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How Does My Mental Health Affect My Child Custody Rights?

In general, your mental health is nobody’s business of your own. When it comes to a child custody dispute, however, it is common for mental health concerns to be brought forward by an ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex spouse. Unfortunately, an ex may bring up a parent’s existing mental health condition(s) in an effort to have their custody rights reduced or revoked.

So, how does your mental health actually affect your custody rights? By having a better understanding of how this all works, you can be prepared from a legal standpoint.

When Mental Health Matters in Child Custody

Ultimately, the goal of any child custody decision is to do what is in the child’s best interests. Therefore, a parent’s existing mental health condition doesn’t necessarily matter so long as the condition is well controlled—whether it be through therapy, medication, or another type of management/treatment.

Typically, a judge will look at two main factors when making child custody decisions with mental health concerns in mind. For starters, the judge will want to make sure that your mental health condition does not prevent you from being self-sufficient. After all, you cannot be expected to care for a child if you have trouble meeting your own daily needs.

Likewise, a judge will want to know that your mental health condition is predictable and/or well regulated. For example, if you have a mental health condition that has led to instances of self-harm or attempted self-harm in the past, this could end up being a concern when it comes to child custody.

If You Have a Mental Health Condition…

Keep in mind that mental health conditions are very common; in fact, it is estimated that more than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives. With this in mind, simply having a mental health condition does not automatically mean that your custody rights are in jeopardy.

However, if your ex has brought your mental health condition up as a “concern” in your child custody dispute, then it is important for you to understand your rights. Likewise, it is vital that you show as much proof or documentation as possible that your condition is controlled and that you remain entirely self-sufficient.

A Family Attorney Can Help

Looking for assistance in handling your child custody dispute? An experienced family lawyer from The Sampair Group is here to represent you and work with our best interests in mind. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Arizona Guide to Hybrid Child Custody Orders

Struggling with a child custody dispute can lead to serious disharmony within the family unit. When working with a former spouse regarding child custody, individuals are likely to learn about joint custody and sole custody. While these limited options imply black-and-white solutions, the reality is anything but.

If you are negotiating a custody order within the state of Arizona, make sure you have legal representation to guide you through the process. Experts at The Sampair Group have decades of industry experience working in complicated custody scenarios.

Today, we are going to highlight the reality of hybrid child custody orders.

Legal Custody vs Physical Custody

Before the courts determine which type of child custody is right for your family, it is pivotal that we better understand the two forms of custody in general. Custody references the legal parenting and decision-making over a child. Family law judges will often opt to have joint custody to allow the child access to both family members. If the judge doesn’t think seeing both parents is in the best interest of the child, other custody options may be considered.

Parenting Time is also referred to as physical custody. Working with a judge, parents will lay out a parenting plan that shows when the child will spend time with each member of the family. One parent may have legal authority while the other parent has physical custody or even supervised parenting orders.

So, what exactly is a hybrid child custody order?

Hybrid Custody Scenarios

Hybrid custody orders are often decided upon in situations where amenable agreements can be made. Hybrid custody orders are often done when both parents retain a positive relationship with one another as well as their child.

A few other examples of hybrid custody scenarios include:

  • One Parent Is In The Military –  A parent deployed for military service will often yield hybrid custody situations.
  • Injury or Illness – Parents may occasionally or temporarily cede their parenting rights or legal decision-making in the event of an injury or sudden bout of illness.
  • One Parent Is A Doctor – A medical professional parent may want to have the final say on choices made regarding their child’s health.

Every family dynamic is unique and that means taking a custom, you-first approach to your child custody scenario. For residents of Arizona, the team at The Sampair Group can help.

Contact The Sampair Group

The Sampair Group focuses on family law for clients throughout Maricopa County. Providing aggressive and affordable legal representation, The Sampair Group represents clients for complex legal matters including divorce cases, child custody, child relocation, and property and debt division.  With 39 + years of decorated legal experience, Attorney Patrick Sampair leads a distinguished team of attorneys with more than 60 combined years of experience in the field.

Other reasons to contact The Sampair Group for representation include

  • Free Consultation
  • Flat Fees
  • Pay As You Go Service (No Retainer or Deposit)
  • Limited Scope and Full-Service Representation

With locations in Glendale, Scottsdale, and Chandler, you can rest easy by contacting The Sampair Group, today!

What is a Presumption in Family Law?

When discussing presumptions concerning family law, misinformation and misunderstandings are easy to find. Simply put, a presumption is considered a legal conclusion that can otherwise be refuted by evidence to the contrary. As an example, a couple undergoing a divorce may come to terms with relation to their property that is different from Arizona’s traditional presumptions.

Let’s apply this definition and the context surrounding it to a few other aspects of Arizona law.

Presumption and Property Division

As a community property state, Arizona splits assets and debts down the middle between both spouses during their divorce. This translates to assets, gifts, pensions, and other intangible items. When divorcing spouses cannot find a way to agree on how their assets should be divided, the court will typically step in to make a ruling. Often, courts will rule as close to a truly 50/50 outcome as possible.

There are unique scenarios whereupon assets and debts are separated in more specific ways. Spouses can come to an agreement to establish separate assets and debts. This can be done through a pre or postnuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements detail how property division will occur in the event of a divorce, while a postnuptial agreement is the same thing, only signed after the fact.

Finally, there is the possibility that a judge will order debts or property to be handed out in an inequitable way. This is often due to reckless spending or some other aspect of marital waste. Other examples of marital waste include drugs, gambling, shopping, and spending money on having an affair.

Child Custody & Child Support

Outside of property, presumptions in family law may also determine who has custody of a child. Custody decisions are made while focusing entirely on the child’s best interest, pushing away misconceptions that mothers are always going to win custody. Sometimes, courts focus on dividing custody as evenly as possible, while other times this simply can’t happen, due to work or relocating out-of-state. Other concepts weighed during this decision include child support, ensuring that both parents can provide for the child full-time.

As a point of order, courts prefer to place children with parents that are not struggling with addiction, incarcerated, or otherwise incapable of the appropriate childcare.

Contact the Sampair Group Today

The Sampair Group is an Arizona-based Law Firm focused primarily on Family Law. Based in Glendale, the Sampair Group proudly serves clients throughout the region, from Paradise Valley to Ahwatukee. With an A+ BBB Rating and a Top Attorney Rating on Avvo, now is the perfect time to schedule a consultation with the Sampair Group.

What If the Other Parent Won’t Comply With the Court Order?

Unfortunately, having a court order for child custody doesn’t always guarantee that things will be smooth sailing. This is often the case when the other parent fails to comply with a custody order that has been issued by a judge. If you’re going through this, you may be wondering what recourse you have and what steps you should take next.

Document Everything

First and foremost, try to remain calm; emotions naturally run high when child custody agreements are not being followed. However, you will want to keep your composure as much as you can. Focus your efforts on documenting each instance where the other parent is not complying with the court order. If the parent is late picking up or dropping your child off, for example, be sure to write down the date(s) and the time(s) that this occurred.

The more documentation you have of the parent not following your court order, the better your case will look in court.

File a Motion to Enforce Parenting Time

The next step you will most likely want to take is to file a legal motion with the court; this is known as a motion to enforce parenting time. When you submit this motion, a judge will review your original court order, as well as any documentation or evidence you have gathered. In some cases, the other parent may be fined for violating the original custody order. In other cases, the judge may change the original custody order to give you more time with the child or make other alterations to the original agreement.

Attend Necessary Hearings

In some cases, a judge may request additional information from each party. When this occurs, a court hearing will be scheduled. Typically, both parties will be required to attend. This is an important time to bring any additional evidence or documentation you may have of the other parent’s failure to follow the original court order. At this hearing, you should also be prepared to hear counter-allegations that the other parent may have against you (whether they are true or not).

At the end of the hearing, the judge will most likely reach a decision on whether to alter the original court order or to impose fines (or even jail time) on the other parent.

Get the Legal Representation You Need

Dealing with a parent who does not follow your child custody order can be stressful and frustrating. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help get your order enforced. Still, the best way to navigate this complex legal process is to work with an experienced family law attorney. At The Sampair Group, we offer the representation and guidance you need during this difficult time. Find out more about our attorneys or schedule your free consultation with us today!

What Are Third Party Visitation Rights in Arizona?

According to the A.R.S § 25-409 statute, third-party rights in Arizona allow the placement of children into the home of a third party. The statute also grants third-party visitation rights in certain circumstances. When going through a divorce or paternity case, this statute is commonly referenced when rights and requests are petitioned to the court. If you’re a third party seeking visitation rights, keep reading to learn how this statute and others can be used in your favor.

How Do Visitation Rights Play Out in Arizona?

When a third party requests visitation rights in Arizona, this is what is known as atypical family law. During most divorce or paternity cases, the child’s best interest is always evaluated with both parents starting off on equal footing. However, during a third-party case, both parents are given an advantage over the third party because a parent always has rights unless they sign them away. This is what is referred to as a “mother and father having an equal constitutional right to provide the control, custody, care, and protection over their child. There is no such right for third parties.

When a third party intends to file a petition with the court to request third-party visitation rights, it must meet all criteria outlined in § 25-402, subsection B, paragraph 2:

  1. Must establish that the third party is standing in loco parentis to the child
  2. Must establish that removing the child from the legal parents’ home(s) is significant to the well-being of the child
  3. Within the prior year of filing the petition, there cannot be an entered or approved order regarding the legal decision-making of the child; the same applies for an order regarding parenting time; however, these criteria do not apply when the child currently resides in an environment that could bring serious endangerment to the child’s health, including its physical, mental, or emotional health
  4. One of the following criteria must be met:
  • A legal parent is deceased
  • The child’s legal parents are not legally married to one another when the third party files the petition
  • There is a proceeding for the dissolution of marriage between the legal parents when the petition is filed or the proceeding for a legal separation

When all four elements have been met in a manner in which it can be proved, then Rebuttable Presumption allows for the case to be set to trial.

If and when a trial takes place, the petitioner goes through the process of rebutting that the presumption of giving a parent the authority to be the sole legal decision-maker for the child is going to be in the best interest of the child. It is very important that clear evidence is obtained to make this claim and to file a petition. Without sufficient evidence establishing all four elements have been met, most petitions are quickly tossed from the court’s recognizance. Having a solid and experienced attorney who knows atypical family case law is essential to winning a third-party visitation case and is often the difference between an approved or denied petition.

image of stock options

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.

 

image of father with two children

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.

image of parent pushing stroller

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.