Written by Canterbury Law Group

Reasons to Finalize Your Divorce and Save Money

If your marriage is in a rocky place, it would behoove you to be mindful of the timing of decisions; the government has recently enacted a few tax laws that impact divorcing couples, especially those with high net worth. Tax codes are perplexing in the best of times and now, quite frankly, does not constitute the best of times. This makes it more important that you understand how these new laws affect you.

How do you decide if it is in your best interest to settle this year? The first step is to take a deep breath. Second, divorce attorneys in Scottsdale recommend considering the three items below and what effect they will have on you. Third, work with a lawyer as well as a financial advisor experienced in divorce to minimize the impact of the new laws.

Move Fast To Control Taxes On Alimony

Alimony, often called spousal support or maintenance, will have a significant change on New Year’s’ Day in 2019. Under current laws, alimony has been deductible by the paying spouse and taxable to the receiving spouse. This benefited the family unit as the recipient paid tax at a lower rate than the payor deducted it at resulting in lower taxes. Going forward, however, alimony will no longer be deductible by the payor or taxable to the recipient.  Alimony will now be treated the same as child support: tax free.

Tax Benefits Of The Family Home Are Changing

 Your home. This is a popular item in many divorces. Is it a top priority to keep it? Are you itching to leave it behind with the past? How do you split the value? It’s important to focus on your home as a financial asset while factoring in the memories as well as the potential emotional stability it may provide. The new tax law reduced the deductibility of property taxes and the amount of mortgage that qualifies for interest deduction making it more expensive to own a home under the new tax laws.

Kids Are No Longer As Great A Tax Deduction

The new tax code also eliminated the personal exemption amount for tax years 2018–2025. This means that you don’t get a multiplier of kids as a deduction on your tax return. It’s still important, however, to negotiate who will claim the kids for other purposes. While the exemption amount is zero dollars, it may allow the parent to receive additional child tax credits, which are more generous under the new law.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

6 of the Hardest Moments During Divorce, According to Women Who Have Experienced It

It can be hard. It can be ugly.

Divorce is never a good thing (in the moment), but it happens.  A lot.

Of course, divorce can always end up being a good thing when all is said in done, but going through the process yields some difficult and challenging times. There are arguments about money, child custody, real estate, residences, and more. These disputes seem to go on forever with little to no resolution.

While every divorce is a little bit different, arguments about money generally top the list. Especially if you’re in business with your spouse, figuring out how to separate money can be a brutal task. The process involves lawyers and a lot of tears. Sure, there are things that be done to prevent divorce, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

Why must divorce be so hard? It need not be.  Divorce attorneys in Scottsdale will tell you that there is a right way to approach this transition as opposed to the long-reviled “scorched earth” approach.  Is it really worth the emotional and financial trauma to “go to war” with someone you once loved deeply?

That said, let’s take a look at six of the hardest moments during a divorce, according to women who have been through the conventional litigation process to achieve it.

Money Stress

During your marriage, there are times when you may have discovered your spouse handling finances in a secretive and non-transparent manner. For example, perhaps your spouse had a gambling or substance abuse issue that caused depletion of your community funds. This can end up very, very messy.

Leaving Your Home

After pouring your heart and soul into your primary housing (including potential renovations), having to either sell it or move out is a very difficult process.  Memories were made in that space, the children grew attached, school districts were established.

Feeling Unsafe

One of the most compromising feelings is the notion that you’re in a dangerous physical predicament During a divorce, you may experience blowout fights that can result in the feeling of being unsafe.  Your lawyers can solve this problem rapidly and with strength so you can sleep well at night.

Seeing Someone Else

Things can get ugly if/when you find out that your spouse is romatically seeing someone else prior to divorce papers officially being filed or later on, finalized. This can be seen as disrespectful and downright rude.

Time Away From The Kids

Not being near your kids each and every day can result in a lot of heartache. Experiencing divorce is hard enough; losing time with your kids may be harder.

Losing Your Best Friend

After all, people tend to marry who they refer to as their best friend. Knowing that you’re losing your friend and husband/wife at the same time can be a deflating feeling.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Reasons Why People Make Divorce Overly Expensive

There is no question that it takes more money to run one household than two households after a divorce. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t doable or worth it to go through a divorce, if that’s what is necessary, you have little choice.

Sure, divorce is expensive. When all is said and done, costs can run close to $50,000 to $100,000 if both sides dig in and want to litigate. That is a lot of money.

While there are certainly ways to save money during a divorce, there are also many ways to increase costs, many of which are almost entirely unnecessary.

Divorce lawyers in Scottsdale see costs continue to grow as people exhibit the following behaviors.

Of course you want what you are entitled to. Having said that, are you willing to go to the brink on this one even if the amount that you fight for is not enough to cover attorney costs? Think about that one for a minute. Spending ten thousand dollars to win back five thousand dollars to “show up your spouse”—that’s bad math. Do not do it.

Refuse to Accept Your Settlement Proposal

Sure, your attorney wants what is best for you, even if that entails you spending all of your money on what’s right. Ultimately, you should get what you deserve, right? Demand That Your Ex Runs All Parenting Decisions By You If you and your spouse struggled to make parenting decisions during your marriage, what makes you think that it’ll go smoothly once you’re divorced? This will only result in wasted time, energy, and money.

Negotiate With Your Spouse

One of the most common reasons as to why people file for divorce is due to trouble communicating. Spouses constantly argue about budgets, schedules, and general decision-making. Things can escalate from there within a divorce.

Hire a Child Custody Evaluator

These professionals generally charge about $10k to $15k for a comprehensive custody evaluation, not including time spent as a witness at any hearings. — Sure would be cheaper to hammer out a compromise with the other parent compared to spending the time money and tears usually consumed in the child custody evaluation process.

If you want to decrease costs during a divorce, consider avoiding the aforementioned behaviors. They will save you time and money in the short-term and make you much happier in the long-term.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Talk About Divorce Right After Engagement

It’s THE most exciting time in your life. You’re newly engaged and about to embark on an exciting life journey with the one you love.  You will soon marry!

But guess what? Now, and we mean NOW, is the best time to talk about divorce.

Why is that?

Well, divorce attorneys in Scottsdale see it all the time. Great people with high hopes and optimism for their relationship soon crumble before them with a relationship that ends in resentment and heartbreak. With affections and optimism at its peak during an engagement, talking about divorce is extremely productive.

Generally speaking, people end up filing a divorce because they don’t know their spouse or they don’t know themselves. By simply speaking with your significant other about divorce, you are taking a huge leap in the right direction to avoid this situation.

The only question that remains is, what should you talk about?

Let’s take a look.

Talk About the Why

That’s right. You should have a conversation with your fiancé about why you would get divorced in the first place. This is a very clear path to pinpointing your marital expectations. This includes non-negotiables such as fidelity and honesty in addition things that might change throughout the marriage like friendships and career details. You can take this one step further and discuss what you both feel are good and bad reasons to get divorced.

Discuss Prevention

Experiencing issues in a marriage is inevitable. A perfect marriage, with no problems, simply doesn’t exist. Having said that, it’s important to handle those issues properly and overcome them in the best possible manner. Be candid with your partner about how you would handle problems and what you would do if issues were to present themselves. Would you broach things head on? Would you wait it out? Would you seek counseling? These are all important questions to consider.

Share Obligations If You Were to Get Divorced

While prenuptial agreements may be tough to have at such an early stage of your long-term relationship, they provide a great of insight. They are raw, emotional, and passionate.

It’s important to discuss things like the space you share (your home), financial logistics/needs, professional life changes, family member involvement, and parenting.

While it’s important to discuss individual needs during a divorce, if you devote enough affection throughout your relationship and appreciate everything your fiancé has to offer, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to file those divorce papers.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Three Tips to Enduring Divorce

Divorces are difficult for everyone. While nobody wants to go through the process of divorce, it is, of course, can be necessary.

According to Psychology Today, nearly 40% of marriages ended in divorce in 2017. Think about that. That’s quite many people terminating their marriages.

When marriage trendy headed south, what should you pay attention to reduce overall stress and financial burdens in your life?

Divorce lawyers in Scottsdale recommend these three tips to make the divorce process as smooth as possible. Or you can choose not to file.  Either way, knowledge is power.

UNDERSTAND BOTH PARTIES’ FINANCIAL ASSETS

Before you can even begin negotiating marital assets, each spouse should seek to understand the others’ financial status. Too often, one spouse is in the dark about exactly what assets their significant other has/owns. It’s important to consider ALL financial assets: pensions, retirement accounts, bank accounts, properties, vehicles, etc. Having just a general understanding of these assets can lead to problems during divorce.

Here is the good news: If you file for divorce, your divorce attorney will seek and acquire all the “hidden assets” from your spouse through Court appointed rules and regulations.

AVOID EXPENSIVE LAWYERS

While many people feel the need to hire an “established lawyer” right away, you will be draining your finances more than you really need to. Since the system immediately starts generating work for the attorney (as soon as you submit your filing), you will be charged from the get-go. Things that will be set in motion include, but are not limited to, include financial relief for child support and counsel fees.

Sooner rather than later, you are thousands of dollars in the hole, and that may not even include a court appearance. Initiating the divorce in such an aggressive manner will not only prove to be costly but will also lead to greater tension and potential resentment.

Rather than rushing into the legal process, approach things amicably and have productive conversations. If both parties agree to work together in a civil manner, mediation may be a better option. Not only is this more affordable, but it can alleviate things quicker and more efficiently.

DETERMINE THE RIGHT TIME

Instead of rushing to make divorce official, consider all of the financial matters that come into play when deciding to file for divorce right then and there or at a later time. Timing can also largely impact the “equitable distribution of assets and liabilities.” Your house, amongst other assets, can be a huge factor in determining when you want to file.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Divorce and Taxes in Arizona

The tax season for 2018 starts on January 29. It can be a particularly stressful time, especially now that the national tax laws have changed. If you are in the middle of a divorce or have recently filed for a divorce, this season’s filings can be quite overwhelming. Here is what you should know about divorce and filing taxes in Arizona so that you don’t make a penalty-incurring mistake:

Divorce Attorney Fees are Not Tax Deductible in General

Clients in divorce cases often want to know if attorney fees are tax deductible. Typically, the answer is no. The IRS does allow a minor exception for divorce attorney fees paid during “collection or production of gross income.” This clause doesn’t cover a majority of fees you would pay a divorce attorney. But you can ask your divorce attorney in Scottsdale whether the fees you pay are tax deductible.

Your Filing Status Determines Tax Liabilities

When you file your IRS form, you are given three options to choose from as your civil status: married, single, or head of household. Tax liabilities for each category slightly differs, so the box you check matters a great deal for your individual tax obligations. If the divorce is not yet final, it can be difficult to determine whether to file as a single person or jointly with your soon-to-be-ex. You can consult with a lawyer to decide what to do. Or you could calculate what you owe under all three categories and determine which is most advantageous to you.

Spousal Support and Child Support are Distinct Categories

When filing your taxes, do not confuse alimony or spousal support with child support. Spousal support, which is sometimes referred to as alimony, is paid by one former spouse to another, for the benefit of the recipient. Child support, on the other hand, is paid to an adult who oversees the well-being of a child, but for the direct benefit of the child.

If you are a custodial parent recipient of child support, you don’t have to list it as taxable income. If you are the parent paying child support, you cannot obtain a tax deduction for the amount paid.

Spousal support works the other way. The individual who receives alimony payment must list it as taxable income. The paying spouse can obtain a tax deduction on the alimony payment. Note that the new GOP tax bill made an important change to this provision that will take effect on December 31, 2018. So it won’t affect this tax season but will start next year. Under the new law, alimony tax deduction is eliminated. The tax obligation is reversed. The spouse that pays the alimony will not be able to report a deduction, while the spouse that receives alimony no longer has to report it as taxable income.

Property Division may be Subject to Tax When Sold

When spouses divide property during a divorce, it is not a taxable act under the IRS Code. However, there’s a hidden clause called “tax basis” that might result in a tax payment. Tax basis is the purchase price of a property that is used to determine capital gains tax. Not all properties, such as a residence, incur capital gains tax following a divorce. However, certain property, such as investments, may incur capital gains tax when sold after a divorce.

For the most part, your divorce decree would determine how taxes should be paid for some property categories, such as IRAs.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Holidays and Parenting Time in Arizona

The end-of- the-year holiday season is typically the biggest time of the year for many families to get together. If the parents are divorced, the Christmas season could bring forth new disputes. It’s very important to protect children from any sort of drama during the holiday weeks, especially when they expect to spend their school vacation enjoying themselves. In Arizona, the divorce decree usually also includes a separate parenting time plan that lays out who time is shared over the holidays.

Holiday Parenting Time Under Arizona Law

The family courts in Arizona have a statutory requirement for divorcing couples with children to provide a holiday schedule. Under A.R.S. §25-403.02 (C), this plan must include a “practical schedule” for how parenting time is allocated during the holidays. There should be specifications for with whom the child would reside, how the child should be transported, and a reconciliation method in case disputes arise.

Parents should specifically arrange a parenting time plan for the year-end holidays. Unlike other vacation times, the November-December period involves many public holidays, seasonal celebrations, and family gatherings. The child might require transportation more so than during other long holidays like the summer vacation. It’s highly recommended that divorcing parents get family law help in Scottsdale to come up with a reasonable plan.

Organizing a Parenting Time Plan for the Holidays

Very generally speaking, parenting plans during the holidays can be developed in three primary ways. First, some parents agree to have the children for Christmas every other year. For example, mom could have the kids for Christmas and Thanksgiving during even years, and dad during the odd years. Some parents divide holiday time evenly during the day. For example, the kids would spend Christmas mornings with mom and the evenings with dad. Other parents designate certain holidays for themselves. For example, the kids may spend every Thanksgiving with mom and Christmas with dad.

Of course, parenting plans can be adjusted according to different religions and cultures. Adjustments can also be made depending on the vacation time the parent gets. However, it’s very important to have the holiday season planned ahead and in writing. The arrangements are ideally made months in advance unless it’s already specified during the finalization of the divorce. But practical concerns do arise every year, so ex-spouse’s with children should make arrangements early.

Be Specific with the Details

More importantly, divorcing parents must make sure the parenting plan is highly specific. For example, separating parents may decide to give mom the kids for Christmas during even years. But that’s a very basic provision. Is “Christmas” limited to just Christmas day? Will the children require transportation from parent to parent? On which day and at what time will the kids be dropped off and picked up again? These specifics should be handled in the parenting plan.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Why January Sees a Surge in Divorce Filings

The holiday season is in full swing right now. Everyone expects a great start for the New Year, especially families. However, come January, we will also see a rise in divorce filings, according to data from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”). During the months of January in the past several years, AAML data shows between a 25 to 30 percent increase in divorce filings nationwide. This trend isn’t confined to the US either. Researchers have observed it in the UK as well.

In other words, one in five couples gets a divorce in January after the holidays. What could be driving this trend and should married couples be worried? How can family law help in Scottsdale assist in a post-holiday divorce? Read below to find out:

Driving Forces Behind Post-Holiday Divorce Filings

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly one cause for why people file for divorce so soon after the holidays. It could be that most people want to start a new year with a clean slate. If the marriage has been experiencing severe problems in the past year, then it makes sense to start the New Year with a divorce and hope for the best in the future.

The holiday season itself could be a driving force behind the divorce. Families get together for important events like Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means staying together, often with extended family, in the house without that many excuses to leave. Instead of bringing people together, the holidays can also exacerbate problems that drive people toward separation. The holiday time can exert pressure to present a happy face and pretend that everyone in the family is doing fine. It can take a toll on the psyche.   Many spouses see January as their first real time to flee the marriage without doing so during the holiday crush.

The holidays can also make financial problems worse, one of the main reasons behind the divorce. People spend enormous amounts of money shopping for the holidays, throwing holiday parties and enjoying vacations. When the final credit card bill arrives, marital fighting ensues, and the marriage is broken beyond repair come January.

Reasons Not to Rush a Post-Holiday Divorce

Anger and tension can be high when the holidays end. But like all things in life, it can be unwise to rush towards a divorce according to marriage experts and even some divorce lawyers. In states like Arizona, divorce can be expensive and protracted because courts are overwhelmed with so many cases. Besides, Arizona is a community property state, where all assets acquired during the marriage are presumably distributed equally, despite the income levels of each spouse. Contesting such distributions in court can prove costly in time, treasure and emotion.

It’s best to consider alternatives before rushing to separate from a spouse. For example, divorce lawyers in Scottsdale can help you and your spouse mediate differences in marriage. The couple can consider the possibility of divorce and see how assets may be divided before going to court. It’s best to negotiate a separation without contesting everything in a full-fledged litigation. A temporary legal separation is also an option for those who don’t want to divorce, who want to continue to be on each other’s health insurance and other issues.

Instead of rushing to file for a January divorce, think about the end game. What will happen to kids, pets, or elderly dependents? What about finances for the rest of the year and health insurance? Consult a lawyer regarding all of this before going to divorce court.  You can confidentially consult that lawyer in December, January or any other month of the year. Don’t rush—instead be smart, prudent and calculating to maximize your property recovery and your emotional health.

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.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Explain Child Custody to a Child

In Arizona family courts, judges often do everything in their power to keep divorce proceedings from negatively impacting children’s emotional well-being, especially when there are contentious custody proceedings taking place. Most judges discourage parents from even speaking to the children about custody disputes. However, at some point parents getting a divorce will eventually have to explain the divorce and custody arrangements to the children. It will have to be done regardless of the type of custody arrangement the court ultimately orders.

Explaining custody to a child can be a bit difficult if the child is still quite young. The process may be easier for an older teen, but they are still emotionally vulnerable as well. You can always ask for family Law help in Scottsdale to get pointers in explaining custody arrangements to children. Here are several tips from divorce experts who have navigated these waters before you:

Tell Them the Important Facts of the Custody Arrangement

You don’t need to explain the intricate legalities of joint or sole custody to children. However, you will have to explain terms of the custody arrangement as simply as possible, because it will affect them more profoundly than you. Here are the things you should tell children:

  • With which parents the kids will stay, or how much time they will have to spend at each parent’s house. These courts ordered parenting time allocations are not optional and must be followed by both parents, and the children.
  • The parent who will drop them off and pick up from school.
  • The parent who will handle transportation.
  • Repeatable schedules with each parent.
  • Living arrangements for the summer or annual vacation times (e.g. Spring or Fall Break).

Avoid Distressing Subjects

You don’t have to explain to children why the custody arrangement is the way it is, or why the parents went through a divorce. Do not bad mouth the other parent in front of the children, either. Doing some of these things may even land you in trouble with the court. Do not discuss child support, alimony or other money issues with the children either. If something is not of immediate concern to the wellbeing of the child, avoid the subject.  Money and property and other adult issues should remain discussed between counsel and the parents, not the minor children.

Let Them Know They are Loved

Children of divorced parents may experience a host of negative emotions, including feelings of abandonment or guilt. Some children feel like it is “their fault” that Mom and Dad split up.  It’s important to let the children know that both parents love them even if the parents are now divorced. Don’t leave any room for them to be alarmed about the custody arrangement. Show them that it is in their best interest. If the children have to spend time at two locations, tell them it is so because both parents want to take part in both their lives. Explain custody in a positive note so children are not unnecessarily distressed and worried with the new realities post-Decree.

Let them Feel Comfortable with Lawyers and Mediators

Children in the middle of contentious divorces may have to put up with strangers whom they keep encountering like lawyers and court-appointed advisors or interviewers. It’s important that children become familiar with these people and this process and not feel ambushed.  If explaining custody is too much for you, you can ask your lawyer to gently break the news to them. The lawyer will be familiar with what information is allowed by the court and what is not, to tell directly to the children.

It’s never easy to discuss divorce or custody with children. Hopefully, the above suggestions will help.  Regardless, you should rely on your chosen legal professional to help you navigate these critical and choppy waters.

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