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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Prevent Co-Parenting Failures

Learning to co-parent after a divorce or separation involves a learning curve. Even though you’ve been parents together for your child’s entire life, your relationship and situation is different after a divorce. Avoid these common pitfalls as you create a co-parenting relationship that will hopefully work for many years.

  • Ignoring the terms of the agreement. You have an order that spells your parenting schedule. You and your ex need to be flexible and ready to make changes as both of you will need accommodations from time to time. However it’s important to respect the basic terms of the order and the overall split of time. The written order should be what you follow as much of the time as possible. The details matter, such as transfer times, and these should not be lost.
  • Misunderstanding motives. If you and your ex don’t actually talk about things, it’s easy to assume he or she is trying to make your life difficult or stick it to you. Try to avoid the blame game and simply assume good motives whenever possible. In the end, motivation doesn’t really matter – you need to deal with the actual situation itself, not the reasons behind it.
  • Incorrect focus. The point of your co-parenting agreement or order is to provide your child with meaningful contact with both parents. The order is not supposed to be about putting parent’s wishes first. The focus is supposed to be on the child. Staying focused on that will allow both of you to live the agreement more easily.
  • No partnership. To parent together you have to see yourselves as on the same team. People on the same team cooperate, root for each other, and share common goals and plans. It can be hard to get to the place where you are able to cooperate, but you will likely feel much more in balance if you can reach this point.

The Sampair Group is ready to represent you in your family court case in the Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix areas of Arizona. Schedule a time to speak with one of our skilled attorneys.

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.

 

Three Financial Blunders To Avoid After Divorce

Once your divorce is final and you are ready to establish yourself as a single force to be reckoned with, one of the most important things to do is make sure your finances are in order. Being able to support yourself and to make decisions about your financial future without a spouse can be hard, but the reward is well worth the effort. A certain sense of accomplishment comes with being able to invest wisely, put something away for a rainy day, and help your kids as they move from high school to college and beyond. In order to do this it is important to have an awareness of your changed financial picture now that you are single, and it is also helps to know what money traps to avoid.

Three financial blunders to avoid when you are newly single include:

  • Avoid spending more than you have. This seems simple enough, but in practice is a very hard thing for most people. This is true when there are two incomes to rely on for paying the monthly bills and you might find yourself overspending simply out of habit. Try to remember that you alone are responsible for your financial health (especially if you were not awarded spousal support or it has come to an end) and make the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle. Downsizing your home, opting for an older model car, or taking your lunch to work rather than eating out are all good ways to save money when you are single.
  • Failing to review your budget and make the changes needed to take into account your status as a one income household. When you get divorced it is a good idea to take stock of what you have and what you need. Doing so will allow you to identify areas where you can cut back and save.
  • Allowing your emotions to take over and overwhelm you is also a mistake. We understand divorce is hard, but when you come to terms with the decision it will be easier to think rationally about your future. This includes coming up with a plan for your money that makes sense and is within your budget.

Our goal is to reach solutions in your case that allow you a fresh start, and also give you the chance to change. When necessary we suggest enlisting the help of a qualified financial planner, so you can be sure to start your new life off on the right foot.

For more information about divorce and what it means for your finances, 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.