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.

Do Assets Need To Be Divided During a Divorce?

Divorce is so complicated because it involves complex financial calculations and formulas. The actual ending of your relationship to each is quite simple. Divorce takes so much time and money because the assets and debts of the marriage must be divided and often there are important issues regarding children. You may wonder then if it is possible to divorce without dividing up assets. Understanding what can happen to your assets during a divorce is important.

In general, with certain important exceptions, any assets or debts acquired during your marriage by either of you are community assets and debts.They belongs to both of you and must be divided in the divorce. The ownership of community propertymust be addressed in your divorce (the exception to this would be if you have had a marriage of very short duration and have not had time to acquire any community assets or debts).

You don’t need to go to court to have this division occur. You and your spouse can create a settlement agreement on your own.Decide how you want to split everything up. If you agree, it’s a fairly simple matter for your attorney to draft the divorce papers and move your divorce through the courts quickly without undue delay. Even if you can’t decide on your own, an attorney or mediator can help you quickly divide everything so that your divorce can move forward without contest.

Some spouses keep things completely separate throughout their marriage, never putting two names on any asset or debt. Although these items are legally community property, this can simplify your divorce if you agree that each will own or be responsible for assets or debts currently in the spouse’s own names.

The Sampair Grouphandles divorce and family law cases in the Mesa, Phoenix, and Glendale areas of Arizona. Our attorneys are uniquely qualified to handle your case with attention to detail. Call our office to schedule a convenient appointment today.

Annulment Laws in Arizona

Having your marriage annulled is not the same as getting a divorce. A divorce ends a valid marriage while an annulment states that the marriage was never valid and, therefore, never existed. Annulments are not favored in Arizona and the case may be dismissed if there are no grounds for an annulment. While annulments are harder to get in Arizona than a divorce, they are not impossible.

There are several valid reasons for requesting an annulment: underage marriage, mental illness, bigamy, fraud, temporary insanity at the time of marriage, intoxication at the time of marriage, incest, duress, or one or both parties failed to consummate the marriage. While this list is not complete, these are the most common grounds for an annulment. Once the reason for annulment has been identified, it is recommended to utilize the resources of a family lawyer, like those at The Sampair Group, in order to properly complete the process.

Paperwork will need to be filed at your local courthouse before an annulment can continue. Your family lawyer will be able to help you correctly fill it out. A judge of the superior court will then review the case to decide if the reason for an annulment is valid. If it is, the marriage is then null and void. However, if the judge decides against an annulment, it’s not the end of the road. The party asking for the annulment can file a petition. Both parties will be summoned to court where testimonies will be heard in order to come to a conclusion.

Often, people think an annulment brings their paternity into question. In the eyes of the court, the child or children are seen as being born to two single parents if the marriage is annulled. Under Arizona law, the courts have decided that parents of children who are born outside of marriage have co-equal custody following the established paternity.

If you find yourself considering an annulment, the family lawyers at The Sampair Group can help. Any legal matter can be confusing and we would like to help you to better understand the annulment process. Visit www.sampair.com today for a free consultation.

Should We Stay Together For The Kids?

After many years of marriage, the stresses may seem to increase with each year passing. You and your spouse may be at the breaking point where you are pondering the idea of divorce, but knowing how it would impact the children may stop those thoughts. However, it is also important to wonder if staying together for the children is any better.

There is no clear answer to how to approach this situation, and each circumstance is different. It’s important to think about the children’s best interests. Are they better off in a home where their parents are constantly fighting and are unhappy most of the time or would they benefit more down the road if mom and dad were not together, but they were each happier?

Staying together “for the kids” certainly comes with risks. If you are miserable in your marriage, your family may be loaded with arguments, anger, frustration and pain. If you are a couple that cannot be civil or handle conflict rationally with each other, your child may learn these bad parenting skills and be negatively impacted by them.

Another risk that comes with staying married for the sake of the children is that your child may be neglected while you and your spouse are wrapped up in their own conflicts. It may be physical neglect, such as the parents completely check out of parenting, or it may be emotional neglect, and the parents may not show up together for the child’s important events or may try and alienate the child from the other parent.

If you and your spouse cannot co-parent effectively while living in the same household, you may want to rethink the situation and realize that co-parenting from separate homes may be what is best for your child.

There are times, however, when the child will benefit if the family stays intact, even if the parents are no longer in love with each other. Co-parenting under the same roof is better as long as each parent can stay civil and keep the children out of their arguments and conflict.

For more information on child custody and family law, look to the Glendale and Phoenix family law attorneys at The Sampair Group.

What Is Contempt of Court?

You may have heard the term “contempt of court” and wondered what it is or how it might apply in your divorce or family law case. Contempt of court happens when a person under the court’s jurisdiction (such as you or your spouse, or even one of the attorneys in your case) does something that defies the court’s authority or is severely disrespectful to the court. It’s up to the judge to decide that someone is in contempt of court and the judge has broad discretion about making this call. Examples of contempt of court actions might include failing to pay child support, refusing to follow a parenting plan, failing to pay spousal support, or insulting or defying the judge.

In family court cases, a hearing is held when a court chooses to invoke a contempt order, giving the person accused of contempt the opportunity to present a defense. If the person fails to appear, a warrant can be issued and the person can be held in jail for up to 24 hours.

A finding of contempt can result in jail time, fines, or seizure of property. If the person found in contempt in a family law case is sentenced to jail time, a hearing must be held every 35 days throughout the jail term.

To avoid a contempt order, it is essential that you exactly follow all court orders in your case, appear in court at all scheduled times, and remain polite and civil during all proceedings. If you disagree with an order or are having problems meeting its requirements you need to talk to your attorney immediately so that you can avoid facing a contempt of court charge.

When you need help with a family law case, call The Sampair Group. We regularly represent clients in Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Phoenix in divorce and family law cases and are ready to provide the representation you need.