Social Media And Your Divorce

In today’s culture, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media and professional networking sites and applications have become a big part of how people interact with each other. Profiles are constantly being updated with shared information about our lives, jobs, etc. When a husband and wife going through a divorce are sharing this information on social networks without considering the potential consequences, it can be detrimental to the already existing stress that comes with the breakup of a marriage. The divorce process is full of stressors including legal, financial, and emotional battles between both parties, and the use of social media doesn’t make it any easier.

Be careful about who you trust on your social media profiles. Not every “friend” is a friend, and sometimes a message you thought to be private turns out to be public information that can be used against you. When posting on your social networking profiles, keep in mind the mutual friends of you and your former spouse. Some of these friends might be on your side, but some of them can easily turn on you or use information on your profile against you when taking the side of your ex, all because of something you may have posted on Facebook.

Information exchanged via technology such as emails or text messages can possibly be subpoenaed and picked through as admissible evidence in court. In many cases, one or both parties of the divorce process will claim to not have enough money for child support, spousal support, or other payments, but their Facebook profile picture of them with a new boat or on a fancy vacation may prove otherwise. The credibility of any parties that do this can be called into question immediately.

Take a few minutes to reflect on the nature of your social media posts. It would be wise to not post anything on these profiles that you wouldn’t say in person to the whole world. Information on the Internet doesn’t ever just go away immediately if it’s deleted. Exercise caution, discretion and good judgment when updating your profile. Don’t be malicious or talk poorly about your ex, as this information can quickly be used against you.

Have a discussion with your former partner to formulate a sort of social media agreement. Such issues should be addressed like what kind of information should not be posted by either of you, can you post pictures of your kids, etc. Establish one kind of communication between the two of you, such as email, to create a lower risk of impulsive comments on various types of networks. One tweet or wall post can quickly generate irreversible damage and lead to much more conflict in a divorce proceeding than you expected. Many family law attorneys will also recommend to clients that it would be in the best interest of all involved in the divorce to shut down social media profiles at the start of the divorce process.

Divorce is hard enough, and a frequent online presence can cause big problems. It is important to discuss your online presence with a legal professional. Phoenix divorce lawyers at The Sampair Group will help you understand which information is worth protecting as you battle the issues in a divorce process. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

The Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement

When you get married, the last thing you want to think about during this happy time of your new life is the “what if’s” of if the marriage doesn’t work out. But for many couples, a prenuptial agreement can be a wise decision to make. If you and your significant other decide to formulate a prenup before tying the knot, it is important that you each seek legal advice. The family law and divorce attorneys at The Sampair Group know the benefits of a prenuptial agreement and will guide you through the process to make sure that your agreement is consistent with state laws and is fair to both parties. There are many benefits to a prenup agreement, and it can often be a win-win for everyone involved if the marriage were to not work out.

Preserves Property and Assets
Through a prenuptial agreement you can preserve property and assets that you attained prior to the marriage. This could also include the obligation to support children from a prior marriage, and for many other reasons.

Certainty
A prenuptial agreement lays out all of the arrangements and understandings that the spouses can agree upon before marriage. This formal agreement helps both parties know what to expect so they won’t have to worry about what will happen in terms of assets, finances, etc. in the event of death or divorce.

Protecting Debt
A prenuptial agreement can protect the assets of one spouse from being used to satisfy the debts of the other party that they may have built up prior to the marriage.

Minimize Divorce Drama and Costs
When you sign a prenuptial agreement, it leaves less room to fight about assets and other aspects of the divorce. It has all already been set out by you beforehand and agreed upon between your spouse and yourself, resulting in less stress if anything happens to the marriage. Divorce can be costly, and a prenup can also help minimize the monetary damage.

Family Members
Family members of each spouse can also be protected through a prenuptial agreement. It will ensure that family members receive (or don’t receive) marital property in the case of death or divorce. This is commonly used to protect the interests of children from a previous marriage.

Protect Family Business, Heirlooms
When there are children from a previous marriage, keeping family heirlooms out of the marital estate can be important. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that they are kept out of the marriage and provided to the person(s) they are intended for. A prenup can also keep control of property that belongs to a family business.

Divorce paperwork and agreements can be difficult and messy, so it is important to seek legal guidance when deciding if one is right for you and your spouse. Contact the divorce attorneys at The Sampair Group today for more information.

Do We Really Need a Divorce?

If your relationship is over, divorce may seem like the next necessary step you need to take. There’s actually no requirement at all that you get a divorce or legal separation or do anything at all to change your legal status if you don’t want to.

If you and spouse end your relationship but don’t get a divorce, you can live separately and go on with your lives independently. While you remain married you can obtain custody, spousal support, and child support through the Arizona courts as long as you are living separately.

You will need to continue to file taxes as married and indicate ‘married’ as your legal status on legal forms. You can continue on each other’s health insurance. If one of you passes away, you are eligible for Social Security on that spouse’s behalf. You can continue as each other’s life insurance beneficiaries and health care proxies if you wish.

What are the downsides to remaining married when your relationship is over? You will need to continue to have contact with each for legal matters. If you remain married and unseparated, your marital property cannot be divided by a court. You can informally divide it yourselves, but there is no enforcement available and no way to stop your spouse from using or destroying marital assets. You will continue to be liable for each other’s debts. If one of you passes away, there is a spousal right to inheritance even if the spouse is written out of the will. Additionally, remaining legally married can create an emotional burden and connection that you may find you are not entirely comfortable with.

If you are weighing whether or not to get a divorce, you need to talk with an attorney who can explain all of the options, implications, and considerations. The Sampair Group is here to help you work through these choices. We represent clients in Maricopa County. Call us for an appointment with one of our knowledgeable attorneys now.

Divorce and Life Insurance

Life insurance is one item that is often scrutinized after a divorce as a way to save money. Many people took out life insurance policies in order to provide for their spouse, should something happen to them. No spouse, no need for life insurance, right? Not necessarily.

First you need to talk with your attorney to determine if life insurance is or will be a requirement of our divorce decree. Sometimes life insurance is required as part of child support or spousal maintenance, to provide further support and protection. If you have a current policy you may be able to adjust the beneficiary to fulfill this need. You will need to know the face value of the policy and consider how much your premiums are per year.

Many life insurance policies are more than just insurance. It is common for policies to also function as an investment vehicle, growing in value. Talk with a local agent to get details on how your policy functions and whether it has this feature. It may make sense to continue the policy as part of your investment plan.

Many life insurance policies also have a cash value. Before you cash it in though, consider the face value of the policy, which is likely much greater than the cash value. The policy could be used to benefit your child, a future new spouse, or other family members.

Don’t forget that the original purpose of life insurance policies was to cover funeral and burial costs. This may be something you want to have a policy in place for so that family members are not burdened should something happen to you. If you do choose to keep a policy in place, be sure to change the beneficiary to the person of your choice so it is current.

When you have questions about life insurance and other assets in your divorce, the Sampair Group offers experienced advice in the Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale and Phoenix areas of Arizona. Call us now to make an appointment.

Be in Charge of Your Divorce

Because divorce is such an all-encompassing process, if you don’t decide to manage your divorce, it could end up managing you. Taking control of your decisions, your emotions, and your future is the best way to get through this change in your life.

The first step is to find an attorney you are comfortable with. An attorney who listens to you, understands what you want, and explains things in a way you can understand is absolutely necessary and you shouldn’t settle for anything less. A solid legal partnership will set the stage for all of the decisions to follow and will help you feel confident in all your future choices.

When you are in court, divorce ends up being mostly about money (except when you are dealing with a custody case). The procedure focuses on financial affidavits and the value of assets. In your everyday life though, your divorce is mostly about your emotions and your family dynamics. You end up with two very separate types of divorce happening in your life at once. Trying to keep these two things separate will benefit you. Make decisions about money with a critical financial eye. Make decisions about your family by listening to your heart.

Be your own best advocate. If you don’t stand up and say what you want, what works for you, and what feels unfair, no one else will. Your attorney needs to hear from you about how settlement offers will really work for you. Don’t mindlessly agree to anything. Think it all through. Ask your attorney to help you understand long-term implications. Then speak your mind without apology.

The Sampair Group is ready to be your tireless advocate for your divorce or family law case in the Mesa or Glendale areas of Arizona. Pick up the phone and call us today.

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Alimony

Alimony is often misunderstood. Here are some things you might not know about it.

  1. In Arizona, alimony is called spousal support. The term is used to more accurately reflect the purpose of these payments. Alimony is a word that has developed a negative connotation so the choice of words affects how the parties react to the payments.
  2. Spousal support is not meant to punish one of the spouses. There are some states in which it can be used in this way, but in Arizona, spousal support is not used to punish a spouse for bad behavior, such as infidelity.
  3. The purpose of spousal support is to help the spouse with fewer assets become self-sufficient. The payments are to be made while the non-moneyed spouse obtains the education, training, or experience necessary to become self-supporting.
  4. Spousal support is usually set up to last for a specific period of time. The court evaluates how long it will take the non-moneyed spouse to become self-sufficient and establishes payments for that time period. In very rare cases when a spouse is disabled or is very elderly spousal support may be set to last for that person’s lifetime.
  5. Spousal support has tax implications. The spouse who receives support payments must report it as income. The spouse who pays it can take it as a deduction on taxes.
  6. Spousal support can be set up as regular payments for a period of time, or it can be paid in a one-time lump sum. Lump sum payments must be characterized specifically as spousal support if they are to be considered alimony for tax purposes.

The Sampair Group represents men and women in divorce and family law cases in Maricopa County. Call our office to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled attorneys today.

Divorce and Social Security

Even after you are divorced, you may still qualify for the same Social Security benefits as a spouse would.

There are several requirements you must meet in order to get Social Security benefits from your former spouse:

  • The marriage must have lasted for a minimum of 10 years
  • You must be at least 62 years old
  • You must be currently unmarried and not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on your own work record
  • Your ex-spouse must be at the age for which they are eligible to receive their own retirement or disability benefits. If they are in fact eligible but have not claimed their benefits, this does not impact you as long as you have been divorced for a minimum of two years.

If you have remarried and your second spouse is deceased, you will qualify to claim benefits from either your first spouse or your second spouse, so long as each marriage meets the previous requirements. You can collect these benefits as early as age 60 as a divorced spouse surviving. If you are disabled, you can collect benefits as early as age 50.

Typically, the spouse seeking Social Security benefits from their former spouse will receive one-half of their retirement benefits. If they die before the spouse requesting benefits, they will receive full retirement benefits. The amount you receive is also affected by the full retirement age of the spouse getting the benefits.

For more information on getting Social Security benefits from a former spouse, seek the help of a Phoenix family law attorney at The Sampair Group. We will work diligently with you to determine your rights after a divorce and how you receive the benefits you deserve.

Understanding QDROs

Retirement accounts and pension plans are an important part of the community property division in a divorce.  If either you or your spouse have an employer pension plan that was added to during your marriage, it is a marital asset and community property, even if only one spouse’s name is actually on the account. This asset is divided in the divorce, but divvying it up is much more complex than simply splitting up a bank account or changing the title on a car. Because the money in these accounts generally cannot be transferred by the owner’s request, there is a complex process that must take place to be able to move the funds out and give them to the other spouse as part of the divorce settlement or order.

To access the funds in the account that you and your spouse or a judge has decided should be transferred, your attorney must prepare a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, called a QDRO (pronounced “quadro”). This document must be prepared to meet the specifications of the individual pension plan or account. The court signs the order and it is sent to the company that manages and administers the account. If the document meets the requirements set up by the Administrator of the Plan being divided, the funds can be transferred to an account for the receiving spouse. In other words the receiving spouse now has a “sub-account” in the ex-spouse’s Plan, in her name. She is restricted by the same rules as the Plan Participant when it comes to withdrawing the money. Occasionally the Plan will allow the receiving spouse to roll her share of the Plan into a Rollover IRA account. Talk to your attorney to get details about QDROs and whether one is needed in your case.  Your attorney can also advise you as to the actions you need to take if you receive QDRO funds to avoid tax issues.

The Sampair Group handles complex financial divorces in Maricopa County, Arizona. Our office is conveniently located to serve you and is ready to take your call. Make an appointment now.

Child Relocation in Arizona

Following a divorce that involves a child or children, the custodial parents may wish to relocate with the children. By Arizona state law, the court cannot keep a custodial parent from relocating, but a compromise can be difficult to negotiate between parents when visitation rights will be affected. As a result, these cases are typically resolved in court.

Many child custody orders require that both parents live in the same state. However, the custodial parent has the right to request relocation for a child, as long as the reasons for relocation are legitimate and in the best interest of the child. Child relocation is often granted in situations that involve the custodial parent getting a new job or remarrying.

If both parents already live in the same state and share custody, the parent that wants to relocate with the child more than 100 miles from their current residence must provide written notice 60 days in advance of a projected move. The non-custodial parent then has a 30-day window to decline the request. If they object, they must file a formal objection with the court, where a judge will set a hearing with both parents present to decide if the move is in the best interest of the child. If there is no response to the written notice, the court will assume that there is no objection, and will grant relocation, given that all reasons for relocation are valid in opinion of a judge. During this process, child custody agreements, child support payments, and visitation will be re-litigated.

Before approving relocation, the court must make specific findings and relevant factors that solidify that the relocation is being decided in the best interest of the child. The parent who wants to relocate has the legal burden of proving what is in the child’s best interest.

Examples of factors that the court will consider include:

  • Reasons that the custodial parent wants to relocate (employment, family support, etc.)
  • How the move will impact the child educationally and emotionally
  • How the move will affect the other parent’s ability to visit the child

If you need representation in a family law dispute, contact an experience Phoenix Family Law attorney at The Sampair Group today to get a decision made in your favor.

The Impact of Divorce On Your Career

Any big stress in your life can have a potential impact on your career. Divorce ranks high among life stressors but it also directly impacts your schedule and mental acuity. Your divorce requires not only emotional energy, but lots of time off from work to meet with your attorney or mediator and days off for court appearances. This can have a detrimental effect on your career success. Keep it all together by following these steps:

  • Minimize time off. Find out if your attorney or mediator can meet with you on weekends. Save your personal days for court appearances which are always scheduled during business hours.
  • Talk to your boss. Be up front about what you are going through and be clear that you are dedicated to your job. Make it clear you will go above and beyond your duties by working at night, from home, or by taking on additional responsibility once your case has concluded.
  • Look the part. Be particularly careful to present an outer appearance of success, clarity, and dedication to your job at all times. Dress well. Keep your office space organized.
  • Control what you can and let go of the rest. You can minimize the impact on your workplace by taking personal calls away from your co-workers and having breakdowns in the bathroom alone, but you have no control over your spouse showing up at your office or your company being notified that your wages are being garnished for child support. You can’t control everything and no one expects you to.

When you are facing a divorce, you have many questions. Talk with an attorney who understands your concerns and is available to answer your questions. The Sampair Group services all of Maricopa County and our attorneys are ready to discuss your options with you today.