemployed, suffer from a mental illness, or who qualify for disability. If the spouse’s mental illness does not qualify them for disability, the court can decide if the other spouse needs to financially support the mentally disabled spouse.

Mental Illness and Incapacitation

In cases where a spouse is incapacitated due to a mental illness, the court can appoint a guardian to represent them. This guardian has the same kind of duties and rights that a guardian would have over a child. If a divorce is proceeding, the guardian has the right to request alimony on behalf of the incapacitated spouse.

Getting a Divorce in Arizona

If you’re considering pursuing a divorce in Arizona due, you must have lived in the state for at least 90 days. You will also need to file a petition for the divorce with the Clerk of the Superior Court. If you’re dealing with a spouse with mental illness, the divorce can be more complex. This is the time to consult an attorney. The team at The Sampair Group can help you with this. Contact us today at 623-777-3926.

Different Types of Child Custody

Each state governs child custody laws differently. In order to best understand your options for child custody and visitation options, you should be familiar with the different terms and types of child custody and how your Phoenix child custody attorney will help you approach the different options you can consider.

Legal Custody

When a parent has legal custody, they have the right to make any decisions regarding the need and upbringing of the child. This includes decisions about education, health care and religion, as long as there is consultation with the other parent.
In many states, both parents will be granted joint legal custody and can both have legal rights to making decisions about how to raise their children. Parents can share joint legal custody without having joint physical custody.
When sole legal custody is granted to a parent, the one granted this kind of custody is the only one who has the legal authorization to make major decisions on behalf of the child.

Physical Custody
Also called “residential custody,” sole physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with a majority of the time and only has visitation with the other parent. If the child is spending an equal amount of time with each parent, the state might award the parents join physical custody. This type of custody works best if the parents live relatively near each other as it lessens the interference in the child’s every day life.

Sole Custody
One of the reasons a parent might be awarded sole custody is if the other parent is proven to be extremely unfit to care for the child (i.e. drug or alcohol problems, charges of child abuse or neglect).
In many states, courts will hesitate to award sole legal custody to a parent to try and enlarge the role that both parents can possibly make in the child’s life will still considering the child’s best interest.

Joint Custody
This is the most common types of custody awarded in divorce cases when no parental issues exist. Joint custody is awarded equally to each parent and can take the form of joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both. Joint custody can be granted if the parents are divorced, separated, no longer living together, or even if they have never lived together.

In Arizona, statute provides that the court may not prefer one parent to another with respect to custody based on the gender of either parent. They are required to determine the best interest of the minor children by applying the statutory factors regarding custody and parenting time in correlation with the facts of the case. Contact an experienced Glendale family law attorney at The Sampair Group today for legal representation in your divorce and child custody hearing.