Remote Consultations Are Effective During COVID-19

The ongoing COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has brought social interaction to a halt and caused numerous disturbances in everyday life as we know it. And yet, life must go on. You know how true this is if you are currently in the midst of divorce or contemplating one. The truth is that many couples are having difficulties at this time, and for some the pandemic has only exacerbated problems that existed long before the first outbreak. In other cases, couples had already begun taking steps towards separation and divorce only to have the pandemic disrupt their plans. Whatever your situation, we understand the difficulties you are facing, and we’re here to help.

Is a Remote Consultation Right For You?

While many areas of the country have taken steps to reopen their economies, the truth is that COVID-19 cases are still on the rise and are not anticipated to stop anytime soon. Furthermore, many courthouses were shut down in late winter / early spring and now have a backlog of family court cases to get through. All the while, local courts are either still closed down or open at limited capacity. But you don’t deserve to wait to get the divorce you want and move on with your life.

By doing a remote consultation with an experienced attorney via video chat or phone call, you can talk about your divorce needs and what you hope to gain. Though separated by distance, a remote consultation still covers all the areas that a regular in-office consultation would. The benefits of a remote consultation are that it can help get you in the divorce court queue now as opposed to waiting, and it can also help you be more prepared.

Likewise, remote consultations may also lead to mediation or collaborative divorce, which can help you avoid going into court entirely. As long as you and your spouse are willing to work together to achieve divorce that works for both of you, this can be a great option. Many attorneys are also offering mediation and collaboration meetings entirely via video chat and conference call these days.

How to Prepare for a Remote Consultation

You and your attorney will schedule a date and time, just like you would normally for an in-office consultation. It’s a good idea to test out your chosen online video chat platform ahead of time to make sure it works as it should. Additionally, it’s important to gather together any information that will be useful to you and your attorney for your divorce. For example, you will want to obtain any of the following financial documentation:

  • Tax Returns
  • Bank and credit card statements
  • Insurance policy documents
  • Mortgage statements
  • Vehicle ownership documents
  • Real estate ownership documents and appraisals

Truly, any evidence of financial accounts or wealth statements for the last twelve months will be useful. You will also want to show statements of any debts or loans in order to give your attorney the full picture of the assets that may be involved.

Emergency Scenarios

If you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse, it is crucial that you get out of it as soon as possible. This is also true if child abuse is involved, or your child is being moved to a new place without your consent or full knowledge of the situation. Contact your attorney right away to get help. While courts are backed up in many areas, the good news is they are open to assisting with these emergency situation cases as soon as possible.

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.

Dealing With Out-Of-State Property After a Divorce

Dividing property can be one of the most difficult and complex aspects of a divorce, especially when the two parties are having difficulty agreeing on who should get what. However, this can be made even more complicated when the couple owns property in another state. If you and your spouse have bought a vacation home or other property in another state, it’s essential to understand how this process works to ensure you are both properly protected. The good news is this property is typically handled similarly to any marital property you do own within the state. If it was obtained during the marriage, it is still marital property and will be divided equally.

Property to Be Divided

Whether you own a house out of state or empty land with an RV parked on it, you will need to look at all property present in order to divide it fairly. For instance, it’s not just the actual land and the structures that are on it that should be divided. In fact, it may come down to either one party paying half of the value to the other party, thereby purchasing the property from the other, or selling the property outright and splitting the profits between the two parties. However, that isn’t all that must be considered. Any furniture, electronics, cars or other items present on the property must also be assigned a value and split between the two parties.

Not Always a 50/50 Split

When most people think about dividing property in a divorce, they think everything must be split evenly down the middle. This isn’t always the case, even if no fault is assigned in the divorce. While the court is interested in making sure both parties get a fair deal and the property and assets are divided as equally as possible, they do realize this isn’t always a possibility. It can be difficult to determine the true value of all items and there may be disputes between the two parties regarding how much something is really worth. In some situations, sentimental value can play just as big of a role as the actual monetary value. If the parties can come to an agreement regarding property division, it always ends up better than if the court has to step in and help. However, this isn’t always avoidable when the parties are unable to agree between themselves.

Can the Court Force a Sale?

One of the biggest questions individuals have is whether the court can force them to sell a home or other large property. The short answer is yes. This typically happens in situations where the parties are unable to agree among themselves regarding splitting certain property. If this occurs and there is no good reason in the eyes of the court for one party to be awarded a property over the other, the court may order the couple to sell the property and evenly split the profits. This is the most equitable division, even if one of the parties was interested in keeping the property. However, before this is ordered, the court will look at several factors to determine if one party should be awarded the property. These factors include:

  • Financial contributions made toward the home
  • Financial circumstances
  • Value of the home
  • Age and overall health
  • Presence of minor children
  • Ability to continue paying for the home

The individual who has primary custody of minor children and is still able to pay for the home is more likely to be able to keep it, for instance.

Dividing property can be one of the most difficult aspects of divorce, especially if out-of-state property is involved. The good news is a qualified attorney can help make this process much simpler and ensure a good outcome for all involved. For more information about divorce and division of property, 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.

How Courts Decide to Split a House During a Divorce in Arizona

Going through a divorce isn’t an easy process for anyone. There are so many things to be decided and because of the already uncomfortable situation, it can be difficult to work together and come to a consensus that makes everyone happy. This is even more challenging when the conditions are more volatile. Because Arizona is a community property state, dividing up the items you own can be particularly challenging. Regardless of who bought the item, everything is equally owned by both parties and both individuals have equal rights to claim just about anything. This is why it’s important to understand how the Arizona courts decide who gets what when individuals can’t agree between themselves.

What You Should Know

Most of the assets you acquired during your marriage falls under the community property laws and belongs equally to both of you. Even assets you had prior to marriage can easily become intermingled unintentionally, making dividing them more difficult during the divorce process. One of the most important elements of dividing the property  is determining its value. While the parties involved in the divorce can work together to divide the items fairly based on the value they place on them, the court can also help determine the value of certain assets and items. An attorney can also be extremely useful in this task. Remember, both debt and assets need to be divided as equally as possible between the two parties.

Marital Vs. Separate Property

Many people don’t understand how to tell the difference between marital and separate property. For instance, perhaps the husband purchased tools and doesn’t feel they should belong to the wife at all. Maybe the wife was the one who chose the furniture and feels like she has more of a right to it than the husband. In most cases, everything purchased during  the marriage belongs equally to both parties. If both parties contributed financially to larger purchases, even before the marriage, it is also considered marital property. However, if one spouse obtained the property themselves before the marriage or it is a family inheritance received during the marriage, it is considered separate property, unless it has been mingled. An attorney can help you determine if this has occurred. The marital home is one of the most difficult elements to determine properly and may require professional help to decide how to handle the home.

Frequent Questions

One of the biggest questions individuals have is whether the length of marriage affects property division. In general, it does not. While a shorter marriage often involves less property obtained during the marriage, there is no difference in how much stake an individual has in said property based on how long they were married.

While most couples file no-fault divorces, sometimes there is a situation that warrants one party to be named at fault in the divorce proceedings. In these situations, the person who was wronged may feel they have a larger stake in the property that must be divided. In most cases, the property is still divided equally between the two parties, but there are exceptions, particularly where debt is concerned. For instance, if one spouse cheated on the other and racked up a large amount of debt while doing so, they are more likely to be given a larger portion or perhaps all the debt.

Assigning value is another sticking point for many people. While the parties can agree on the value of items to be divided, the court can also step in to help if needed. A proper appraisal may be required for higher ticket items as well. If you have retirement assets that need to be considered, be sure to talk to an accountant to get a realistic view of how much of those assets belong under marital property.

Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure all assets, property and debt is divided in a way that is fair to all parties involved. No two situations are the same, making it essential to reach out for help. For more information about divorce and community property laws, 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.

Are Divorce And Separation The Same?

Divorce is not the only option when you are having marital problems. For some couples the decision to legally separate is a better choice than the decision to dissolve the marriage. The reasons why a couple might make this decision could be financial or religious, or based on some other personal belief. Regardless of the reason, there are still issues that are commonly found in divorce that will apply when separating. Knowing what to expect when considering a separation rather than a divorce will help you decide which route is best for you.

The law on separation agreements is found in the same statutes that govern divorce proceedings. Typically the agreement will contain provisions that resolve the following issues:

  • Child support
  • Child visitation and custody arrangements
  • Property distribution, including division of assets and liabilities

To be effective, a separation agreement must be in writing and approved by the Court. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your spouse as to the major issues needing resolution in your separation, you will be required to present evidence regarding your position to the Judge. The Judge will make decisions that are equitable, which may not always mean equal. Another important thing to keep in mind when entering into a separation agreement is that you are still legally married. This is an important distinction between divorce and separation, and the two are not the same. To be sure your rights are protected when negotiating terms of a separation agreement, call an experienced family law attorney for help.

If you have questions about divorce and legal 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 to schedule your appointment.