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.

 

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.

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.

Modifying Your Child Support Order

Under federal and state law, parents have a right to request a modification of a child support order. Both parents must reach an agreement to modify the child support order. If there is no agreement between both parties, a judge can be asked to approve the change as long as it is explained why the modification need is justified and how the amount modification that is requested will benefit the child. In this court hearing, you must be able to show evidence that circumstances have changed since the existing order. Depending on the circumstances, the judge will decide if the modification will be temporary or permanent. A permanent modification order will remain in effect until child support is no longer needed, or if the order is again modified in the future. If you are unsure of whether you have valid reasons for a child support order modifications, contact a Glendale Family Law professional. Here are some examples of the types of changes that support a modification order:

Temporary

  • a child’s medical emergency
  • a temporary inability for the payer to be able to make child support payments, whether it be for a illness, temporary financial burden, medical emergency
  • temporary financial or medical hardship for the recipient parent

Permanent

  • either parent has lost their job or gets new employment with a decreased income
  • one or both parents remarry and the new spouse’s income increases the household income
  • the cost of living increases  for one or both parents
  • either parent becomes disabled
  • the child’s needs have changed (education, health, etc.)
  • child support laws have changed

 

Through Arizona Child Support Order Guidelines, when one parent files a Petition to Modify Child Support, the filing party will serve the other party with the petition, allowing for response from the other party, who may choose to do nothing or request a hearing. If the party that is served with the petition is a resident of Arizona, they have 20 days from the date served to respond. If they are not a resident of Arizona, they have 30 days to respond. It is then up to the judge to set a hearing date and decide how to proceed with the case.

If you have found yourself in a situation where you are unable to pay support because you have lost a job or your income has decreased significantly, do not wait to modify your child support order. Contact an experience Phoenix divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group for legal representation in any family law dispute.

What Is A Default Judgment?

One of the most basic legal concepts is that of due process. What this means is that all parties to a lawsuit are given notice of the action before any decision is made. This requires service of process on every litigant, so that they can enter an appearance in the case and protect their interests. If you fail to respond to a lawsuit, the Court has the authority to enter judgment as requested in the petition. Never rely on a statement from your ex that he/she will be fair or that you have previously agreed upon things and assume that party will follow through in the final Divorce Decree. The failure to respond to a Petition can have very serious and negative consequences. To avoid this harsh consequence, contact a knowledgeable attorney to make sure you answer on time and in full.

In a divorce proceeding, entry of a default judgment for failing to respond to the case can include some results that are undesirable. This might include:

  • Property division awards that give you less than you deserve.
  • An unfair distribution of debt repayment.
  • Child support that does fit your budget, or meet your kids’ needs.
  • Child custody in a way that does not give you the amount of time you want with your kids.

It is not an option to ignore a summons. A thorough review by a competent family law attorney will reveal the deadline by which you must file an answer to the petition. Knowing your answer date puts you in a position to be able to fully develop your responses to the allegations made by the other side, and will give you a chance to file your answer on time. Experienced family law attorneys know how to figure out the answer date in your case and make sure that a harmful default judgment is not taken against you. If you have been served with divorce papers, act quickly to make sure you answer on time.  .

For answers to your questions about divorce processes, 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.

Help Getting Over The Anger Of Divorce

Let’s face it, getting divorced is not fun and can cause a host of emotions. Some of the more common feelings that go along with getting divorced are sadness, a sense of failure, depression, and anger. Any one of these feelings, if they linger too long, can be damaging to your future. In order to have a successful divorce, you have to have a successful post-divorce life. Part of this is done by reaching agreements or making persuasive arguments for what you want during the divorce case. But, part of this also comes from the personal growth that should come after the ink dries your divorce decree.

If you are having overwhelming feelings of anger or resentment after your divorce, these things can help you move past those feelings and put you in a positive mental state:

  • Write down what you are feeling. This is a tactic used by many counselors and therapists, and the goal is to get you to put your feelings down on paper, so you can have a visual reference to what you are feeling. Along with writing down how you feel you should also refer back to those writings with regularity. You might be surprised at how quickly your feeling change, or find a common theme that causes your anger. Once you know what to look for, it will be easier to deal with a situation when it arises.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or professional. Sometimes all a person needs is to vent, and get their feelings off their chest. If you allow yourself to keep your feelings of anger inside, they are likely to come to the surface in an inappropriate or dangerous way.
  • Figure out what causes your anger by looking for reoccurring events. If you know what causes you to become angry, you can avoid similar situations in the future.

Harboring deep feelings of anger or resentment can be damaging to your health, and can cause conflict in the relationships you wish to hold on to after divorce. In order to have a post-divorce life that does not leave you feeling anxious, it is critical to move past any anger you have about the case.

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.