image of father with two children

What to Do When Children Don’t Want to Go to Visitation

When a visitation schedule is set by a court order, following these orders should be pretty straight-forward…right? Well, not always. When a child no longer wants to attend a visitation with another parent, this can complicate matters significantly. By having a better understanding of why these issues arise and what your legal responsibilities are, you can handle this difficult situation properly.

Common Reasons for Visitation Hesitation

When a child seems hesitant or downright refuses to attend visitation with the other parent, the first step you’ll want to take is to determine why this is occurring. This is especially important is the hesitation seems to have come out of nowhere.

Some of the most common reasons that a child may not want to attend visitation include:

  • a poor relationship with the other parent’s partner/spouse or other children in the household
  • general resentment over a divorce or separation
  • a poor relationship with the other parent
  • a change in household rules or rituals that the child is uncomfortable with

Some less common (but more serious) reasons a child may be hesitant about visitation include:

  • substance abuse in the other home
  • physical/emotional abuse in the other home
  • sexual misconduct in the other home

Do You Have to Make Your Child Attend Visitation?

Unless you have a legal reason to withhold your child’s visitation from the other parent (such as evidence/claims of abuse or misconduct), it is generally your legal responsibility to follow your court-ordered parenting plan as closely as possible. This remains true even if the other parent is behind on child support payments.

If you suspect that your child simply doesn’t want to visit with the other parent due to other circumstances (like not wanting to be away from friends or having to conform to a different set of “house rules”), there are some strategies you can employ. The best course of action is usually to speak with the other parent and come up with a plan that will make everybody happier and more comfortable.

If visitation continues to be an issue, however, you can go back to court and request a re-working of the visitation plan. Before you do this, though, you’ll want to make sure the other parent is aware of the issues and that you have made an honest attempt to work through them. You’ll also want to start carefully documenting each instance where your child refuses or is hesitant to visit the other parent, as this documentation may come in handy in court.

Consult With a Family Lawyer for More Help

If you’re running into issues with your court-ordered visitation schedule, it can also be helpful to consult with a family lawyer who specializes in these types of cases. An experienced lawyer will be able to provide you with the personalized guidance and legal advice you need to move forward and challenge your current visitation arrangement in court if needed.

Ready to schedule your free consultation with our legal team? The Sampair Group is always here to assist you. Contact us today to find out more about what we can do for you.

image of phone screen with social media apps

The Impact of Social Media During Divorce

Social media seems to be everywhere these days. Just about everyone has at least one social media profile they use to keep in touch with people and to share information about their lives. However, these types of sites are still relatively new and many people don’t think about the negative impacts of the things they post, particularly when it comes to relationships. Understanding the impact of social media in terms of romantic relationships, especially when it comes to divorce, is essential to ensure you’re protected.

Social Media’s Impact on Relationships

Whether you’re married or just dating at the moment, social media can be both positive and negative for relationships, but few people think about the negative effects. Some of the issues that can arise in relationships as a result of social media include:

  • Infidelity — Social media makes it much easier for individuals to stray from their current relationship. Many people, women in particular, often find their inboxes filled with messages from members of the opposite sex who are clearly in relationships based on their profiles. These messages are often framed as a way to cheat without getting caught as easily.
  • Unrealistic Expectations — Many people these days are well-versed in using Photoshop, image filters and others methods of altering their pictures. It’s easy to forget this when you’re scrolling through social media and find yourself attracted to someone. If you do start a relationship with someone you meet on social media, you may have unrealistic expectations of how they look and how they live their life.
  • Distractions — Most people have gone onto social media at some point to quickly respond to someone, only to find themselves sucked into reading articles, browsing pictures or watching videos. Rather than spending time with their partner, they end up with their nose to their phone for far longer than they intended.
  • Insecurity — Social media is a breeding ground for insecurity. Whether you don’t feel your significant other is posting enough about you or they are commenting or liking too many posts from a member of the opposite sex, it’s easy to begin feeling jealousy when there’s no reason to.

How Social Media Impacts Divorces

Attorneys today are now using social media as a tool to help them win divorce cases for their clients. They can be used to prove income if you claim you can’t pay child or spousal support or may even contain evidence of cheating. It’s important to remember that anything you post can, and most likely will, be used against you, so it’s essential to be careful about what you post, especially if you’re going through a divorce case. Never post anything illegal, such as drug use, even if you’re just joking around with your friends. If you do spend money, keep it off social media. The last thing anyone needs is to be painted as a reckless spender. Never bad mouth your ex, even if you have good reason to. The key in child custody cases is to be diplomatic and present yourself as capable of being neutral for the children’s sake. Finally, if you do have a new significant other, hold off on making an announcement and posting pictures until after your divorce is finalized.

image of parent pushing stroller

Modifying Your Child Support in Arizona

Many people who pay or receive child support end up having to go through some type of modification process. When child support is modified, this means the amount received or paid out will likely increase or decrease. A person paying child support who has a decrease in income will often ask for a modification to their child support payments. It’s important to remember, though, that child support modifications can’t be requested at all times. However, both parties, the one receiving the payments and the one making the payments, can put in modification requests if they meet certain criteria.

Always File Quickly

One of the keys to succeeding in a modification of child support is to file quickly. Even if you aren’t sure whether the case and criteria qualifies for a modification, you can still have ask for a modification review. If you fail to put in a modification request and you can’t afford your payments, the child support payments are still going to add up in arrearages every month. Even over a short period of time, these arrearages can turn into a substantial amount of debt that you can’t have dismissed. More so, interest will incur on the arrearages, further increasing your child support debt and making it harder to get caught up.

Another reason to file quickly is because if approved, the modification will begin from the date you filed. For those paying child support, you can save thousands of dollars by filing quickly and having the payments retroactively reduced fro the petition date. For those receiving child support, you can lose thousands of dollars if you fail to file a modification request quickly because the longer you wait, the more money you forfeit in the event the modification request is approved for a higher amount than what you are already receiving.

Remember the Retroactive Child Support Rule

Child support cannot be retroactively modified to a past date except for in two situations: retroactive modifications are permitted according to the date a Petition to Modify Child Support is filed, and in some cases, according to an initial child support award amount. The latter only applies to those who have never received a child support order. In this instance, the court will most times modify the award amount according to the date the partner stopped providing financial care to the child.

Know What You Have to Prove

To take the headache out of going through the child support process, it’s important to know what to expect; this applies to both parties. For those who are petitioning to receive child support payments, it’s pertinent to understand that you and the person you are petitioning will have to provide income information. This is because the amount awarded is determined by both parties’ income and expenses as well as the difference in those amounts.

For those who have received a petition for child support, you will have to provide income and employment information as well as payroll and banking information, if you have it, so that child support payments can be automatically deducted from your bank account or paycheck. Having the payments come directly out of your banking account or paycheck is helpful in ensuring you don’t get behind on payments.

In most cases when receiving an Affidavit of Financial Information, you will need to gather the following:

  • Tax returns
  • Pay stubs
  • W2s
  • Alternative forms of proof for any income deriving from self-employment

The process of modifying a child support in Arizona can be easy if you file the petition quickly and have all necessary information and documentation gathered and ready to submit. So, don’t wait.

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.