Five Things The Court Considers When Awarding Spousal Support

When a marriage ends, each spouse deserves a fresh start. It is hard to get this start if you do not have the financial ability to support yourself or your children. Asking for spousal support (often times referred to as alimony) is one way to help you find your financial footing, and live an independent life. In order for the Court to determine if support is appropriate, and in what amount, several factors are taken into consideration. It is important to understand what the Court reviews, so your case can be prepared with evidence that is favorable to your request, whether you are seeking support or are the one being asked to pay.

The Court determines spousal maintenance by reviewing certain criteria and asking questions about the case, such as the following:

  • Is there a possibility for the spouse who is asking for support to support themselves without aid?
  • What type of lifestyle are the parties used to living? After a divorce, the parties are entitled to enjoy a similar lifestyle, which may require financial support from one spouse to the other.
  • Are there any educational needs that must be met prior to the spouse asking for support being able to support themselves?
  • What is the income of each party, and how does it differ? This includes looking at whether one of the spouses stayed home in order that the other further their career, and how the income of each party was impacted by this decision.
  • How long were the parties married?

If you have other factors that are not included in the above, the Court will listen to those as well. Once a decision is made it will be either for a set amount to be paid monthly or a lump sum to be paid all at once. If you are awarded monthly payments, the Court will also fix and end date to the payments. Our goal is to help you reach results that meet your needs, and the needs of your family. Call us today to find out what to expect when seeking spousal support, or when being asked to pay alimony.

For more information about divorce and spousal support, call us today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

Do We Really Need a Divorce?

If your relationship is over, divorce may seem like the next necessary step you need to take. There’s actually no requirement at all that you get a divorce or legal separation or do anything at all to change your legal status if you don’t want to.

If you and spouse end your relationship but don’t get a divorce, you can live separately and go on with your lives independently. While you remain married you can obtain custody, spousal support, and child support through the Arizona courts as long as you are living separately.

You will need to continue to file taxes as married and indicate ‘married’ as your legal status on legal forms. You can continue on each other’s health insurance. If one of you passes away, you are eligible for Social Security on that spouse’s behalf. You can continue as each other’s life insurance beneficiaries and health care proxies if you wish.

What are the downsides to remaining married when your relationship is over? You will need to continue to have contact with each for legal matters. If you remain married and unseparated, your marital property cannot be divided by a court. You can informally divide it yourselves, but there is no enforcement available and no way to stop your spouse from using or destroying marital assets. You will continue to be liable for each other’s debts. If one of you passes away, there is a spousal right to inheritance even if the spouse is written out of the will. Additionally, remaining legally married can create an emotional burden and connection that you may find you are not entirely comfortable with.

If you are weighing whether or not to get a divorce, you need to talk with an attorney who can explain all of the options, implications, and considerations. The Sampair Group is here to help you work through these choices. We represent clients in Maricopa County. Call us for an appointment with one of our knowledgeable attorneys now.

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Alimony

Alimony is often misunderstood. Here are some things you might not know about it.

  1. In Arizona, alimony is called spousal support. The term is used to more accurately reflect the purpose of these payments. Alimony is a word that has developed a negative connotation so the choice of words affects how the parties react to the payments.
  2. Spousal support is not meant to punish one of the spouses. There are some states in which it can be used in this way, but in Arizona, spousal support is not used to punish a spouse for bad behavior, such as infidelity.
  3. The purpose of spousal support is to help the spouse with fewer assets become self-sufficient. The payments are to be made while the non-moneyed spouse obtains the education, training, or experience necessary to become self-supporting.
  4. Spousal support is usually set up to last for a specific period of time. The court evaluates how long it will take the non-moneyed spouse to become self-sufficient and establishes payments for that time period. In very rare cases when a spouse is disabled or is very elderly spousal support may be set to last for that person’s lifetime.
  5. Spousal support has tax implications. The spouse who receives support payments must report it as income. The spouse who pays it can take it as a deduction on taxes.
  6. Spousal support can be set up as regular payments for a period of time, or it can be paid in a one-time lump sum. Lump sum payments must be characterized specifically as spousal support if they are to be considered alimony for tax purposes.

The Sampair Group represents men and women in divorce and family law cases in Maricopa County. Call our office to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled attorneys today.

Five Things To Know About Spousal Support

One of the greatest fears of those going through divorce is how they will support themselves and their kids on one income. In most families, both parents work and contribute to the financial well-being of their family. But with families of divorce, there is only one working parent at each house and this can make it hard to maintain the same lifestyle that was in place during the marriage. This is especially true if one of the spouses opted to stay home and raise the kids rather than pursue a career. When that is the case, the spouse that stayed home may be entitled to spousal support from their ex. The purpose of alimony is to get the non-working spouse back on their financial feet after the divorce, so they can reenter the workforce and find a job that allows them to provide support for their family.

Spousal maintenance is determined by statue, and there are five things to know about how it is calculated and whether you qualify; those five things include:

  • What is the income level of each party?
  • What educational needs will need to be met before the spouse asking for support will be able to seek employment? And, what are the employment prospects for the spouse seeking support payments?
  • How long was the marriage?
  • Was there a certain standard of living established, such that the spouse asking for support would expect to continue living in that fashion?
  • Is there a lack of resources available to the party asking for support, such that the party seeking payments is not able to care for themselves financially.

It is also possible to present evidence to the Court of any special circumstances that exist in in your case. Once the evidence is in, a decision will be made as to the amount of support paid, and the length of payment. We know how hard it can be to start over after divorce, and this can be made all the more difficult if you lack the financial resources needed to begin your life anew. We can help by examining the facts of your case and fighting for a fair award of support. Call our office today for more information.

For more information about spousal support, call us today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

Three Things To Pay Attention To During Divorce

The decision to get divorced is followed by the need to make several other decisions. The divorcing couple will need to figure out who will have primary custody of the children or whether the kids will split their time equally between mom and dad, which bills are paid by which party, how to divided marital property, and any other issue unique to the situation. In most cases these important issues are not resolved between the litigants, which is why the judicial system is needed. The Court bears the responsibility for making final orders on all of the things that arise during a case, and it is the job of each party’s attorney to advocate for what is in the best interests of their client. In order to make sure the final results in your case meet your needs it is crucial to fill your attorney in on all of the facts.

When discussing the issues in your divorce that require resolution, pay special attention to these three things:

  • Property division and how certain pieces of property are characterized. If there are some things you have your heart on keeping because they were gifts, a family heirloom, or something you owned prior to getting married you need to make sure that item is classified as your separate property. Generally speaking these types of things are yours to keep, and not subject to distribution by the Court. You may be required to show that a certain piece of property is your separate property and that it was not part of the marital estate in order to keep the item, and this could require a fact intensive inquiry into when and how you acquired the property. It may also be necessary to show that you have maintained the property separately and not commingled it with other things acquired jointly with your spouse.
  • Financial freedom is an important part of standing on your own two feet after divorce and for some cases this means spousal support is necessary for a period of time. If this is your situation it is essential that you make your needs known when developing a case strategy. Failure to resolve financial issues can leave you holding the bag for jointly acquired debts, or without the means needed for your daily expenses.
  • Child custody and visitation as well as how much child support should be paid must be addressed. If you have older children who are expressing a parental preference as far as where they live most of the time, the Court might take this information into consideration when deciding custody. If your kids are younger, you will have to be their voice and ask for an arrangement that makes the most sense for their well-being.

If you are able to articulate the issues that matter the most to you, your case will go much more smoothly. When meeting with an attorney, be sure to provide all of the information you have, so the lawyer has a complete picture of your needs.

For more information about what to expect during divorce, contact us for an appointment today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your initial visit.

Three Things That Aren’t Always Final In Divorce

Entry of a final divorce decree is supposed to be the final word on all of the issues in your case. But there are times when changes have to be made after the fact and if you need to make a change you have to follow a certain procedure with the Court. If you are experiencing the need to deviate from what the Court ordered in your divorce case you should know that doing so without Court approval could get you in trouble, and that there are only a limited set of things the Court will allow you to change. Before you take matters into your own hands and make a change without going to Court, call us to learn your options.

Three things that aren’t always final in a divorce include:

  • Child support payments: many times jobs and salaries change throughout your life and the lives of your kids. If you make less now than when you were ordered to pay support you can ask for the Court to allow you to reduce the amount of child support you pay in order to allow you to make ends meet. Or, it may be that your ex has received a large bonus or raise in salary and the amount of support you are receiving should be increased. In either instance you have to go back to the Court and ask that the child support order be changed to reflect the changed circumstances. Simply reducing your payment without Court authority could spell contempt of court, and by the same token asking for more to be paid to you without taking your case to the Court is not appropriate.
  • Parenting Time and Legal Decision Making (formerly known as “Custody”): we understand life happens and this might mean you are not always able to stick to the visitation schedule the Court originally ordered. If you need to change holidays, weekends, or summer vacation the way to do that is to ask the Court to enter a modification to your existing schedule. If you refuse to allow your child to go on a scheduled visitation, you could face contempt charges from your ex. The proper way to make these types of changes is to ask the Court to look at the reason why the change is needed and to enter an order that notates the change.
  • Daycare and other expenses: it is important to maintain adequate day care, health insurance, and other expenses for you kids. If you have changes to your life that mean you are no longer able to pay for sports fees or other expenses, you have to ask the Court to enter a different order about which parent pays those things.

We can help you make sure you do not violate the current order in place, and also help by presenting your case to the Court if you are asking for a modification. Call us today to learn your options.

For more information about how to make a change to a final divorce order, call us today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

What Debts Will I Have To Pay After The Divorce Is Over?

Dividing up assets and figuring out who pays what during a divorce is one of the most hotly contested parts to nearly every case. No one wants to come out of a divorce paying for debts racked up by their ex-spouse, or being left with too little assets to make a new life. And, if children are involved, the party with custody will want to make certain there is enough child support to take care of the kids and give them the life they deserve. These circumstances make it crucial to have a clearly worded decree, that sets forth who pays what and which spouse gets what pieces of property.

When thinking of how to budget for your finances after divorce, taking into consideration the assets on hand is important but it is also necessary to know what debts the Court expects you to keep paying. Examples of what debts must continue to be paid after the divorce is over include:

  • The debts for which the Court ordered you make payments. If you were assigned the responsibility to make credit card or car payments in the divorce decree, failing to do so can result in contempt of court charges being filed against you.
  • The mortgage payment will need to be paid after the divorce and the party that remains in the home is usually the one responsible for the payments. This is not always the case though, and if you are being asked to make these payments you will want to be sure the Court has all the information it needs to make the determination as to who pays. This might include your financial and banking account data as well as information on other debts for which you are responsible. Making your case takes careful planning, and persuasive argument.
  • Medical, dental, and other healthcare costs for the kids will still be due after the divorce. It is common for one party to be required to carry insurance for dependents, and then the parties split the costs of things like co-pays and prescriptions. For more in depth medical needs, a more thorough analysis of your particular circumstances is required.

Part of getting divorced is adjusting to a new life, as a single person. This includes being able to stand on your own two feet financially, which is why it is so important to fight for debt distribution that is not overly burdensome. Call our office for more information on what your post-divorce financial picture involves.

For more information about divorce and finances, call us today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

How Spousal Support Is Determined

The goal of divorce is to start over, live independently, and come to a conclusion that is fair. Sometimes it is necessary for one of the parties to pay spousal support (often referred to as alimony) to the other party for a period of time after the divorce is over. Either party can be ordered to pay spousal support to the other, so it is important to understand how it is determined and what the Court will review when a request for support is made.

Several factors are examined when a Court determines whether spousal maintenance is warranted, and in what amount. The factors given consideration include the following four things:

  • How likely it is that the party asking for support is able to make it on their own without the financial assistance of their ex-spouse. Sometimes this means the Court will look at whether both spouses are working and if so how their salaries compare to each other. It is possible the Court would require that one of the parties seek employment at a higher salary range if their educational and work experience background show they are currently working below their earning capacity.
  • If the current employment of the parties is in line with their educational backgrounds, the Court may award support for a time that allows the parties to go back to school so a higher paying job can be obtained.
  • If the parties are used to a certain standard of living, the Court will attempt to allow those parties to continue living the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. This could require one spouse to pay the other a significant amount in support, or mean that the property division is such that the value of assets awarded one spouse is large enough to maintain a certain lifestyle.
  • The length of the marriage is also taken into account when a Court makes an award of spousal support.

If your case has other pieces of evidence not included in the above, the Court will also take those things into account. We can help by identifying which things the Court needs to know in order to make an accurate decision. Call us today for help.
For more information about divorce, contact our office.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

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.

Remember These Two Things About Child Support

When parents get divorced their kids can easily be caught in the middle. This happens more often than most people would like to think, and the motives behind entrenching your children in your legal battles vary from couple to couple. Sometimes one parent or the other “uses” the kids to get information about the other parent, or asks the children to relay messages between the parties. There are also instances where kids find themselves involved in their parents’ divorce case when issues of visitation arise. It is not uncommon for parents to try and resolve scheduling issues by having their kids ask for a change in the routine, or by simply not meeting the other parent at the designated time and location for child exchange.

This area of divorce can become fuzzy; because many parents believe child support and custody or visitation go hand in hand. However, the two concepts are separate and distinct and the line between them should not be blurred by taking action not approved by the Court. Two things to keep in mind in this regard include:

• Child support must be paid, regardless of whether your ex is allowing you to exercise scheduled visitation.
• Visitation must be allowed, regardless of whether your ex is paying the Court ordered child support payments.

In both situations, whether you are being denied visitation or have not received your child support payment, the remedy is to file a motion seeking to hold your ex in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of the final decree. It can be tempting to skip out on visitation if you have not received a child support payment, and it is just as easy to fail to make the payment if you are being denied visitation but both of these actions goes against the letter of the law. For help sorting out child support and visitation issues, call our office. Our goal is to keep your kids happy and healthy, while pursuing all of your legal remedies. We work for what is in your children’s best interest, as well as for solutions that meet your needs.
For more information about divorce, contact our office.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.