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Modifying Your Child Support in Arizona

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

Always File Quickly

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

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

Remember the Retroactive Child Support Rule

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

Know What You Have to Prove

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

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

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

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

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

Woman preparing to testify from home

How to Prepare to Testify in Court from Home

With all the restrictions that have been put into place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more things can be done from home. While most people think about working from home, courts have also turned to at-home sessions, particularly in the areas of divorces. It’s relatively easy to allow individuals to appear from their homes, providing the same testimony they could provide in a courtroom. The same is true for having lawyers in attendance. However, before you appear in court from home, there are a few things you should do to prepare.

Ensure a Quiet Environment

Distractions abound when you’re at home, and it’s essential to eliminate them as much as possible before you testify in court to ensure everything goes smoothly. For instance, in the case of a divorce, make arrangements for your children to be out of the home. Not only will this greatly minimize noise and distractions, but it’s best they can’t hear what goes on in the case. You should also turn off the TV or anything else that makes noise. Wearing headphones can help reduce the noise you hear, but it’s also essential to make sure there aren’t any sources of noise, including other people, because you are in a professional setting and even with your headphones on, your mic will pick it up and transmit it to the other parties on the call.

Understand Screen Sharing

Evidence can be an important part of a case. However, since you won’t be there in person to hand a sheet of paper to the judge or the other party, you will need to share it in other ways. Most video conferencing software offer simple screen sharing tools you can use, but you need to be familiar with them. Set up a mock call using the software you’ll use so you can practice ahead of time. This will ensure the process goes smoothly and there are fewer delays during the call.

Use a Computer, Not the Phone

Most video conferencing software allows you to call in from your phone if you don’t have access to a computer, but when you’re testifying in court, whether for a divorce or any other type of case, it’s best to have a monitor in front of you. Not only does it allow you to see the other people in the call, but if anyone shares their screen to present evidence or other documents for your review, you need to see them clearly. You can’t do that when you’re using your phone to participate in the call.

Testifying in court can be a nerve-wracking experience. While you may feel more comfortable testifying from the comfort of your home, it’s still important to maintain a more professional setting so you’re sure the case will proceed smoothly.

Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of parental rights permanently ends the legal parent-child relationship. Once these rights are terminated, a child may be adopted without parental consent.

Termination of parental rights may be voluntary, based on the informed consent of the parent, or it may be involuntary, a result of court proceedings brought against the parent.

In Arizona, courts will only involuntarily terminate parental rights in extreme situations, such as the child being in serious emotional or physical danger, and the termination of the parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

A parent is deemed unfit if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Abandonment of the child
  • Sever or chronic abuse or neglect
  • Long-term illness or deficiency of the parent
  • Long-term alcohol or drug induced incapacity of the parent
  • Abuse or neglect of other children in the household
  • Felony conviction or incarceration
  • Failure to establish paternity
  • Murder or manslaughter of a sibling child
  • Felony assault of child or sibling
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Failure of Reasonable Efforts

There are circumstances, however, that are not considered valid grounds for termination. Some parties that have been through a divorce seek to terminate a parent’s rights because they do not pay child support or do not follow the visitation schedule. These are not sufficient grounds for a termination of parent rights proceeding.

If parents decide to place their child or children for adoption, it is considered to be voluntary termination of parental rights.

Under Arizona law, the right to file an action for the termination of parental rights goes to any person or agency with an interest in the welfare of the child. The action can be filed as long as the person taking the action has sufficient grounds to base the claim. The people and agencies that often petition for termination of parental rights are relatives, foster parents, physicians/nurses, Arizona Child Protective Services, and child welfare agencies.

If you are thinking of relinquishing your parent’s rights or have been served with an involuntary termination proceeding order, it is best to get legal advice from a Phoenix Family Law Attorney at the Sampair Group. The experienced child custody attorneys at Sampair represent individuals throughout the valley with locations in Phoenix, Glendale and Mesa.

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.

Make Co-Parenting Work

Whether or not you get along with your ex, co-parenting can be difficult and cause tension that may or may not already have existed. Here are some tips to making co-parenting work without hostility, and more importantly, without negatively affecting your child.

  • Don’t criticize the things you cannot control. Learn to accept that your ex’s parenting style or skills may be different than yours. It’s easy to spend a lot of time and energy being aggravated by the things they do or don’t do, but accepting the things you cannot change will save you a great deal of stress, both emotionally and physically. Instead, channel this energy into spending quality time with your children.
  • If you have any angry feelings, keep them to yourself or express them privately to a therapist or close friend. When you are with your kids, do not express your frustrations. Showing the kids you are angry at your ex can cause confusion from the children and can be unhealthy for them to be exposed to. Kids tend to pick up attitudes that you may not realize your expressing.
  • Be sure to cooperate with each other as much as possible to avoid any resentment or argument. Be consistent in your parenting styles by communicating and compromising on ways to punish or reward your child for certain behaviors so that the child doesn’t think they can get away with something with one parent that they may not be able to with another without consequence.
  • When it comes to following a visitation schedule, always be responsible in maintaining the plan of visits. If changes need to be made, discuss it with the other parent in advance.
  • Do not make your children the middle form of communication. Sending messages through your children can hurt the child and confuse them. All communication should only be done between parents.
  • Even if it is your time with the kids, make a point to invite the other parents to events that involve the child, such as sporting events, holiday gatherings and birthday parties. Inform your ex in a timely matter so it doesn’t appear to be a last-minute thought that they weren’t a part of before.

Co-parenting and other elements of child custody cases can be stressful and confusing. An experienced Glendale divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group will look at the unique circumstances of your child custody agreement and work with you to reach the best possible outcome. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Child Relocation in Arizona

Following a divorce that involves a child or children, the custodial parents may wish to relocate with the children. By Arizona state law, the court cannot keep a custodial parent from relocating, but a compromise can be difficult to negotiate between parents when visitation rights will be affected. As a result, these cases are typically resolved in court.

Many child custody orders require that both parents live in the same state. However, the custodial parent has the right to request relocation for a child, as long as the reasons for relocation are legitimate and in the best interest of the child. Child relocation is often granted in situations that involve the custodial parent getting a new job or remarrying.

If both parents already live in the same state and share custody, the parent that wants to relocate with the child more than 100 miles from their current residence must provide written notice 60 days in advance of a projected move. The non-custodial parent then has a 30-day window to decline the request. If they object, they must file a formal objection with the court, where a judge will set a hearing with both parents present to decide if the move is in the best interest of the child. If there is no response to the written notice, the court will assume that there is no objection, and will grant relocation, given that all reasons for relocation are valid in opinion of a judge. During this process, child custody agreements, child support payments, and visitation will be re-litigated.

Before approving relocation, the court must make specific findings and relevant factors that solidify that the relocation is being decided in the best interest of the child. The parent who wants to relocate has the legal burden of proving what is in the child’s best interest.

Examples of factors that the court will consider include:

  • Reasons that the custodial parent wants to relocate (employment, family support, etc.)
  • How the move will impact the child educationally and emotionally
  • How the move will affect the other parent’s ability to visit the child

If you need representation in a family law dispute, contact an experience Phoenix Family Law attorney at The Sampair Group today to get a decision made in your favor.

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.