blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

 How to Divide Property When Getting a Divorce in Arizona

Property division can become challenging for divorcing couples. However, this need not be a challenge.  And If you and the soon-to-be-ex cannot come to good terms on your own, a court will have to do it for you. Under Arizona’s community property law, debts and assets accumulated during a marriage belong to both parties 50/50 in the absence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that says otherwise.  Arizonian family courts emphasize fairness when dividing up a property. Unlike in some states, the property may not be divided equally 50/50, but equitably in the eyes of the judge assigned to your case.  This can sometimes mean 55/45 or 60/40 or 40/60—every case is unique.

No matter what the facts, you will have to hire a talented divorce attorney in Scottsdale, Phoenix or your local area in the state. Absent years of litigation experience, you likely won’t be able to capably represent your interests in court without a deep knowledge of divorce and property laws in the state. If you are undergoing a process of dividing property in a divorce, here are some important items you should be aware of:

Determine if the Property Belongs to the Community or the Separate Category

There is a very clear distinction between community and separate property under Arizona law. Separate property is assets a spouse owned before marriage, inherited solely during the marriage, was gifted solely during the marriage, or purchased alone during the marriage with sole and separate finances. A prenuptial or postnuptial contract may also designate that certain items are to be treated as separate property.  Absent these facts, the law presumes all property and all debt, acquired or originated during the marriage, is community property.

Courts in Arizona only have jurisdiction over community property, not either spouse’s sole and separate property. Each party will have to provide evidence for separate property claims in the form of financial documents. It is possible that property that was originally separate later becomes community property during the marriage. For example, a house purchased by one spouse before marriage may become community property following the marriage if both spouses names are later placed on the recorded deed.

The reason that each is different is that the distinction between community and separate property during the marriage can be blurry. Some spouses may have unknowingly turned separate assets into community property by the “commingling” process, where two assets are combined. A bank account owned by one spouse before marriage becomes marital property if the other spouse makes deposits to it later with community income. Sometimes assets are partially community and partially separate, such as houses and retirement accounts. A business that one spouse operated but later received contributions from the other spouse after marriage can fall into this category.   A seasoned lawyer can walk you through these issues, and advance them in a court of law.

Set Values for Property

Regardless of whether community or separate property, all assets and debts must be assigned a monetary value before equitable division. The two spouses can do this themselves, or a court can do it in case the parties cannot agree on values. Typically appraisals are used to set values of real assets, like houses, antiques, or vehicles. The toughest asset to value can sometimes be retirement accounts.  You may have to hire a financial professional like an actuary to ascertain the value of a retirement account and the growth in value of such retirement assets since the original marriage date.

The Process of Dividing Property

You can see the first section above that determining whether a property is community or separate can be complicated. Ideally, both parties come to an agreement out of court. But this rarely happens when multiple assets are in question and the stakes involve hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

Courts may divide up property in multiple ways. In the case of property that is partially separate, the court may offer a spouse the option of buying out the remaining portion from the other. In some cases, it may be recommended to mutually sell the assets and divide the proceeds. Some property, like family homes, can be co-owned even following a divorce if children are living there or visiting each year.

Arizona courts typically divide property approximately equally among the divorcing partners. There are only a handful of exceptions to the rule. For example, if one spouse is known to have squandered money through irresponsible activities like gambling or drug use, the court may rule in favor of the other. In the case of property under massive debt, the court may rule against the spouse responsible for the debt.  At the end of the day, you will need the guidance and stewardship of experienced legal counsel to navigate these issues for you.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Child Custody in Arizona

Custody in legal terms refers to the person a court has appointed as the parent or guardian of a child. The person retaining child custody manages the well-being of that child. The legal custodial parent will have the right to make decisions about the child’s education, religious teachings, and healthcare. There are different types of custody, but courts in Arizona do not favor one over the other. The decisions will be based on what’s ultimately good for the child. If you are a parent currently seeking custody of the child, or if you are already a custodial parent, here are answers to some of the questions frequently asked on the subject:

What is the different between “sole,” “joint,” and “legal” decision making authority?

These are three ways in which a court can grant custody of a child. Sole Legal Decision Making means that one single parent has complete legal custody of the child’s legal decision moving forward. The court has granted this parent the express authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s life. Parents can discuss these issues together, but the sole Legal Decision Making parent will always have the final say.

In contrast, in Joint Legal Decision Making situations, both parents have legal decision making authority over a child. However, in order to reach a final decision, both parent must agree—or divert the case to mediation or back to the court if no agreement can be reached. 

Can the court declare one parent’s rights superior to another’s in a Joint Legal Decision Making case?

No. Generally, when a court grants joint Legal Decision Making authority, both parents have equal rights to make decisions regarding the child’s well-being. No one parent is deemed superior to another. However, in special cases, one parent may get the sole right to make decisions regarding a certain aspect of the child’s life if the court decides it’s the best for the child. You should refer to an attorney to seek more family law and child custody information with regards to your situation.

Is there a difference between legal decision making powers and physical custody?

Absolutely yes.  Legal Decision Making authority relates to granting a parent the authority to make decisions about the child’s wellbeing, e.g. where the child goes to school. Physical custody, also called Parenting Time, determines where the child lives from day to day. A parent can have legal custody, but not physical Parenting Time, although this is rare. If a child is to live with both parents for equal amounts of time, then the court will have to grant both parents joint physical Parenting Time. Some parents may prefer for the child to live in one place without moving around, and have one parent with physical virtually all Parenting Time. But both parents, in this case, can have legal custody as well. Refer to Family Law help in Scottsdale, or your local area, for specific information.  Legal assistance is recommended to navigate these complex legal channels. 

Are court custody orders final?

The court decides custody when the parents cannot agree upon themselves, how to share custody of a child. A court may grant early custody orders when divorce or separation filings are in process. Once the divorce or a legal separation becomes final, the court may make modify prior orders which are dramatically changed at the time of trial. This custody decision by the court will stand, subject to certain exceptions, for at least one year, or upon a showing of a substantial and continuing change of circumstances thereafter.

If you want a custody ruling to be modified after trial, you can petition the court to make changes to the order. You will have to present strong evidence that the changes requested are in the best interest of the child. You are very likely going to need the able assistance of legal counsel at that time. 

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Divorce Tips from Attorneys

Getting a divorce can be a messy affair, financially and emotionally speaking. Contested divorces can be particularly hard on both parties, as experienced divorce attorneys will quickly point out. Divorce has a way of bringing out the worst in even the nicest people. While emotions can play a role, it’s critical to maintain clear emotions when dividing assets in a divorce and reaching a custody agreement if there are any children. Here are several tips for Arizona divorcing couples from divorce lawyers who have seen it all:

Keep Your Feelings out of the dispute

Divorce can be a very emotional affair, no matter how hardened one tries to be during the process. It’s very important to keep personal feelings out of it when dividing assets and negotiating during divorce proceedings. Emotions can unnecessarily complicate the process. You must aim to get the best out of divorce proceedings to ensure your long-term well-being. Getting caught up in petty fights in the moment will not go well for either party.  Let your lawyer do their job, stand back and watch, and ideally everything will be handled.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

According to a divorce lawyers in Scottsdale, some people pay attorneys a lot of money to recover assets that do not matter. For example, it makes no financial sense to get your divorce attorney to send a letter to retrieve a $100 piece of furniture from the ex, especially when attorney letters can cost as much as $500. Divorce can be costly. So wise petitioners pick battles that are worth spending money to win.

Assets in One Spouse’s Name Can be Divided

In divorces, basically everything can be divided between the spouses. This includes assets that are specifically under either spouse’s name. Debt, extra income, royalties, a lottery win—all of these and much more can be divided in divorce proceedings. Divorce attorneys warn clients not to assume that assets under one’s own name are not up for grabs. The only protection against dividing assets is a prenup or a postnup agreement. But these agreements should be handled early on in the marriage.   Even if you signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it could be deemed void by the court depending on the circumstances during which you signed such paperwork. Consult an experienced lawyer to determine your rights. 

Be Careful of Generous Income Reporting Before Divorce

It’s common for people to overstate incomes in credit card or loan applications. A spouse that discovers such generous disclosures of income can present these documents in court in a divorce case. Under those circumstances, the court could assume that you make as much money as you boasted in your loan application under penalty of perjury in a prior loan application, warns a divorce attorney in Scottsdale. On the other hand, if you find similar overstatements by your spouse, you can be the one to use them in court against them.

Take Time to Gather Evidence for the Divorce

Divorce lawyers advise clients not to walk out the door before proceedings begin, unless an abusive situation is present. It’s highly advantageous to stay behind and gather evidence for the divorce, such as photographing assets, property and gathering documents. Make copies of account statements of the spouse as well to present your case with solid evidence once the proceedings begin.

Divorcing is not easy on anyone. But following the above suggestions will help you present the best case in court.  Hiring a seasoned legal professional to guide you through this complex process is self-evident.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Preparing for Divorce in the New Year

The Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group have represented hundreds of clients in Scottsdale divorce cases.  Although every case is unique, there are certain steps that every potential divorcee should take:

  • Do not try to hurt your soon-to-be ex –   Do not let your emptions get the best of you.  Especially if you and your spouse have children together, you need to try to take the higher road and attempt to part on decent terms. The court may frown upon any type of negativity or drastic misconduct against the other spouse. 
  • Confidently know your joint finances – It is estimated that 40% of divorce proceedings are about money. Be well informed in advance about your shared accounts.  Specifically, you should know all online passwords to bank accounts, which accounts have automatic payments and where money is invested, including the names of all accounts, the account numbers and the investment advisors.  Many times one spouse knows everything and the other spouse knows nothing about finances.  The law provides that both spouses be provided 100% financial disclosures while the divorce is pending. 
  • Find a trusted legal team – A lawyer who is knowledgeable in family law in your state can likely get you a better settlement because they understand the state-law nuances and understand local judges’ tendencies and opposing lawyers. If you and your spouse have complicated family assets, you likely need a legal team with additional expertise.  Take into consideration every possible avenue and plan accordingly.
  • Know your future living expenses – Your future financial well-being should be your top priority.  Thoroughly understand your current cost of living before the divorce proceedings start, so you can ask for a fair amount in the divorce settlement.
  • Also remember that anything written online about an ex-spouse will exist forever—when the children are old enough to read.  Although you may be hurt now, you don’t want to hurt your children even more in the future.  Texts and emails can also be used against you at trial.  Think twice before hitting ‘send’ on that nasty message to your spouse. 

The Scottsdale divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have represented women and men, young and old, in their complicated and simple divorce cases.  To discuss your options in a Scottsdale divorce, call today to schedule a consultation.  480-240-0040.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Child Custody Questions in Scottsdale

There is typically an increase in divorces in the New Year. The Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group know that divorce often brings about child custody concerns. A popular question in Scottsdale divorce cases is whether or not a parent can take a child away from the other parent if there is currently no legal decision-making and parenting time orders in place.

In Arizona, a person can be charged with the crime of custodial interference even before there is a court order regarding legal decision-making and parenting time or if he/ she takes, entices (persuades) or withholds any child from the other parent and denies that parent access to any child. If the parent takes the child(ren) to another state, the penalties are even more severe.

However, there are some exceptions in the law, which involve a case where the parent has filed an emergency petition regarding custodial rights with the superior court and has received a hearing date from the court. The law is complicated and the risks are high, so the best option is to get the advice of a lawyer before leaving with your child if at all possible. You should never leave the state with your children without first speaking to a licensed attorney.

If a domestic violence victim is accused of wrongfully absconding with the children, he/she can seek to counter these allegations by:

  • He / she has begun the process to get an order of protection or files a petition for legal decision-making within a reasonable period of time and the order of protection or legal decision-making petition states his/her belief that the child was at risk if left with the other parent

The parent either:

  • has a good faith and reasonable belief that the taking, enticing or withholding of the child is necessary to protect the child from immediate danger; OR
  • the parent is a victim of domestic violence by the other parent and has a good faith and reasonable belief that the child will be in immediate danger if the child is left with the other parent.

However, it is still best to get legal advice before leaving to make sure that your planned behavior would not violate the law.

The family law attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have significant expertise in child custody issues and can capably guide you through the legal process. Your children are counting on you to make the right decision both before and after the divorce case has been filed. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Child Custody Tips for the New Year

During the New Year, many parents strive to improve child custody situations. As authorities in Scottsdale child custody, the lawyers at Canterbury Law Group can offer suggestions to help ensure your success:

Be Actively Involved – Make sure you are able to demonstrate that you are significantly involved in your child’s life by taking an active role in the care, development, and discipline of your child. If the child is young, participate in feeding, bathing, walking, reading, napping and medical care. As they grow older, take part in their educational development and extracurricular activities. Get to know your children’s teachers, doctors, counselors, and coaches. Your ability to demonstrate the extent and quality of time with your child prior to and post separation is critical. If the other parent is interfering with your involvement, document your attempts and the resistance that you are receiving.

Establish a Physical Custody Schedule – If you live separately from the other parent, it is critical that you negotiate a physical custody schedule that accurately represents your long-term goal of shared parenting, ideally before a custody petition or court complaint has been filed. If you currently have a visitation agreement, make every effort not to miss any of your scheduled time.

Promote Involvement of the other Parent – Show that you encourage the contact and active involvement between your child and the other parent. Unless clear evidence shows the child is in danger while in their care, the Family Court will frown upon your interference with the child’s relationship to their other parent.

Provide a Healthy, Stable Environment – Present a safe, nurturing and stable environment. Demonstrate that you provide a healthy environment by maintaining a steady, clutter free home with a bedroom for your child and a safe play space. Provide regular, nutritious meals and keep a record of your grocery receipts. Get those kids to bed early and to school on time.

If you need assistance with your custody or joint parenting plan, contact the Phoenix divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group! We can help ensure the New Year is enjoyable for all.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Tips if Divorce Is Your Resolution in the New Year

If you are considering filing for divorce in the near future, you are not alone. The month of January has long been marked down in the calendars of family law attorneys, including the Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group, as “Divorce Month.” In fact, many firms see an increase in the number of consultations upwards of 30 percent beginning the Monday after New Year’s.

While contributing factors vary, the fact remains that many couples will begin this year with a resolution to end their marriage. No matter the reason, there are many things that anyone looking into divorce for the first time needs to know that will help them get through the process smoothly while protecting their rights:

1. Do not move out of the marital home – If you wish to keep yourself in a good position to obtain a fair custody arrangement and also want to mitigate potential financial burdens, do not pack up and move out of the marital home. This is one of the top mistakes that many spouses continue to make, and it can start you off at a disadvantage out of the gate.

2. Research divorce laws for your specific state – There are very few, if any at all, states that have identical laws regarding the various aspects of divorce. You will want to do plenty of research over areas that you know may come up if you and your spouse decide to split specific to your local jurisdiction.

3. Set up a consultation with an attorney – Even if you aren’t certain you will need to retain an attorney or that you will even end up filing for divorce at all, it is a really good idea to meet with an expert familiar with your state’s divorce laws. Many attorneys and firms offer initial consultations, though even when there is a charge, it is well worth the fee to get accurate information you can trust as you plan your next move.
If you’re looking for a Scottsdale divorce attorney and / or family law attorney, contact us today. Any delay can affect your future and the wellbeing of you and your children.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

3 Reasons to Skip Mediation in Your Divorce

Depending on individual divorce circumstances, the Scottsdale divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group may or may not suggest mediation in divorce. For a divorce mediation to be successful and end in a fair and equitable settlement, several factors need to be present. First, both of the parties should have similar financial circumstances, including equal earnings and relatively equal separate assets. Second, both parties should be equally agreeable to the divorce, and they should have an amicable relationship with one another. Third, both parties should have an excellent understanding of the other party’s income and finances, and have equal access to the other’s financial statements. Finally, both parties need to be equally competent negotiators and be in equal negotiating positions. If any of those factors are not present, the divorce is not a good candidate for mediation. Thus, you should proceed with caution before electing mediation.

If you are considering mediation, here are reasons you should think twice before proceeding.

1. No one is looking out for your interests – it is not the job of the mediator to look out for your interests. Rather, the mediator’s job is to act as a neutral party to facilitate the parties reaching their own agreement. In fact, since a mediator is legally bound to be neutral, he or she cannot alert or advise you if an agreement is unfair. Worse yet, some mediators will subtly push the parties into accepting an unfair agreement simply so they can claim that the mediation was a “success.” This is why you are supposed to retain a divorce attorney to advise you in the background during the mediation process.

2. Mediation can cost as much or more than a traditional divorce – People often choose mediation because they think it will be less expensive than a regular litigated divorce. While it can be, this is frequently not the case. People entering mediation are almost always surprised to hear that they should hire their own attorneys to represent them in the background during the process. Once they hear that advice, much of the appeal of mediation disappears. That is why most people ignore that crucial advice, and proceed with mediation without representation. Another, frequently overlooked aspect of mediation that can end up making it more expensive than traditional divorce is the high risk of an unfavorable marital settlement agreement. Lack of knowledge about your spouse’s financial assets, ignorance of the law, and poor negotiating skills can easily cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars when you end getting less than you otherwise would have if you had retained a divorce attorney. You have not saved money if you negotiate a poor marital settlement agreement.

3. There is no guarantee you will settle your case in mediation – If you do proceed with mediation correctly and hire a divorce attorney to represent you in the background, mediation will likely cost you and your spouse anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 — and you may not succeed in reaching an agreement with your spouse. If you don’t reach an agreement, you may have to start the process over again with traditional divorce litigation. And any money you have spent on mediation will have been wasted, sent down the drain.
To discuss your options in a Scottsdale divorce, call us today to schedule a consultation.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Gray Divorce After 50: The Increasing Importance of a Spouse Finding Employment

At Canterbury Law Group, the lawyers work with leading industry professionals in the Valley and beyond. Not only do we help our clients form impactful relationships that assist in their continued success after case resolution, but The Firm stays abreast of all matters that impact our client’s legal matters before, during and after the case is resolved.

Emerging trends have recognized that Americans aged 50+ and older are getting divorced at a higher rate than younger people. This trend, coupled with increasing life expectancy is leading to more emphasis being placed on the employment of dependent spouses to contribute to their income stream after a divorce.

People 50 and older comprised 25% of all Americans who got divorced in 2014, up from 8% in 1990, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research. Those who quit their marriage late in life can substantially reduce their standard of living and sacrifice their retirement security due to a number of factors. It’s a lot more expensive to live in separate households, and when retirement savings must be divided. Both spouses’ income sources need to be maximized before and after retirement when a divorce occurs.

One Arizona expert witness, Bradford H. Taft, MBA, CMF, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CFLC, Managing Director of Taft Vocational Experts and Chief Career Strategist of Taft Career Group, has provided valuable information for adults choosing to divorce later in life both during and after a case has resolved.

The traditional role of a divorce vocational expert is to evaluate a spouse’s earning capacity, conduct a labor market analysis, and opine on a spouse’s employability and earning capacity for consideration in determining spousal maintenance and/or child support. By providing these analyses and conclusions, vocational experts play a valuable role in the divorce process.

Vocational evaluators who have a strong understanding of the career transition process including how to plan and implement effective job search campaigns, post-divorce, can bring a high level of efficiency in helping a spouse find a new job. This is especially valuable to a spouse who has been out of the job market for an extended period of time and needs to locate employment as soon as possible. No parent or spouse wants to start over—however, a seasoned vocational expert witness can help bridge that gap.

Here are three steps from Taft Vocational Experts to planning and implementing a “Job Search Campaign” that a vocational expert can assist with:

1. Career Assessment and Objective Setting – In the vocational evaluation during divorce proceedings, an expert gathers information and then evaluates a spouse’s education, interests, skills, knowledge, and experience to determine what career options are the best fit. Then they conduct a labor market analysis to assess the likelihood that an individual can get a job, and what they can expect to earn, both immediately and in the long-term. By continuing to work with the individual to focus on career objectives that match their talents and interests, a vocational expert helps the individual to effectively concentrate on a realistic career direction.

2. Written and Verbal Communication – Once the career objective has been established, it’s time to write a resume along with creating other communication tools to broadcast one’s talents and interests to the job market. A vocational expert can help the job seeker create a strong message that shows how their talents can contribute to the success of organizations.

Verbal communications include brief (30 and 60 second) personal branding statements to effectively introduce themselves in networking situations. Preparing for job interviews includes anticipating what questions a prospective employer will ask as well as creating a list of questions that the candidate wants to ask the employer.

3. Effective Sources of Job Leads – After career objectives have been set and communications tools have been developed, the job seeker is ready to use a number of sources to identify job leads. Surveys show that networking to develop referrals into perspective employers is still the best way to find a new career opportunity, so specific emphasis is placed on how to identify referral sources, develop relationships and get introduced to hiring managers. The Internet has revolutionized the job search process, so learning how to use it effectively to research companies, support networking strategies, identify job postings, and submit applications is also important.

By following through to support a spouse in planning and developing an effective job search campaign, the vocational expert can assume an expanded role in ensuring a positive outcome to the divorce process.

If you or a friend are contemplating divorce or going through a divorce case now, consider our lawyers and staff as your top resource to help you garner your best results in such a challenging life transition. Email the firm today at [email protected] or call 480-240-0040 for a complimentary consultation.

blank
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Trends Between Age and Divorce Rate

Divorce rates for couples who marry in their teens and after their early 30s are on the rise, while couples who marry in their late 20s and early 30s have the greatest chance of a successful marriage, according to a recent study by a University of Utah professor.

The report, published on for the Institute for Family Studies, showed people who marry at 25 are more than 50 percent less likely to get a divorce than people who wed at age 20. And until age 32, each additional year of age at marriage reduces the odds of divorce by 11 percent. After age 32, the odds of divorce increase by 5 percent each year.

This data has been a considerable surprise and appears to be something that’s just developed over the last 20 years. The data leaves little indication as to why divorce rates are changing for people who marry in their mid-30s or later. The trend also remains constant across a variety of other factors, including gender, race, education, religious participation, sexual history and the size of the metropolitan area they live in.

  • In 1995, the five-year divorce rate for newlyweds younger than 20 was 29 percent, with a rapid decline to 19 percent for couples ages 20 through 24. Divorce rates continued to shrink the older couples were when they got married, with couples ages 35 and older having a divorce rate of 14 percent.
  • An analysis of data from 2006 through 2010, however, showed a 32 percent divorce rate for couples younger than 20. That rate went down to 14 percent for 30- to 34-year-olds, but increased by 5 percent for couples older than 35, creating an upward trend from previous years.
  • In 2011, the median marriage age for men was 29 — the highest in decades — and 27 for women — the highest it’s ever been, according to the report.

No matter what your age, going through a divorce can be one of the most challenging times of your life. If divorce has become a reality for you, hiring a qualified divorce lawyer can be critical to your future. Call the Scottsdale divorce layers at Canterbury Law Group today to schedule you consultation. 480-240-0040 or www.canterburylawgroup.com

1 2 3