Mental Health in Divorce

If you’ve found yourself in the situation of divorcing a mentally ill spouse, especially if children are involved, you’ll need to research all your options. You or your spouse may be the one initiating the divorce. Either way, do not leave the outcome up to chance. You’ll need an experienced lawyer to help you through these muddy waters.

Arizona is a no-fault state, which means that the court can grant a divorce no matter who or what is at fault. Also, when it comes to child custody cases, mental illness plays a large role regarding custody, alimony, and divorce in general.

Grounds for Divorce

You do not need a specific reason for filing for divorce in Arizona. However, you may still be requested to submit a reason or circumstance. For example, if your spouse has been seeking treatment in a mental institution for one or several years, then your reason for getting a divorce will clearly be mental illness on the part of your spouse. In other cases, a judge can actually deem a divorce as “at fault” if, for example, your spouse has committed a serious crime, has drug or alcohol dependency, or has a mental illness.

Can I Void my Marriage?

In some cases, yes. This is especially true for cases of mental illness. Your spouse may have married while not understanding what they were doing and the court finds this reason enough to void your marriage. Another reason to annul a marriage is if your spouse was intoxicated at the time of the ceremony and was unable to understand the implications.

Mental Health and Child Custody

When children are involved in a divorce, this is often the biggest concern on a parent’s mind. Unlike in the past, custody is not automatically given to the mother or the parent who is more financially stable.  In Arizona, the court will take into consideration multiple factors when determining child custody. This oftentimes includes the health of the parents, including mental health.

Determining Custodial Rights

If one parent has mental health issues, this not does automatically exclude them from custodial rights. Many parents with mental illness continue to have nurturing and positive relationships with their children. If however, a mental illness prevents a parent from caring for a child, this will be seriously considered by the courts in Arizona. The judge may also look at the implications of hardship for the child if they need to move, as well as the employment situation and the amount of time the parent has available to care for the child.

Terminating Parental Rights

There are cases where a parent with a mental illness loses their custodial rights. A spouse, concerned family member, or anyone else, like a doctor or agency, has the right to request the court terminate a parent’s custodial rights due to a mental illness. When this happens, the termination is permanent so the circumstances must be extreme. The child must be at serious risk of mental, emotional, or physical neglect or abuse. Furthermore, if a parent has a history of abusing drugs or alcohol, the court may deem this reason enough to terminate parental rights. When a child is removed from a home, the court does everything in their power to reconcile the family relationship. However, if the parent’s mental illness is severe, the reunification attempt may prove fruitless.

Arizona Family Reunification

Reunification of families is undertaken by the Arizona Department of Child Safety. They create a plan and conduct background checks on all adults in the household. If reunification is successful, the organization will continue to monitor the situation to help avoid the child being separated from the parent again.

Alimony and Mental Health

Alimony is given to a spouse who can not afford to support themselves after a divorce. These benefits are given to spouses who are unemployed, suffer from a mental illness, or who qualify for disability. If the spouse’s mental illness does not qualify them for disability, the court can decide if the other spouse needs to financially support the mentally disabled spouse.

Mental Illness and Incapacitation

In cases where a spouse is incapacitated due to a mental illness, the court can appoint a guardian to represent them. This guardian has the same kind of duties and rights that a guardian would have over a child. If a divorce is proceeding, the guardian has the right to request alimony on behalf of the incapacitated spouse.

Getting a Divorce in Arizona

If you’re considering pursuing a divorce in Arizona due, you must have lived in the state for at least 90 days. You will also need to file a petition for the divorce with the Clerk of the Superior Court. If you’re dealing with a spouse with mental illness, the divorce can be more complex. This is the time to consult an attorney. The team at The Sampair Group can help you with this. Contact us today at 623-777-3926.

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 Costs in Arizona

Divorce is never an easy situation, especially when children are involved. It’s important to never make this decision lightly or too quickly, but sometimes it’s inevitable. If you’re facing a divorce, there’s a lot to considering, including who will provide care for the children and how custody and assets will be divided. However, this isn’t the only concern. You also need to think about how much the divorce will cost you. Many people are unaware of just how much a divorce costs and what factors play a role in those costs. Every divorce case is different, which means the costs will vary, but Arizona has a set of general guidelines to help individuals and couples get an idea of how much they will pay.

High Net Worth Contested Divorces

It’s not uncommon to disagree when it comes to divorce. However, if you are in a highly contested divorce with a high net worth, these costs will be higher than other divorces. Attorneys for these cases must use an extensive discovery process to make sure all assets and incomes are disclosed properly and there is often a prolonged period of litigation that takes place. In these situations, legal fees can easily reach between $50,000 and $100,000. Because there is a lot of money involved, one or both parties may be more aggressive in their efforts to protect their rights and fight for what they feel is rightfully theirs. Fortunately, high net worth cases are few and far between. Most cases involve a much lower level of assets and some of the other factors that can lead to an expensive divorce process. In addition, if both parties are able to agree, even in these situations, the costs can often be far less than $50,000.

Significant Assets, Income and Children

Divorces that don’t involve children and have only modest assets are often far less expensive than divorces where there are children or greater assets. Most cases involve a modest retirement fund, a house and a couple of cars. In these situations, individuals may only pay between $7,500 and $20,000 each to complete the case. Keep in mind, even if children are involved, the costs can fall within this range in the right circumstances.

The type of divorce you must file often relies on the amount of money each spouse earns, as well as projected earnings in the future. These amounts are often used to determine how much spousal support will be paid, if any, and how marital assets should be divided. For most couples, assets are divided evenly, but each situation varies and some assets may be split in other ways. In some situations, the marital home is ordered sold or other holdings must be liquidated. It’s important for both parties to secure their own lawyer to ensure their best interests are considered and their rights are protected.

Divorces that cost the least amount of money are those that are uncontested and involve minimal assets. These are easier to resolve. Uncontested divorces usually mean both parties want it over with quickly and easily, especially when there are few assets. When there are few children, it’s easier for attorneys to work out an agreeable custody arrangement between the two parties that offers as much equality as possible.

The Best Scenario

When you consider the best possible scenario for your divorce, the legal fees and other associated costs can fall between $3,500 and $7,500. However, if one or both spouses chooses to fight for a higher percentage of assets or anything else outside the standard, these costs are more likely to rise. On the other hand, if no one is contesting the divorce or any aspect of it, the cost can sometimes be less than $3,500 for each party.

In order to minimize conflicts and ensure your rights are protected in a divorce, it’s important to hire an attorney. Even if the divorce is uncontested and there are minimal assets to split, having an attorney look over the paperwork and give you advice can be well worth the cost, giving you peace of mind you are getting what you deserve. Contact us today for your consultation to get your case started.

Drug Testing in a Child Custody Case

When parents go their separate ways, things can often get ugly when it comes to sharing custody of the children. In these situations, it’s not uncommon for one parent to begin accusing the other parent of unsavory behavior in an attempt to gain full custody of the child. In some situations, these accusations are unwarranted, while others turn out to be necessary to help protect the child in question. Regardless of whether the accusation is true, however, the parent who faces allegations of drug abuse may have to undergo drug testing as part of the custody case process. The following information will help guide you through this process.

Greater Authority

In a criminal law court, the judge must find probably cause to order the individual in question to submit to a drug test. This is to protect the rights of the accused and to prevent individuals from making these false allegations. However, in the family court, these restrictions aren’t in place. The judge in these situations can order a drug test based on the simple word of one party, primarily because this situation can impact the health and well-being of an innocent child. They are free to make this decision based on what’s in the best interest of the child in the custody case. However, this doesn’t mean the other parent can be forced to submit to the drug test. Unfortunately, failure to submit to the drug test can have dire consequences, which is why it’s important to think it through and talk to your attorney before denying the test. This is because a judge in the family court can make an inference from your refusal to submit to the test, treating you as if you had tested positive for illegal substances. Therefore, if you are clean, it’s best to undergo the drug testing to clear up any misconceptions the other parent may be trying to pass as truth.

What Happens After a Positive Test

Upon completion of the drug testing, the judge will make decisions based on the results received. If you fail the drug test, it’s likely the judge won’t give you the same rights as a parent who tested negative for any of these substances. This often includes severely limiting the amount of time you have with your child, often requiring supervision of some form in order to protect the child. You aren’t likely to be allowed to keep your child overnight until you have proven you are able to go without drugs. The court will put into place a number of safeguards to ensure the child is safe from exposure. For instance, in addition to supervision, you may have to undergo random drug tests to monitor for usage. In some situations, you may also be denied any visitation time you are awarded if you happen to test positive immediately before the visit is set to take place. Once these random drug tests have shown you are clean and the likelihood of staying clean is high, the judge may re-evaluate the case and grant you more parenting time. This may take place on a progressive scale, gradually increasing the amount of time you can spend with your child, ultimately ending with a similar parenting plan as individuals who never tested positive for drugs in the first place. However, the burden of proving you are clean and intend to stay that way lies with you.

Just as with any other type of situation, however, the type of drugs you test positive for can have a dramatic impact on how your custody case is treated going forward. Some types of drugs are widely associated with angry and irrational behavior. Because of the increased dangers a child faces when in the presence of someone who uses these kinds of drugs, the judge is more likely to award strict supervised visits for short periods of time to protect the child. Harder drugs will also require a much lengthier process in order to prove you are getting clean and intend to stay that way. In some cases, you may be ordered to successfully complete an accredited rehab program to prove you are working hard to be the best parent you can be for your child.

One exception to this issue is the introduction of medical marijuana in Arizona. Although there are recreational users who have been able to get access to medical marijuana, the courts are giving these individuals the benefit of the doubt in many custody cases. However, it’s always important to discuss your drug use with your attorney to prevent any surprises in court.

Court-Ordered Health Insurance After a Divorce

When going through a divorce, you may be wondering if you and your dependents can remain on your spouse’s health insurance during and after the divorce. This is an important factor to consider during your divorce. Laws regarding this vary from state to state.  However, in Arizona spouses and children do have the right to remain on the other party’s insurance plan during the divorce. This is a protected right and one that can be sought through a preliminary injunction that will prevent your spouse from removing you and your children from their health insurance policy. If your spouse were to drop you and your children from the plan prior to submitting a preliminary injunction, you can then seek a court order to be reinstated.

Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to health insurance you are treading muddy waters once the divorce is finalized. While Arizona law ensures that dependent children will remain on the health insurance plan, the spouse will likely be dropped and need to find alternative health coverage. Your spouse may agree to keep you on their plan but the insurance company has the right to drop you once the divorce is final. Furthermore, if the health insurance plan is sponsored by an employer, by law they have no obligation to continue to pay the premiums associated with your health coverage. All in all, the health insurance provider can insist you are dropped from the plan all together.

No matter if your spouse has the intention of applying for insurance through healthcare exchanges, joining an employer plan at their place of work, or converting to a new policy with the same provider, the health insurance premiums should be addressed during the divorce. In some cases, the spouse who is the primary financial provider will be required to pay for their spouse’s health insurance for a period.

Who Covers Health Insurance Costs after a Divorce?

Oftentimes, a divorce that occurs within a single-income household requires the spouse with employment to pay for the ex-spouse’s health insurance until this spouse remarries. However, many households today are considered dual income, meaning there is no guarantee of getting health care costs covered by an ex-spouse. In fact, in this case each party could end up being responsible for acquiring and paying for their own health insurance and premiums once the divorce is final. The outcome depends on the particulars of each divorce case.

Utilize an Experienced Divorce Attorney

Because of the complex issues associated with health insurance, it’s important to work with an experienced divorce attorney to get the results you want. You should never count on your ex-spouse to fulfill your health insurance needs. He or she could agree to do this and then change their pledge. For this reason, you must make health insurance a priority during divorce negotiations and come to an agreement in writing. Once the divorce is final, you can seek a court order to enforce the agreement, which will hold your ex-spouse accountable to what they agreed upon during the divorce proceedings.

What are Health Insurance Coverage Orders?

During the divorce proceedings, when you are crafting the terms of health coverage, it’s important to consider contingencies. These can include how much your ex-spouse must pay toward your premiums and how long they will pay for this. Also, be sure to address who will pay for higher premium costs if this should arise. In addition, you need to plan for unemployment, job changes, and the changing of insurance providers. If your spouse breaks the agreement solidified during the divorce, the court will not seek out your ex-spouse on their own. This is something you need to do with the help of an attorney.

Modifying the Agreement or Court Order

Life changes and you need to be prepared for this. It is possible that a change may occur that would require you to amend the settlement agreement or court order. This can be done with the consent of both parties. However, if you and your ex-spouse are unable to reach an agreement during the negotiations, you have the right to file a court order and bring the issue in front of a judge.

Loss of Health Insurance after a Divorce

The thought of losing your health insurance due to a divorce can be stressful. However, it is easy to obtain health insurance today, especially when children are involved. Health insurance providers consider a divorce a qualifying life event that makes you eligible for a special enrollment period. In fact, by law, you have 60 days to join a new health insurance plan once you go through a life changing event such as a divorce. This gives you plenty of time to find a new health insurance provider while you are still covered. To start with, look to your employer for new health coverage. If a policy is not available, you can go through the healthcare exchanges that have been put in place by the Affordable Care Act. These government plans, such as Medicare, are an alternative option for health coverage for you and any dependents.

In some cases, a health insurance provider will convert a married or family policy into an individual policy. If you are happy with your health insurance provider, remaining with then after the divorce is an option. Call your health insurance provider to see if they allow this change. In some cases, they may be willing to keep your children on the policy and then put you on an individual policy.

You may also need to consider COBRA insurance – the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. This act allows you to remain on your health insurance policy while you look for a new one. The downside to this, however, is cost. You may have to pay the entire premium each month, which can be much higher than what you or your spouse is paying now.

To learn more about keeping you and your dependents covered under a health insurance policy during and after a divorce, contact the experts at The Sampair Group today. Our team can be reached at 623-777-3926.

How To Handle A Skipped Visitation

Your parenting time plan is designed to give both parents meaningful access to your child. This time is important not only for you as a parent, but it is essential for your child’s development to have real relationships with both parents. Learning what to do when visitation is missed or skipped is something you need to know as you move forward after your divorce or custody case.

If you are the residential parent and the other parent skips his or her scheduled parenting times, you may be frustrated by the schedule changes. While it’s important to be flexible with each about necessary schedule adjustments, if your ex is simply not showing up on a regular basis without rescheduling or letting you know, it’s stressful for you and your child. There is nothing you can do to force a parent to utilize his or her scheduled parenting time, except lay guilt trips about how disappointed your child is. What you can do is seek to modify the schedule so that visits are planned at times when your ex might actually use them. If visits continue to be completely missed, you can seek to have them completely removed from the schedule.

If you are the nonresidential parent and your ex, the residential parent, is doing things to prevent you from using your scheduled parenting time, like constantly moving dates and times, or simply not being there for your pick up, you need to talk to your attorney. You can enforce the schedule in court and you can use these evasion techniques as a basis for asking for more time with your child, and possibly even a change in legal custody.

The Sampair Group has experience in difficult parenting time cases all across the valley. Make an appointment to meet the attorney that will help you with your case.

Dividing Property in an Arizona Divorce

If you are going through a divorce, there’s no question that it can be a difficult process that causes both financial and emotional challenges. These issues often get even more trying if you are unable to come to some type of agreement about the primary issues that need to be resolved – especially the division of your property. Read on to learn more about this here.

Understanding Community Property

According to Arizona law, any debts and assets that are acquired by a married couple from the beginning of their marriage until the divorce paperwork is served is considered community property. This means that each spouse is entitled to receive half.

Technically, there’s no requirement for the court to divide all the property equally. Instead, the court will divide property “equitably” or fairly based on the circumstances. Even with this being the case, unequal divisions are extremely rare. Debt or property that is brought into the marriage by one spouse or funds or assets that are received during the time of the marriage by inheritance or a gift, is the property of that spouse as long as it has been maintained separately.

Even though this seems pretty straightforward, trying to figure out separate property from community property can often present a challenge. In some situations, separate property is converted into community property when the single owner of a home opts to change the title to community property. Also, the community property may obtain an interest in the separate or sold property of one spouse if improvements or mortgage payments are made by both spouses.

How is Marital Property Divided in Arizona?

There are several ways that assets may be divided in Arizona during a divorce. The two people getting divorced can come to an agreement, assigning certain assets to the other person, or even buy out the other’s share. Additionally, they can opt to sell the assets and then divide the proceeds that are earned.

Also, all of the debts that are incurred, which include credit cards, car loans and mortgages have to be assigned to one of the spouses and each of the marital debts needs to be paid off after the divorce has become final.

While the classification of a couple’s property is something that takes place automatically after the couple is married, they do not have to follow the laws of community property if they agree to a post- or pre-marital agreement. This provides that each spouse will maintain their assets separate from the other.

Additionally, there are several exceptions based on Arizona law that require community property to be divided equally. For example, if one spouse’s behavior (i.e. gambling or drug use) wasted the community property.

In the end, due to the complexity related to issues of property division in Arizona divorce cases, one of the best things a person can do is to enlist the services of a divorce attorney. At the Sampair Group we can help ensure that the entire process is handled fairly, regardless of the asset or debt situation that may be present. Contact us today at 623-777-3926.

Who Gets The Friends In A Divorce?

Division of assets and property as well as splitting up debt are typical issues when a couple dissolves their marriage. Deciding where the kids will live and what type of visitation schedule to put in place is another important part of divorces with minor children. Less common issues include who gets the family pet, and what happens when you part ways but have common friends. A surprising fact about who remains friends with which spouse is that in most instances the friends are just as unsure how to react as the parties.

The Huffington Post reported on this issue, and has the following tips on how to split the friends when divorcing:


● Talk it over with your soon to be ex.

● Accept that some friendships will not weather the storm of your divorce, and realize that the relationship has run its course. Moving on sometimes requires making changes.

● Communicate your concerns with your friends.

It is also important not to force your friends to pick sides. Doing so will only add to any already existing uneasiness and likely create negative feelings between friends. If your situation is such that it is not possible to talk with your spouse about your concerns over how your friends will fare in the divorce, think about putting your thoughts down on paper. Consider drafting a letter, regardless of whether it is sent. Putting your feelings down on paper can help you to sort through your needs.

For more information about divorce and how it impacts more than just your family, consult a qualified legal professional. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call the Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.