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Making a Fresh Start After Divorce

Surviving your divorce takes strength and determination. When you emerge on the other side, you are ready for a fresh start and a chance to create the life that will make you happy.

The most important thing to do is think about what you really want. What are your goals and dreams? What will make you feel happy? It takes time to come out of the divorce fog and really see what will make you feel good about your life, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to consider all of your options. You might be ready for a big change like going back to school, finding a new job, taking up an exciting new hobby, or losing weight. This is a great time in your life to make drastic changes and explore options and new avenues.

You will need to take into account some practical considerations, and money is at the top of the list. Create a reasonable budget for yourself that allows you to cover all of your monthly and recurring expenses with your new household income.  Figure out exactly how much you need each month to pay your bills, then set aside some money each month for savings or emergencies and finally review how much discretionary income you have left to play with.

Dating may be part of your fresh start or you might feel you just aren’t ready to jump in yet. Listen to your instincts and take the time to heal your heart. Allow your friends to slowly lead you into the dating scene when you are ready and don’t forget to consider online dating.

Keep in mind that if you have children, this is a time of great change for them as well. While it is important for you to find your own way and make big changes in your own life, make sure your kids don’t feel bewildered by too many changes all at once. Strive to create some consistency, while at the same time allowing yourself the space you need to figure out where your life is going from here.

The Sampair Group is available to help you with your divorce, custody case, or post-decree modifications. Our highly experienced attorneys represent clients in the Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix areas of Arizona. Make an appointment today.

Protect Your Financial Future After Divorce

Divorce is one of the most stressful and emotional transitions you can face, and can often come with financial surprises. It is important to prepare for your financial future so the burden does not haunt you until retirement. Here are some ways to protect your financial future after divorce:

Financially preparing for the divorce and separation as soon as possible is the best way to go. Make copies of important documents such as pay stubs, tax returns, financial account statements, life insurance policies and loan documents and agreements, and begin organizing all of this information. Start tackling your finances during the divorce process, not after. Get separate bank accounts and credit cards, and be sure to cancel all joint credit cards and accounts. This way you can establish your own credit history and will not be held responsible is your ex-spouse fails to pay any credit card bills. As you negotiate the divorce, be sure that the mortgage, utilities and other bills get paid on time so you are not penalized.

Create a new budget for yourself for after the divorce. You will have less monthly income to use in your current lifestyle, so decide what kind of changes you need to make in order to better afford the single life. Consider expenses such as household, automobile, children, insurance, and other debts. Even if it’s in the divorce agreement, you can’t always count on your ex-spouse to pay the amount they are supposed to, or pay on time, so it’s important to know where you stand financially. Building an emergency fund from any cash you receive from the divorce is a great way to protect yourself from financial surprises or emergencies. This fund should equal 3-6 months of your living expenses for enough cushion during financial hardships. Having an emergency fund will also prevent you from racking up credit card debt.

Consult with a Phoenix Divorce Lawyer at The Sampair Group to discuss protecting your real assets such as cars, real estate and personal property. It is rare that couples in a divorce get a fair settlement when it comes to assets, so you should seek to resolve the splitting up of assets as fair as possible. Seeking outside counsel is also important when it comes to medical insurance. It is very important to discuss coverage for you, and any children involved, after the divorce. As for social security, you are entitled to 50% of your spouse’s benefits if you were married for at least 10 years if that amount is greater than your own benefits. This applies even if your ex remarries, but not if you do.

Be sure that you revisit and evaluate your beneficiaries. If you do not remove your former spouse as your primary beneficiary on retirement and investment accounts, they will receive all of that money in the even of your death. These policies must be changed themselves, as just making changes on your will does not protect these funds.

Financial Consequences of Short-Term Marriage and Divorce

In most states, a short-term marriage is a length of approximately 1 to 5 years. If either spouse seeks a divorce after a short-term marriage, it is important to be aware of the financial agreements that do or do not apply to both parties involved.

Alimony, also called spousal support/maintenance, is financial support from one spouse to another based upon the financial situation of the supported spouse at the time of the divorce proceedings. Alimony awarded in a divorce decree can be temporary, assigned for a specific time length, or permanent.

In short-term marriages, the court rarely awards alimony, especially if the spouse that is requesting the divorce is employed or employable. Those involved in a short-term marriage might find themselves better off without a prenuptial agreement. Alimony is generally only granted in short-term marriages if agreed upon by the parties through a prenuptial agreement or some other financial agreement that states a right to maintenance after a divorce. In short-term marriages, each spouse will generally yield a relatively small award of maintenance, if it is given at all.

There is also a question of equitable distribution of marital property. People in short-term marriages usually have less time to acquire a significant amount of property. Marital property is defined as all property acquired by either spouse during the course of a marriage, even if the property is not listed in both names. Some exceptions include a property acquired by gift or inheritance, property acquired before the marriage, property acquired after a judgment of legal separation, or property excluded by an agreement between both parties.

In both long-term and short-term marriages, equitable distribution involves determining what is fair and just for both parties. In a short-term marriage, however, since less property is usually acquired in the short amount of time, the court will consider property value differences in evaluating division of property. This can include property ranging from personal items to real estate.

To determine how much property you and your spouse will be entitled to after ending a short-term marriage, it is important to speak to a Phoenix divorce lawyer about your legal options. Contact an experienced family law attorney at The Sampair Group today for a free consultation.

Common Reasons for Spousal Maintenance Modification

In the state of Arizona, spousal support (also called alimony or spousal maintenance) can be modified unless the parties have agreed otherwise. In the initial divorce settlement, divorcing spouses can agree in their divorce decree that they can or cannot legally ask the court to modify their alimony agreement.

If your divorce decree allows for modification of spousal maintenance, you may be able to lower payments, increase payments, or have them terminated altogether. There are many common reasons that either party might request a modification to their alimony.

If two former spouses have come to an agreement that they can modify the terms of an alimony agreement, it can be done without the courts approval. However, if one spouse later does not want to follow the agreement, issues may arise. When you come to an agreement without court approval, this means you cannot later use the court to enforce any new agreements. Because of this, The Glendale divorce lawyers at The Sampair Group suggest that you have your initial agreement signed by a judge for your legal protection.

If your original divorce agreement includes a cost of living clause, then spousal support/alimony will increase at a rate that is equal to a spouse’s annual cost of living. Having this clause minimizes the need to modify your alimony agreement later down the road.

Including an escalator clause in a spousal support agreement means that the recipient of support payments will receive an automatic share of any increase in the income of their former spouse. These payments are pre-determined and automatic.

Temporary hardships, such as illness or loss of employment can be reasons for temporary modification of spousal support. If the spouse that is receiving the alimony payments loses their job or becomes ill, the court may temporarily increase the amount they receive. If the payor loses a job or becomes ill, the court may also temporarily decrease their payments to their former spouse. The court determines a set period of lower payments, and they will revert back to the previous amount once that period is over.

There are other circumstances that could result in modification of a spousal support order. This could be for many reasons including:
· Increase in Income
· Change in Law
· Cohabitation – if an ex-spouse cohabitates with another person
· Cost of Living Increase
· Decreased Need for Support – the court may decrease or terminate payment obligations
· Disability
· Financial Emergency
· New Support Obligation – if the payor remarries and has a child, the court may reduce the amount they are paying for spousal support. This does not apply to an ex-spouse who voluntarily takes on the responsibility of supporting stepchildren

In any case of modifying or requesting to modify your divorce decree for spousal maintenance, it is important to have legal representation at all times during the process. Contact a Glendale divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group today. Visit www.sampair.com for a free consultation.

Dissipation of Marital Assets

sampair moneyWhen a marriage is breaking apart, things can get ugly, especially when it comes to money and assets. Unfortunately, some spouses will resort to destroying, gambling or giving away marital property to prevent their spouse from getting it in the divorce.

Dissipation of assets, also called “wasting marital assets,” is defined as the use of an asset for an illegal or inequitable purpose, such as a spouse’s use of community property for personal benefit when a divorce is imminent.

Examples of Dissipation
– A gambling problem
– An alcohol or drug problem
– Spending money on a girlfriend/boyfriend or other third party
– Legal fees and forfeiture of property resulting from a spouse’s criminal activities
– Gifts by one spouse to the couple’s children or family members
– Failure by a spouse to make mortgage payments, resulting in foreclosure
– Business losses caused by a spouse

In order to be considered as dissipation of marital assets, the spending must be wasteful, excessive, and cannot have been condoned or approved by the other spouse. Some factors that the court may consider to determine if a spouse has wasted marital assets are:

– How close the expenditure was to the separation or breakdown of the marriage
– Whether the expenditure was typical for the marriage or spouse
– Whether the expenditure benefited both spouses, or only one
– The need by one spouse for the expenditure

If the court determines that marital assets have been wasted, the judge will likely divide the property in a way that the spouse who did not waste marital assets receives a larger portion of the marital property.

When a spouse is accused of dissipating marital assets, they are required to show proof that he or she did not spend marital funds for his or her sole benefit. It is for this reason that it is very important to keep receipts for all spent marital funds.

The financial stress of a divorce can be very stressful and complicated. If you are considering divorce, contact an experienced Glendale divorce attorney at The Sampair Group today.

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