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.

 

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.

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.

How Divorce Impacts Your Credit Score

Divorce is mainly comprised of financial transactions. Dividing assets and debts and setting up spousal and child support payments all are about money and as such they can all have an impact on your credit score.

Getting divorced by itself does not have a direct impact on your credit score, however the financial arrangements created by the divorce can impact it.  For example, if you and your spouse have a joint credit card account and your spouse is ordered by the court to pay the debt and does not, you are still financially liable for that account and the lack of payment will appear on your credit report and negatively impact your credit score. Mortgages are another common way your credit score can be affected. The court could order your ex to be fully responsible for the mortgage. However, there is no easy way to get your name off that loan. If your ex doesn’t pay, your credit score will be negatively affected.

To protect your credit score, close all joint accounts as soon as possible, or at least freeze them so no further charges can be added to them. Remaining balances on joint credit cards can be transferred to sole accounts, but the court will need to order your ex to do this if he or she is unwilling. The best way to get your name off a mortgage is for your ex to refinance the mortgage into his or her own name.

Check your credit report every six months during your divorce and in the year after your divorce. Look for inaccuracies such as accounts that have been paid in full or closed still listed as active. Get a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com.

The Sampair Group provides experienced representation in all types of family law cases in in the Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix areas of Arizona. Call our office today to discuss your case.

Inheritance and Divorce

When going through a divorce, a big concern for either party may be how it will affect inheritance you have received before and during the marriage. Generally, equitable distribution and community property distribution in divorce cases do not apply to property that a spouse has inherited from a third party during a marriage, as it is considered that spouse’s property alone. However, there are some things both parties should know about how divorce can affect inheritance distribution.

When analyzing the inheritance, the key questions are the size of inheritance, when it was received, how it has been used and the financial needs of the family (both parties and any children) at the time of the divorce. Each case depends on the individual facts and circumstances surrounding the inheritance.

A judge will consider what property a party owns separately, and what can be considered marital property. Marital property will be split equally, whereas separate property will not be split, but can still be shared in certain circumstances.

In deciding the difference of the property ownership, the judge considers how, when, why and under what circumstances the property was received. They will also look at how the property is being held currently (who’s name the property is under). Also considered in the case is what each spouse contributed to the property and how much they each use it. (Example: If the property is in the wife’s name, but the husband is the only one who uses it and maintains it, just as he would if he were a co-owner of the property.)

If inherited assets are held in joint names or used for the benefit of both parties and/or for the family, they will likely be considered joint assets when being divided by the court.

If assets were inherited shortly before the divorce proceedings began, they are less likely to be included in the matrimonial assets for division, depending on if there are other assets in the marriage sufficient enough to meet future needs of the couple or family.

One of the main considerations by a judge is the needs of the family, especially those of minor children. If the only way to meet those needs is by transferring inherited assets or assets deriving from them to the other party, the court will do so.

Inheritances and separate property are very big reasons for why couples should look into prenuptial agreements and always have an experienced Phoenix divorce lawyer on their side. There are many rules that apply to parties dividing property in the event of a divorce or separation case, especially when children are involved. Consult the advice of an experienced attorney at The Sampair Group today to discuss the circumstances of your case and what your legal options are.

5 Ways to Get Over Your Divorce

It takes time to recover from a divorce. Even though the legal papers may be signed and finalized, it may take longer for you to feel as though you’ve really worked through all of the emotions involved in the divorce. Here are some ways to help you move forward.

  1. Write a letter to your ex. Detail every single thing he or she did wrong. Spill out all the blame and pent up emotions. Rant, rave, and say everything you’ve held inside all these months. Then delete it. DO NOT SEND IT. Pouring out all of these feelings and giving them words will help you process how you feel and move past it. There is nothing to be gained by giving the letter to your ex and in fact doing so would probably make things worse.
  2. Forgive yourself. Deep inside you might be blaming yourself for the end of your marriage, or for actions you took during the divorce. It’s over and it’s time to grant yourself immunity. You did the best you could at the time and you’re moving on.
  3. Make a list of the ways in which your ex was wrong for you. Seeing this list will help you process that the divorce was necessary. It will also help you think about what you really need in a relationship and a partner.
  4. Change your environment. Change up your living space so that it is at least slightly different from the way it was when you were married or while you were going through the divorce. Use this as a signal for a new era in your life.
  5. Smile. Make yourself smile. Studies show that the actual act of smiling makes you feel happier.

When you need a law firm to help you with a divorce or post-decree modifications, the Sampair Group can help. Our attorneys serve the Mesa, Phoenix, and Glendale areas of Arizona. Call us now so we can help you.

5 Signs of Impending Divorce

1. You Think Of Life Without Your Spouse
During marital problems, one or both spouses may have thoughts of how much better life would/could be if they were divorced. If you are constantly thinking about divorce, it’s a sign that you feel stuck and don’t see any solution to your marital problems.

2. Disconnection
If you’re no longer spending time together and you feel relief when your spouse isn’t around, it’s a sign that you have disconnected from each other and are both already disengaged from the marriage.

3. No Conflict Resolution
A lack of effective conflict resolution can be detrimental to a marriage. Not being able to resolve differences without avoiding disagreement and conflict can lead to a loss of respect, which can increase distance and cause withdrawal between spouses.

4. Disaffection
Emotional disengagement is usually accompanied with a lack of affection or complete disappearance of it. If you have separated from each other emotionally, it’s likely that you don’t feel much love for each other.

5. Increased Focus Outside of the Marriage
Once a marriage gets disconnected enough, each spouse will start focusing less on the marriage and more on outside activities. This could include immersing themselves in the lives of their children, working late nights at their career or pouring themselves into future careers.

Going through a divorce is a confusing and stressful time. Contact an experienced Phoenix divorce attorney at The Sampair Group for more information.

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.