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How to Deal with Stock Options in an Arizona Divorce

Stock options are an incredibly complicated subject in even the best of times, much less during a contentious divorce. To ensure that your assets are protected and properly divested, keep on reading to learn more about stock options, what they are, and how they are handled during a divorce in the state of Arizona.

What Are Stock Options?

In the world of finance, a stock option is a contract that gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to purchase or sell an asset at a specific price-point.  In the typical employer-employee relationship, this stock option is known as a grant. An option will be exercised at the moment that the employee in the relationship purchases the stock by following the options granted in the contract.

Options are granted for a litany of different reasons, but they always break down into either Qualified or Non-Qualified stock options.

  • Qualified Stock Options — A qualified stock option is also known as a statutory incentive stock option, otherwise known as the ISO. Taxes due on qualified stock options aren’t to be paid until the sale of the stock, when it was sold, and its corresponding tax rates.
  • Non-Qualified Stock Options — Taxing non-qualified stock options occurs after the value has been discerned from the established market, creating the income tax that is due when the grant is optioned.

Grants that are given, received, or exercised during a marriage will become a stock that has been exercised and as such will be distributed as a part of the community assets during the divorce.  These stock options can then be realized due to several factors about employment, financial compensation, or in exchange for a raise.

Consider how this might affect Silicon Valley employees investing heavily in startups, and we can quickly see how this becomes a point of contention during a divorce.

Distributing Stock Options During an Arizona Divorce

Arizona falls in line with many of the same state laws regarding divesting assets and stock options during a divorce. Like many other states, Arizona will distribute property resulting from the marriage only if that property was acquired during the marriage. Property that is available after the divorce has commenced is beholden to far trickier conversations.

Generally speaking, Arizona will treat stock options in much the same way that they do pension plans. As addressed through Brebaugh v Deane, 211 Ariz. 95, stock options must be further looked at to see the terms of their execution as well as when the grant would be paid out for potential future efforts, thus throwing a wrench into the entire conversation.

Unfortunately, there are no clear-cut answers when it comes to how a stock option will be dispersed during divorce proceedings. Depending on the court’s decision, and the case presented, the answer can go one of many directions. There are ways to maximize your chances at properly protecting your assets and that is through professional legal help.

The Sampair Group Is Ready to Help

To learn more about stock options and how they are distributed during a divorce, contact The Sampair Group for same or next-day appointments by telephone and video conference. The Sampair Group is made up of acclaimed family law attorneys who have represented thousands of Arizonans in their time of need.

With almost 40 years of legal experience, Attorney Patrick Sampair is ready to stand for YOU during your next legal battle.

 

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The Impact of Social Media During Divorce

Social media seems to be everywhere these days. Just about everyone has at least one social media profile they use to keep in touch with people and to share information about their lives. However, these types of sites are still relatively new and many people don’t think about the negative impacts of the things they post, particularly when it comes to relationships. Understanding the impact of social media in terms of romantic relationships, especially when it comes to divorce, is essential to ensure you’re protected.

Social Media’s Impact on Relationships

Whether you’re married or just dating at the moment, social media can be both positive and negative for relationships, but few people think about the negative effects. Some of the issues that can arise in relationships as a result of social media include:

  • Infidelity — Social media makes it much easier for individuals to stray from their current relationship. Many people, women in particular, often find their inboxes filled with messages from members of the opposite sex who are clearly in relationships based on their profiles. These messages are often framed as a way to cheat without getting caught as easily.
  • Unrealistic Expectations — Many people these days are well-versed in using Photoshop, image filters and others methods of altering their pictures. It’s easy to forget this when you’re scrolling through social media and find yourself attracted to someone. If you do start a relationship with someone you meet on social media, you may have unrealistic expectations of how they look and how they live their life.
  • Distractions — Most people have gone onto social media at some point to quickly respond to someone, only to find themselves sucked into reading articles, browsing pictures or watching videos. Rather than spending time with their partner, they end up with their nose to their phone for far longer than they intended.
  • Insecurity — Social media is a breeding ground for insecurity. Whether you don’t feel your significant other is posting enough about you or they are commenting or liking too many posts from a member of the opposite sex, it’s easy to begin feeling jealousy when there’s no reason to.

How Social Media Impacts Divorces

Attorneys today are now using social media as a tool to help them win divorce cases for their clients. They can be used to prove income if you claim you can’t pay child or spousal support or may even contain evidence of cheating. It’s important to remember that anything you post can, and most likely will, be used against you, so it’s essential to be careful about what you post, especially if you’re going through a divorce case. Never post anything illegal, such as drug use, even if you’re just joking around with your friends. If you do spend money, keep it off social media. The last thing anyone needs is to be painted as a reckless spender. Never bad mouth your ex, even if you have good reason to. The key in child custody cases is to be diplomatic and present yourself as capable of being neutral for the children’s sake. Finally, if you do have a new significant other, hold off on making an announcement and posting pictures until after your divorce is finalized.

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How Does Community Property Get Split Up During a Divorce?

An Introduction to Community Property Division

Divorce can prove a remarkably traumatic and messy experience even when everything goes about as smoothly as you might realistically hope. The division of property that you and your spouse have shared for years, however, can seem especially tricky, often introducing fresh grievances or re-igniting old ones in the process. You may have additional problems dealing with Arizona’s adherence to the principle of community property division. Let’s examine this method of divvying up assets between divorcing spouses so you can gain a better understanding of how it works, what problems it might entail, and how to ensure the most satisfactory possible outcome.

Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution

Most U.S. states use a method known as equitable distribution to determine who gets what in a divorce case. In equitable distribution, the court has full power to distribute assets based on its interpretation of what’s fair to each party. Depending on such variables as which spouse earns the lion’s share of the household income, spends more time looking after the children, or both spouses’ potential earning power, the court may then award a spouse anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of the overall marital assets.

Nine states, including Arizona, currently break this trend by dividing marital assets according to community property rules. (In Alaska, however, community property is treated as an option, not a requirement.) This means that the marital assets are divided 50/50 regardless of the roles played by each spouse in the marriage. The court has far less power over the awarding of assets, although it does retain some say over what constitutes an equal split. Your share of the community property may include assets that you don’t especially want while depriving you of others that you genuinely prize.

Separate Property vs. Community Property: What Counts as Which?

Community property doesn’t place everything you and your spouse own into a single lump — instead, it applies specifically to items that you purchased during your marriage. Exceptions to this rule include property acquired separately as a gift or inheritance, as well as any property acquired following a petition for divorce that results in an actual divorce decree.

Certain assets are considered separate property, placing them outside the bounds of the divorce settlement. These include any real estate or other property you acquired before getting married, as well as any rent or other additional value generated by that property.

The First Step: Complete Disclosure and Initial Assessment

You and your spouse (with the aid of your respective attorneys) can iron out much of the confusion over your community property division before the matter ever goes before the court. First and foremost, both of you must disclose everything you own, from pets and jewelry to cash, cars, and homes. Attempting to shield any of your assets by excluding them from the community property inventory will only introduce costly, upsetting complications to your divorce. Once you and your spouse have listed every asset you can think of, you’ll need to figure an estimate of value to help the court decide what makes for an equitable division.

Business, Home, and Debt Division 

If you started your own business or purchased a business before your marriage, that business remains wholly yours as separate property. However, the court may decide to award your spouse a percentage of the business’s appreciation in value, or even an outright percentage of the business itself, if your spouse contributed to the business’s success either financially or through hard work.

A home purchased before marriage, with the deed in your name alone, remains your separate property, giving you the right to ask your spouse to vacate it. However, if you both hold joint title to the home and your spouse serves as your children’s primary caregiver, your spouse may actually be the one who continues to live on the property.

Community property includes debts as well as assets. Debts are typically considered the problem of both spouses equally, regardless of who incurred the debt or whether the debt was incurred before the marriage.

Don’t go it alone when pursuing a community property divorce. Contact our firm to speak to a skilled Arizona divorce attorney.

 

A Top Ten List For A Happy Holiday, Even In Divorce

After a couple gets divorced, if there are children, their lives are still connected. There will be birthday parties, graduations, weddings, and holidays to share for the rest of their kids’ lives. Some divorced parents are able to pull off these occasions without conflict, while others are not as lucky. For those that are able to come together and continue to share the responsibility for their kids, life is much easier. In the spirit of the holidays, a few tips on how to have a happy holiday, even in divorce is in order.

A few tidbits of advice from a top ten list for making your holidays bright, for yourself and your kids includes the following:

  • Remain flexible, because plans are bound to change. If you are able to “go with the flow”, you will find yourself less stressed and better equipped to handle any disappointment your child may face from a changed schedule.
  • Keep you kids and your ex advised about the plans. When everyone is on the same page, things seem to go smoother. This is especially true if your plans include out of state travel, or the need to be at more than one place on the same day.
  • Avoid trying to “out give” your ex, while the temptation may be great to give your kids a better gift than your ex is able to, most times this tactic backfires. Children, particularly older children, are keenly aware of when their parents are “playing games” with one another and attempts to do so can result in resentment.

If you are giving it your all, yet your ex is particularly difficult, you may need to seek help from a family law professional to make sure your holidays go off without a hitch. In some instances a request for clarification of the holiday schedule is needed, or even an effort to enforce the existing order is required to make sure each parent gets the time they deserve. For help with your holiday visitation schedule, call our office. Our team of experienced family law attorneys will take the steps necessary to make sure the holiday visitation order is clear, and followed by each party.

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.

Improving Your Life After Divorce

Divorce presents challenges to all aspects of your life. Your home life has drastically changed as has your financial situation, and you may find that your mental and emotional health are also impacted. This is a busy time in your life when you may be moving, making time for court and meeting with your attorney, and finding time to parent. The stress of all the changes and decisions may be taking its toll on you. Finding ways to combat stress and take care of yourself should be at the top of your to-do list these days. One important thing you can do is exercise. Regular exercise can offer you these benefits:

  • Higher tolerance. The better you feel, the more able you are to handle the curve balls that divorce may throw at you. Keeping healthy can help you withstand the challenges your situation poses.
  • Sleep. People who routinely exercise sleep more soundly and more regularly. If sleep is something you’re finding elusive because of the heavy decisions and changes in your life, exercise may help you get more shut eye.
  • Overall health. Exercising reduces your risk of a laundry list of health problems and also helps you fight off cold and flu.
  • Social life. There is a connection between exercise and a healthy social life. Exercise can be a social activity and help you guild new connections and relationships.
  • Feel better about yourself. Physical activity helps you think more positively about yourself and it also gives you a boost because it improves your physical appearance.
  • Improved thought processes.  Getting your body moving gets your brain moving too. Exercise can be very meditative and give you a real break from the things in your life that are stressing you out.

When you need a law firm you can rely on for your divorce and family law case, the Sampair Group is ready to help you in Glendale, Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona.  Schedule an appointment today.

Are Divorce And Separation The Same?

Divorce is not the only option when you are having marital problems. For some couples the decision to legally separate is a better choice than the decision to dissolve the marriage. The reasons why a couple might make this decision could be financial or religious, or based on some other personal belief. Regardless of the reason, there are still issues that are commonly found in divorce that will apply when separating. Knowing what to expect when considering a separation rather than a divorce will help you decide which route is best for you.

The law on separation agreements is found in the same statutes that govern divorce proceedings. Typically the agreement will contain provisions that resolve the following issues:

  • Child support
  • Child visitation and custody arrangements
  • Property distribution, including division of assets and liabilities

To be effective, a separation agreement must be in writing and approved by the Court. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your spouse as to the major issues needing resolution in your separation, you will be required to present evidence regarding your position to the Judge. The Judge will make decisions that are equitable, which may not always mean equal. Another important thing to keep in mind when entering into a separation agreement is that you are still legally married. This is an important distinction between divorce and separation, and the two are not the same. To be sure your rights are protected when negotiating terms of a separation agreement, call an experienced family law attorney for help.

If you have questions about divorce and legal separation, 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.

What Is A Default Judgment?

One of the most basic legal concepts is that of due process. What this means is that all parties to a lawsuit are given notice of the action before any decision is made. This requires service of process on every litigant, so that they can enter an appearance in the case and protect their interests. If you fail to respond to a lawsuit, the Court has the authority to enter judgment as requested in the petition. Never rely on a statement from your ex that he/she will be fair or that you have previously agreed upon things and assume that party will follow through in the final Divorce Decree. The failure to respond to a Petition can have very serious and negative consequences. To avoid this harsh consequence, contact a knowledgeable attorney to make sure you answer on time and in full.

In a divorce proceeding, entry of a default judgment for failing to respond to the case can include some results that are undesirable. This might include:

  • Property division awards that give you less than you deserve.
  • An unfair distribution of debt repayment.
  • Child support that does fit your budget, or meet your kids’ needs.
  • Child custody in a way that does not give you the amount of time you want with your kids.

It is not an option to ignore a summons. A thorough review by a competent family law attorney will reveal the deadline by which you must file an answer to the petition. Knowing your answer date puts you in a position to be able to fully develop your responses to the allegations made by the other side, and will give you a chance to file your answer on time. Experienced family law attorneys know how to figure out the answer date in your case and make sure that a harmful default judgment is not taken against you. If you have been served with divorce papers, act quickly to make sure you answer on time.  .

For answers to your questions about divorce processes, 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.

Help Getting Over The Anger Of Divorce

Let’s face it, getting divorced is not fun and can cause a host of emotions. Some of the more common feelings that go along with getting divorced are sadness, a sense of failure, depression, and anger. Any one of these feelings, if they linger too long, can be damaging to your future. In order to have a successful divorce, you have to have a successful post-divorce life. Part of this is done by reaching agreements or making persuasive arguments for what you want during the divorce case. But, part of this also comes from the personal growth that should come after the ink dries your divorce decree.

If you are having overwhelming feelings of anger or resentment after your divorce, these things can help you move past those feelings and put you in a positive mental state:

  • Write down what you are feeling. This is a tactic used by many counselors and therapists, and the goal is to get you to put your feelings down on paper, so you can have a visual reference to what you are feeling. Along with writing down how you feel you should also refer back to those writings with regularity. You might be surprised at how quickly your feeling change, or find a common theme that causes your anger. Once you know what to look for, it will be easier to deal with a situation when it arises.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or professional. Sometimes all a person needs is to vent, and get their feelings off their chest. If you allow yourself to keep your feelings of anger inside, they are likely to come to the surface in an inappropriate or dangerous way.
  • Figure out what causes your anger by looking for reoccurring events. If you know what causes you to become angry, you can avoid similar situations in the future.

Harboring deep feelings of anger or resentment can be damaging to your health, and can cause conflict in the relationships you wish to hold on to after divorce. In order to have a post-divorce life that does not leave you feeling anxious, it is critical to move past any anger you have about the case.

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.

What To Do About Child Support Garnishments

If you have children and get divorced, it is likely one of the parents will be ordered to pay child support to the other. Taking care of children during divorce is one of the Court’s greatest concerns, and if support payments are not made there are remedies for collection of past due amounts. One of the most popular ways to enforce a child support order is through a garnishment. If your wages are garnished in order to satisfy a child support obligation, the result can be financial hardship due to receiving a lower paycheck than normal. You may also have to appear in Court, and this can be costly as well. So, what do you do if your wages are being garnished for payment of a child support obligation? The first step is to consult with a skilled family law attorney, and learn how to get back on track.

Payment of child support is court ordered, and thus no further court action is generally taken for a wage garnishment when the support falls behind. Some of the ins and outs of child support garnishment include:

  • The amount that can be taken out of your check is limited, this means that you have the chance to question the amount withheld but also means that the past due amount will be paid off over a longer period of time. It is best to work out an agreement on past due child support rather than have your wages garnished, so you retain an element of control over your finances and budget.
  • The maximum amount that may be held out of your pay is a whopping 50%!
  • If your employer fails to respond to the garnishment, they can face fines for not responding. Thus, most employers promptly reply and hold money out of your paycheck. This means you cannot rely on your employer to “cut you a break”.

You must address the issue head on and reach a result quickly in order to avoid financial destruction. If you are behind on support payments, call our office for help. We will work with you to come up with a strategy that allows you to keep most of your disposable income in your pocket while also keeping up with your child support payments. In some cases this may require a request that the Court enter an order changing the amount of support awarded, and making this request requires a showing of changed circumstances. Common examples of how your circumstances may have changed include loss of job or a lower paying job. For more information, call our office.

 

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today. We have helped others through the process of divorce and are here to help you too.

Three Ways Depression Can Ruin Your Relationship

Let’s face it, not every moment of a romantic relationship is sunshine and flowers. Differences of opinion can lead to heated arguments, and the events of life can sometimes get in the way. But, when you are involved with a person who suffers from a clinical condition, you must work even harder to make your relationship work. One of the most debilitating clinical conditions is that of depression. And, it may be near impossible for a person with this diagnosis to have a healthy relationship.

Three ways depression can ruin your relationship include:

  • With true depression, not just sadness, a person will eventually give up on the things they love. This makes being with a person suffering from this condition hard to be around, and can leave a partner feeling unfulfilled. When both parties to a relationship are not getting the emotional nurturing they need, the relationship will not last.
  • It is hard for a person with depression to explain what is going on for them mentally and emotionally. This makes it hard for their mate to understand the condition, and giving up sometimes seems the easy way out.
  • The natural instinct of most people is to try and help those they love, but with depression the person suffering is unable to appreciate the offer. This can lead to feelings of rejection, which will certainly contribute to the end of any relationship.

The key is to understand this is not a personal attack on you, and sometimes the best thing you can do is to let a person find their own way. It takes patience, which is hard to come by when you are married but not feeling a part of a partnership. It is not our position that you divorce or leave your spouse when serious medical conditions arise, but we do understand the challenges relationships of this type present. And, it is important to keep in mind that the type of depression discussed here is not just a temporary sadness, it is a serious condition that requires medical attention. We can help you to develop a plan for your kids during this time, and help you to take steps to protect your assets. Call us for more information.

For more information about marriage and divorce, call us today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.