Written by Canterbury Law Group

Should You Rush to Get a Divorce before 2019?

There’s been some public speculation in Arizona that couples who want to get a divorce should rush to do so before 2019 rolls around. The reason is the GOP tax bill that has now become law. The new law contains an eyebrow-raising provision that will eliminate the tax deduction for alimony and spousal maintenance.

The Truth about the “Divorce Penalty” in the New GOP Tax Bill

The elimination of the tax deduction for alimony will only go into effect on December 31, 2018. That means couples who divorce before this date can still benefit from the tax deduction. In other words, no, you don’t have to rush to get a divorce before 2019. However, you might want to consider getting a divorce before 2019 to still benefit from the deduction. Seeing that most divorces can take a year or longer to complete, if you are a high net worth or high-income spouse with a long-term marriage and you are considering exiting the marriage, 2018 might be the best time to do it to preserve the tax deductibility of any spousal maintenance you are ordered to pay.

Once the new law goes into effect in 2019, taxpayers in Arizona will not be able to deduct any alimony payments from overall taxable income. Alimony recipients, on the other hand, will not need to report the payment as taxable income anymore. Put another way, spousal maintenance payments will simply be cash out from the payor spouse and cash into the recipient spouse with no impact on either party’s tax returns.

How will the Revised Tax Law Affect Your Divorce Settlement?

It’s important to keep in mind that the new law only affects those who get divorced after New Year’s Eve of 2018. If you are currently in the midst of a divorce negotiating alimony, the new tax law does not need to cause any disputes. Critics of the divorce penalty have argued that the new law would put an excessive financial strain on the ex-spouse that pays alimony or child support. However, these concerns should not affect those who plan to finalize their divorces in 2018.

According to a divorce lawyer in Scottsdale, if divorce settlements are renegotiated after the deduction extension period, the new settlements may be allowed under the tax bill to include language that still allows for the alimony deduction.

Divorcing in 2018 and Beyond

As we push into 2018, it is wise to consult with an attorney to carefully phrase the language in divorce settlements currently being negotiated. There could be additional laws in the future that addresses issues with child support if any arises because of the elimination of the spousal maintenance tax deduction.

In any case, it is not wise to rush a divorce settlement because of a single tax clause. Do consult with your attorneys to makes sure the final settlement is exactly what you need. If children are involved in the divorce, their well-being should be prioritized, as it would be by the courts.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Pet Custody in Arizona

A beloved cat, dog, or any other animal can be as important as a child to some couples. So it can be heartbreaking to leave a pet with an ex spouse if the couple gets divorced. It should be noted that pets are not considered similar to children under Arizona law, even though they may feel that way.  By law, pets are property.  However, divorcing couples can include pet care concerns in the legal proceedings to give them some consideration under the law.

Legally speaking, pets fall under the category of personal property that can be divided during divorce. But, if the animal in question is separately owned by one of the spouses, then that is an asset that cannot be divided. In other words, the other spouse cannot claim ownership. However, Arizona’s pet custody cases are increasingly being contested because most couples raise animals together, like children.

Determining Pet Ownership During Divorce

There are several factors the court will consider when determining who owns the pet. If the pet was owned by one spouse before the marriage, then ownership is clear, the premarital assets of either spouse remain that way after divorce.  Some consumers have a deep misconception in Arizona that if anyone owns an animal for 6 consecutive days then that person becomes the lawful owner of the animal.  This so-called “6-day rule” is codified at Arizona Revised Statutes Section 11-1001(10). However, the rule exists for animal control purposes, and does not determine final ownership.  Put another way, the 6-day rule has little or nothing to do with which spouse will exit a marriage with the family pet.

Getting Primary Pet Custody

The court will look at evidence to support claims of ownership. What matters here is who the primary caretaker of the animal. If one spouse trained the dog, is responsible for feeding the dog and taking it on daily walks, then that spouse would be the primary caretaker of the animal. When fighting for animal custody, demonstrate how much time and effort you dedicate to taking care of the pet. That’s what matters the most when it comes to ownership.  Judges are like anyone else—they are fair and equitable and should award the pet to the spouse who has that pet’s best interests in mind.

Additionally, the court will consider children’s wellbeing if any pets are involved. If the pet is important for the psychological well-being of the children, then the pet will likely go to the spouse that has primary custody of the children. It happens in most cases, though not all.  Family law litigation, by definition, is unpredictable.

Keep in mind that the court will also consider the financial situation of the spouses when granting pet ownership. If the animal in question requires significant resources to take care of, like a horse, then the spouse will need to demonstrate financial stability to own the animal post-Decree.

Sharing Pet Custody

If the court cannot determine just one owner, or if the separating spouses are willing, pet custody can be shared. In this scenario, the divorcing couple could agree on a pet visitation schedule. A divorce lawyer in Scottsdale can help you draft a reasonable pet parenting schedule.

This “pet parenting time” plans are not the same as child parenting time, which are actively reviewed by the court. But if one spouse neglects the rules in the schedule, such as failing to show up for dog walking time, then that can be used as evidence in court in an ownership battle.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Covenant Marriages and Divorces in Arizona

Arizona offers two types of marriages for residents. There’s the standard marriage that a good majority of residents get into. The state offers another form of marriage called covenant marriages. These covenant marriages are different in their legal nature. Unlike with the regular marriages, spouses also need to meet different requirements to later get a divorce. This article will briefly explain what covenant marriages in Arizona are, and how to get a divorce under the laws governing this type of marriage.

What is a Covenant Marriage in Arizona?

A covenant marriage is defined as a marriage between a man and a woman in Arizona. This category is available as an option for those who wish to get married and is not a replacement option for the standard type of marriage offered in the state. However in covenant marriages, the two parties enter into the marriage only after signing a written legal declaration stating the intention to enter into a covenant marriage and that they have satisfied certain requirements through premarital counseling provided by a member of the clergy or a licensed marriage counselor.

The legal statement is binding on both parties and strict rules govern how the spouses in a covenant marriage can later get a divorce. Unlike with regular marriages, where separating spouses are not required to cite the reasons for wanting a divorce, separating spouses in a covenant marriage do. Those entering covenant marriages should expect to stay highly committed because legal separation or divorce can be difficult to later achieve.

Dissolution of a Covenant Marriage

The specific reasons under which a court may grant a divorce for a covenant marriage are listed in Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 25-901 to 25-906. There are actually only eight scenarios that legally satisfies valid grounds for an Arizona divorce in a covenant marriage:

  • Cheating or infidelity;
  • One spouse abuses drugs, alcohol or another addictive substance;
  • The other spouse has committed a serious crime that could result in a life sentence or the death penalty;
  • One spouse has abandoned the family and has not been home for at least a year;
  • One of the spouses have committed a sex crime, mainly sexual assault, against a related person;
  • The spouses have been living separately for at least two years and do not intend to live together again;
  • The spouses are legally separated (different from divorce) and have been for at least a year;
  • Both spouses strongly want a divorce.

The courts do not grant divorces in covenant marriages unless the parties specifically qualify for relief under any of the above listed statutory mandates.

Getting a Divorce in a Covenant Marriage and Child Custody

Because divorces under covenant marriages are granted under very specific qualifying specifications, separating spouses must get Family Law help in Scottsdale. The proceedings can be complicated if the spousal dispute includes the custody of children and if there are complex debt or property issues involved. Furthermore, prenuptial or postnuptial contract agreements could further complicate things.

If you are in a covenant marriage, it is not impossible to get a divorce. Consult with a qualified lawyer who specializes in covenant marriages

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Can Social Media Affect Your Divorce?

Social media is now increasingly finding itself in dispute lawsuits. Social media posts have led to harassment and defamation cases, and it’s becoming a major factor in divorce cases as well. Surprisingly enough, one in seven divorces is caused by social media posts, according to data from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Facebook is a major culprit. It turns out, one in every 20 divorces are somehow related to Facebook. Even more shockingly, about 30 percent of users on Tinder, the dating app, are in fact married. That perhaps explains that one in three modern divorces result from online affairs.

Facebook Vs. The Modern Marriage

Don’t underestimate the power of social media to affect your marriage, and later, your divorce. If a spouse has been chatting up an ex on Facebook or has a Tinder profile, then your divorce lawyer in Scottsdale can legitimately use that evidence in your favor in an Arizona courtroom. It’s not at all uncommon for divorce attorneys to use emails and texts in divorce proceedings as evidence. Now, social media posts are increasingly being used, even more so than emails.

So, if you plan on separating from your spouse, expect social media to play a role in it somehow. If you have been chatting with an ex on Facebook or Whatsapping a former flame, your spouse may be able to use that evidence against you. Of course, simply retweeting what an ex posted on Twitter doesn’t instantly make your divorce case turn in your soon-to-be ex’s favor. How your attorney defends and uses social media evidence does play a role.  While Arizona is a “no fault” jurisdiction, clever lawyers often seek to burnish the reputation of litigants as a divorce winds its way through the court system.

When Can Social Media be Used as Evidence?

There are several ways divorce attorneys can use social media posts and content as evidence in proceedings. Social media serves as prime examples of communication. For example, if you are accusing your spouse of drinking too much or using drugs, you can use social media posts between your spouse and others they have used substances with to demonstrate the drinking or drug using parents’ unfitness to be the primary custodial parents.

Social media posts are also used to show specific time and places of events, such as “checking in” to a place. Attorneys also use social media posts to prove a spouse’s state of mind and as proof of actions.

Keep in mind that the same evidence can be used against you as well. Particularly, if you bash an ex on social media and try to harass the ex with embarrassing photos and such, it could serve as evidence against you in a divorce court, or even in post-decree proceedings.

Social Media Prenups

Couples who have been getting married in recent years have even gone as far as to sign social media prenup agreements to avoid having Facebook posts dragged into divorce proceedings. Remember that if your private social media conversations end up admissible in court, they become a matter of public record.

If you want to fully understand how social media could impact your divorce, for better or worse, you should discuss the specific matters with your divorce attorney. Don’t underestimate or think of social media posts as irrelevant in your divorce in any case.   Finally keep in mind that once either spouse commences a divorce action, you should presume that all of your digital footprints are being monitored and watched by the other spouse and their lawyers.  Put another way, if and when a divorce starts in your life, put the phones and computers down and start focusing on a brighter future with full custody of your children and a new chapter in your life beginning.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

The Role of Parenting Coordinators in Arizona Child Custody Cases

Arizona Rules of Family Law, under Rule 74, allows judges to appoint a parenting coordinator in divorce and child custody cases. So what exactly is a parenting coordinator? How will having one affect the case? Are parenting coordinators good for children? This article will touch on these questions and briefly explain how parenting coordinators could benefit (or not) from a family law dispute.

What are Parenting Coordinators in Arizona?

Recently, many states have begun to appoint parenting coordinators in child custody cases. Arizona has had a parenting coordinator rule since 2011, and it was amended in 2016. A parenting coordinator, in simple terms, is a third party appointed by a judge to resolve or alleviate disputes between parents fighting for child custody. Many types of professionals can be appointed as a parenting coordinator. Usually, a child psychologist, a therapist or even a family law attorney is appointed a parenting coordinator.

In Arizona, parenting coordinators have what’s called “quasi-judicial” authority. This authority is limited under the law. Parenting coordinators cannot actually change how legal decisions are made in the child custody case. However, parenting coordinators have the authority to step in and resolve some disputes arising from conflicts not specified in the court-approved parenting plan.  Both parents must agree to use a PC for each one year term assigned by the judge.  If at any time the other parent does not want the PC term to renew, the PC concludes their term and is no longer involved.   

What do Parenting Coordinators Do?

It’s important to understand that parenting coordinators cannot change any clauses in the parenting plan. But other things that parents disagree with, which are not explicitly stated in the plan, can be resolved with intervention from the parenting coordinator.   Think of a PC as a referee—hired by the court—to keep the case out of court ideally.  

Parenting coordinators, for example, can step in and help when parents disagree about pick up and drop off locations of kids when sharing joint custody. Parenting coordinators can also resolve other problems with regards to holiday scheduling, meeting dates and times, and after-school activities. The law allows parenting coordinators to resolve disputes related to personal care, health, school choice, discipline and managing problem behavior in children.

Parenting coordinators, however, are not judges and their authority to solve issues are limited by law. Therefore, it’s still highly recommended to get Family Law help in Scottsdale if you and your ex cannot civilly agree on how the kids are taken care of. It’s best to have a parenting coordinator and a lawyer present during the case. If you want to change the parenting plan, it will require the assistance of a family lawyer and go to court by formal motion to the judge.  

Why Have a Parenting Coordinator?

Divorcing parents can disagree on many things from serious issues like children’s health to minor problems like how to cut a child’s hair or ear piercings (it happens). Parenting coordinators can step in and restore sanity to a situation when parents are unable to negotiate peacefully.

The alternative to having a parenting coordinator is time-consuming litigation. When parents are fighting over an issue related to custody or the parenting plan, finding a court resolution to the issue involves modifying existing court orders. Doing so means that both parents have to undergo costly litigation that could take months or years.  Therefore, having a parenting coordinator is more cost and time effective—so long as both parties agree to the formal one-year appointment of a PC.  

Written by Canterbury Law Group

What is the Difference between Divorce and Legal Separation in Arizona?

In Arizona, there are two ways to formally and legally remove your estate from your spouse: divorce and legal separation. It’s important to understand that these are two different processes. Legal separation is not another term for divorce. While there are certain overlapping legal similarities between the two, it’s important to understand that these are two different things. Read below to find answers to commonly asked questions about divorce and legal separation in Arizona:

What is the Difference between Divorce and Legal Separation?

Obtaining a divorce means that the marriage is legally dissolved, with all assets separated, and both spouses legally become single people capable of remarriage and child custody rights are legally established. In contrast, a legal separation does not dissolve a marriage. The spouses will be technically still married to each other, but also judicially separated. However, like with a divorce, virtually all assets and debts are typically separated between the two spouses. But unlike in a divorce, the spouses cannot claim to be single persons for any legal reason nor can they remarry.  Most people pursue Legal Separation to maintain valuable health care coverage, among other reasons.

Why Seek Legal Separation Instead of a Divorce?

Legal separation may be suited for some people over a divorce for several reasons. Most spouses who do not want to divorce due to religious reasons or personal convictions can still undergo legal separation to judicially extricate oneself from a spouse. Spouses that want to live apart but without getting a divorce can obtain a legal separation.

Some people prefer to legally separate rather than divorce in order to keep valuable health insurance benefits of a group plan. As mentioned above, legally separated spouses are still considered married, and thus can benefit from continued spousal health insurance coverage. Similarly, those who have been married for less than 10 years can continue to receive social security benefits on their spouse’s federal benefits following a legal separation, unlike with a divorce in which such benefits are completely terminated for the lower earning spouse.

If you need to formally cut all legal, civic and other ties to a spouse, then you will need a divorce.

Grounds for Divorce or Legal Separation

Arizona is a no-fault state. It does not matter who did what to whom, or who cheated with whom.  Therefore, for both divorce and legal separation, you don’t need to show any reason for divorce to a court. If one spouse desires to divorce then the court will grant the divorce. Similarly, spouses do not need to prove a reason to get a legal separation. Claiming that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” is reason enough to obtain a Decree of Legal Separation as long as the other spouse does not object.  Only one of the two spouses must desire the divorce.  The person who “wants to hang on” cannot prevent the legal divorce from ultimately taking place.

What if One Spouse Insists on a Divorce?

Unlike in a divorce, legal separation is only granted if one spouse does not object. If one spouse wants a legal separation but the other wants a divorce, the court will convert the case and grant the divorce. Because a spouse can object, it’s important to discuss and make sure this is what both parties want. Consult with a local divorce attorney in Scottsdale to discuss your options.

What if the Legally Separating Couple has Children?

Child custody issues for legally separating couples are handled similarly to a divorce by Arizona courts. The courts will always prioritize the needs of the children. A family court will also determine parenting time and parental responsibilities.  You will receive formal judge imposed custody orders from the Court under either scenario.

What Happens to Marital Assets and Debts When a Couple Legally Separates?

Asset and debt separation for legal separations are also handled similarly to divorces. A court will make the determination.   Usually, the date upon which the original Legal Separation or Divorce Petition is “served” on the receiving spouse is the date that the community terminates.  Put another way, any salary or paychecks received after the date of service will usually be the earning spouse’s sole and separate property.  Exceptions apply, however.  Please consult seasoned legal counsel on all of these issues.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Alimony Factors in Arizona

Alimony is the former name for what’s now called spousal maintenance. Alimony is financial assistance that the court orders one spouse to provide another spouse when a marriage ends. One spouse must request spousal support for the court to issue an order compelling the payments. There are several factors that a court takes into account when determining alimony. The court first examines certain qualifying factors to determine if one spouse even can procure alimony and then and only then decides how much and for how long.   There are no juries in Arizona family court, only a sitting judge.  So whether you like it or not, one person, in a black robe, will someday make a big decision on how much and how long your ex-spouse may or may not be paid upon divorce.

The Need for Spousal Maintenance

The court first decides whether one spouse actually qualifies for spousal maintenance and whether the other has the means to pay, before ordering maintenance be paid. A spouse may request alimony if he or she does not have enough property after marital distribution to provide for oneself, or is somehow unable to find proper employment. If one spouse has significantly contributed financially to the other spouse’s education, then alimony can be requested by the spouse who contributed. The court will look at the other’s spouse’s financial situation as well. A divorce lawyer in Scottsdale can help you file an alimony petition.

Duration of Marriage Affects Alimony

The longer the separating couple has been married, the higher the chance for alimony for one spouse may be. Generally speaking, if married less than 5 years, procuring maintenance from the wealthier spouse can be a challenge, or impossible. Once one hits ten years or more, the ability to obtain maintenance for some period of time appears to jump significantly.  If you have been married 30 years or more you can almost guarantee that someone is going to be paying spousal maintenance to the other.

The law of Arizona specifically states to take the duration of marriage into consideration when setting alimony. However, the law does not specify the ideal duration or a minimum duration. So even a spouse that was married for just a week can technically request alimony.  As noted, however, marriages of short duration rarely qualify for a payout.

Can Alimony Be Granted to Unfaithful Spouses?

The short answer is yes.  This is a common question for some divorcees. Understandably, a spouse may not want to pay alimony to another who has been unfaithful throughout the marriage. So, some spouses may prefer to have such spousal misconduct be a factor in determining alimony. However, in Arizona, divorce is not granted based on spousal misconduct. Arizona is a no fault jurisdiction.  Thus, couples can file for divorce in Arizona without providing a reason. If one spouse contests the divorce, the other spouse only has to show to the court that the marriage is broken beyond repair. Marital misconduct is not legally relevant to the divorce proceedings, and therefore will not play a role in any alimony fight. Unfaithfulness on one side does not lead to automatically denying alimony for that spouse, nor does the court demand the cheating spouse to pay the other. The same applies for dissolution of covenant marriages.  Long story short, while he or she may have cheated—he or she may still get paid by the Court depending on your income and length of marriage.

Prenup Roles in Alimony

A prenuptial agreement is an optional private contractual agreement that spouses enter into before marriage. When a couple divorces, a prenup is upheld for the most part if all provisions are in accordance with the law. If one spouse has agreed not to seek alimony in a prenup, the court will often uphold this in divorce proceedings. However, the court may rule otherwise if the spouse that needs alimony could end up in a welfare state without spousal maintenance. Arizona law allows courts to decline the validity of prenups if one spouse could end up in dire financial need following divorce.

Determining alimony is affected by many factors. Consult with a competent divorce lawyer to secure alimony as you desire, or to defend vigorously against paying it.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Marriage Annulment in Arizona

Marriage annulment is a term many people have heard of, but only a few really understand. Forget about what you may have heard about annulment on TV. There are actually two types of marriage annulments: civil and religious. A religious annulment is granted by a religious institution like a church and its clergy. Civil annulment is granted by a court of law and affects your legal civil status. This article explains civil annulment.

What is Civil Annulment in Arizona?

Civil marriage annulment takes place when a court declares that a marriage is not valid but void. It means that the court legally declares that for legal purposes the couple was never married. It can be confusing, but if what was considered a marriage was not obtained in accordance with legal requirements for marriage in Arizona, the court can annul the marriage. It’s sort of like a court “erasing” a marriage. It is as if the marriage literally never happened.

The Two Types of Civil Annulment

Courts in Arizona classify annulments in two ways as voidable marriages and void marriages. A void marriage is a union that was not valid from the beginning. Arizona has a list of prohibitions for marriage, such as incest, which would make a marriage completely invalid. If a biological brother and a sister got married, this is not a marriage that the state recognizes as valid, and therefore would incur in a void annulment.   There are several other methods by which a marriage can be deemed void and you should consult a family law attorney for more details.

A voidable annulment is where one party can seek an annulment from a court. For example, if one spouse was deceived into marrying the other, the wronged spouse has the right to request a voidable marriage annulment.  Deception grounds can include, for example, failure to consummate the marriage by one partner refusing to ever have sex with the other spouse at any time after the ceremony.  Again, consultation with legal counsel is critical before you seek annulment.

Is an Annulment Any Different from Divorce?

Getting a divorce involves going through often-lengthy court proceedings to formally end a marriage. The important difference between divorce and annulment is that in the case of the former, the courts recognize the marriage as valid, and thus to end it there must be divorce proceedings according to the law. Annulments do not require going through lengthy court proceedings. Once a judge declares a marriage invalid, it’s no more.  It typically can occur far faster than a conventional divorce litigation.

It should be understood that not all annulments are quick and painless. There are very specific grounds under which a marriage can be annulled.  Absent qualification for such a remedy, your case will be diverted to a conventional divorce resolution like everyone else.

What are the Grounds for an Annulment?

Under Arizona law, there is a list of “void and prohibited marriages.” Any marriage that falls in this category is not recognized by the state as valid. Arizona prohibits marriage between parents and children, between grandparents and grandchildren, between whole or half-blood brothers and sisters, between first cousins (but only under certain conditions), and between uncles or aunts and nieces and nephews. Same sex marriage was also once considered “void and prohibited”. However, recent Supreme Court rulings have changed that. Same sex marriage is now legal and the law of the land.

There are other reasons a spouse can request an annulment, such as fraud, deception, coercion, intoxication (when getting married), underage marriages without parental consent, mental illness, “mock” marriages, inability to consummate the marriage, bigamy, and incest. To know for sure if your marriage can be annulled, get family law help in Scottsdale.

If the couple has children, the annulment proceedings will determine which party should be responsible for the children. The court may not recognize certain property as “marital assets” if the marriage is considered void. You should contact a lawyer with specifics to find out how annulment proceedings may affect children or assets. Annulment compared to divorce can generate a significantly different outcome in property allocations in any divorce or annulment scenario.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Common Misconceptions about Divorce in Arizona

We all have our own ideas about divorce. When it comes to the legal aspects of divorce, most people have significant misunderstandings. The legal process to divorce in Arizona is straightforward, but cases that go before a judge can become really complicated. If you are considering a divorce, it’s very important to realistically understand the legal process and consequences. Here is a list of common misconceptions about divorce most Arizonians have:

Does Filing a Court Petition Equal a Divorce?

When you file for a divorce in a court, you are required to file a petition. Some people believe this petition to be equal to a legal divorce. It is not. You are legally divorced when a judge says so and issues a ruling which recognizes the formal Date of Separation. From that day on, your civil status will be officially divorced and single, but not a day before. This date is very important because your income and property ownership (that you retain after the proceedings) only become non-marital property after this date is set by the court.

Can Child Custody be Arranged According to a Prenup?

This is an absolutely inaccurate idea. Prenups can set provisions for things like asset division in a divorce. However, child custody is solely up to a family court to decide. Child custody is largely a matter of public policy that ensures the well-being of a child. That requires judicial assessment of a child’s current living situation. Therefore, having provisions for child custody is highly improper in a prenup agreement. It could possibly render the whole agreement void. To make sure your prenup agreement has no chance of being voided by a court, consult with a divorce attorney in Scottsdale.

Can A Spouse be Ordered to Pay My Attorney’s Fees?

In Arizona, the laws allow for a divorce court to order one spouse to pay the legal fees of the other in whole or part. However, this is very much subject to a judge’s independent review. The aim of these laws is to eliminate any income disparity between the spouses from hindering access to similar legal representation (going to court on “a level playing field” so to speak). However, the judge will see how “reasonable” both parties are. In other words, your spouse will be ordered to pay your legal fees if only the request is evaluated as reasonable and that your positions are in fact reasonable as presented in court.

Is Alimony is Forever in Arizona?

Courts in Arizona typically set alimony for a specific period of time, such as until a child comes of age. The purpose of alimony is to provisionally support a spouse in need. But alimony is not financial life support. If the receiving spouse dies, remarries or cohabits with another, then alimony can be terminated.   Generally speaking, the longer the duration of the underlying marriage, the longer the potential duration of payout on spousal maintenance.

Creditors will Only Go After the Spouse for Debts He or She Agrees to Pay Off

Arizona is a “community property” state. That means that any debts incurred during a marriage become the presumptive responsibility of both spouses. The actual person who signed the loan agreement may not always matter. This status applies even after a divorce. Your spouse could agree to pay off a credit card loan or the home equity line of credit in the divorce agreement, but you won’t be completely off the hook. If the spouse fails to pay, the third party creditors could come after you. Any agreement in a divorce is between you and the spouse, not the creditor.

Hopefully, now you are a bit more enlightened about what getting a divorce means in Arizona.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Find a Divorce Mediator in Arizona

A divorce mediator is a neutral third-party that tries to facilitate legal negotiations between spouses who are getting divorced. If you and your spouse cannot come to conciliatory terms on your own, you may require the services of a divorce mediator.  Some spouses conduct the mediation with just a mediator and no lawyers (3-way mediation), and others bring their own lawyers to aid their representation in front of a private mediator (5-way mediation).

Hiring a divorce mediator is not the same as hiring an attorney. A divorce mediator has the interests of both spouses in mind. That’s why your divorce lawyer in Scottsdale cannot typically act as a mediator; the lawyer will always act on your behalf, and the same goes for the other party’s lawyer as well. Divorce mediators listen to both parties, assist positive communications, and try to get the divorce negotiations going.

Here is a list of qualities to look for when finding a divorce mediator in Arizona:

Neutrality is Very Important

The purpose of hiring a divorce mediator is to level the playing field and make the talking table less hostile and aggressive. So make sure the person you hire is absolutely neutral. That means no friends, family, colleagues or divorce lawyers. The divorce mediator will act as an advocate, but not a legal advocate. All responsible divorce mediators encourage spouses to hire divorce lawyers separately to review any legally-binding agreements.  Mediations can be one day or a series of days.  Both spouses may want to consult their own privately retained lawyers before, during or after mediation sessions.

Search for Mediators who Offer Flat Fees

No matter what, you will both have to pay for a divorce mediator. Good divorce mediators understand that the financial costs of divorce are high, and offer affordable rates. Ideally, find a mediator that charges only a flat fee for all services provided. Avoid the ones that charge various additional fees. Divorce mediation in Arizona can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000. The spouses can split the costs.  This is usually far cheaper than heavily contested litigation with lawyers on both sides.  Even if mediation ‘fails’, you will be far better equipped to enter the court system against your spouse with your separately retained legal counsel.

Choose a Mediator who Knows the Law

Divorce mediators do not have to be lawyers, but they typically are and are always knowledgeable about the law. It’s best to choose one of these mediators so he or she can help you both make informed decisions regarding the separation process. During negotiations, an educated mediator will be able to make suggestions according to the established law. You can then have these suggestions run by your lawyer to see if they are in your best interest.

Strong and Stable Communication is a Must

Divorce mediators typically excel in communication. However, communication goes both ways. If you are, for any reason, uncomfortable communicating with the divorce mediator, it’s time to look for a new one. Mediators must encourage fairness with the other spouse and act swiftly to diffuse problematic situations. Without the proper manner of communication, a divorce mediator will not offer many benefits to you.   You can walk out, your spouse can walk out, and in some cases, the mediator will terminate the session if he or she believes that a final mediated settlement is not achievable.

It’s best to hire an experienced divorce mediator who has been doing this job for years. Many private litigation attorneys practice divorce mediation part-time. You might also consider a full-time divorce mediator who can dedicate full attention to your case. The problem with divorce lawyers acting as mediators is that lawyers are used to battling for a client, not acting as a neutral party. So, hire a neutral mediator and hire a lawyer separately to watch out for your best interest in the negotiations.  As noted, some parties elect to conduct 5-way mediations: (1) Husband (2) Husband’s legal counsel (3) Wife (4) Wife’s legal counsel and (5) the Mediator.

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