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Inheritance and Divorce

When going through a divorce, a big concern for either party may be how it will affect inheritance you have received before and during the marriage. Generally, equitable distribution and community property distribution in divorce cases do not apply to property that a spouse has inherited from a third party during a marriage, as it is considered that spouse’s property alone. However, there are some things both parties should know about how divorce can affect inheritance distribution.

When analyzing the inheritance, the key questions are the size of inheritance, when it was received, how it has been used and the financial needs of the family (both parties and any children) at the time of the divorce. Each case depends on the individual facts and circumstances surrounding the inheritance.

A judge will consider what property a party owns separately, and what can be considered marital property. Marital property will be split equally, whereas separate property will not be split, but can still be shared in certain circumstances.

In deciding the difference of the property ownership, the judge considers how, when, why and under what circumstances the property was received. They will also look at how the property is being held currently (who’s name the property is under). Also considered in the case is what each spouse contributed to the property and how much they each use it. (Example: If the property is in the wife’s name, but the husband is the only one who uses it and maintains it, just as he would if he were a co-owner of the property.)

If inherited assets are held in joint names or used for the benefit of both parties and/or for the family, they will likely be considered joint assets when being divided by the court.

If assets were inherited shortly before the divorce proceedings began, they are less likely to be included in the matrimonial assets for division, depending on if there are other assets in the marriage sufficient enough to meet future needs of the couple or family.

One of the main considerations by a judge is the needs of the family, especially those of minor children. If the only way to meet those needs is by transferring inherited assets or assets deriving from them to the other party, the court will do so.

Inheritances and separate property are very big reasons for why couples should look into prenuptial agreements and always have an experienced Phoenix divorce lawyer on their side. There are many rules that apply to parties dividing property in the event of a divorce or separation case, especially when children are involved. Consult the advice of an experienced attorney at The Sampair Group today to discuss the circumstances of your case and what your legal options are.

Different Types of Child Custody

Each state governs child custody laws differently. In order to best understand your options for child custody and visitation options, you should be familiar with the different terms and types of child custody and how your Phoenix child custody attorney will help you approach the different options you can consider.

Legal Custody

When a parent has legal custody, they have the right to make any decisions regarding the need and upbringing of the child. This includes decisions about education, health care and religion, as long as there is consultation with the other parent.
In many states, both parents will be granted joint legal custody and can both have legal rights to making decisions about how to raise their children. Parents can share joint legal custody without having joint physical custody.
When sole legal custody is granted to a parent, the one granted this kind of custody is the only one who has the legal authorization to make major decisions on behalf of the child.

Physical Custody
Also called “residential custody,” sole physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with a majority of the time and only has visitation with the other parent. If the child is spending an equal amount of time with each parent, the state might award the parents join physical custody. This type of custody works best if the parents live relatively near each other as it lessens the interference in the child’s every day life.

Sole Custody
One of the reasons a parent might be awarded sole custody is if the other parent is proven to be extremely unfit to care for the child (i.e. drug or alcohol problems, charges of child abuse or neglect).
In many states, courts will hesitate to award sole legal custody to a parent to try and enlarge the role that both parents can possibly make in the child’s life will still considering the child’s best interest.

Joint Custody
This is the most common types of custody awarded in divorce cases when no parental issues exist. Joint custody is awarded equally to each parent and can take the form of joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both. Joint custody can be granted if the parents are divorced, separated, no longer living together, or even if they have never lived together.

In Arizona, statute provides that the court may not prefer one parent to another with respect to custody based on the gender of either parent. They are required to determine the best interest of the minor children by applying the statutory factors regarding custody and parenting time in correlation with the facts of the case. Contact an experienced Glendale family law attorney at The Sampair Group today for legal representation in your divorce and child custody hearing.

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.

The Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement

When you get married, the last thing you want to think about during this happy time of your new life is the “what if’s” of if the marriage doesn’t work out. But for many couples, a prenuptial agreement can be a wise decision to make. If you and your significant other decide to formulate a prenup before tying the knot, it is important that you each seek legal advice. The family law and divorce attorneys at The Sampair Group know the benefits of a prenuptial agreement and will guide you through the process to make sure that your agreement is consistent with state laws and is fair to both parties. There are many benefits to a prenup agreement, and it can often be a win-win for everyone involved if the marriage were to not work out.

Preserves Property and Assets
Through a prenuptial agreement you can preserve property and assets that you attained prior to the marriage. This could also include the obligation to support children from a prior marriage, and for many other reasons.

Certainty
A prenuptial agreement lays out all of the arrangements and understandings that the spouses can agree upon before marriage. This formal agreement helps both parties know what to expect so they won’t have to worry about what will happen in terms of assets, finances, etc. in the event of death or divorce.

Protecting Debt
A prenuptial agreement can protect the assets of one spouse from being used to satisfy the debts of the other party that they may have built up prior to the marriage.

Minimize Divorce Drama and Costs
When you sign a prenuptial agreement, it leaves less room to fight about assets and other aspects of the divorce. It has all already been set out by you beforehand and agreed upon between your spouse and yourself, resulting in less stress if anything happens to the marriage. Divorce can be costly, and a prenup can also help minimize the monetary damage.

Family Members
Family members of each spouse can also be protected through a prenuptial agreement. It will ensure that family members receive (or don’t receive) marital property in the case of death or divorce. This is commonly used to protect the interests of children from a previous marriage.

Protect Family Business, Heirlooms
When there are children from a previous marriage, keeping family heirlooms out of the marital estate can be important. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that they are kept out of the marriage and provided to the person(s) they are intended for. A prenup can also keep control of property that belongs to a family business.

Divorce paperwork and agreements can be difficult and messy, so it is important to seek legal guidance when deciding if one is right for you and your spouse. Contact the divorce attorneys at The Sampair Group today for more information.

Tips For Keeping Your Divorce Out Of Court

Getting a divorce doesn’t always mean that your case will go to court. Court should actually be seen as a very last resort if you and your spouse absolutely cannot sort out certain things in the divorce, such as dividing assets and child custody.

Keeping your divorce out of the courtroom is one of the best things you can do to make your divorce less costly, time consuming, and emotional. Even though there are certain documents that must be processed through a court, your entire case doesn’t always have to. There are many other steps you can take to lessen your chances of ending up in court:

Collaborative Divorce
This is when both parties will sign up to a non-confrontational approach to coming to agreements. Collaboratively trained lawyers will be assigned to each, and there are then a series of 4-ay meetings with each party and their legal representation. The purpose of these meetings is to go through the details and reach agreement by negotiation.

Mediation
Both parties meet with a trained mediator who’s primary role is to listen to the difference of opinion from each side and help the two of you find ways to resolve them. Once a solution has been found, the necessary legal documents will be drawn up so the agreement is legally recorded.

Don’t Fight Over Little Stuff
There are likely many things that you and your spouse argue about that are surely less important than some of the things in the big picture you could be paying more attention to. Stop fighting over who gets to keep the family dinner table and start worrying about how each of you will play a better role in your children’s lives after the divorce.

Put the Kids First
When you focus on what is best for the children, you can both try and put aside your own feelings of hurt or anger toward each other and remain calm in coming to a solution for what is best for your children, short term and long term.

Be Realistic
Be reasonable in what you expect from a settlement and don’t lose it if things don’t go exactly your way. Be willing to compromise.

Understand Your Options
Court is not the only answer, and a lot of people don’t understand this. Be clear with each other on what you are trying to achieve, and go from there.

Going through a divorce is an extremely difficult transition, especially with the added stress of how to settle things outside of court. The Phoenix divorce attorneys at The Sampair Group can help ease this stress by helping you find productive ways to get what you deserve out of your case, while keeping it out of court. Visit www.sampair.com today for a free consultation.

Annulment Laws in Arizona

Having your marriage annulled is not the same as getting a divorce. A divorce ends a valid marriage while an annulment states that the marriage was never valid and, therefore, never existed. Annulments are not favored in Arizona and the case may be dismissed if there are no grounds for an annulment. While annulments are harder to get in Arizona than a divorce, they are not impossible.

There are several valid reasons for requesting an annulment: underage marriage, mental illness, bigamy, fraud, temporary insanity at the time of marriage, intoxication at the time of marriage, incest, duress, or one or both parties failed to consummate the marriage. While this list is not complete, these are the most common grounds for an annulment. Once the reason for annulment has been identified, it is recommended to utilize the resources of a family lawyer, like those at The Sampair Group, in order to properly complete the process.

Paperwork will need to be filed at your local courthouse before an annulment can continue. Your family lawyer will be able to help you correctly fill it out. A judge of the superior court will then review the case to decide if the reason for an annulment is valid. If it is, the marriage is then null and void. However, if the judge decides against an annulment, it’s not the end of the road. The party asking for the annulment can file a petition. Both parties will be summoned to court where testimonies will be heard in order to come to a conclusion.

Often, people think an annulment brings their paternity into question. In the eyes of the court, the child or children are seen as being born to two single parents if the marriage is annulled. Under Arizona law, the courts have decided that parents of children who are born outside of marriage have co-equal custody following the established paternity.

If you find yourself considering an annulment, the family lawyers at The Sampair Group can help. Any legal matter can be confusing and we would like to help you to better understand the annulment process. Visit www.sampair.com today for a free consultation.

Should We Stay Together For The Kids?

After many years of marriage, the stresses may seem to increase with each year passing. You and your spouse may be at the breaking point where you are pondering the idea of divorce, but knowing how it would impact the children may stop those thoughts. However, it is also important to wonder if staying together for the children is any better.

There is no clear answer to how to approach this situation, and each circumstance is different. It’s important to think about the children’s best interests. Are they better off in a home where their parents are constantly fighting and are unhappy most of the time or would they benefit more down the road if mom and dad were not together, but they were each happier?

Staying together “for the kids” certainly comes with risks. If you are miserable in your marriage, your family may be loaded with arguments, anger, frustration and pain. If you are a couple that cannot be civil or handle conflict rationally with each other, your child may learn these bad parenting skills and be negatively impacted by them.

Another risk that comes with staying married for the sake of the children is that your child may be neglected while you and your spouse are wrapped up in their own conflicts. It may be physical neglect, such as the parents completely check out of parenting, or it may be emotional neglect, and the parents may not show up together for the child’s important events or may try and alienate the child from the other parent.

If you and your spouse cannot co-parent effectively while living in the same household, you may want to rethink the situation and realize that co-parenting from separate homes may be what is best for your child.

There are times, however, when the child will benefit if the family stays intact, even if the parents are no longer in love with each other. Co-parenting under the same roof is better as long as each parent can stay civil and keep the children out of their arguments and conflict.

For more information on child custody and family law, look to the Glendale and Phoenix family law attorneys at The Sampair Group.

Can I refuse to sign the affidavit of paternity?

Question:

Can I refuse to sign the affidavit of paternity?

I am about to enter into a paternity case. I tested positive for a DNA test. What happens if I refuse to sign the affidavit of paternity at the court hearing?

Answer:

If you were confirmed to be the father of the child, the Judge will declare that you are the father. There will no longer be any need for you to sign an Affidavit of Paternity.

Good luck!

Patrick Sampair
The Sampair Group, PLLC

Offices Valley-wide:
Arrowhead: 17235 N. 75th Avenue, Suite E-100, Glendale, AZ
City North: 5450 E High St #300, Phoenix, AZ
East Valley: 1830 S. Alma School #114, Mesa, AZ

West Valley: 623.218.1000
Phoenix: 602.997.7717
East Valley: 480.636.1333

To read more of Phoenix child custody law attorney Patrick Sampair’s answers on Avvo and be sure to check out his child custody page, or if you have a question for Mr. Sampair ask him directly at: https://www.sampair.com/.

“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.