image of divorced couple splitting property

How Does Community Property Get Split Up During a Divorce?

An Introduction to Community Property Division

Divorce can prove a remarkably traumatic and messy experience even when everything goes about as smoothly as you might realistically hope. The division of property that you and your spouse have shared for years, however, can seem especially tricky, often introducing fresh grievances or re-igniting old ones in the process. You may have additional problems dealing with Arizona’s adherence to the principle of community property division. Let’s examine this method of divvying up assets between divorcing spouses so you can gain a better understanding of how it works, what problems it might entail, and how to ensure the most satisfactory possible outcome.

Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution

Most U.S. states use a method known as equitable distribution to determine who gets what in a divorce case. In equitable distribution, the court has full power to distribute assets based on its interpretation of what’s fair to each party. Depending on such variables as which spouse earns the lion’s share of the household income, spends more time looking after the children, or both spouses’ potential earning power, the court may then award a spouse anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of the overall marital assets.

Nine states, including Arizona, currently break this trend by dividing marital assets according to community property rules. (In Alaska, however, community property is treated as an option, not a requirement.) This means that the marital assets are divided 50/50 regardless of the roles played by each spouse in the marriage. The court has far less power over the awarding of assets, although it does retain some say over what constitutes an equal split. Your share of the community property may include assets that you don’t especially want while depriving you of others that you genuinely prize.

Separate Property vs. Community Property: What Counts as Which?

Community property doesn’t place everything you and your spouse own into a single lump — instead, it applies specifically to items that you purchased during your marriage. Exceptions to this rule include property acquired separately as a gift or inheritance, as well as any property acquired following a petition for divorce that results in an actual divorce decree.

Certain assets are considered separate property, placing them outside the bounds of the divorce settlement. These include any real estate or other property you acquired before getting married, as well as any rent or other additional value generated by that property.

The First Step: Complete Disclosure and Initial Assessment

You and your spouse (with the aid of your respective attorneys) can iron out much of the confusion over your community property division before the matter ever goes before the court. First and foremost, both of you must disclose everything you own, from pets and jewelry to cash, cars, and homes. Attempting to shield any of your assets by excluding them from the community property inventory will only introduce costly, upsetting complications to your divorce. Once you and your spouse have listed every asset you can think of, you’ll need to figure an estimate of value to help the court decide what makes for an equitable division.

Business, Home, and Debt Division 

If you started your own business or purchased a business before your marriage, that business remains wholly yours as separate property. However, the court may decide to award your spouse a percentage of the business’s appreciation in value, or even an outright percentage of the business itself, if your spouse contributed to the business’s success either financially or through hard work.

A home purchased before marriage, with the deed in your name alone, remains your separate property, giving you the right to ask your spouse to vacate it. However, if you both hold joint title to the home and your spouse serves as your children’s primary caregiver, your spouse may actually be the one who continues to live on the property.

Community property includes debts as well as assets. Debts are typically considered the problem of both spouses equally, regardless of who incurred the debt or whether the debt was incurred before the marriage.

Don’t go it alone when pursuing a community property divorce. Contact our firm to speak to a skilled Arizona divorce attorney.

 

image of woman having video conference with lawyer

Video Consultations: The Meetings of the Future, Here Today!

You Can Still Meet With Your Legal Team, Thanks to Videoconferencing Technology

Family law issues do not put themselves on hold even in the face of a global pandemic. COVID-19 has forced millions of Americans to conduct their personal lives and business matters from the relative safety of their home computers. Unfortunately, the same circumstances that keep people stuck in their houses may only add urgency to divorce proceedings, child custody battles, community property division, child support disputes, and other forms of family legal turmoil. The good news is that you can still confer with your attorney or legal team at The Sampair Group, thanks to our state-of-the-art videoconferencing technology.

The Many Benefits of Video-Based Attorney Conferences and Meetings

You’ll likely be astonished by the sheer effectiveness, convenience, and efficiency of this approach. Here are just some of the significant benefits offered by our video consultations.

  • Cost Effectiveness: Video consultations are easy to arrange and participate in on short notice, no matter where you may be at the time. by eliminating the need to travel to and from meetings, you may find that you accumulate lower legal costs.
  • Multi-Member Meetings, Multiple Locations: One of the bigger challenges in putting together meetings involving several individuals is simply getting all of those people into the same room at the same time. Video conferencing technology enables two, three, or more people to participate in the meeting from anywhere in the world. This can help prevent cancellations and rescheduling delays.
  • No Special Hardware or Software Necessary: Today’s videoconferencing does away with the need for the specialized equipment and facilities of yesteryear. as long as you have an Internet-ready, camera-equipped desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you can connect to our video consultations with ease — usually in just two or three clicks.
  • A Short Online Questionnaire Gets the Ball Rolling: If you have digital copies of documentation relevant to your case, you can make it available to us beforehand in a password-protected folder. The video consultation itself usually requires nothing more than the filling out of a short online questionnaire.
  • A Secure, Time-Tested Solution: The Sampair Group uses the same GoToMeeting program implemented by the Maricopa County Superior Courts for hearings and trials. Although GoToMeeting first became a household word during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has enjoyed widespread use as a trusted business tool for over 15 years.

Get the skilled legal counsel you need even while you’re self-isolating at home. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Woman preparing to testify from home

How to Prepare to Testify in Court from Home

With all the restrictions that have been put into place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more things can be done from home. While most people think about working from home, courts have also turned to at-home sessions, particularly in the areas of divorces. It’s relatively easy to allow individuals to appear from their homes, providing the same testimony they could provide in a courtroom. The same is true for having lawyers in attendance. However, before you appear in court from home, there are a few things you should do to prepare.

Ensure a Quiet Environment

Distractions abound when you’re at home, and it’s essential to eliminate them as much as possible before you testify in court to ensure everything goes smoothly. For instance, in the case of a divorce, make arrangements for your children to be out of the home. Not only will this greatly minimize noise and distractions, but it’s best they can’t hear what goes on in the case. You should also turn off the TV or anything else that makes noise. Wearing headphones can help reduce the noise you hear, but it’s also essential to make sure there aren’t any sources of noise, including other people, because you are in a professional setting and even with your headphones on, your mic will pick it up and transmit it to the other parties on the call.

Understand Screen Sharing

Evidence can be an important part of a case. However, since you won’t be there in person to hand a sheet of paper to the judge or the other party, you will need to share it in other ways. Most video conferencing software offer simple screen sharing tools you can use, but you need to be familiar with them. Set up a mock call using the software you’ll use so you can practice ahead of time. This will ensure the process goes smoothly and there are fewer delays during the call.

Use a Computer, Not the Phone

Most video conferencing software allows you to call in from your phone if you don’t have access to a computer, but when you’re testifying in court, whether for a divorce or any other type of case, it’s best to have a monitor in front of you. Not only does it allow you to see the other people in the call, but if anyone shares their screen to present evidence or other documents for your review, you need to see them clearly. You can’t do that when you’re using your phone to participate in the call.

Testifying in court can be a nerve-wracking experience. While you may feel more comfortable testifying from the comfort of your home, it’s still important to maintain a more professional setting so you’re sure the case will proceed smoothly.

Co-Parenting Tips During COVID-19

Co-parenting is already a challenge. Any disruption can make it even more challenging. COVID-19 has changed the way the world works. That also means it’s changed many parenting schedules. While you need to remain flexible during something like a pandemic, there are also boundaries that must not be crossed. Here are some tips for protecting your children and your relationships with them during COVID-19.

Set Boundaries Early On

Talk to your co-parent about COVID-19. Are you against your children returning to school? Do you need them to engage in certain precautions? What is your stance on them interacting with their peers? Different people have different levels of risk. Some may want their children entirely quarantined, while others may be okay with them seeing some friends if social distancing remains in effect. You need to communicate with your co-parent about what your boundaries are and negotiate reasonable strategies.

Consider Your Parenting Time

Understand that you might need to modify your established schedules. It’s not going to be reasonable, for instance, for children to go between households every week during the pandemic. This is especially true if one parent has a high-risk job, such as a job on the frontlines. A temporary agreement for parenting time may need to be invoked, so you can keep your family safe while remaining safe yourself.

Review Your Medical Rights

Sometimes both parents have medical rights for their children. Sometimes only one does. This is a good time to review your rights. If you want to get your children a vaccine in the future, can their other parent block you? If they want to take your children in for testing, will you be notified? Look over your medical rights with your attorney if you are concerned, it may be time to modify your rights to better suit the situation.

Have a Plan in Place

What happens if you test positive for COVID? What about your co-parent? What if both of you test positive for COVID? You should create plans with your co-parent regarding these types of emergencies. You might not have time when they are actually happening, or you could suddenly find out that your co-parent isn’t on the same page as you. You should also consider what you’ll do if your children test positive but you and your co-parent don’t. At that point, it may be better to limit risk by keeping them with one parent.

Talk to Your Attorney

If you’re having issues with your co-parent, you should consult with your attorney before the issues become any more severe. An attorney doesn’t have to escalate the situation. Rather, they can educate you on your options, and methods by which you and your co-parent can come to an agreement. In the time of COVID, situations can become more dangerous and more aggressive quite quickly. It’s best to have plans in place before they become urgent, rather than later.

COVID-19 will pass. But it’s important to establish healthy relationships with your co-parent and your children. Long-term, what happens now is going to affect your family. If you feel that you need help, it’s time to contact an attorney.

Can I Appeal A Family Court Decision in Arizona?

Court decisions concerning your family can be very tough to hear, but it’s important to know whether or not there is something you can do about them. You may already be familiar with the appeals process, which essentially allows people to have their legal cases go under second review in a higher court, in the hopes of receiving a more desirable outcome. But can you appeal family court decisions in Arizona?

It is possible, though the outcome of your specific case will depend on a variety of factors. Consulting with an experienced family law appeal lawyer is crucial to increasing your chances of success though, so we strongly encourage you to reach out to us as soon as possible. In the meantime, here is some useful information about the appeals process in Arizona and how it pertains to family court decisions.

Fast Facts About Appeals

  • Appeals can only take place in a ‘higher court’. This means that you will not be able to appeal in another family court setting, which is considered lower court. Instead, your case will go up to Appeals Court.
  • Your appeal will not be an entire re-do of the case. No new evidence, witnesses, statements, etc. may be introduced.
  • Only final orders are eligible for appeals, and temporary orders (those where not all issues / questions may be firmly resolved) require permission to be appealed, and they may be denied.

What Kind of Family Court Decisions Can Be Appealed?

There is no cut and dry list of what kinds of family court decisions can be appealed. Rather, you’ll need to put together a compelling argument for why you believe the court decision was a mistake, in violation of Arizona law, or otherwise blatantly unfair. A good family law appeal attorney will be able to help you with this. If your argument is deemed valid and a better solution is available, the court will agree with you. However, if the previous court decision is determined to have been reasonable and made based on sufficient evidence, your appeal will not be successful.

How the Appeals Process Works

Before you do anything, you will need to determine if you have a valid argument for an appeal. You will then need to check with your local county court to see what kind of documents you will need to fill out and submit in order to file your appeal. An attorney can help you fill everything out and make sure that nothing is forgotten. You will also have to pay a filing fee to officially submit the appeal request.

Next, you will have to officially notify the opposing party that the appeal was filed (the local court will tell you how to acceptably do so). Then, for court review, you will need to draft a memorandum that lists out all the reasons for your appeal.

Once everything is complete and submitted, you will need to wait for the court to either approve or deny your appeal. If approved, your case will move forward and be reviewed in more detail. The original decision will then be upheld or changed.

How The Sampair Group Can Help You

The Sampair Group is one of the premier firms in Arizona specializing in family law. We have years of experience helping families and individuals navigate the complex system of family court, including the appeals process. Our areas include divorce, spousal support / alimony, child support, child visitation, child custodycommunity property, separate property, breach of fiduciary duty, and much more.

If you’re hoping to appeal your family court decision, we invite you to reach out as soon as possible. Let us start helping you today!

Consider These 4 Things Before Divorce

Deciding to divorce your spouse is a significant decision that should never be made without taking the time to think through all of your options. While divorcing is a very stressful time, it is critical to not move forward in haste. Before moving forward with the divorce paperwork, there are some important considerations and actions you should take ahead of time.

Divorce vs. legal separation

As a couple, you may want to consider doing a legal separation before filing for divorce. Filing for divorce will legally end your marriage, while a legal separation keeps the marriage intact while recognizing through legal agreements that you will be living apart. There are many reasons a couple might consider a legal separation over a divorce.

The main reason to consider legal separation is if you believe there is a chance to reconcile in the future. Legal separation will allow you to live separately with separate bank account etc. while still leaving the opportunity for you to work through your differences.

Health care is also another reason one might choose legal separation over divorce. In a legal separation, a spouse will be able to remain on the spouses’ healthcare because legally, they are still married.

Religion is another reason a couple may choose legal separation. Because many religions have strong beliefs when it comes to divorce, the couple can remain part of the church even though they are separated.

If one of you is in the military, you may want to legally separate until after ten years of marriage. After ten years of marriage, you or your spouse will benefit from the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.

Similarly to military service, if you remain married for ten years, you will gain certain social security benefits that you would lose in the event of a divorce.

By separating legal, you will also be able to retain the tax benefits that you are eligible as a legally married couple.

Pull together important legal documents

The divorce process is stressful and will require a lot of paperwork. Before moving forward with the divorce,  it is best to gather all of your legal and financial documents together and make copies of everything. If you are prepared with the paperwork in advance, it will help streamline the process and remove some of the stress.

Make a plan for your finances Many people make the mistake of not understanding the cost of a divorce. You will need to hire an attorney, and if your divorce is complicated, you w

ill have a large amount of legal bills to pay. Also, you will need to adjust your spending to adjust to life as a one-income household. Putting a financial plan in place will make sure you are prepared when it comes time to file for divorce.

Put a plan in place to help the children through the process

If you have children and are planning on divorcing, it is critical that you put a plan in place to help them through the process. In addition to coming up with a custody plan that has the best interest of the child at heart, you may want to consider providing them with a counselor. Divorces are a very emotional process for kids, and speaking to a professional about their feelings can help them adjust.

A Top Ten List For A Happy Holiday, Even In Divorce

After a couple gets divorced, if there are children, their lives are still connected. There will be birthday parties, graduations, weddings, and holidays to share for the rest of their kids’ lives. Some divorced parents are able to pull off these occasions without conflict, while others are not as lucky. For those that are able to come together and continue to share the responsibility for their kids, life is much easier. In the spirit of the holidays, a few tips on how to have a happy holiday, even in divorce is in order.

A few tidbits of advice from a top ten list for making your holidays bright, for yourself and your kids includes the following:

  • Remain flexible, because plans are bound to change. If you are able to “go with the flow”, you will find yourself less stressed and better equipped to handle any disappointment your child may face from a changed schedule.
  • Keep you kids and your ex advised about the plans. When everyone is on the same page, things seem to go smoother. This is especially true if your plans include out of state travel, or the need to be at more than one place on the same day.
  • Avoid trying to “out give” your ex, while the temptation may be great to give your kids a better gift than your ex is able to, most times this tactic backfires. Children, particularly older children, are keenly aware of when their parents are “playing games” with one another and attempts to do so can result in resentment.

If you are giving it your all, yet your ex is particularly difficult, you may need to seek help from a family law professional to make sure your holidays go off without a hitch. In some instances a request for clarification of the holiday schedule is needed, or even an effort to enforce the existing order is required to make sure each parent gets the time they deserve. For help with your holiday visitation schedule, call our office. Our team of experienced family law attorneys will take the steps necessary to make sure the holiday visitation order is clear, and followed by each party.

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

Improving Your Life After Divorce

Divorce presents challenges to all aspects of your life. Your home life has drastically changed as has your financial situation, and you may find that your mental and emotional health are also impacted. This is a busy time in your life when you may be moving, making time for court and meeting with your attorney, and finding time to parent. The stress of all the changes and decisions may be taking its toll on you. Finding ways to combat stress and take care of yourself should be at the top of your to-do list these days. One important thing you can do is exercise. Regular exercise can offer you these benefits:

  • Higher tolerance. The better you feel, the more able you are to handle the curve balls that divorce may throw at you. Keeping healthy can help you withstand the challenges your situation poses.
  • Sleep. People who routinely exercise sleep more soundly and more regularly. If sleep is something you’re finding elusive because of the heavy decisions and changes in your life, exercise may help you get more shut eye.
  • Overall health. Exercising reduces your risk of a laundry list of health problems and also helps you fight off cold and flu.
  • Social life. There is a connection between exercise and a healthy social life. Exercise can be a social activity and help you guild new connections and relationships.
  • Feel better about yourself. Physical activity helps you think more positively about yourself and it also gives you a boost because it improves your physical appearance.
  • Improved thought processes.  Getting your body moving gets your brain moving too. Exercise can be very meditative and give you a real break from the things in your life that are stressing you out.

When you need a law firm you can rely on for your divorce and family law case, the Sampair Group is ready to help you in Glendale, Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona.  Schedule an appointment today.

How Joint Families Can Stay Peaceful This Holiday Season

Joining two families into one is a difficult process in and of itself. However, when the holidays come around, it can become even more stressful as you try to balance time with all the families involved. Where married couples usually only have to deal with two sides of the family, those who are in a blended family situation may find themselves dealing with four sides of a family or possibly even more. The following tips will help you enjoy the holiday season and help keep the peace so there are fewer hard feelings.

Set Up Clear Plans Ahead of Time

The best way to make sure there are fewer arguments during the holiday season and you’re able to keep the peace more easily is to set up clear plans ahead of time so everyone knows exactly what to expect. Make sure you put all plans in writing and send it to all parties involved, so they have a paper trail of what will happen and when. This avoids any confusion and ensures everyone knows what the schedule will be for the holidays. This is particularly useful if the plans change each year due to custody schedules and alternating holidays.

Keep a Positive Attitude

It can be difficult to stay positive when it feels like the situation is going wrong. However, when you keep a positive attitude about the holidays and the events that occur surrounding them, you stand an even greater chance of enjoying the holidays. In addition, a negative attitude is catching. If someone is being overly negative, it’s easy to bring down the mood of everyone else around them.

Mix Old and New Traditions

If you are new to blended families, it can be difficult to maintain traditions. It’s likely that each side of the family has their own traditions they would like to uphold. While it’s not easy to keep all of them and sometimes you need to cut some out, it’s essential to make sure you keep some of them. However, it’s also essential to start some new traditions that reflect the new setup in your family. Creating a good mix of old and new traditions is a great way to keep everyone involved and maintains a more positive outlook.

Involve the Kids

It can be difficult to figure out what is best for the kids when you’re in a blended family situation. While you will need to make many of the final decisions on your own, it’s essential to include the kids in the conversation. Talk to them and find out what traditions mean the most to them and what they expect from the holiday season. Keep this information in mind as you make the plans for your holidays, so your children still feel like they are an important part of the family.

Having a blended family can be complex, especially when it comes to determining what to do and who to visit during the holiday season. However, this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a miserable holiday season. In fact, if you follow these tips, communicate openly and make your plans well in advance, you may find celebrating holidays with family is just as enjoyable as ever, if not more so.

Tips on Building a Relationship With Your Stepchildren

Blending families is extremely complex. While you may look at something like the Brady Bunch and think it’s easy to bring two families together into one, the truth of the matter is often much different. It takes a lot of time and dedication from all parties to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible. If you’re facing this type of situation, the following tips will help you build a better relationship with your stepchildren to create harmony in the household and keep everyone on the same page.

Take Your Time

A good relationship with your stepchildren isn’t going to happen overnight. In many cases, the children haven’t fully healed from the experience and bringing someone new into their lives may bring old feelings back to the surface, especially if they were holding onto the hope their parents would get back together. Watch their cues and follow their lead when it comes to interactions to achieve the best results.

Keep Changes to a Minimum

Children go through a lot of life-changing events during a divorce. This can include the obvious adjustment to only living with one parent at a time, as well as other changes like moving into a new house or even going to a different school. Even though children are resilient, going through all of these changes can be difficult. Adding in a new stepparent is just one more thing they have to deal with. Keeping any other changes to a minimum will help make the transition much easier.

Don’t Expect Love at First Sight

You may not like your stepchildren at first, and they may not like you. However, this doesn’t mean all is lost. It’s important to take your time and get to know each other. Eventually, affection will develop and you will even come to love each other as family.

Make Parenting Decisions Before Marriage

When both parties entering a marriage already have children from past relationships, there can often be a clash of parenting styles. For this reason, you will find things go much more smoothly if you talk about how you will parent separately and together before you get married. Set the boundaries for what each parent is responsible for and how issues will be handled. This ensures there are fewer arguments over these matters, allowing you to present a united front with the children.

Demand Respect

One of the biggest issues many individuals encounter in their role as a stepparent is trying too hard to be friends with your stepchildren. While it’s important to be someone they can turn to, talk to and rely on, it’s also important to make sure they know you deserve respect, just like their natural parents. You are still a person in authority and need to be respected. This is especially important if the children are having difficulty accepting you into the family. They don’t have to like you, but they do have to show you respect.

Keep Reasonable Expectations

While everyone wants a good relationship with their stepchildren, you need to keep your expectations reasonable. After all, some children see the introduction of a stepparent as a replacement for the absent parent, even if that parent still plays an important role in their lives. When you approach the development of your relationship with reasonable expectations, there is a much lower chance of being disappointed in the end.

It’s not always easy to be a stepparent, but if you follow these tips and take the right steps, you can set a solid foundation on which you can build a positive relationship, adding another important role model to their lives. In the end, you aren’t replacing their other parent; instead, you are an addition to their growing family who will also help support them.