Written by Canterbury Law Group

Wanting to Be a Lawyer? These Qualities Will Help You

With every job, certain traits and qualities will help you succeed. Whether it be schooling, training, or having a natural position ability, the more merits you possess that are specific to your job, the better you can be.

A lawyer is no exception to this. There is more to just knowing the rules of law to be a successful lawyer. Your divorce attorney in Scottsdale has some advice for those who are wanting to become a lawyer.

Excellent Communication Skills

A lawyer must be able to deliver high-level communications. Good lawyers are also excellent listeners. Part of the job will be to stand up for your client, sometimes speaking for them. Public speaking skills will help aide any time you are in front of a judge, jury, or entire courtroom.

Your communication skills do not stop at verbal communication. Being able to clearly and persuasively write will be a strong asset too. There will come moments when you must draft challenging legal documents. Those documents must be as concise and easy to read.

Research Skills

There will be a lot of research happening behind the scenes before you really begin moving forward with your client. Why? Because you should know the ins and outs of the entire situation, including past examples from old cases.

The more research you can do, the better it will be for your legal clients. Having good research skills will help this process go quicker and smoother, and ensure you are getting accurate and concise information.

People Skills

No matter how much you excelled at school, you need to have people skills to be a successful lawyer. Your job revolves around people’s day to day lives. You may have to speak on behalf of a client, be face to face with the opposition, or just having to stand up in front of a large crowd.  Having good people skills will benefit you as a lawyer.

Problem-Solving Skills

Having excellent problem-solving skills is vital for a lawyer. There will come moments when you may need to be creative in finding a solution or the answer you need. Being able to think on your feet and quickly assess a situation and find a solution will be critical for a lawyer.

Perseverance

A good lawyer sticks with it until the end, no matter what, even if it ends up being a losing battle. The job can get exhausting after a while, but a successful lawyer is in it for the long haul.

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

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

How to Deal with Debt Collection Companies

Most Arizonians don’t know what to do when a debt collection company calls. The law does allow creditors or collection companies to call debtors and attempt to retrieve money owned. However, there are state and federal laws regarding which practices are allowed and which are explicitly prohibited. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act both stipulate what some attorney’s call “debtor’s rights.” When a collection company calls you, it’s important to know what rights you have against creditor abuse and malpractice.

When a Collector Calls

When a collection company calls you, they cannot demand that you pay the debt without informing you of several fundamental things. After the first call, the collection company has five days to inform you of the amount of debt that you owe and the name of the creditor to whom you owe the debt. If a collection company calls you demanding “payment” without specifying either of these, you have a fair case you can make against the collection company. You should contact a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale if a collection company keeps calling without specifying the debt.

You can Contest the Debt

Most debtors are unaware that they can call into question the validity of a debt. Once a collection company calls you notifying you of a debt, you have 30 days to dispute the debt. If you doubt the validity of the debt, you can make a statement disputing the collection company’s claim. Once you have written to the creditor or the collection company, the parties should issue a statement in return verifying the debt in another 30 days. If you don’t get this verification statement after you issue a dispute, then the debt is very likely invalid.

When Creditors Don’t Match

Sometimes creditors sell debt. So some of your debt could be owned by a different creditor than the original person or entity you borrowed from. If the current creditor is different, then the collection agency must issue a statement with the name and address of the original creditor. If you don’t recognize the creditor of a debt, you must issue a statement and have the collecting agency specify the creditor’s identity. It’s important to note that the collection company cannot call you or try to retrieve a debt before notifying you who the original creditor is. You must get the verification as a written statement too.

Don’t Let Them Verbally Advise You

Some collection agencies may try to verbally tell you who the original creditor is, what amount of debt is owed, and other such factors. This is an attempt by collection companies to avoid issuing written statements. Documents can be upheld in court. If you get a verbal statement, the collection company can always change the story if the case goes to trial. Therefore, you must have physical statements mailed to you. Debtors have the legal right to such.

Collection companies that don’t adhere to the rules can be taken to court. In some cases, your debt may be waived and the court may demand the collection company to pay your attorney’s fees as well.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Same Sex Divorce in Arizona

Same sex marriage has finally become possible in Arizona, after the landmark Oberfell vs. Hodges Supreme Court ruling in 2015. Arizona’s prior definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman” was struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. In another two cases, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedgewick gave favorable ruling recognizing rights of same sex couples as the same as rights of heterosexual couples.

While this is all good news for the LGBTQ community in the state, not all marriages survive, and that includes same sex marriages. Some marriages inevitably end in divorces.  If you are seeking to divorce your same sex spouse in Arizona, you can discuss legal options with our firm.

In September 2017 the Arizona Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling in McLaughlin v. Jones which now mandates that same sex female co-parents be granted identical legal and custodial rights in a divorce between a same sex female couple.

Rights of Divorcing Same Sex Couples

In Arizona, same sex couples now have the same rights as heterosexual  couples when divorcing. The separating couple will also have the same obligations when dividing property and paying alimony or child support. Child custody will be determined the same as in the case of hetero couples, with priority given to the child’s health and wellbeing.  It no longer matters which Mother “carried the baby to term” when allocating rights to both Mothers in a divorce.   This is a significant shift in the legal landscape as of late 2017.

Residency Requirements

Arizona’s residency requirement applies to same sex couples just like any other couple. At least one party of the divorcing couple must have resided in the state for 90 days at least before filing the divorce papers. This can be a somewhat difficult requirement to fulfill for same sex couples who may have recently moved. Because federal law now recognizes same sex marriage in all 50 states, you will have to check with your local divorce attorney on the jurisdictional time limits in your state.

Grounds for Divorce

Arizona does not require couples in non-covenant marriages to provide any grounds for divorce when filing a case. As same sex couples fall into this category, the only ground required is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. One spouse can successfully claim so even if the other doesn’t want to divorce. In case either one of the spouses wants to live apart, it’s possible to file for a legal separation as well.  Some people pursue legal separation so that they can remain on each other’s health insurance after the fact.

Child Custody

Determining child custody in a contentious divorce can be as difficult for a same sex couple as it is for any couple. Because of the 2017 McLaughlin decision, the requirements, rules, and the family law that apply to hetero couples apply equally to same sex couples.  As always, it’s strongly recommended for the couple to resolve custody disputes amicably with the aid of a mediator if possible. It’s best to negotiate shared parenting time in advance with the help of lawyers instead of going to battle in front of a judge.

Same sex couples in Arizona have no reason to believe that a divorce case will be handled much differently than divorce cases for heterosexual couples. If the divorce is particularly contentious, then getting advice from an experienced attorney will be a must. You will have to consult with a family law expert to learn more about child custody.

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 Questions about Divorce in Arizona Answered

In Arizona, divorce refers to a legal “dissolution” of marriage. You will go through a procedure in court to formally end your marriage. If you are the one who goes to court for a divorce, you will be identified as the “petitioner.” The other spouse will be identified as the “respondent.” Divorce in Arizona is not the same as in other states. Here are some answers to common questions most people have about divorce in Arizona.

Can I File for Divorce Anytime?

Either you or your spouse must have resided in the state for a minimum of 90 days before filing for a divorce at a local Arizona court. That is a legal requirement.  If there are children, they must typically be in the state for 180 days to vest custody jurisdiction, depending on the facts of the case.

Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?

Technically, you can represent yourself in court. However, it is highly recommended to get your attorney from your local area, like a divorce attorney in Phoenix. If you choose to self-represent, the court will assume that you know all the laws and rules pertaining to your case. You will have to follow court procedures on your own. A judge may disallow you to take certain actions if you do not properly follow court procedure. No one at court will be able to give you legal aid because they are barred by law from doing so.

You can seek legal aid if you cannot afford an attorney for your divorce. You can also petition the court to have the spouse pay for your attorney’s fees if your spouse makes substantially more income than you do.  Every case is unique.  

Do I Need to Give a Reason for Divorce?

Not in Arizona. The state has a so-called “no fault” clause, which means neither party needs to give a reason for the divorce. Moreover, the romantic escapades of Husband or Wife will have no relevance in the underlying dissolution action.  The mere desire to get a divorce is enough. In the court, only one spouse needs to claim that the marriage is “irretrievably broken “to finalize a divorce. The only exception is if the spouses have previously chosen a “covenant marriage”. Then, the petitioning spouse must provide ground or reasons for the divorce under state law.

What are A.R.S. and A.R.F.L.P.?

You will see these acronyms in the papers your divorce lawyer in Scottsdale or elsewhere files. The letters stand for particular legal statutes, or laws, in Arizona. A.R.S. refers to Arizona Revised Statutes, and A.R.F.L.P. refers to Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. You can go to the Arizona court or state websites to get access to these legal documents and rules if needed.  Ideally, you simply hire counsel and let them do their job to advocate for your rights in the underlying divorce.

What Do I Do if My Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce?

Too bad.  It’s going to happen anyway.  In cases where a spouse is morally against the divorce from advancing, there is little they can do to stop the case.  At best, the objecting spouse can request the court order a mandatory reconciliation counseling session which typically only pauses the case for 30 to 60 days. If at the end of reconciliation session, the spouses have not come to an agreement to postpone the divorce, the proceedings will go forward. Conciliation meetings are free of charge and rarely derail a case.  

If you have children, then your proceedings will be subject to a wide range of family laws in Arizona. The legal aspects you should consider will depend on the type of custody you seek. For more information, you should contact an attorney in your area.  Your children are your most treasured asset and case strategy and approach to maximize your custody is critical and experienced legal counsel even more important in such instances.  

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.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

When you file for bankruptcy in Arizona, you are bound by state as well as federal laws. Before you file for bankruptcy, you need to know whether you actually need to. Most people who are deep in debt opt to file for Chapter 7, which provides a certain degree of debt relief, asset protection and management of existing debt. However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can only be used once every seven years. So, you really need to know whether you want to file for bankruptcy now or seek alternative solutions.

When it comes down to it, it will be up to you to decide whether you should file for any form of bankruptcy. A credit counselor may be able to help you. Before you make up your mind, here are several tips on filing for bankruptcy in Arizona:

Take Advantage of Arizona’s Exemption Laws

Arizona’s Exemption Laws allow a certain degree of protection against repossession of assets by creditors who have provided unsecured debt. For example, if you are neck deep in credit card debt, you don’t need to fear that the credit card company might show up and demand your house or car. Credit card debt is mostly dischargeable under Arizona law. Likewise, if you want unwanted collection calls to stop, you can simply do so by informing the creditor that you have filed for bankruptcy. Consult an attorney in your local area, for example, a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale, to know whether you can benefit from exemption laws and avoid filing for bankruptcy, or hastily seek to file.

Income may Only Qualify You for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your household income must be below the state median income for households of your size. If you fail this “means test,” you may have to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Moreover, a bankruptcy judge can later examine whether your income is sufficient to repay debt under Chapter 13, rather than file under Chapter 7.

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have to repay your existing debt in part under a strict household budget. Your finances will be closely watched by a court-appointed Trustee. If you fail to meet any of the court-mandated obligations, then the Chapter 13 filing could later result in sanctions or “conversion” to another type of bankruptcy under the code. Having competent legal counsel at your side at all times is critical.

Moving on with the Proceedings

If you have made up your mind to file for bankruptcy, you will have to go to a court at the zip code you have lived in for at least 91 of the past 180 days. If you haven’t lived at your current address for this amount of time, you should use the court relevant to your old zip code address. Expect most of the proceedings’ paperwork to be distributed through via snail mail. With or without counsel, you will have to go to the bankruptcy court in person at least once. Go online to find information about your court and to download important documentation.  Appearing in a federal court house is often easier to digest with a competent licensed attorney by your side.

Cost

There are a number of fees associated with filing for bankruptcy in Arizona. In addition to paying for a lawyer, you will have to pay fees for things like mandatory pre-filing credit counseling, filing forms, making copies, and other similar tasks. Fees for different things will vary. For example, getting counseling can cost between $25 and $100.  Costs can be as little as $400 for preparing documentation. However, hiring a lawyer may cost as much as $5,000.  Every case is different.  Be careful agreeing to the “lowest cost” bankruptcy attorney who later calls you demanding thousands more in fees to continue with your case.  Like anything in life, lowest price does not mean highest value.   

If your income is too low, some of these costs may be waived off or you might only have to pay a portion of the fees. Filing for bankruptcy is not free, so do expect to pay as you go through the federal proceedings.

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