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.

Is Your Behavior The Reason For Your Divorce?

In any marriage there are a number of things that could potentially hurt the relationship to the point of separation and divorce. Avoid the following behaviors to improve your chances of a long-term, healthy marriage.

Ignoring Issues
Unexpressed feelings will only eventually build up over a period of time, turning small annoyances into very big resentments, which then leads to very heated arguments. The bigger the problem gets, the more likely each partner is to stop trusting the other, and calm communication becomes very difficult to have. To avoid this from happening, bring up and deal with issues as they come up. Confront them in a calm manner and work on them together.

Not Spending Enough Time Together
In order for a marriage to work, you need to give yourselves times to connect with each other. The less you do this, the more disconnected and distant your relationship will become. Prioritize outside factors that may be affecting your relationship, such as a job, friends, hobbies, etc., and be sure that you are working hard to make time for your partner. Go for a walk, agree to a date night, or just spend a couple of nights a week sitting around talking to each other. You may be surprised at how parallel your lives had become if other things from your busy schedule were getting in the way of your marriage.

Communication Problems
Being able to resolve issues effectively is a big factor in making a marriage work. But if you can’t approach your problems in a mature way, it’s not going to help anyone. Being passive-aggressive or slamming the door and leaving as response to an argument is not the way to go. This will give your partner the feeling of abandonment and they will feel as if you don’t care enough about the marriage to effectively handle issues that come up, no matter the nature of the conflict. To avoid this, both partners need to work together to resolving issues in a way that will meet the needs of both of you.

Invalidation
When an argument gets intense, a spouse may fall into the terrible habit of discrediting or weakening their partner as a quick reaction. Oftentimes, they will objectify their spouse or focus on only their negative characteristics as a way to destroy their self-esteem. Most partners react this way without thinking first, but that is no excuse for how it can negatively affect a person’s emotions both long-term and short-term. To avoid doing this, try and stay calm during all arguments, no matter how angry you may be. Staying calm with help you stay rational under the heat of anger and intense emotions.

Sometimes even avoiding these behaviors isn’t enough to prevent divorce. At The Sampair Group, our high conflict resolution attorneys take the time to get to know you and the circumstances of your case. Contact an experienced divorce attorney today for a free initial consultation. 

Sharing Children’s Expenses After Divorce

Child support is ordered as a set amount, but most orders also include language about sharing children’s expenses, such as medical co-pays, school supplies, clothing, extra-curricular costs and equipment, music lessons, and more.

It can be difficult to keep track of these additional expenses if you are the parent seeking to be reimbursed. Follow these suggestions for staying organized.

  • Have bills sent directly to your ex. This is easiest to do with medical bills. This avoids the repayment problem and makes your ex legally responsible to the medical provider, keeping you out of it. The only problem is if you ex doesn’t pay, the provider may refuse to treat your child until the account is current. You may also be able to do this with extra-curricular fees or sports teams costs.
  • Get separate receipts. If you go to Target to buy school supplies as well as toilet paper and window cleaner, get a separate receipt for the items your ex needs to reimburse you for. It will make tracking expenses easier.
  • Scan in all receipts that need to go to your ex. Keep the originals. Send the scans with a cover letter showing the detailed breakdown of the expenses and the amount due to you.
  • Keep a spreadsheet of all expenses. Mark when you send them to your ex and when you are reimbursed. This will allow you to see at a glance what you have not been repaid for.
  • Get estimates when possible. When large costs are looming, such as braces or the cost of a new musical instrument, get an estimate of the cost in advance and send it to your ex. This allows him or her to plan and is a very courteous way to show you want to work cooperatively.
  • Consider using an app. There are now several apps specifically designed for co-parents that allows you to create entries and attach receipts. You and your ex use the app together and can track expenses this way.

Call the Sampair Group to discuss your child support case. We are located in Maricopa County, Arizona and are ready to work with you. Make an appointment today.

Financial Impact of Divorce on Women

Divorce creates financial challenges for men and women. Anyone going through a divorce knows that it challenges your bottom line. However, a recent government study has shown that divorce hits women harder financially than men. The statistics show that a man’s household income falls 20% on average after a divorce, but for women the decline in household income after divorce is 41% on average, more than double the impact on men.

If you are a women, this can sound devastating. Protect yourself in the following ways:

  • Ask for child support and spousal support. Some women feel uncomfortable asking because they feel it makes them dependent on their ex at a time when all they want is to move forward alone. Child support and alimony are crucial in rebuilding your financial life. Talk with your attorney about what you are entitled to.
  • Think about retirement now. Retirement assets are marital assets and you should make sure you get your fair share. Many women choose to take more liquid assets, but if you don’t start planning for your future now, you may never accumulate what you really need to retire comfortably. You also need to think about developing your own savings plan moving forward. Talk to a financial planner to create a sensible strategy.
  • Get what is owed to you. Make sure you actually get everything your divorce decree entitles you to, from furniture to lawn tools. If your ex doesn’t pay spousal support or child support on time, hold him or her accountable in court. If your ex is supposed to provide health insurance or pay for school expenses for your child, make sure it happens. Yes, it’s challenging to keep track of payments and upsetting to have to go back to court, but it’s the only way to ensure your rights are protected.

For help with your divorce or post-divorce modifications, contact the Sampair Group.

Can I Appeal My Divorce?

When faced with a divorce decree that they are unhappy with, some people wonder if it is possible to appeal it and get a different, more favorable ruling. Everyone is entitled to appeal any decision but there are some things that are important to understand about appeals.

In Arizona, your attorney can ask the judge to reconsider a ruling in your case. This is a request that the court revisit its decision and consider some overlooked evidence or correct an error. Your attorney can also ask that the court overturn its own decision if you failed to respond in time and a ruling was made without your input.

It is also possible for your attorney to file for a modification of your court order after it has been entered. If circumstances change after the divorce, custody case, or child support case was decided, it may be appropriate for the court to revisit the case and make a new decision based on the changes that have happened.

An appeal is when your attorney asks a higher court, called an appellate court, to review the legal decisions the court made in creating your decree. This is not an opportunity to introduce new evidence or have the case reheard, but is simply a request for the appellate court to decide if the judge applied the law correctly in your case.

Because there is a very short window of time in which an appeal can be filed, it is very important that you talk about an appeal with your attorney as soon as possible. Because appeals are very technical legal procedures, it is absolutely essential that you use an attorney for your appeal.

If you have a divorce or family case in the Phoenix, Mesa, and Glendale areas of Arizona, the Sampair Group is ready to represent you. Contact our office now for an appointment.

Protect Your Financial Future After Divorce

Divorce is one of the most stressful and emotional transitions you can face, and can often come with financial surprises. It is important to prepare for your financial future so the burden does not haunt you until retirement. Here are some ways to protect your financial future after divorce:

Financially preparing for the divorce and separation as soon as possible is the best way to go. Make copies of important documents such as pay stubs, tax returns, financial account statements, life insurance policies and loan documents and agreements, and begin organizing all of this information. Start tackling your finances during the divorce process, not after. Get separate bank accounts and credit cards, and be sure to cancel all joint credit cards and accounts. This way you can establish your own credit history and will not be held responsible is your ex-spouse fails to pay any credit card bills. As you negotiate the divorce, be sure that the mortgage, utilities and other bills get paid on time so you are not penalized.

Create a new budget for yourself for after the divorce. You will have less monthly income to use in your current lifestyle, so decide what kind of changes you need to make in order to better afford the single life. Consider expenses such as household, automobile, children, insurance, and other debts. Even if it’s in the divorce agreement, you can’t always count on your ex-spouse to pay the amount they are supposed to, or pay on time, so it’s important to know where you stand financially. Building an emergency fund from any cash you receive from the divorce is a great way to protect yourself from financial surprises or emergencies. This fund should equal 3-6 months of your living expenses for enough cushion during financial hardships. Having an emergency fund will also prevent you from racking up credit card debt.

Consult with a Phoenix Divorce Lawyer at The Sampair Group to discuss protecting your real assets such as cars, real estate and personal property. It is rare that couples in a divorce get a fair settlement when it comes to assets, so you should seek to resolve the splitting up of assets as fair as possible. Seeking outside counsel is also important when it comes to medical insurance. It is very important to discuss coverage for you, and any children involved, after the divorce. As for social security, you are entitled to 50% of your spouse’s benefits if you were married for at least 10 years if that amount is greater than your own benefits. This applies even if your ex remarries, but not if you do.

Be sure that you revisit and evaluate your beneficiaries. If you do not remove your former spouse as your primary beneficiary on retirement and investment accounts, they will receive all of that money in the even of your death. These policies must be changed themselves, as just making changes on your will does not protect these funds.

Benefits of Divorce Mediation

Divorce can be a complicated process that all too often brings out the worst in people. Worse yet, the whole process often gets dragged out in court. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. An increasing amount of couples are opting for divorce mediation as opposed to the traditional process. Here’s what you need to know:

What is Divorce Mediation?

Mediation is what is known as an “Alternative Dispute Resolution” method, or “ADR”, in the legal world. While it does still involve attorneys and often additional mediation experts, it can save both time and money (more about that below). The process also does not involve a judge, instead having the couple work through the divorce themselves through mutual agreement. It is important to know that both members of a couple must agree to go through mediation, as it is a voluntary process.

Who is Mediation a Good Choice For?

Couples don’t necessarily have to be on amicable terms when they decide to go through mediation, but they do have to be willing to work together to make the divorce as painless as possible. And again, it is an exceptionally good option for those who want to save time and money by avoiding the need to go to court. While attorneys are still involved, the cost for mediation is still typically less than the usual divorce process simply because there are no costs associated with trial and litigation and the process is not usually drawn out for many months or in some cases, years.

The Bottom Line

It is important to realize that while mediation is usually a less painful process, this doesn’t mean it is entirely easy. This is because all settlements that are reached during the process have to be mutually agreed upon by both parties. In rare cases, mediation is not successful, and the ongoing disagreements must then be settled in court. Still, the majority of couples find that mediation is a smoother, more civil way to handle divorce. When you’re ready to explore this option, it’s time to reach out to an experienced and understanding family law attorney.

Planning For College Expenses After Divorce

Every parent wants to encourage their child to continue their lives after high school by attending college and pursuing a career. However, following a divorce, the way for which you and your spouse planned on paying for your child’s education may change. Consulting with a Phoenix family law attorney at The Sampair Group can help you understand your rights and obligations regarding your child’s college tuition after a divorce.

Discussions between you and your spouse on this topic should include a full review of your settlement agreement, along with planning for potential schools that your child would like to apply to, financial aid options and alternatives, room and board, travel and other aspects of higher education and the financial responsibilities that come with it.

Paying for a child’s education is strictly voluntary on part of either parent, although one parent seeking contribution to college expenses by the other parent can file a petition with the court requesting contribution. The problem with this is that the court may order a parent to contribute to the costs of their child’s college education in an amount that exceeds what they can afford. This is where preventative measures can be taken by defining the terms for these expenses in a settlement agreement.

Your agreement should require each parent to pay a share of college expenses so that the burden of the cost does not fall on just one parent. Also in this agreement should include tax benefits that come from college expenses and how they should be allocated in the event of a divorce. These rates change annually, so be sure to make any necessary changes to your agreement as they are modified.

If you don’t have an agreement with these terms, the court may require both spouses to contribute to the expenses. To avoid this, consult a Glendale divorce attorney to make sure that your divorce agreement specifies who will or will not pay for their child’s educations, remembering to include all of the fine print. For more information, contact us today.

Reduce the Expense of Divorce

Lawyer fees aren’t the only expenses to worry about when you have made the decision to continue with a divorce. It’s difficult to fully understand the cost of divorce until you are actually going through it. Before taking that major step, you should consider all of the financial implications and what you can do to reduce the drastic financial impact that divorce can have on you and your family.

Complexity
If you have no child custody issues and no assets to be split in the divorce, expenses will be reduced. Conflict and a more complex divorce with more issues means spending more money. If you have complex affairs that need to be determined, it would be important to contact a Glendale divorce lawyer for outside help throughout the process.

Conflict Costs More
The amount of conflict in your divorce will affect the cost. Conflict can lead to lack of trust, which results in spouses have difficulty making negotiations. The longer it takes for a couple to come to mutual decisions, the longer it takes for them to present the solutions to a judge, and therefore the longer it takes for the judge to come to a final decision. A high level of conflict means a low level of communication, and in turn it can waste time and money.

Location
The cost of divorce varies from state to state and some cities and states require a certain length of time for legal separation before a couple makes the official decision to begin divorce litigation and making financial settlements. Research your state laws, especially if you and your future ex live in separate states. Look into which state it would be more affordable to file for divorce in.

Type of Divorce
If the conflict and assets involved in the divorce are non-existent, there may be no need to pay for an attorney. Many states allow for do-it-yourself divorce proceedings without the assistance of representation if there are no serious legal conflicts that need to be resolved. If the divorce is uncontested, you may be able to agree on a settlement without the expense of an attorney.

For more assistance with the different ways you can work to reduce costs and conflict in your divorce, contact an experienced Phoenix family law attorney at The Sampair Group.

Minimize the Cost of Your Divorce

Divorce can be a very expensive proposition, but the little known secret is that the cost of the divorce can be directly controlled by you and your spouse. You are the ones that determine how much or how little you will spend on attorney fees. Follow these steps to keep the cost of your divorce to a minimum.

  • Work out as much as you can on your own. This can be hard to do because there are so many emotions involved with divorce. If you can find a way to hold business meetings with each other about your divorce in which you divide property and debts, arrange a parenting schedule, and work out child support, you will have resolved most of the issues in your divorce.
  • Limit calls to your attorney. While you definitely want your attorney to help you make big decisions and solve major problems, calling your attorney about every minor parenting disagreement is going to increase your costs significantly. The best thing you can do is find a way to maintain some perspective. While it can be very frustrating when the other parent shows up late or does not return your child on time, often these are problems you can resolve together or which will settle down with time.
  • See a therapist. Attorneys and therapist both work with divorce clients and you can probably reduce the time you need to spend with your attorney by seeing a therapist. A big benefit of this is that therapist hourly rates are less expensive than attorney hourly rates for the most part. While your attorney is skilled at helping you make decisions and understanding the issues in your case, a therapist can help you clarify what you want, suggest ways to communicate with your ex, and help you solve problems.

When you are going through a divorce or custody case, you need an attorney who will listen to you and be your untiring advocate. The Sampair Group is here for you in Maricopa County. Call us for an appointment with one of our knowledgeable attorneys now.