Posts

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.

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.

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.

Is Your Behavior The Reason For Your Divorce?

In any marriage there are a number of things that could potentially hurt the relationship to the point of separation and divorce. Avoid the following behaviors to improve your chances of a long-term, healthy marriage.

Ignoring Issues
Unexpressed feelings will only eventually build up over a period of time, turning small annoyances into very big resentments, which then leads to very heated arguments. The bigger the problem gets, the more likely each partner is to stop trusting the other, and calm communication becomes very difficult to have. To avoid this from happening, bring up and deal with issues as they come up. Confront them in a calm manner and work on them together.

Not Spending Enough Time Together
In order for a marriage to work, you need to give yourselves times to connect with each other. The less you do this, the more disconnected and distant your relationship will become. Prioritize outside factors that may be affecting your relationship, such as a job, friends, hobbies, etc., and be sure that you are working hard to make time for your partner. Go for a walk, agree to a date night, or just spend a couple of nights a week sitting around talking to each other. You may be surprised at how parallel your lives had become if other things from your busy schedule were getting in the way of your marriage.

Communication Problems
Being able to resolve issues effectively is a big factor in making a marriage work. But if you can’t approach your problems in a mature way, it’s not going to help anyone. Being passive-aggressive or slamming the door and leaving as response to an argument is not the way to go. This will give your partner the feeling of abandonment and they will feel as if you don’t care enough about the marriage to effectively handle issues that come up, no matter the nature of the conflict. To avoid this, both partners need to work together to resolving issues in a way that will meet the needs of both of you.

Invalidation
When an argument gets intense, a spouse may fall into the terrible habit of discrediting or weakening their partner as a quick reaction. Oftentimes, they will objectify their spouse or focus on only their negative characteristics as a way to destroy their self-esteem. Most partners react this way without thinking first, but that is no excuse for how it can negatively affect a person’s emotions both long-term and short-term. To avoid doing this, try and stay calm during all arguments, no matter how angry you may be. Staying calm with help you stay rational under the heat of anger and intense emotions.

Sometimes even avoiding these behaviors isn’t enough to prevent divorce. At The Sampair Group, our high conflict resolution attorneys take the time to get to know you and the circumstances of your case. Contact an experienced divorce attorney today for a free initial consultation. 

Types of Protection Orders in Arizona

If you are in a situation where you feel the need for protection from another person, you should consider filing for an Order of Protection. A protective order is a document issued by a judge to order a person to not have any contact with you in order to prevent any abusive or threatening behavior toward you, whether from a former spouse or another individual. If you feel you are being threatened or harassed, contact a Family Law attorney immediately. There are five general types of protective orders available in Arizona:

1. Order of Protection
In Arizona, an Order of Protection prohibits a person from having any contact with the individual who obtained the order. This order is designed to prevent addition acts of domestic violence or harassment, and may call for other means of protection including the removal of firearms from the home as well as granting the person seeking the order to have exclusive use of the marital home.

2. Emergency Order of Protection
A judge will grant this type of order in writing, verbal agreement or telephonically to protect a person who is in imminent danger of domestic violence. An Emergency Order of Protection is only valid until the close of the next judicial business day, where after further action for an order of protection must be taken.

3. Release Order
Following Arizona law, when a person that has been arrested for an act of domestic violence is released from custody, they are subject to Release Order conditions that are in place to protect the alleged victim and anyone else involved. Within 24 hours of the defendant’s arrest, the court must forward a certified copy of the Release Order to the county sheriff, who must keep the updated document on accessible record.

4. Injunction Against Harassment
Any Arizona court can issue an Injunction Against Harassment when a person claims that another is committing a series of harassing events toward them over a period of time. This order does not require any specific type of relationship between the plaintiff and defendant and cannot be used to claim exclusive use of a home. Injunction Against Harassment orders can often require the defendant to cease all contact with the plaintiff and stay away from their home, workplace, school, etc.

5. Injunction Against Workplace Harassment
If an employer operating a business in Arizona feels that a person in their same workplace has committed a series of harassing events toward others at the same place of business, they can request from the court an Injunction Against Workplace Harassment. It can be filed on behalf of any number of employees, anyone at the work site for business-relations or anyone that enters the business or work site.

At The Sampair Group, our experienced family law attorneys can help you file an Order of Protection if you feel you are being threatened or harassed. If you feel you have been wrongfully served with an Order of Protection, contact us immediately and we can help you fight the order.

How To Spot An Excellent Divorce Attorney

More often than not, divorces can be overwhelming, complicated and emotional. On top of all of the stress and emotion that comes with a divorce, you will need to find an expert Phoenix divorce lawyer that is reliable and knowledgeable enough to help through the process to win your case and continue with your life. Here are 5  traits to look for when searching for the best divorce attorney:

1. Expert in the Field
A good divorce attorney knows more than just the basics of matrimonial law and divorce. You want to find a lawyer whose knowledge goes further than just the cookie cutter basics of two people separating. They should know all laws regarding divorce including child custody, domestic abuse/violence laws, basic tax laws, property division, alimony, and real estate laws. It is very important that they know the judges, legal system ad workings of the court where your case is occurring. Every jurisdiction is different. A good family attorney is one that has courtroom experience and is familiar with the specifics of your case so that they can adapt their legal strategy specifically to your needs.

2. A Negotiator and a Listener
It is important that your divorce lawyer is someone that can help with the negotiation and problem solving aspects of your divorce. They should work well with people, be able to help you reach a compromise with your spouse and make you feel comfortable that they are helping you. A good family attorney has an understanding of psychology and human relationships in order to help their client(s) keep a positive outlook throughout the proceedings.

3. Personal Referrals
While you don’t want to rely solely on the recommendation of others without doing your own research, referrals are always a good thing to start with. Talk to people in your community who have experience similar problems as yours in divorce hearings. Ask them who their lawyers are and how they feel about how they handled their case. Chances are you’ll end up with several good connections if you ask around.

4. Affordability and Quality
When it comes to most divorce attorneys, you get what you pay for. If you don’t have much money to spend on legal assistance for your divorce proceedings, you may have to hire a newer attorney who isn’t as experienced as a lawyer who has been practicing law for a while. However, if the attorney you can afford is a up-and-coming divorce lawyer, there is an advantage in that they may work a little harder for you in order to build up a good reputation.

5. Trustworthiness
Your divorce lawyer is someone you will be sharing a lot of confidential information with, and it is important that they prove to you that they are someone you can trust and feel comfortable sharing such things with. An ideal family attorney is kind, compassionate and reassuring. A divorce is a trying time, and you are going to be going through a rollercoaster of emotions, and an excellent divorce lawyer will not rush you or be aggressive in their approach. They should also share and support your basic philosophy or attitude toward divorce when it comes to their methods.

Family law covers many issues that involve a range of emotions. A good family law attorney knows that he or she is helping someone through one of the most difficult times in their lives. At The Sampair Group, our high conflict resolution attorneys take the time to get to know you and the circumstances of your case. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Questions from AVVO: Emails as Evidence

divorce attorney ArizonaQuestion

How much regard is given to emails as evidence in court? My children’s father has this habit of sending me emails any time there is a dispute going on, he states the facts true to the most part but twists it just in the right way to make himself look great and try to make me look bad. He is a very manipulative person. How should I go about countering these emails…..should I reply with my version of the truth or should I just let them be. How much credit will those emails be given in court. We are headed to mediation next month in an attempt to modify our parenting plan.

Patrick’s Answer

It is very difficult to answer this question without actually seeing at least a sampling of the emails. Moreover, I cannot tell from your question whether you even have an action pending in Court or if the action involves Legal Decision-making (Custody) or parenting time with children. If there is no action pending you will have to determine which emails are relevant or which emails actually address relevant issues. Remember that if there are many emails the Court may never read most of them because it does not have time to do so. Only respond to those emails that address a specific issue and do not get in a fencing match over who did what. Just give your opinion on the relevant issue and do not argue about who did what. Best to just say “I disagree with your statement of the facts.” Keep your emails short and to the point. Frequently parents will write emails which are clearly designed for the Court rather than to address real issues. Usually the Court can figure that out. Lastly if the emails are out of control and the issues involve children, it may be wise to ask the Court for a Parenting Coordinator to help the two of you communicate better. That person “works” for the Judge and can make recommendations to the Court to improve communication, including the limiting of emails. However the Parenting Coordinator does cost money and generally both of you must share the cost.

Settling issues before finalizing a divorce can be challenging. The Sampair Group understands how difficult it can be. Visit www.sampair.com to schedule a free consultation.

Adopting Your Step-Child in Arizona

Adopting a stepchild is more than just a process to solidify a family connection. There are binding legal responsibilities that result from adoption that can last a lifetime.

There are legal benefits to consider when it comes to adopting your stepchild. Once the process is complete, the adoptive parent then becomes the legal parent, which in Arizona gives them specific parenting rights regardless of the status of the marriage between them and their spouse. If the adoptive parent and the natural parent were to divorce, the adoptive parent would retain the same rights that the natural parent would, including visitation and child custody, giving them the opportunity to have an ongoing relationship with the child.

The adoptive parent also takes on the same financial responsibilities that a natural parent would and they have an obligation to provide the child with food, shelter, education and health care, even after divorce.

The process for adoption depends on the circumstances.

If the natural parent of a child is deceased or has legally given up their parental rights, the remaining legal parent/stepparent may file a “Petition to Adopt” as long as the child is not a ward of the court.

If the natural parent is still alive and has legal parental rights, the parent must sign a “Consent to Adoption,’ which the courts will only consider if it is signed by the parent giving up legal parental rights.

The following requirements must apply before adoption can be completed:

  • A child that is 12 years old or older must give consent to the adoption in open court
  • Any legal guardian of the child must consent to the adoption
  • Any agency responsible for the child must consent to the adoption
  • Any guardian of an adult parent must consent to the adoption

If you are looking to adopt your stepchild, look to the Glendale family law attorneys at The Sampair Group for more information. Visit us today at www.sampair.com for a free consultation.

James Bruce, Attorney at Law, Joins The Sampair Group Team

james_bruceThe Phoenix family law attorneys at The Sampair Group would like to welcome James Bruce, Attorney at Law, as a newest addition to our team. James Bruce has been specializing in divorce and family law since 1985, and is 1 of only 66 Bar Certified Domestic Relations Specialists in the state of Arizona.

As a Certified Domestic Relations Specialist, James Bruce is trusted as a lawyer who demonstrates proficiency, expertise and knowledge of the nuances of Arizona Family Law. The distinction of a Certified Domestic Relations Specialist is given to only a few domestic relations lawyers in Arizona. While there are thousands of Arizona family attorneys, only approximately 70 have earned this distinction.

The expertise of James Bruce covers multiple area of family and divorce law in depth, including divorce, paternity, child support, spousal maintenance, jurisdictional issues, grandparent custody/visitation, orders of protection and more.

With the addition of James Bruce to The Sampair Group, our law firm now has up to 97 years of combined experience.

At The Sampair Group, our Glendale divorce attorneys understand that a family law dispute can be a trying and emotionally difficult situation for all parties involved. Our high conflict resolution attorneys take the time to get to know you and your case as we guide you through the process as painlessly as possible.

Vocational Evaluation and Divorce

A vocational evaluation is the process in court used to assess a person’s current or future employability and wage earning capacity using the skills they already have. A vocational evaluation is requested when one spouse is trying to prove that the supported spouse has the earning ability and opportunity to earn income if they are not currently employed. The unemployed spouse is then responsible for making reasonable efforts to seek appropriate employment in order to make required support payments.

The evaluation usually consists of two to three meetings with a skilled, professional vocational evaluator that will analyze interests, work and earnings history, education, and life experience of the spouse that is seeking employment.

In the first meeting, the vocational evaluator will perform a current labor market search of all the available jobs the spouse needing employment qualifies for, complete with contact information, salary information and training requirements.

The next meeting may include vocational testing, which are used to develop a profile of the individual that includes details of abilities, aptitudes, skills, interests, personality, decision making style and work values. A counselor will discuss with you how to better understand your profile and the results of the testing. The profile is very helpful in that it can guide you toward better focus on a career direction and discover abilities, strengths and weaknesses that you may have not been aware of having before.

In between appointments, you can meet with your evaluator to research employment options in your geographical area.

A vocational evaluation can also be requested if one spouse is employed, but it can be considered underemployed (i.e. the spouse has an advanced degree, but works a minimum wage or low paying job).

If one spouse does not find suitable work as required, the other party has the right to keep requesting that they do. If the spouse refuses to work, the court will lower spousal support from what it would be if they were employed, but the amount would still be set at what they would be earning if they were capable of earning employment.

No matter what your financial situation during a divorce, it is important to speak with a Phoenix divorce lawyer to discuss all of your legal options. At The Sampair Group, our high conflict resolution attorneys take the time to get to know you and the circumstances of your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.