Child Support Modification for Children Who Are Graduating

Most child support orders are designed to help support a child and pay for their needs up until the point of their high school graduation. Beyond this point, parental support is typically voluntary, leaving many divorced and separated couples facing child support modification to change the amount they pay or stop payments altogether once a child reaches this point in their lives. Because this process can take a little time, it’s often best to start it before the graduation date to ensure it goes into effect at the proper time, rather than being delayed further. However, it all depends on the specific situation whether you will need to take action with the courts.

Automatic Termination

If the current support order covers only one child or the youngest child is graduating, the termination of child support is automatic under Arizona state law. This automatic termination takes place as soon as all conditions of the court order are met. This is typically once the child reaches the age of 18 and graduates from high school. If the child turns 18 prior to graduation or turns 18 after graduation, termination takes place at the time the second requirement is met. No specific action to end the child support is needed and there is no need to hire an attorney to file for this. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t have to take some actions related to the child support. In fact, if child support is currently garnished from your wages, you may need to file to stop the garnishment.

Changes to Child Support

In contrast, if you must still pay child support for younger siblings, there are no automatic changes that will be made to the child support amount simply based on one child turning 18 and graduating from high school. This means you will need to file a modification through the courts in order to adjust the amount appropriately. Under Arizona law, any requests to make changes to the existing child support order cannot be set retroactively. This means if you don’t file for the adjustment in a timely manner, you will likely end up paying the additional child support for a period beyond when you should. That’s why it’s best to talk to an attorney as soon as possible to determine the most appropriate time to file to ensure the changes go into effect at the right time. Changes can go back to the time the other party is served with the request.

Once you file for a modification of the existing child support order, the court will determine how much you should be paying for the number of children who still fall under the support order. The court will look at the number of children, the amount of money the parties in question make and other factors in accordance with the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. Contrary to what some people believe, the amount doesn’t simply go down by what would have been paid for that individual child. Because circumstances have likely changed since the order was set or even last reviewed, the court will look at all factors to make a determination. While child support may go down in many cases, this isn’t necessarily true. For instance, if you have gotten several raises and are making significantly more than you were when the order was set, there is a possibility you will be ordered to pay just as much as you were previously or perhaps even more. Be sure to talk to your lawyer about any potential factors that could change how much you owe so you are prepared for the outcome you’re most likely to receive.

Contact a Lawyer

Many people feel a child support modification is an easy process and won’t require the assistance of a qualified family law attorney. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Even if you don’t end up using a lawyer to handle your case and end up filing on your own in the end, consulting with one can help you evaluate if it’s worth pursuing the modification or if it is best left alone. While it’s important to fulfill your financial obligations to your children, it may be best to leave the amount as it is, rather than pursuing a modification that could result in owing more.

Contact the professionals at the Sampair Group to discuss Arizona child support guidelines and how they apply to your case.

The Impact of Divorce On Your Career

Any big stress in your life can have a potential impact on your career. Divorce ranks high among life stressors but it also directly impacts your schedule and mental acuity. Your divorce requires not only emotional energy, but lots of time off from work to meet with your attorney or mediator and days off for court appearances. This can have a detrimental effect on your career success. Keep it all together by following these steps:

  • Minimize time off. Find out if your attorney or mediator can meet with you on weekends. Save your personal days for court appearances which are always scheduled during business hours.
  • Talk to your boss. Be up front about what you are going through and be clear that you are dedicated to your job. Make it clear you will go above and beyond your duties by working at night, from home, or by taking on additional responsibility once your case has concluded.
  • Look the part. Be particularly careful to present an outer appearance of success, clarity, and dedication to your job at all times. Dress well. Keep your office space organized.
  • Control what you can and let go of the rest. You can minimize the impact on your workplace by taking personal calls away from your co-workers and having breakdowns in the bathroom alone, but you have no control over your spouse showing up at your office or your company being notified that your wages are being garnished for child support. You can’t control everything and no one expects you to.

When you are facing a divorce, you have many questions. Talk with an attorney who understands your concerns and is available to answer your questions. The Sampair Group services all of Maricopa County and our attorneys are ready to discuss your options with you today.

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.

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. 

How To Handle Your Child’s Healthcare After Divorce

The process of divorce can be particularly trying, but often the toll can be especially hard on the children. Generally both parents will be looking out for their child’s best interest, but it can be difficult to navigate the legal landscape that they find themselves in.

How to divide costs and provide or maintain healthcare coverage for your child can be difficult even in the best of situations, so it is important to have an experienced divorce lawyer to guide you through the process.

There are many factors to consider when choosing an attorney, such as experience, focus, and personal attention. As well, the thought of exorbitant legal fees can overwhelm you before the legal process even begins. The lawyers at The Sampair Group are well versed in Arizona family law and understand the needs that you may have during the difficult time of divorce. They also have flexible payment options to help reduce the stress on you and your family.

In Arizona, child support is based on the combined income of both parents, but there are many variables that can come in to play. Having a committed Phoenix family law attorney to explain the Arizona Child Support Guidelines will make the process easier for all parties, most importantly, the children.

Family law courts will order that a child’s medical and dental coverage is provided by the parents, but in many cases an arrangement between both parties can be made outside of court to arrange healthcare. A lengthy court process can draw out a healthcare agreement between parents longer than may be necessary, and there are many factors that weigh in when deciding how best to provide for children during a divorce. Consulting with a Phoenix child custody lawyer can help make the transition as smooth as possible and ensure that the needs of your child are met in the best manner available.

Divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through; in the Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Glendale area The Sampair Group has compassionate family law attorneys ready to guide you through the process as easily as possible.

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.

How to Be An Excellent Divorce Client

How you are as a client is just as important as how your attorney is as representation for you during such a difficult time. The Phoenix Family Law attorneys at The Sampair Group know that there is rarely a ‘nice’ divorce, and proceedings can create a great amount of stress on all participants. Attorneys and clients usually have a love/hate relationship during the legal battles of divorce. To prevent high stress and tension, which could lead to a bad relationship between a divorce attorney and their client, there are some simple rules of behavior that you, as the client, can follow so that you can both come out of this case with enough financial and emotional resources to start a new life.

Be Organized and Keep Record
When meeting with your attorney, be sure to have all questions you have for them prepared ahead of time. Make sure you have a goal and agenda for each meeting with your Phoenix divorce lawyer so that all topics are covered and you leave the meeting feeling confident that your problems are being addressed and taken care of.

Despite the anxiety and stress you are experiencing during the divorce, it will only feel worse if you are unorganized. You will also feel more in control if you keep track of your own records and everything that is going on instead of depending fully on someone else to do it for you. Documents should be labeled, stapled and assembled in an orderly fashion before you give them to your attorney. This will save them time and money and give them more time to focus on you and your case.

Keep a detailed diary of all significant events that pertain to your case, and share copies with your attorney. These can be used in preparing testimony for your case and addressing issues in a more effective way.

Don’t Annoy Your Attorney
Continuously calling and emailing your lawyer for non-legal problems related to your case can end up costing you, and will also result in a very annoyed attorney. Most attorneys charge by the hour not just for physical visits but also for phone calls, emails, and other forms of communication. If you must call for legal assistance, have all of your questions prepared at once so you are not calling every day with a different question or concern any time one pops into your head. Also, any non-legal issues may want to be address with someone other than your lawyer such as a therapist or family member.

Be Realistic
Have reasonable expectations that not everything is going to go your way. Listen to your attorney and the advice they have for you to resolve the issues surrounding your case. A good divorce attorney will work with you as a team to make the process as fair as it can be, and to work effectively with them you need to determine your unrealistic goals up front so there are no disappointments. Also be sure to remember and constantly remind yourself that divorce is a long process, and results will not be reached immediately. Be patient with everyone involved, especially your divorce attorney.

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 Spousal Support

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. There are four main types of alimony that can be awarded.

Temporary Spousal Support/Alimony
Temporary spousal support is given when the parties are separated and the divorce is not yet final. This type of support is provided so that the spouse can maintain his/her lifestyle between the time of separation and divorce. It is necessary due to the length of time it could take before the final divorce decree is issues and a permanent alimony award is given. It is up to the discretion of the court as to whether an award of temporary alimony is warranted.

Rehabilitative Spousal Support/Alimony (Short-Term Support)
Rehabilitative spousal support is award for a short period and is used to support the spouse during a period of retraining or re-education for re-entry into an education or job experience, enabling them to become more self-sufficient. This kind of spousal support is normally set for a fixed period, and the parties can agree to a time line. If they cannot agree on one, the court will mandate one for them. If you are the one receiving the rehabilitative support, you want to be sure that your final divorce decree states that the need for spousal support is subject to later review, which allows the courts to look at the facts of a case and determine if the support should be continued, discontinued, or modified.
The courts are more compelled to award this type of alimony when a spouse seeking it has potential for establishing a viable career in the near future.

Permanent Spousal Support/Alimony (Long-Term Support)
After a long marriage, generally longer than 10 years, permanent support may be granted if the judge concludes that the dependent spouse will most likely not go back into the workforce and will need indefinite support. Permanent may end if either the recipient or payor dies, or if the recipient remarries. In some states, it ends if the recipient begins living with another person in a marriage-like relationship where the couple provides mutual support and shares financial responsibilities.
Permanent alimony becomes effective on the day of the final dissolution of the marriage. It can come in various forms:
– Periodic payments (monthly)
– Lump sum payments
– Annuity payments
– Trust payments
– In-kind payments (i.e. making direct payments for services)

Reimbursement Spousal Support
This is the only type of spousal support that is not fully based on financial need. It is instead a way to compensate a spouse who had sacrificed education, training or career advancement during the marriage by taking any job that would support the family, while the other spouse obtained a more profitable career. Reimbursement support ends whenever the agreement or court order says it does. The termination of this type of spousal support is generally not tied to an event such as the supported spouse finding work or remarrying.

If you are in the middle of divorce litigation and need guidance for spousal support, contact an experienced Glendale divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group today.

The Basics of Pro Se Divorce

Pro Se DivorceIn order to obtain a divorce, a lawyer is not always required. Pro Se (a Latin term meaning “his or her own”) divorce litigation means you are representing yourself in your divorce case without an attorney.

A do-it-yourself divorce is not always the wisest decision, but it is an option of money for an attorney is a concern, and if your divorce isn’t complicated.

The procedures in Pro Se divorce are the same as if you had hired a lawyer, except you will be responsible for filing and filling out all of the legal forms. It is important to discuss the option for Pro Se divorce with your spouse. If you both agree on the conditions of your divorce, then filing your own papers is an option. If you cannot agree, however, you should seek the assistance of a Phoenix family law attorney to legally protect yourself in the proceeding. You also have the option of hiring a lawyer solely for looking at the paperwork to make sure it is all correct and legal.

If the following are true, you may qualify for a Pro Se divorce:
– You haven’t been married more than a few years
– You have no children for which you have to work out custody, visitation and child support
– You and your spouse do not have a lot of money, community property or shared debt to divide.
– You do not suspect your spouse is hiding any financial assets and you’re not filing for bankruptcy
– Neither spouse is in the U.S. military
– You are able to support yourself after the divorce

In Arizona, a divorce is started when one party files a legal document titled a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with (or without) Children. Numerous other documents must be filed with this petition, including a Summon, various notices to the other party regarding creditors, health insurance, and parenting classes if applicable. In Arizona, the filing fee for the Petition is $236.00 to file and begin the divorce process. The other party will have to file a response fee if they file a response.

The Petition must state certain facts that are required for the court to determine if it has jurisdiction over the parties and for the court to grant the divorce, followed by any necessary orders regarding any children involved.

Every person has the right to be a Pro Se litigant, but the divorce process can be complex and very stressful. If you are choosing to represent yourself, it is very important to become familiar with your state divorce laws, the current version of your state’s Rules of Civil Procedure, the Family Court Codes and the rules that apply to you by your local county court. Contact an experienced divorce lawyer in Glendale at The Sampair Group today to learn more about the Pro Se divorce process and how to successfully represent yourself while staying legally protected.

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Gray Divorce – What Are The Reasons?

elder divorceWhile divorce rates in Arizona and across the country for the general population have remained at a steady level over the past several decades, it is a different story for couples ages 50 and older. The baby boomer divorce rate (also called Gray Divorce) has nearly doubled in the last twenty years, according to a study by Bowling Green University.
What are the reasons that baby boomers divorcing at record rates? There could be a number of factors, according to divorce experts:

– Economic stress as older Americans are losing their jobs, which adds stress to marriages

– One partner in the marriage (most commonly women) begin to feel empowered enough as generations evolve to pursue their own interests and happiness outside the confines of marriage

– Adultery – with the inclusion of online sites and other temptations that are so easily accessible, this is a growing problem in elder marriages

– Intolerance of the goals of the other spouse – i.e. one partner wanting to go back to school, work, etc. after children leave the home

– Social stigmas of divorce – while divorce used to be frowned upon in past generations, it has become a more frequent “norm” in today’s society

– Empty nest – Many older couples kept their marriage active to create a more stable life for their children, but now that the kids are grown and out of the house, couples are ending the marriage that had been unhappily continuing for the sake of the children.

For older couples that are going through divorce, the process can be more stressful and complicated than a divorce between a younger couple. If you are in the middle of a Gray Divorce, 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.

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A Change of Heart After Filing for Divorce

stopgoYou have completed the first steps to filing for divorce, let the court into your personal life, and filled out more paperwork than you ever thought possible. Even after all of this, what if you and your spouse have each had a change of heart and no longer want to go through with the split? Whether you want to stop the divorce altogether or just put a pause on things, there are ways to stop and dismiss or postpone your divorce proceedings as long as both spouses agree to do so.

Reconciliation Periods
Some states hold legislative codes that allow for the possibility of reconciliation in the middle of divorce cases. These provisions allow for parties involved to abate (put a hold on) proceedings so the couple can take more time to decide if they want to continue the divorce proceedings or terminate the litigation altogether. If you do this, the order will preserve your already existing divorce complaints so there is no need to re-file if you and your spouse decide to proceed with the divorce. In Arizona, the court can order couples counseling, which puts the order on hold for four months.

Stopping the Divorce Proceedings
If you and your spouse are sure that you want to eliminate the divorce altogether and don’t want or need anymore time to think about it, all states in the U.S. allow you to dismiss your petition for divorce without providing a great deal of explanation. Both parties must be aware in this part of the process that they are voluntarily withdrawing their plead for divorce. In some states, you are required to file a motion for dismissal, which the court will then review before granting your request.

After a Decree
If the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage has already been signed and issued by a judge, it is too late to change your mind about the divorce. Your only option is to remarry. Some states require a waiting period after a decree is signed before a couple can remarry, even if it is your ex-spouse.

If you and your spouse are unsure of whether or not to proceed with your divorce, it is important to seek legal advice to explore your 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 an experienced divorce attorney today for a free initial consultation.