How to Keep Your Inheritance in a Divorce

If you’re facing a divorce, you may not realize that you may not automatically be entitled to keep things you personally inherited. Property obtained, earned, or received during marriage is considered community property. There is an exception for separate property and inherited items fall into that category, but only if they are not converted into community property. If you inherited money from your grandmother and put it in a joint bank account with your spouse, that property may have become community property when you put it in the account. If you inherited a vacation home from your aunt and you put your spouse on the deed or if your spouse assisted in upkeep, improvements, or helped pay a loan you took out against the property, it may have been converted to community property.

To protect your inheritance from divorce:

  • Have a prenuptial or post-marital (created after the wedding, but serving the same purpose as a prenup) agreement created that protects inherited property.
  • Keep proof. Wills, gift tax returns, and other documentation showing something was intended as a separate inheritance can help prove your case.
  • Keep assets as separate as possible during marriage so there is no commingling.
  • Create a living trust, placing your inherited assets into the trust, thus keeping them out of the marital pot. You can control and use the assets during your life, but they are passed on to your beneficiaries after your death and there is no question about ownership.
  • Keep titles and deeds in separate names after they are inherited to prevent claims by your spouse.
  • Discuss all inherited property with your attorney when you begin to discuss your divorce.

The Sampair Group provides confidential and compassionate assistance with your divorce or family law case. We serve clients in Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix, Arizona.  Schedule an appointment today.

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.

How to Afford Divorce

You’ve agreed your marriage isn’t working and that your conflicts are not healthy for your kids to witness. You’ve agreed how to pay for your legal fees. But you can’t get around one big sticking point. How are you going to afford to live separately after your divorce?

When you are married you have X amount of dollars coming into your home and a set amount of expenses. When you divorce and physically separate there is still only X amount of dollars coming to the two of you yet suddenly you have two sets of household expenses to cover. It can be a stunning and sobering realization and may seem like a nearly impossible situation. Here’s how to make those dollars stretch to cover two homes.

  • Consider downsizing all around. If one of you stays in the marital home and one of you gets another apartment or home, your expenses may be more than your budget can handle. If you both move to smaller or less expensive places, your dollars will go further.
  • Share expenses. Roommates, friends, or family can all help you by contributing to your household budget or providing rent-free places to stay.
  • Increase your income. An obvious, but not always easy solution, is to increase the amount of money being earned. If one parent has been at home with children, becoming employed can make two homes possible. A raise, second job, or side income can also be helpful.
  • Reduce your expenses. This may be a good time to refinance the mortgage on the family home, reduce your cable subscription, buy a less expensive car, etc.
  • Be creative. You might be able to remain in the same house, sharing the same costs with some creative remodeling or rearranging. You might rent the marital home out and both live elsewhere, making a profit on it.

 

The Sampair Group has the advice you need to help you get through your divorce in Maricopa County. Call us today so that we can begin helping you.

 

 

Eight Conversations That Are Essential After Divorce

Once the ink on your divorce decree has dried and you have given yourself the time needed to move past the pain of divorce, it might be time to start dating again. For many the idea of getting back “out there” after divorce is scary, because the fear of history repeating itself is great. No doubt going through a divorce takes a toll; physically, emotionally, and financially. And, in most cases the entire family is impacted by the news that divorce is imminent. In order to take positive steps after divorce, it is important to look at your marriage and divorce process, and see where change can be made.

A big part in identifying areas of opportunity for growth lies in being honest with yourself about your expectations. If you have begun dating again, sharing these thoughts with a new romantic partner is essential. Eight conversations you should have after divorce, if you want to avoid going down that road again in the future, include:

  • Be honest about your shortcomings, so you can hold yourself accountable for your actions; past, present, and future.
  • Be honest about your ex’s shortcomings, which includes being able to articulate good points about your former spouse. If you are able to find good in your ex, you will be better equipped to find good in yourself as well as a new mate, despite any flaws.
  • Talk about how to handle disagreements, and commit yourself to being open and honest, while remaining fair.
  • Have a clear picture of your financial goals, and make sure any new love interest shares those goals. It has been said money is the number one cause of divorce, and tackling this sensitive topic early on can save you a lot of heartache down the road.
  • If you have children, make plans to include them in your new life with your new partner. If your new partner has kids, make sure those children are also included. Blending families can be tricky, but does not have to be impossible.
  • If you are blending a family, get on the same page about discipline and other important parenting issues.
  • Stand up for yourself when necessary.
  • Talk about the type of future you want, and come up with a plan to reach your goals together.

If you have been through a divorce and are considering remarrying, or have just begun a new relationship, it is important that history not repeat itself. However, life does have a way of being unpredictable, even when best efforts are given. If you are considering divorce for the first, or a subsequent time, call us for help.

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.

 

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.

Tips For Keeping Your Divorce Out Of Court

Getting a divorce doesn’t always mean that your case will go to court. Court should actually be seen as a very last resort if you and your spouse absolutely cannot sort out certain things in the divorce, such as dividing assets and child custody.

Keeping your divorce out of the courtroom is one of the best things you can do to make your divorce less costly, time consuming, and emotional. Even though there are certain documents that must be processed through a court, your entire case doesn’t always have to. There are many other steps you can take to lessen your chances of ending up in court:

Collaborative Divorce
This is when both parties will sign up to a non-confrontational approach to coming to agreements. Collaboratively trained lawyers will be assigned to each, and there are then a series of 4-ay meetings with each party and their legal representation. The purpose of these meetings is to go through the details and reach agreement by negotiation.

Mediation
Both parties meet with a trained mediator who’s primary role is to listen to the difference of opinion from each side and help the two of you find ways to resolve them. Once a solution has been found, the necessary legal documents will be drawn up so the agreement is legally recorded.

Don’t Fight Over Little Stuff
There are likely many things that you and your spouse argue about that are surely less important than some of the things in the big picture you could be paying more attention to. Stop fighting over who gets to keep the family dinner table and start worrying about how each of you will play a better role in your children’s lives after the divorce.

Put the Kids First
When you focus on what is best for the children, you can both try and put aside your own feelings of hurt or anger toward each other and remain calm in coming to a solution for what is best for your children, short term and long term.

Be Realistic
Be reasonable in what you expect from a settlement and don’t lose it if things don’t go exactly your way. Be willing to compromise.

Understand Your Options
Court is not the only answer, and a lot of people don’t understand this. Be clear with each other on what you are trying to achieve, and go from there.

Going through a divorce is an extremely difficult transition, especially with the added stress of how to settle things outside of court. The Phoenix divorce attorneys at The Sampair Group can help ease this stress by helping you find productive ways to get what you deserve out of your case, while keeping it out of court. Visit www.sampair.com today for a free consultation.

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.

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.