image of woman having video conference with lawyer

Video Consultations: The Meetings of the Future, Here Today!

You Can Still Meet With Your Legal Team, Thanks to Videoconferencing Technology

Family law issues do not put themselves on hold even in the face of a global pandemic. COVID-19 has forced millions of Americans to conduct their personal lives and business matters from the relative safety of their home computers. Unfortunately, the same circumstances that keep people stuck in their houses may only add urgency to divorce proceedings, child custody battles, community property division, child support disputes, and other forms of family legal turmoil. The good news is that you can still confer with your attorney or legal team at The Sampair Group, thanks to our state-of-the-art videoconferencing technology.

The Many Benefits of Video-Based Attorney Conferences and Meetings

You’ll likely be astonished by the sheer effectiveness, convenience, and efficiency of this approach. Here are just some of the significant benefits offered by our video consultations.

  • Cost Effectiveness: Video consultations are easy to arrange and participate in on short notice, no matter where you may be at the time. by eliminating the need to travel to and from meetings, you may find that you accumulate lower legal costs.
  • Multi-Member Meetings, Multiple Locations: One of the bigger challenges in putting together meetings involving several individuals is simply getting all of those people into the same room at the same time. Video conferencing technology enables two, three, or more people to participate in the meeting from anywhere in the world. This can help prevent cancellations and rescheduling delays.
  • No Special Hardware or Software Necessary: Today’s videoconferencing does away with the need for the specialized equipment and facilities of yesteryear. as long as you have an Internet-ready, camera-equipped desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you can connect to our video consultations with ease — usually in just two or three clicks.
  • A Short Online Questionnaire Gets the Ball Rolling: If you have digital copies of documentation relevant to your case, you can make it available to us beforehand in a password-protected folder. The video consultation itself usually requires nothing more than the filling out of a short online questionnaire.
  • A Secure, Time-Tested Solution: The Sampair Group uses the same GoToMeeting program implemented by the Maricopa County Superior Courts for hearings and trials. Although GoToMeeting first became a household word during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has enjoyed widespread use as a trusted business tool for over 15 years.

Get the skilled legal counsel you need even while you’re self-isolating at home. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Woman preparing to testify from home

How to Prepare to Testify in Court from Home

With all the restrictions that have been put into place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more things can be done from home. While most people think about working from home, courts have also turned to at-home sessions, particularly in the areas of divorces. It’s relatively easy to allow individuals to appear from their homes, providing the same testimony they could provide in a courtroom. The same is true for having lawyers in attendance. However, before you appear in court from home, there are a few things you should do to prepare.

Ensure a Quiet Environment

Distractions abound when you’re at home, and it’s essential to eliminate them as much as possible before you testify in court to ensure everything goes smoothly. For instance, in the case of a divorce, make arrangements for your children to be out of the home. Not only will this greatly minimize noise and distractions, but it’s best they can’t hear what goes on in the case. You should also turn off the TV or anything else that makes noise. Wearing headphones can help reduce the noise you hear, but it’s also essential to make sure there aren’t any sources of noise, including other people, because you are in a professional setting and even with your headphones on, your mic will pick it up and transmit it to the other parties on the call.

Understand Screen Sharing

Evidence can be an important part of a case. However, since you won’t be there in person to hand a sheet of paper to the judge or the other party, you will need to share it in other ways. Most video conferencing software offer simple screen sharing tools you can use, but you need to be familiar with them. Set up a mock call using the software you’ll use so you can practice ahead of time. This will ensure the process goes smoothly and there are fewer delays during the call.

Use a Computer, Not the Phone

Most video conferencing software allows you to call in from your phone if you don’t have access to a computer, but when you’re testifying in court, whether for a divorce or any other type of case, it’s best to have a monitor in front of you. Not only does it allow you to see the other people in the call, but if anyone shares their screen to present evidence or other documents for your review, you need to see them clearly. You can’t do that when you’re using your phone to participate in the call.

Testifying in court can be a nerve-wracking experience. While you may feel more comfortable testifying from the comfort of your home, it’s still important to maintain a more professional setting so you’re sure the case will proceed smoothly.

Co-Parenting Tips During COVID-19

Co-parenting is already a challenge. Any disruption can make it even more challenging. COVID-19 has changed the way the world works. That also means it’s changed many parenting schedules. While you need to remain flexible during something like a pandemic, there are also boundaries that must not be crossed. Here are some tips for protecting your children and your relationships with them during COVID-19.

Set Boundaries Early On

Talk to your co-parent about COVID-19. Are you against your children returning to school? Do you need them to engage in certain precautions? What is your stance on them interacting with their peers? Different people have different levels of risk. Some may want their children entirely quarantined, while others may be okay with them seeing some friends if social distancing remains in effect. You need to communicate with your co-parent about what your boundaries are and negotiate reasonable strategies.

Consider Your Parenting Time

Understand that you might need to modify your established schedules. It’s not going to be reasonable, for instance, for children to go between households every week during the pandemic. This is especially true if one parent has a high-risk job, such as a job on the frontlines. A temporary agreement for parenting time may need to be invoked, so you can keep your family safe while remaining safe yourself.

Review Your Medical Rights

Sometimes both parents have medical rights for their children. Sometimes only one does. This is a good time to review your rights. If you want to get your children a vaccine in the future, can their other parent block you? If they want to take your children in for testing, will you be notified? Look over your medical rights with your attorney if you are concerned, it may be time to modify your rights to better suit the situation.

Have a Plan in Place

What happens if you test positive for COVID? What about your co-parent? What if both of you test positive for COVID? You should create plans with your co-parent regarding these types of emergencies. You might not have time when they are actually happening, or you could suddenly find out that your co-parent isn’t on the same page as you. You should also consider what you’ll do if your children test positive but you and your co-parent don’t. At that point, it may be better to limit risk by keeping them with one parent.

Talk to Your Attorney

If you’re having issues with your co-parent, you should consult with your attorney before the issues become any more severe. An attorney doesn’t have to escalate the situation. Rather, they can educate you on your options, and methods by which you and your co-parent can come to an agreement. In the time of COVID, situations can become more dangerous and more aggressive quite quickly. It’s best to have plans in place before they become urgent, rather than later.

COVID-19 will pass. But it’s important to establish healthy relationships with your co-parent and your children. Long-term, what happens now is going to affect your family. If you feel that you need help, it’s time to contact an attorney.

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.

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 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.

Homeschooling and Child Custody

Homeschooling has become more and more popular in recent years. Some parents choose this option for religious reasons, others because they simply believe their child will be better served by education at home. Homeschooling can become an issue in a custody case in several situations. When a parenting plan is being created, the plan has to work with the schooling schedule. Sometimes one parent opposes homeschooling and would prefer a child attend public or private schools and will not consent to homeschooling.

In Arizona, the parent with legal decision-making authority makes the decision about how and where the child will be educated. If legal decision-making is being decided by the court and the parents have differing views on schooling, this may play a part in the decision the court makes. The custody decision is made based on what is in the child’s best interests. One of the factors considered by the court in this analysis is the child’s adjustment to school. If a child is currently homeschooled, the court will examine how the child is doing and if remaining in homeschooling would benefit the child. If the child is currently in a traditional school, the court will again examine the child’s progress and determine if remaining in the school or switching to homeschooling is best.

Homeschooling is legal and is considered an appropriate education as long as the parent providing the education meets the standards and requirements set by the state. In the past, homeschooling may have been a negative factor, but today it is considered acceptable.

If you are involved in a custody battle involving homeschooling, gather records and evidence that demonstrate your child’s progress (or lack of progress) in the current schooling environment. If your child was previously involved in a different kind of schooling, evidence of how well your child fared in that environment will provide needed contrast.

Call the Sampair Group for advice in your custody case in the Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix areas of Arizona. We are ready to help you with your case.

Different Types of Child Custody

Each state governs child custody laws differently. In order to best understand your options for child custody and visitation options, you should be familiar with the different terms and types of child custody and how your Phoenix child custody attorney will help you approach the different options you can consider.

Legal Custody

When a parent has legal custody, they have the right to make any decisions regarding the need and upbringing of the child. This includes decisions about education, health care and religion, as long as there is consultation with the other parent.
In many states, both parents will be granted joint legal custody and can both have legal rights to making decisions about how to raise their children. Parents can share joint legal custody without having joint physical custody.
When sole legal custody is granted to a parent, the one granted this kind of custody is the only one who has the legal authorization to make major decisions on behalf of the child.

Physical Custody
Also called “residential custody,” sole physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with a majority of the time and only has visitation with the other parent. If the child is spending an equal amount of time with each parent, the state might award the parents join physical custody. This type of custody works best if the parents live relatively near each other as it lessens the interference in the child’s every day life.

Sole Custody
One of the reasons a parent might be awarded sole custody is if the other parent is proven to be extremely unfit to care for the child (i.e. drug or alcohol problems, charges of child abuse or neglect).
In many states, courts will hesitate to award sole legal custody to a parent to try and enlarge the role that both parents can possibly make in the child’s life will still considering the child’s best interest.

Joint Custody
This is the most common types of custody awarded in divorce cases when no parental issues exist. Joint custody is awarded equally to each parent and can take the form of joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both. Joint custody can be granted if the parents are divorced, separated, no longer living together, or even if they have never lived together.

In Arizona, statute provides that the court may not prefer one parent to another with respect to custody based on the gender of either parent. They are required to determine the best interest of the minor children by applying the statutory factors regarding custody and parenting time in correlation with the facts of the case. Contact an experienced Glendale family law attorney at The Sampair Group today for legal representation in your divorce and child custody hearing.

Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of parental rights permanently ends the legal parent-child relationship. Once these rights are terminated, a child may be adopted without parental consent.

Termination of parental rights may be voluntary, based on the informed consent of the parent, or it may be involuntary, a result of court proceedings brought against the parent.

In Arizona, courts will only involuntarily terminate parental rights in extreme situations, such as the child being in serious emotional or physical danger, and the termination of the parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

A parent is deemed unfit if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Abandonment of the child
  • Sever or chronic abuse or neglect
  • Long-term illness or deficiency of the parent
  • Long-term alcohol or drug induced incapacity of the parent
  • Abuse or neglect of other children in the household
  • Felony conviction or incarceration
  • Failure to establish paternity
  • Murder or manslaughter of a sibling child
  • Felony assault of child or sibling
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Failure of Reasonable Efforts

There are circumstances, however, that are not considered valid grounds for termination. Some parties that have been through a divorce seek to terminate a parent’s rights because they do not pay child support or do not follow the visitation schedule. These are not sufficient grounds for a termination of parent rights proceeding.

If parents decide to place their child or children for adoption, it is considered to be voluntary termination of parental rights.

Under Arizona law, the right to file an action for the termination of parental rights goes to any person or agency with an interest in the welfare of the child. The action can be filed as long as the person taking the action has sufficient grounds to base the claim. The people and agencies that often petition for termination of parental rights are relatives, foster parents, physicians/nurses, Arizona Child Protective Services, and child welfare agencies.

If you are thinking of relinquishing your parent’s rights or have been served with an involuntary termination proceeding order, it is best to get legal advice from a Phoenix Family Law Attorney at the Sampair Group. The experienced child custody attorneys at Sampair represent individuals throughout the valley with locations in Phoenix, Glendale and Mesa.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Parenting Plan

Once you have a temporary or permanent parenting plan, it’s important to talk with your kids about it so they understand not only what the actual schedule is but the intent behind it.  If at all possible, it’s a good idea to talk to your children together as parents. This sends an important message that even though you are divorced or separated, you are continuing to parent together. This is also a good idea so that you can give your children one cohesive message. If you talk to them separately there will be differences in what you say as well as your tone.

Emphasize that the parenting plan is a way for them to spend lots of time with both of you. Even if you don’t believe it, tell them it is a fair way for everyone to share time. Explain the schedule, using the visual aid of a calendar for younger children. It can help to color each parent’s days a different color.

Remember that the details matter to your kids. They want to know when and where they are being picked up and dropped off. They want to know where they are sleeping. They want to know how this affects their homework, their chores, their sleeping arrangements, their after school activities, their screen time and more. If you don’t have all the details worked out it’s ok. Tell them what you do know and reassure them that you will figure the rest out as a family as you move forward.

Make time for your children to ask questions and be prepared that the questions will pop up at odd times in the coming weeks and months. Do your best to answer honestly without involving them in the conflict between their parents.

The Sampair Group is ready to represent you in your family law matter in Maricopa County. We are sensitive to all of your concerns and work with you throughout the case. Call us today for an appointment.