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.

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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.

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. 

“What If I Don’t Want A Divorce?”

The decision to divorce is not always a mutual one. Ending a marriage isn’t usually a decision that is made overnight, and is instead a result of something that has been slowly building up. If your spouse has completely made up their mind that they want a divorce, it may not be in your best interest to attempt to legally fight or prevent the divorce if it’s not something you want. You do have the option of making a simple approach to saving your marriage. There are no guarantees that things will change and that the divorce will not happen, but if you have chosen to try and stop it by making drastic changes, now is the time to do it.

Understand and remember that you cannot control the decisions your spouse makes or how they respond to you and your attempts. The worst thing you can do is beg your spouse to stay. If your spouse has decided they want a divorce, chances are they have been feeling this way for a while and mentally preparing themselves to make a decision. The decision will be very fresh so it may not be the best time to grovel and apologize and push for marriage counseling if your spouse is resistant to the idea.

You can, however, try and slow down the process of divorce. In Arizona, you can file a petition for “Conciliation Court,” which puts the divorce on hold until you and your spouse have completed court mediation. Conciliation Counseling is offered by the Superior Court for married parties who are considering or are in the process of divorce. The brief counseling is geared toward assisting parties in making an informed and thoughtful decision regarding their marital relationship. If the couple expresses interest in community-based counseling services, they can continue with that option once the conciliation counseling is completed.

If your spouse accepts the Petition for Conciliation but has not yet filed for divorce, neither party may file for legal separation or dissolution of marriage for a 60-day period. If they have already filed for divorce before the Petition of Conciliation was submitted, the case may not be advanced until the 60-day “cooling off” period has expired.

The scheduled conferences for counseling are conducted by professional counselors and are held privately under confidence. The counselors use no coercion, and the couple makes any finals decisions regarding how to proceed with the divorce.

During and after this process, you must immediately stop pursuing the other person and give you and your spouse some space from each other. You must be willing to understand how you contributed to the breakdown of the marriage and what role you play in the problems between you and your spouse.

This is the time to start changing for the better and thinking about the things you have done that have led to your spouse feeling this way. Avoid blaming your spouse for everything if you want any chance at saving your marriage. Focus on their pain and loneliness.

Once you understand what you have done wrong, how you need to change it, made an attempt to change, and understand what your spouse is going through, you can prepare to apologize and discuss the matter further.

It is important to note that these kinds of approaches may not always put an end to a divorce. Once the divorce decision becomes final, it is important that you have legal representation from a spousal attorney in Glendale. Contact a professional attorney at The Sampair Group today to begin your case, whether you are the one filing for divorce or not.

Annulment vs. Divorce (Part 1)

Both divorce and annulments are valid ways to dissolve a marriage, but there are many differences between the two. In this post, family law attorneys at The Sampair Group inform clients on the basics of annulment and the process to receiving one.

The definition of annulment is stated as an agreement that nullifies a marriage and disavows its existence, returning both parties to their prior single status as if they were never married. This agreement cannot be reached through mutual discussion, as the court must legally grant an annulment.

In order to validate the need for annulment, one of the parties in the marriage must show that there was an obstruction to the validity of the marriage at the time it was made official. Annulments usually take place after a few weeks or months of marriage, but can happen after longer periods of time.

In Arizona, there are several circumstances which would allow for an annulment and make a marriage invalid:

Void Marriage
A void marriage is considered invalid from its beginning. The reasons for a void marriage could be:

  • There is blood relation between spouses
  • The marriage is between two people of the same sex

Voidable Marriage
A voidable marriage remains valid until one spouse chooses to legally annul the marriage. In order for the annulment to be established, the court must confirm that at least one of the following factors applied to the marriage that would make it invalid:

  • A prior marriage was still in effect
  • One spouse was underage
  • Fraud and/or misrepresentation of religion
  • Inability to consummate the marriage
  • No valid license for the marriage exists
  • One spouse was coerced or threatened into the agreement
  • One spouse has concealed a criminal past or communicable disease
  • Lack of mental or physical capacity
  • Other grounds that are found by the court to be valid reasons for annulment

To begin this process, contact an experienced Phoenix divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group to get assistance in obtaining a petition and determining the legal ground for your desired annulment.

Legal vs. Religious Annulment
After an annulment is granted, the couple can then request a religious annulment if needed. This will allow for one or both people to remarry within a church or anyone else, and have this second union recognized by the church. The grounds for religious annulments differ from civil annulment guidelines, and are different within each church.

If you are seeking a divorce or annulment and need legal advice, the experienced divorce attorneys at The Sampair Group can represent you. Schedule a free initial consultation with a divorce lawyer in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley today.

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.

The Benefits of Legal Mediation

In many cases, the decision for a divorce is mutual. For your and your spouse’s security, it is always recommended to have someone mediate meetings regarding how assets are to be divided. You never know when a dispute may arise and a mediator provides many benefits during the divorce process.

Swift Settlements
It can take a very long time to get a court date – sometimes up to a year. If the case is appealed, it might take another few years. Mediation often provides a more timely option for resolving disputers. Additionally, there is not a shortage of mediators who are ready and willing to assist parties who wish to settle matters quickly.

Less Intimidating
Being faced with attending court can often times be intimidating. There are many procedures and processes you need to remember to adhere by. In mediations, there aren’t any strict rules or procedure. This allows the parties to relax and find the best path to agreement. As a result, both parties leave happier and more satisfied with the conclusion of the mediation.

More Control
Negotiating your own settlement allows much more control over the outcome of a dispute. Decisions and agreements that are made are much more likely to be held up over time. If there is a dispute in the future, the parties are much more likely to utilize a cooperative outlet of problem-solving.

Customized Agreements
Concerns and disputes that are brought up by both parties are able to be addressed. This includes legal and non-legal issues. Mediated agreements often include psychological issues that are not necessarily a court issue. Every agreement is customized to your particular situation.

Financially Reasonable
In addition to providing a civil agreement between parties, hiring a mediator is very frequently a much cheaper option than going to court. If your finances are suffering in addition to your divorce, you and your spouse may want to consider a mediated meeting instead of lawyer and court fees.

If you find yourself in need of a mediator, the Phoenix attorneys at The Sampair Group can help. With the numerous legal issues that can arise within a family, you can trust our experienced attorneys to help you through this challenging time. Visit today for a free consultation.

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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Common Mistakes People Make During Divorce (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

Taking Legal Advice From Friends
Even if they have been through a divorce, or two, or even three before, you should never take the word of your friends over the advice of your lawyer or mediator. They’re basing their advice on their experience, which is alright, but everyone’s experience is going to be different, from how you handle it emotionally to how much money you will be getting in the settlement. There are laws that must be followed, and your lawyer is responsible for making sure your divorce proceedings respect the respective laws. Be sure to take everything that your friend or family say with a grain of salt, then speak to your lawyer.

Letting Your Lawyer Make All Decisions For You
No matter how experienced your divorce attorney is, this divorce still involves you and your emotional needs or wants. It is you that is going to have to live with the choices made in the proceedings for the rest of your life, not your lawyer. After taking the advice of your attorney, carefully weigh the different options of each road before deciding on which course you want to take.

Settling for Less Than You Want or Deserve
When you are settling all agreements, you want to be sure that you aren’t underestimating your expenses and what you will need in order to adjust to the new lifestyle of a single person and be comfortable within your means. If you are the spouse making payments, be sure you are not committing to paying more than you can afford, while still being fair to your ex-spouse and yourself. Both spouses need to make a diligent plan for how they are going to live separate lives, so be sure you never settle too low or commit too high.

Every divorce case is different. An experienced Glendale divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group will look at the unique circumstances of your divorce and work with you to reach the best possible outcome. Contact us today for a free consultation.

You can still be on the hook for your ex-spouse’s debt after divorce

If you have just ended a marriage or are considering filing for divorce, it is important to take into consideration the following word: Debt. If your spouse has racked up any amount of debt, you can be held liable for payments, no matter whose name the debt is in.
Phoenix resident Dolores Ferguson knows exactly what this is like after discovering that she is responsible for $2,000 in payday loan debt that she says is not hers.

Even though she signed a prenuptial agreement, Ferguson still received a court order garnishing her wages.

Too often, prenuptial agreements are misunderstood. While much debt that is accrued pre-marriage is covered through the prenuptial agreement, some federal debt loans such as student loans or payday loans are not subject to these agreements. Also, if there are any joint accounts in you and your spouse’s name, you are responsible for any debt from these accounts if your spouse does not pay.

Glendale Family Law attorneys at The Sampair Group know that there are many ways to avoid being on the hook for your ex-spouse’s debt after a divorce.

The first precaution to take is to know your debt. Be organized with all of your accounts including all personal loans and major credit cards. Before any more charges are racked up, it would be best to close or freeze any joint accounts. You should also get your credit score from all appropriate credit reporting agencies so you can keep track of any unexpected changes in this score. Keep up with these credits checks to make sure no additional charges are made on frozen accounts.

Throughout the divorce proceedings, do not neglect any bills that your name is attached to, even if you make minimum payments. If you find that your ex isn’t paying any of the bills on their part even after the divorce has been finalized, you may still have to make the minimum payments in order to avoid hurting your credit. Even before the divorce is finalized, make sure everything is paid for that has your name attached to it.

Another option, while it may not seem the most appealing, is to consider is filing for bankruptcy. This will discharge most of what you owe and make it possible to clear out any debt you have that has been incurred by your spouse. It is best to do this before you end the marriage rather than several months later so it can be a joint clearing of debt. If one spouse declares bankruptcy, more often than not it means the other party will have to declare as well since any credit card companies or other debtor will come after both parties for the payment, despite any reasons for your divorce.

If you are thinking of initiating a divorce and are concerned about being responsible for your spouse’s debt, a Phoenix divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group can help you with the necessary steps for your rights during the process.