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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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What to Do When Children Don’t Want to Go to Visitation

When a visitation schedule is set by a court order, following these orders should be pretty straight-forward…right? Well, not always. When a child no longer wants to attend a visitation with another parent, this can complicate matters significantly. By having a better understanding of why these issues arise and what your legal responsibilities are, you can handle this difficult situation properly.

Common Reasons for Visitation Hesitation

When a child seems hesitant or downright refuses to attend visitation with the other parent, the first step you’ll want to take is to determine why this is occurring. This is especially important is the hesitation seems to have come out of nowhere.

Some of the most common reasons that a child may not want to attend visitation include:

  • a poor relationship with the other parent’s partner/spouse or other children in the household
  • general resentment over a divorce or separation
  • a poor relationship with the other parent
  • a change in household rules or rituals that the child is uncomfortable with

Some less common (but more serious) reasons a child may be hesitant about visitation include:

  • substance abuse in the other home
  • physical/emotional abuse in the other home
  • sexual misconduct in the other home

Do You Have to Make Your Child Attend Visitation?

Unless you have a legal reason to withhold your child’s visitation from the other parent (such as evidence/claims of abuse or misconduct), it is generally your legal responsibility to follow your court-ordered parenting plan as closely as possible. This remains true even if the other parent is behind on child support payments.

If you suspect that your child simply doesn’t want to visit with the other parent due to other circumstances (like not wanting to be away from friends or having to conform to a different set of “house rules”), there are some strategies you can employ. The best course of action is usually to speak with the other parent and come up with a plan that will make everybody happier and more comfortable.

If visitation continues to be an issue, however, you can go back to court and request a re-working of the visitation plan. Before you do this, though, you’ll want to make sure the other parent is aware of the issues and that you have made an honest attempt to work through them. You’ll also want to start carefully documenting each instance where your child refuses or is hesitant to visit the other parent, as this documentation may come in handy in court.

Consult With a Family Lawyer for More Help

If you’re running into issues with your court-ordered visitation schedule, it can also be helpful to consult with a family lawyer who specializes in these types of cases. An experienced lawyer will be able to provide you with the personalized guidance and legal advice you need to move forward and challenge your current visitation arrangement in court if needed.

Ready to schedule your free consultation with our legal team? The Sampair Group is always here to assist you. Contact us today to find out more about what we can do for you.

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Modifying Your Child Support in Arizona

Many people who pay or receive child support end up having to go through some type of modification process. When child support is modified, this means the amount received or paid out will likely increase or decrease. A person paying child support who has a decrease in income will often ask for a modification to their child support payments. It’s important to remember, though, that child support modifications can’t be requested at all times. However, both parties, the one receiving the payments and the one making the payments, can put in modification requests if they meet certain criteria.

Always File Quickly

One of the keys to succeeding in a modification of child support is to file quickly. Even if you aren’t sure whether the case and criteria qualifies for a modification, you can still have ask for a modification review. If you fail to put in a modification request and you can’t afford your payments, the child support payments are still going to add up in arrearages every month. Even over a short period of time, these arrearages can turn into a substantial amount of debt that you can’t have dismissed. More so, interest will incur on the arrearages, further increasing your child support debt and making it harder to get caught up.

Another reason to file quickly is because if approved, the modification will begin from the date you filed. For those paying child support, you can save thousands of dollars by filing quickly and having the payments retroactively reduced fro the petition date. For those receiving child support, you can lose thousands of dollars if you fail to file a modification request quickly because the longer you wait, the more money you forfeit in the event the modification request is approved for a higher amount than what you are already receiving.

Remember the Retroactive Child Support Rule

Child support cannot be retroactively modified to a past date except for in two situations: retroactive modifications are permitted according to the date a Petition to Modify Child Support is filed, and in some cases, according to an initial child support award amount. The latter only applies to those who have never received a child support order. In this instance, the court will most times modify the award amount according to the date the partner stopped providing financial care to the child.

Know What You Have to Prove

To take the headache out of going through the child support process, it’s important to know what to expect; this applies to both parties. For those who are petitioning to receive child support payments, it’s pertinent to understand that you and the person you are petitioning will have to provide income information. This is because the amount awarded is determined by both parties’ income and expenses as well as the difference in those amounts.

For those who have received a petition for child support, you will have to provide income and employment information as well as payroll and banking information, if you have it, so that child support payments can be automatically deducted from your bank account or paycheck. Having the payments come directly out of your banking account or paycheck is helpful in ensuring you don’t get behind on payments.

In most cases when receiving an Affidavit of Financial Information, you will need to gather the following:

  • Tax returns
  • Pay stubs
  • W2s
  • Alternative forms of proof for any income deriving from self-employment

The process of modifying a child support in Arizona can be easy if you file the petition quickly and have all necessary information and documentation gathered and ready to submit. So, don’t wait.

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.

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.

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.