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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Inheritance and Divorce

Learn whether a court can divide your inheritance in a divorce.

Not necessarily. For purpose of divorce, the law usually categorizes property as either “marital” or “separate.” As a general rule, marital property is subject to division between the spouses; separate property isn’t. This is true whether you live in a “community property” state (like California), which divides property on a 50-50 basis, or an “equitable distribution” state (like New Jersey), which apportions property based on what the court believes is fair under the circumstances.

Is My Spouse Entitled to My Inheritance in Divorce?

That depends on a number of factors, including where you live. Each state’s divorce laws will govern how to address inheritance, in community property states and equitable distribution states as well.

In the overwhelming majority states, an inheritance is considered separate property, belonging exclusively to the spouse who received it and it cannot be divided in a divorce. That holds true whether a spouse received the inheritance before or during the marriage. But in a state like New Hampshire, for example, courts may consider an inheritance to be divisible in a divorce (unless you can persuade a judge that it shouldn’t be).

Now here’s the rub—although your state may initially view an inheritance as separate property, your actions can change it into marital property. Sometimes that happens intentionally in what is called a “transmutation of property.”

An example of an intentional transmutation of property from separate to marital is where a spouse inherits a house, then puts the other spouse’s name on the deed. The spouses move in and share the costs of living there. In that scenario, if a divorce rolls around, the inheriting spouse would be hard pressed to convince a judge that the house was never intended to be marital property.

But let’s say the inheriting spouse never puts the other spouse’s name on the deed, and neither spouse lives in the house during the marriage. At some point down the road, however, the non-owner spouse contributes to improvements which increase the house’s value. At the time of divorce, a judge might determine that—although the house itself may not be marital property—the increase in value specifically due to the improvements is a part of the marital estate, and thus subject to division between the spouses.

The most common example of converting an inheritance to marital property is when the inheriting spouse “commingles” (mixes) the inheritance with marital assets. This can be intentional, but often it happens by mistake. For example, Uncle Zeke passes on and leaves you $10,000 in his will. After you and your spouse break out the bubbly and toast the kindly gentleman, you put the money in an existing savings account that’s in both your names, and which either of you can access at will. If you did that because you wanted to share the inheritance money with your spouse . . . great! Mission accomplished.

But if you thought that putting that money in the joint account was just for convenience, and that it would always remain yours alone, you may have put yourself behind the proverbial eight-ball. By commingling the inheritance with marital funds, you’ve likely converted it into marital property. You can make an argument to the court that this was never your intention, but you’ll have an uphill climb.

Can I Claim My Ex’s Inheritance Received After Divorce?

Sharing a spouse’s inheritance after divorce is a nonstarter, unless your divorce judgment specifically addresses that topic.

That said, there is a situation where an ex-spouse’s post-divorce inheritance could come into play. If you’re receiving spousal support (alimony) or child support, you might be able to petition the court to increase the support amount, based on that inheritance or any interest income the principal is making.

Courts usually allow modification of support—both up and down—for a variety of reasons, such as a job loss, a spouse or child becoming disabled, or a spouse’s substantial pay increase (again, depending on the laws in your state).

You’d first have to see whether your state views an inheritance as a potential basis for a modification request. If it does, you may have viable grounds to seek an increase in support. Of course, this is going to depend in large measure on how significant the inheritance is. Your best bet for success is when the inheritance has substantially enhanced your ex-spouse’s standard of living.

 

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Community Property

Community property issues can arise during divorce proceedings and after a spouse's death. When spouses divorce or pass away, they are frequently left with the arduous task of dividing property and proceeds acquired during the marriage. This may include tangible assets (such as stocks, bonds, and legal title), as well as intangible assets (such as automobiles, furniture, paintings, and family homes) and debt. In some states, property acquired during the marriage is considered "community" property and is frequently divided 50/50 in the event of a divorce. The manner in which states treat "community property," also known as "marital property," will determine what happens to debt or assets upon divorce. Common Property Statutes State laws govern community property, and not all states have such laws on the books. Community property laws in nine states (and Puerto Rico) govern the division of debt and property in a divorce. Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are included in this group. In such states, property is typically divided equally, whereas in all other states, distribution is determined by a judge based on what is equitable or fair. Alaska is distinctive in that divorcing couples have options. Despite the fact that each state determines how property is divided upon divorce, the laws may vary slightly. For instance, some states, such as California, divide debts and assets "equally" (50/50), while others, such as Texas, divide them "equitably." Even in community property states, courts in jurisdictions that apply the equitable distribution doctrine consider numerous factors, some of which justify unequal distribution of property or debt. Because these laws affect property and other valuable assets, they can have a profound impact on the future of a spouse who is forced to share a portion of an asset that was previously considered separate property. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement between the parties, property distribution will be governed by the law of the state in which the couple was married. Compared to separate property, community property In most cases, property acquired during a marriage belongs to both partners. This is particularly true in states where community property laws exist. Despite the fact that not all states have such laws, property acquired during the duration of a marriage is distributed equally upon divorce. The following are examples of community property: Earnings of each spouse during the marriage Home and furnishings acquired with marital funds during the marriage (reword) Investments and operations of a company generate interest income. The mortgage and family home Separate property, on the other hand, is that which was owned prior to the marriage, was inherited or received as a gift during the marriage, or was earned after the date of separation by either spouse. These are examples of separate property: Bank accounts that are held independently Separately held inheritances acquired during a marriage presents to either partner Personal injury compensation Any property acquired after the dissolution of a marriage is considered separate property. Courts have also categorized certain properties as "partially" or "quasi" community property. This includes assets that would have been considered separate property at the beginning or during the marriage, but have become marital property as a result of co-mingling or other circumstances. Considerations a Judge Might Employ to Determine Property Division A judge may consider several factors when determining how to divide property acquired during the marriage. A judge will consider 1) the earning capacity of each spouse, 2) which parent is the legal custodian of the children (if any), and 3) the existence of fault grounds such as adultery or cruelty. Consequently, even in states with community property, property may not always be divided 50/50. Instead, courts will consider the following factors to determine whether an unequal property division is necessary: One spouse may receive a larger share of the marital assets if fault-based grounds for divorce exist (such as adultery, cruelty, etc.). Loss of Continuing Benefit: Whether one spouse will incur the loss of compensation they would have received had the marriage continued. Disparity of Earning Capabilities: Whether disparities exist between incomes, earning capacities, and business opportunities that may impact property division. Health and Physical Conditions: Whether the physical health or condition of the spouses may impact the property division. Age Disparities: Whether there is a disparity between the ages of the spouses that could affect one's ability to work or receive retirement benefits. The size of the estate can have an impact on the distribution of property. The larger the estate, the more likely the court is to favor a 50/50 split. The likelihood that one of the spouses will receive a substantial inheritance. Gifts to a Spouse: After a divorce, gifts are typically converted to separate property. A spouse who obtains primary custody of children under the age of 18 may affect the division of property. Consult with a Divorce Lawyer Concerning Community Property Legal issues surrounding a divorce can be overwhelming in number. Property matters, alimony, child custody, child support, division of retirement benefits accrued during the marriage, visitation rights, and other legal matters must all be handled with care. Finding the appropriate divorce attorney is crucial. Contact a local divorce attorney with experience in your area today.

Community property issues can arise during divorce proceedings and after a spouse’s death. When spouses divorce or pass away, they are frequently left with the arduous task of dividing property and proceeds acquired during the marriage. This may include tangible assets (such as stocks, bonds, and legal title), as well as intangible assets (such as automobiles, furniture, paintings, and family homes) and debt.

In some states, property acquired during the marriage is considered “community” property and is frequently divided 50/50 in the event of a divorce. The manner in which states treat “community property,” also known as “marital property,” will determine what happens to debt or assets upon divorce.

Common Property Statutes

State laws govern community property, and not all states have such laws on the books. Community property laws in nine states (and Puerto Rico) govern the division of debt and property in a divorce. Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are included in this group. In such states, property is typically divided equally, whereas in all other states, distribution is determined by a judge based on what is equitable or fair.

Alaska is distinctive in that divorcing couples have options.

Despite the fact that each state determines how property is divided upon divorce, the laws may vary slightly. For instance, some states, such as California, divide debts and assets “equally” (50/50), while others, such as Texas, divide them “equitably.” Even in community property states, courts in jurisdictions that apply the equitable distribution doctrine consider numerous factors, some of which justify unequal distribution of property or debt.

Because these laws affect property and other valuable assets, they can have a profound impact on the future of a spouse who is forced to share a portion of an asset that was previously considered separate property. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement between the parties, property distribution will be governed by the law of the state in which the couple was married.

In most cases, property acquired during a marriage belongs to both partners. This is particularly true in states where community property laws exist. Despite the fact that not all states have such laws, property acquired during the duration of a marriage is distributed equally upon divorce.

The following are examples of community property:

Earnings of each spouse during the marriage

Home and furnishings acquired with marital funds during the marriage (reword)

Investments and operations of a company generate interest income.

The mortgage and family home

Separate property, on the other hand, is that which was owned prior to the marriage, was inherited or received as a gift during the marriage, or was earned after the date of separation by either spouse.

These are examples of separate property:

  • Bank accounts that are held independently
  • Separately held inheritances acquired during a marriage
  • presents to either partner
  • Personal injury compensation
  • Any property acquired after the dissolution of a marriage is considered separate property

Courts have also categorized certain properties as “partially” or “quasi” community property. This includes assets that would have been considered separate property at the beginning or during the marriage, but have become marital property as a result of co-mingling or other circumstances.

Considerations a Judge Might Employ to Determine Property Division

A judge may consider several factors when determining how to divide property acquired during the marriage. A judge will consider 1) the earning capacity of each spouse, 2) which parent is the legal custodian of the children (if any), and 3) the existence of fault grounds such as adultery or cruelty.

Consequently, even in states with community property, property may not always be divided 50/50. Instead, courts will consider the following factors to determine whether an unequal property division is necessary:

  • One spouse may receive a larger share of the marital assets if fault-based grounds for divorce exist (such as adultery, cruelty, etc.).
  • Loss of Continuing Benefit: Whether one spouse will incur the loss of compensation they would have received had the marriage continued.
  • Disparity of Earning Capabilities: Whether disparities exist between incomes, earning capacities, and business opportunities that may impact property division.
  • Health and Physical Conditions: Whether the physical health or condition of the spouses may impact the property division.
  • Age Disparities: Whether there is a disparity between the ages of the spouses that could affect one’s ability to work or receive retirement benefits.
  • The size of the estate can have an impact on the distribution of property. The larger the estate, the more likely the court is to favor a 50/50 split.
  • The likelihood that one of the spouses will receive a substantial inheritance.
  • Gifts to a Spouse: After a divorce, gifts are typically converted to separate property.
  • A spouse who obtains primary custody of children under the age of 18 may affect the division of property.

Consult with a Divorce Lawyer Concerning Community Property

Legal issues surrounding a divorce can be overwhelming in number. Property matters, alimony, child custody, child support, division of retirement benefits accrued during the marriage, visitation rights, and other legal matters must all be handled with care. Finding the appropriate divorce attorney is crucial. Contact a local divorce attorney with experience in your area today.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Different Types of Separation

What does the term “separated” mean? Discover the distinctions between trial separation, permanent separation, and legal separation.

When it comes to marriage, separation is not synonymous with divorce—even if you have a court-ordered “judgment of separation.” Separation is when you live apart from your spouse but remain legally married until you obtain a divorce judgment. While a separation does not terminate your marriage, it does affect your financial obligations to your spouse until the divorce is final.

Separation is classified into three types: trial, permanent, and legal. In the majority of states, only one of the three (legal separation) alters your legal status—but all three have the potential to impair your legal rights.

Separation of Trials

If you and your spouse feel the need for a break from the relationship, one option is to live apart while deciding whether to divorce—a process known as “trial separation.” Legally, little changes during a trial separation—all applicable marital property laws remain in effect. For instance, a court will consider the money you earn and the items you purchase during the trial separation to be property acquired by a married person. This frequently means that you and your spouse jointly own the property (depending on your state’s property ownership laws).

If you and your spouse separate but intend to reconcile, it’s a good idea to write an informal agreement outlining the separation rules. For instance, your trial separation agreement may address the following:

  • whether you’re going to continue sharing a joint bank account or credit cards.
  • how you intend to budget your expenditures
  • who will continue to reside in the family home
  • how you intend to split expenses, and
  • If you have children, discuss how and when you will spend time with them.
  • If you decide to divorce, you may be able to use this trial separation agreement as a template for a marital settlement agreement.
  • If you and your spouse agree that reconciliation is impossible, your trial separation becomes permanent.

Permanent Distancing

If you live apart from your spouse with no intention of reconciling but are not divorced, the law considers you to be permanently separated.

How Separation from Your Spouse Affects Your Rights

Depending on the local law, a permanent separation may alter the property rights of spouses. For instance, in some states, assets and debts acquired during a permanent separation are considered to belong exclusively to the spouse who acquired them. Once a couple is permanently divorced, each spouse assumes sole responsibility for any debts incurred. Similarly, spouses who divorce permanently lose their right to any property or income acquired by the other.

Why Does the Date of Final Divorce Matter?

Due to the fact that spouses’ rights to each other’s property and obligations to pay debts change significantly as of the date of a permanent separation, spouses frequently argue bitterly about the precise date of their permanent separation. For instance, if your spouse left in a huff and spent a month sleeping on a friend’s couch, but you did not discuss divorce until after the month passed, the date the separation became permanent may be unclear. That means that if your spouse earned a sizable bonus at work during that month, you may be able to argue that you are entitled to a portion of the bonus.

If you move out of the house and do not anticipate a long-term reconciliation with your spouse, reconsider going out or spending the night together just for the sake of old times. If you reconcile briefly, you risk changing the date of separation and becoming financially responsible for your spouse during a time when you believed you were solely responsible for your own.

After you have legally separated from your spouse and reached basic agreements regarding your joint assets and debts, you are not required to divorce immediately. You may choose to remain married for a variety of reasons, including avoiding disruption of your children’s lives or retaining insurance coverage. Or, in some cases, preserving the status quo is simply more convenient than pursuing a divorce. On the other hand, you may decide to divorce as soon as the paperwork is finalized, or when the required separation or waiting period in your state expires.

Is Separation Required Prior to Divorce in My State?

Certain states’ laws require spouses to separate before a divorce can be finalized. State laws governing required separations vary in detail—for example, many states require spouses to live “separately and apart” for a specified period of time before the court will accept a divorce petition (formal request), while others do not require separation until after the petition is filed. If you file before meeting the requirements for separation, the court may dismiss your case. Other states may require spouses to live apart during the divorce process.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Divorce Frequently Asked Questions & When Is The Right Time To File For Divorce

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.  

Divorce is frequently a lengthy and costly process. Court proceedings can take months to complete. Simultaneously, the spouses may not get along and may be going through a difficult emotional period.

Additionally, the spouses may be experiencing financial hardship as a result of the household income being split and the need to support two separate homes. Having a plan in place for when to leave a marriage can help a spouse minimize the financial impact of the divorce. The following are some of the financial factors to consider when planning an exit from a marriage:

Market for Real Estate

If the couple owns a home together, one of the most important factors to consider when deciding when to divorce is the state of the real estate market. To afford smaller, separate spaces, the spouses may have to sell the house and split the proceeds. In contrast, the spouses may agree that one of them should continue to live on the property while the other receives other marital assets to compensate for his or her equity share. This step is best taken when the value of the property is high for the spouse who will receive other property. The spouse who will remain in the home, on the other hand, may prefer to divorce when the real estate market is weak so that he or she will not have to give up as many valuables to the other spouse.

It’s All About the Kids

If the couple has minor children or children who will be financially impacted by the divorce, this is an important factor to consider. A divorce involving minor children is significantly more difficult than a divorce involving no minor children. Lawyers devote more time to preparing arguments about child custody. A parent may also be obligated to pay child support for many years to come. Some states allow child support obligations to continue after the child reaches the age of 18 and may even require financial support while the child attends college. However, getting a divorce while your children are older but still dependent has a financial advantage in that they may be eligible for student loans or grants that they would not have been eligible for in an intact family. Many of these programs only consider the income of the custodial parent when determining financial aid eligibility.

Job Situation

The spouses’ employment status is another important financial consideration. In an ideal world, spouses will divorce when they both earn enough money to support themselves. This, however, is not always the case. It’s possible that a spouse’s hours have recently been reduced. A spouse’s job may have been lost. A person’s job may have been lost due to a sudden illness. When a couple is going through financial difficulties, it’s common for them to have problems in their marriage as well. Waiting for both spouses to regain financial stability or realign their careers may be difficult, but it may be preferable, especially if one spouse is required to pay spousal support to an unemployed or underemployed spouse.

Due to the separation of the spouses and their finances, a divorce often necessitates a slew of changes. One or both spouses may need to purchase new homes, vehicles, or change jobs. The economy can have a direct impact on whether these changes are feasible. If a spouse has been out of work for a long time, it may be difficult for him or her to re-enter the workforce during a downturn.

Divorce can have a negative impact on a person’s credit score. After a divorce, if spouses have neglected their credit, it can have a negative impact on their lives. Good credit is frequently required to purchase a home, rent a property, open a credit card in one’s own name, and in some cases, to obtain employment. If the parties are in a happy place in their relationship even as they consider divorce, they may want to wait a year or two so that they can both work on improving their credit scores before adding the financial strains of divorce. Another option is to try to stay in the same house or drive the same car so that the spouse is not forced to rely on good credit right away.

Income and Assets in the Future

Another factor to consider when deciding on the best financial time to divorce is the possibility of future income or asset acquisition. When deciding how to divide assets between spouses, many states do not consider the future. If a bonus, raise, or inheritance is on the horizon, it may be in the best interests of the spouse who will receive these additional funds to have the divorce finalized before receiving these funds. The other spouse may wish to postpone the divorce until these additional funds are received and can be divided.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Top Reasons for Divorce

Before you consider divorce, be sure to speak to the Scottsdale divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group to discuss your case and options. A divorce lawyer can act as both a legal counselor and sounding board during this life-changing decision. Although there are many variables and unique reasons for divorce, we have included the statistically top reasons people file divorce in the U.S.

  • 1. Lack of communication. A successful relationship requires constant communication. Distance in a marriage is created quickly if you don’t share your feelings.
  • 2. Finances. If money becomes a consistent topic of disagreement, the road to divorce is almost inevitable.
  • 3. Feeling constrained. Some feel that marriage is holding them back from achieving goals and taking opportunities. If your partner can’t support your dreams, then they may not support the marriage.
  • 4. Trust. Trust is one of the leading factors in having a successful relationship and marriage. Your marriage is unlikely to survive if you do not trust your significant other.
  • 5. Expectations from each other. When expectations aren’t met, it can put a huge strain on the relationship.
  • 6. Your spouse doesn’t understand / fulfill your needs and desires. Everyone has different needs and wants. A successful partnership requires going the extra mile to fulfill a spouse’s needs and wants.
  • 7. Religious and cultural differences. Religious beliefs and cultural values can cause conflict, which affects the way you live your life and raise your children. This situation is often a deal breaker.

Consider the three most common reasons for divorce to determine whether or not your marriage can be saved.

Adultery or having an extramarital affair

When one person seeks fulfillment of their physical or sexual needs outside of the relationship, this can spell the end of the relationship. It’s extremely difficult to regain trust after a partner feels betrayed.

Extramarital affairs cause between 20% and 40% of marriages to fail and end in divorce. This is one of the most frequently occurring reasons for divorce. The reasons people cheat are not as black and white as our rage would have us believe.

Along with differences in sexual appetite and a lack of emotional intimacy, anger and resentment are frequently cited as underlying reasons for cheating.

Oftentimes, infidelity begins as an apparently innocent friendship. It begins as an emotional affair and develops into a physical one.

Infidelity is a leading cause of divorce. Apart from living apart for more than a year and subjecting your partner to cruelty, this is also one of the legal grounds for divorce (mental or physical).

Financial difficulties

Money makes people amusing, as the proverb goes, and it is true.

If a couple is not on the same page about how their finances will be handled, it can result in disastrous consequences.

Why is financial incompatibility a leading cause of divorce? According to divorce statistics, a “final straw” reason for divorce is a lack of financial compatibility, which accounts for nearly 41% of divorces.

Everything from divergent spending habits and financial goals to one spouse earning significantly more money than the other can wreak havoc on a marriage. Additionally, differences in the amount of money each partner brings to the marriage can result in power struggles between the couple.

Money has a profound effect on everything. It has an effect on people’s lives. Clearly, money and stress appear to be inextricably linked for many couples.

Financial difficulties are one of the leading causes of divorce, second only to infidelity as the primary reason for divorce.

Inadequate communication

Communication is critical in marriage, and an inability to communicate effectively and quickly results in resentment and frustration on both sides, negatively affecting all aspects of the marriage.

On the other hand, effective communication is the bedrock of a healthy marriage. When two people share a life together, they must be able to communicate their needs and understand and attempt to meet their partner’s.

Yelling at your spouse, not conversing enough throughout the day, and making derogatory remarks to express yourself are all unhealthy modes of communication that should be abandoned in a marriage.

Additionally, when couples stop communicating with one another, they can feel isolated and lonely and eventually lose interest in one another. This can result in the relationship’s demise.

Poor communication is one of the leading causes of divorce in 65 percent of cases.

While practicing mindful communication to correct age-old marriage mistakes can be challenging, the effort required to improve and save your relationship is well worth it.

Whether you are considering filing for divorce or you’ve already been served with a divorce petition, it is critical to speak with an attorney immediately to assess your legal rights and take the necessary steps to protect them. Delay may result in limiting your options. Every situation is unique and our attorneys are well equipped to provide you with the tools to make the best decision that suits your particular situation. Hit the ground running on your marital dissolution and consult with the legal professionals at www.canterburylawgroup.com or call 480-744-7711.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What To Look For In A Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Here is some helpful advice to what for look for when you are seeking a criminal defense lawyer. Read on to learn more.

The Difference Between Civil And Criminal Attorneys

Criminal defense attorneys usually work in small partnerships or may be solo practitioners covering a set geographical region. Conversely, those attorneys who handle civil matters tend to be part of larger law firms – often with multiple branches in varying locations.

It is important to understand they different kinds of work they do:

  • A civil attorney usually represents organizations and businesses who trade nationwide or internationally. On the other hand, criminal defense lawyers represent individual people whose problem usually have a local geographical base.
  • Civil lawyers are often at the beckon call of large organizations as they have an ongoing and regular need for legal advice to operate their businesses. Comparably, those who are accused of a crime normally only require legal counsel that is sporadic or non-frequent.

It is common to find a private defense attorney possessing many years, (sometimes even decades) of career experience in governmental fields before commencing their private practice career. Their experience often includes being a prosecutor (in a role such as city or district attorney) or that of a public defender, appointed by the courts for those who cannot afford legal representation.

It Helps To Make A Local Choice

When your case as a defendant is pending in the local courthouse, it can really help to have an attorney on you side who has a working knowledge and in-depth experience of working in that courthouse as procedures can be different in different courthouses. It may be the case the District Attorney in one location has a policy of no-plea-bargaining in certain circumstances, but a District Attorney is a neighboring jurisdiction has no such policy in place. It is also likely if your attorney is local, they may also have knowledge of how prosecuting attorneys work as well as relationships with local law enforcement and how they usually deal with juries in cases that go to trial. You can see from this it is paramount defendants choose an attorney who has experience in dealing with the workings of the local judicial system.

Asking The Attorney About Their Experience

Criminal law is extraordinarily complex so you should definitely ask an attorney before retaining them what kind of experience they have dealing with your kind of case. The attorney should be able to give you concise answers to your questions. For example, if a person has been charged with a DUI, here are some questions the person should ask of their prospective attorney:

  • What is your experience of dealing with clients who have been charged with a DUI?
  • How much of your practices business involves the representation of those facing DUI charges?
  • Do you have any certification as a specialist in DUI cases? (Some, but not all, states allow a certification)
  • As a percentage how often do people from your practice appear in the court where my case is going to be handled?

Clearly, a defendant should not be put in a position where they have to compromise obtaining the services of a competent attorney in return for one with local experience.

The Confidence Factor

The defendant must have every confidence in their lawyer as it is the lawyer who speaks on their behalf. The best experiences are where both take part in the decisions that need to be made and the lawyer sees them as individual partners as opposed to just another load of paperwork in a file. With that in mind, ask yourself the following when considering retaining a lawyer:

  • Is the attorney someone I feel at ease approaching, can speak with openly and feel comfortable working with?
  • Does the attorney explain issues to me in a manner I can comprehend?
  • Does the attorney express personal concern as well as a genuine desire to address my situation in a manner which is helpful?
  • Does the lawyer consider my personal circumstances as opposed to just the charges I am facing?
  • Does the attorney strike me as credible an can build trust with the judges, the prosecution as well as members of a jury?

Source: Bergman, Paul, and Ucla. “What to Look for in a Private Criminal Defense Attorney.” Www.nolo.com, Nolo, 9 May 2013, www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-look-a-private-defense-attorney.html.

 

Need A Criminal Defense Lawyer In Scottsdale or Phoenix?

Canterbury Law Group’s criminal defense lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will defend your case with personal attention and always have you and your best interests in mind when offering legal solutions. Call today for an initial consultation! We handle criminal defense cases in all areas of Phoenix including Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Maryville, Apache Junction, and more.

We are experienced criminal defense attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome. Our firm will rigorously represent you, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-744-7711 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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Possession Of A Controlled Substance

Possession Of A Controlled Substance

When the federal government decides to apply regulations to particular drugs and associated materials they are known under the term “controlled substance.” Some of these substances are perfectly legal to have in your possession if certain criteria are met – for example if they are for medicinal or scientific purposes. It becomes illegal when there is no applicable legal justification, or its use can not be legitimized.

Defining Controlled Substances

The federal government has divided drugs into what it refers to as “schedules” There are five of them – from the most harmful and lethal drugs in Schedule I to the least harmful in Schedule V in that is known as the Controlled Substances Act. The majority of states have chosen to follow this scheme. See: 21 U.S.C. §§ 801 and following for further details.

Defining Illegal Possession Of A Controlled Substance

When an individual has possession of controlled substance or a drug without the authorization or justifiably legal reason for doing so they can be said to be in illegal possession of a substance that is controlled. Frequently this often applies to people who are found to be in possession of drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, or other various narcotics. For someone to be convicted of this, the prosecutor has to prove the defendant knowingly had possession of the controlled substance.

The Knowing Difference

A person must intentionally or knowingly retain control or possession of a drug for the possessing of a controlled substance to be considered a crime. It may be on their body, in a pocket or they may have control as to the whereabouts of the drug, for example, in a bag, a hiding place or one of the compartments of a car. The defendant may face a conviction for possession when the prosecutor establishes proof the defendant had at least some control over the drug. Just because two people who live together in the same residence, does not equal both as being in possession – the person responsible for control has to be established if the other person did not have control over the drug or substance.

Distribution and Sales

It is possible a person who is facing possession charges may also face up with and a charge of “intent to distribute.” This is far more serious situation. The charge is usually based on the quantity of drugs that have been discovered – usually when it exceeds what may be considered reasonable for personal use. Other evidence may be obtained as well to back up this accusation such as materials used for packaging, lists of clients and a large amount of cash.

Drugs And Vehicles

Many cases of possession come from police pulling over people for traffic stops. It is not uncommon for police to suspect and indeed, locate drugs in a car and the driver is then facing a charge of possession. This is especially the case when the driver or passengers are discovered to have drugs on their person. However, the emphasis is on the prosecutor to establish the driver and/or passengers had knowledge of the drugs in the vehicle. It is also frequently the case more than one individual had possession of the drugs and/or controlled substances.

Penalties

The penalties for possession of drugs and/or controlled substances can vary enormously from state to state or if the charges are federal charges or not. Many factors go into consideration but let’s look in general terms at some of the possible consequences:

  • Fines are very often levied with drug or controlled substance convictions and can vary from less than $100 to more than $100,000 depending on the severity of the situation.
  • Time in jail and prison sentences may also result following a conviction. Again, this can range from just a few days to sentences of greater than ten years.
  • Probational sentences are often consequences in accompaniment to the above and may include rehabilitation treatment as a condition. More than likely the convicted individual will have regular meetings with a probation officer and will have to agree to certain codes and conducts of behavior. It is within the power of a court to revoke an order of probation should the convicted person not meet the terms of their probationary agreement. In such cases, the convicted individual us usually returned to jail or prison for the outstanding duration of their sentence.
  • Diversion programs share some commonality with probation programs but are utilized normally for those who are offenders for the first time. In these programs, the prosecutor permits the offender to take part in a program of behavior modification as well as counseling, often over an extended period of time. Once this has been successfully completed, the prosecutor will consent to drop the charges. Should the offending not complete the terms of the diversion agreement, the prosecutor will then pursue the case against the offender.
  • A drug offender in many states may be offered the opportunity to partake in a rehabilitation course or a program of drug treatment as opposed to a custodial sentence. This may also be a condition when the person is on probation.

Speak With An Attorney

When you face a possession charge of a drug or controlled substance, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can be of great benefit. They can examine your situation, ensure the proper protocols and procedures were followed by police and can advise you on how best to exercise your rights as well as explaining the possible outcomes of your charges. It many have a great impact on your life and impact your ability to obtain a job, housing or licensing required for your profession.

Source: Theoharis, Mark. “Possession of a Controlled Substance: Drug Possession Laws.” Www.criminaldefenselawyer.com, Nolo, 28 Jan. 2020, www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/crime-penalties/federal/Possession-Controlled-Substance.htm.

Need A Criminal Defense Lawyer In Scottsdale or Phoenix?

Canterbury Law Group’s criminal defense lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will defend your case with personal attention and always have you and your best interests in mind when offering legal solutions. Call today for an initial consultation! We handle criminal defense cases in all areas of Phoenix including Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Maryville, Apache Junction, and more.

We are experienced criminal defense attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome. Our firm will rigorously represent you, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-744-7711 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How Much Does A Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost?

Criminal Lawyer Cost

The average cost of a criminal defense lawyer is $8,000 with average prices ranging from $1,000 – $15,000 in the US for 2020 according to LegalMatch [1]. *Disclaimer – This is not an actual quote. If you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer contact Canterbury Law Group to start your initial consultation.

In criminal prosecution actions, the Constitution guarantees you a right to counsel. If you are unable to afford the services of a private attorney, the court will appoint an attorney on your behalf. Based on your assets and income, the court may decide you can afford an attorney, in that situation you can either represent yourself or hire a private attorney.

What Factors Cause Criminal Defense Costs to Vary?

There are many factors to consider when assessing the overall costs of a criminal case:

Investigators and Expert Witnesses – Very often criminal cases have multiple and complex issues that require expert witnesses and/or investigators. To demonstrate, a defense attorney may hire the services of someone who specializes in chemical testing to explain the results of a Blood Alcohol Content analysis in a DUI trial. Or the services of a psychologist may be required if the defendant is wishing to raise a defense of legal insanity. Expert witnesses and investigators require an average retainer fee of $2,500 and they may charge in excess of $300 per hour.

Attorney’s Fees – Attorney’s fees vary depending on several different factors. Here are some of the more important factors that will have an impact on the rate attorney’s charge:

  • Whether the case goes to trial.
  • Whether the attorney charges a flat fee or by the hour.
  • The skill of the attorney.
  • The number of years the attorney has practiced criminal defense.
  • The seriousness of the charged offense.
  • The complexity of the legal issues in the case.
  • The number of years the lawyer has appeared in criminal court in that particular jurisdiction.

How Much Will It Cost if the Lawyer Charges a Flat Fee?

If you face a misdemeanor charge and the lawyer charges a flat fee, expect to pay somewhere between $1,500-$3,500. If going to trial is a possibility, you can expect the fee to be between $3,000-$5,000. When the severity of the charge rises to a felony and when the lawyer thinks that he may be able to obtain a settlement that is favorable, the flat fee may range from $3,000-$6,000. But if it seems inevitable there will be a felony trial, flat fee costs ranging from $10,000-$20,000 are not uncommon. When you are facing serious charges where life in prison is a possibility, such as murder, for a lawyer working on a flat fee you can expect to pay upwards of $40,000.

Criminal Defense Attorney Fees Per Hour

Criminal Defense Attorney Fees Per Hour

You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 per hour to hire a criminal defense lawyer according to CostHelper. For example, Thumbtack says, “if an attorney has a $200 hourly fee, he or she may require a 10-hour retainer fee of $2,000

Some attorneys and those who are already well known in their practice area will often charge by the hour to their clients  as opposed to using a flat rate fee. Additionally, if an appropriate flat fee cannot be determined because or the complexity of a case, the attorney may decide to charge an hourly rate instead. The relative ability of the lawyer will cause the hourly rates they charge to greatly differ. For a highly experienced criminal defense lawyers time you can expect to pay $250-$750 per hour. It is worth noting that it is not uncommon for legal bills to quickly mount up into the $10,000-$15,000 range per month when an hourly fee structure is being utilized.

Attorneys.com says “Criminal lawyers who charge by the hour may break up the hour into 15-minute or 6-minute incrementsThe lawyer who charges $200 an hour in 15-minute increments would charge you $50 for that time, while a lawyer who charges the same but in 6-minute increments would only charge you $20.”

In addition, the payment of an up front retainer may be required by a lawyer who is charging you by the hour. This retainer will cover an agreed amount of the lawyer’s initial time. Once the retainer is exhausted, the client will be expected to replenish with new funds.

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for a Misdemeanor or Felony?

Lawyer Cost for a Felony

A lawyer costs about $2,000 to $3,000 for a misdemeanor. According to Nolo, “a defendant charged with a misdemeanor that goes to trial should not be surprised by a legal fee in the neighborhood of $2,000–$3,000; an attorney may want an advance of around $2,500, and $1,000 per day of trial in a felony case.”

A lawyer can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 for a felony. TheLawMan says, “most will agree that the cost for a first-degree felony is at least $10,000, often more. For the most experienced lawyers, you should expect to pay between $35,000 and $100,000 or even more.”

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for Drug Possession?

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for Drug Possession?

If you are charged with misdemeanor drug possession you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000. If you are charged with felony drug possession you can expect to pay a retainer of $2,500 and pay a cost of $1,000 per day of trial according to WeSource.

According to CostHelper, You can expect to pay about $3500 for a misdemeanor drug possession charge. You can expect to pay about $10,000 for a felony drug possession charge. You can expect to pay about $25,000 for a serious felony drug possession charge.

Do I Need an Attorney to Represent Me?

It is vitally important to consult an experienced attorney before you respond to any criminal prosecution in writing or by direct contact with the prosecutor, even if think you have committed a particular crime and want to enter a guilty plea. At the very least, a skilled attorney can make sure the charges you face are appropriate for the facts of the case and they are capable of advocating on your behalf so you have the best chance of obtaining the lowest penalty possible. For example, say an individual is caught leaving a jewelry store with a necklace worth $100. The shop owner who is angry over the incident tells law enforcement the value of the necklace is $1,000. The difference in values means a charge of petty theft (misdemeanor) would become grand theft (felony). Even the most experienced criminal lawyers agree they would not want to defend themselves if charged so it is well worth speaking to a criminal defense lawyer even though you have the right to proceed alone in your own defense.

Is One Fee Structure Better than Another?

Obviously, the best billing structure is the one that works most effectively for the situation the client faces. Criminal defense lawyers certainly understand how stressful these events are and they try to make the financial aspects of your case as pain free as they can. Regardless, it is always best to know what it is you are paying for.

Learning how billing works is an ideal first step to initiating a discussion with your lawyer regarding their billing structure. Never feel afraid to ask why they are charging the way they do and how they are utilizing their time and planning to ensure your freedom. When you need protection from criminal prosecution you can look and contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer today.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. You can contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your unique legal needs.

Sources

Kirby, John. “How Much Will a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost?” Attempted Murder Lawyers | LegalMatch Law Library, 20 Feb. 2018, www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/how-much-will-a-criminal-defense-lawyer-cost.html.

Need A Criminal Defense Lawyer In Scottsdale or Phoenix?

Canterbury Law Group’s criminal defense lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will defend your case with personal attention and always have you and your best interests in mind when offering legal solutions. Call today for an initial consultation! We handle criminal defense cases in all areas of Phoenix including Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Maryville, Apache Junction, and more.

We are experienced criminal defense attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome. Our firm will rigorously represent you, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-744-7711 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How To Hire A Criminal Defense Lawyer

How To Hire A Criminal Defense Lawyer

Your liberty is threatened when you have been either arrested or charged with a crime. It is crucially important to obtain an aggressive private criminal defense lawyer. Public Defenders likely don’t have the time necessary to devote to your case to play-to-win. A Private criminal defense attorney will help you navigate through all stages of the criminal court process you are encountering and can be key in reducing your sentence or negotiating a potential dismissal of your case. Read on to learn more.

A Private Criminal Defense Lawyer Is Vital To Your Future

Let’s briefly look at the ways your life can be impacted should you ever be charged with a crime:

  • Potential loss of relationships
  • Jail or prison time
  • A criminal record
  • Reduced career prospects
  • Expense of court fines

You need a private criminal defense attorney who can assist in getting the best possible outcome for your case – they can help you with:

  • Understanding the legal ramifications of the charges that have been filed
  • Explain strategies for your defense
  • Explore and explain what (if any) plea bargains are likely to be on the table
  • Discuss the post-trial and conviction process

Private criminal defense attorneys handle a wide range of cases and can help you by:

  • Reducing your criminal charge (an example would be from a felony to a misdemeanor)
  • Lessening the penalty for the crime
  • Reducing or eliminating potential jail time, for example, through probation
  • Developing a sound defense strategy with your best interests in mind

Your criminal defense lawyer should also have experience in the following areas:

  • Familiarity with crime scene investigations
  • Great knowledge of photographs, sketches, video and polygraphs
  • The interviewing techniques for police, victims and witnesses
  • The ability to effectively cross-examine your accuser

Finding A Criminal Defense Lawyer

While you can ask family and friends for a recommendation, it is understandable you may not want many (if any) people to know of your current circumstances and you may not have time to do a great deal of in-depth online research, so here are some questions to ask a criminal defense lawyer you are considering retaining:

  • What is your experience with cases similar to mine?
  • Will you be handling my case personally, or will an attorney I have not met be the point person?
  • Are you experienced in litigating trials involving a jury?
  • Are you knowledgeable regarding requesting a lesser charge or working on a plea agreement?
  • What is the fee and are payment plans available?

Fees

Many factors go into the determination of the fees a criminal defense lawyer will charge. Usually fees are either on a flat rate or billed hourly. Some attorneys will offer payment plans while others will want a retainer fee paid upfront before commencing the case. It is a good idea to shop around and seek out the best options for your circumstances. In situations where you cannot afford an attorney – it is possible you may be granted a government paid attorney who will represent you.

Source: “Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer.” Findlaw, 6 Feb. 2019, criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-law-basics/hire-a-criminal-defense-lawyer.html.

Speak With One Of Our Criminal Defense Attorneys In Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group’s criminal defense lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will defend your case with personal attention and always have you and your best interests in mind when offering legal solutions. Call today for an initial consultation!

We are experienced criminal defense attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome. Our firm will rigorously represent you, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-744-7711 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How Much Does A Divorce Cost In Arizona? & Attorney Fees

On average, an Arizona divorce costs about $20,000. The average cost of divorce in Arizona without a Lawyer is $577. The average cost of divorce in Arizona with a Lawyer is $20,000. However, the average cost of divorce in Arizona can range from $15,000 to $100,000 per side when including expert witness fees.

Hiring a divorce lawyer in Arizona can cost as much as $550 per hour. The cost to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage Maricopa County is $349.  The responding party will be required to pay $279 when filing their Response, or if both parties have agreed to a Consent Decree, the $279 is still due and owing from the responding party when tendering a consent decree for the court approval. Want to find a cheaper way to get divorced in Arizona? Arizona collaborative divorce only costs about $10,000 per spouse.

*Disclaimer – These fees are always changing and this is not an actual quote. If you need an experienced divorce lawyer contact Canterbury Law Group to start your initial consultation.

These costs may include:

  • Monthly Child Support
  • Monthly Spousal Maintenance
  • The Division of Property and Debt
  • Attorney Fees
  • Waste Claims For Reimbursement
  • Claims for Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • And more.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Arizona?

Getting an Arizona divorce can be costly. However, how much you spend will depend on the type of divorce. A contested divorce with protracted proceedings will definitely cost more than an uncontested one. While there are no set rates, it is possible to get an approximate cost estimate based on historical averages of what divorcees spend on their cases.

According to some estimates, the average divorce case can cost as much as a new car. However, people typically do not spend more than $10,000 per spouse.

While costs will largely depend on attorney’s fees, most people do not realize it right away, but there are other costs to consider as well. Divorces that go all the way to trial will incur third party expenses for such things as depositions, a child custody evaluator, a business appraiser, and forensic accountants to present financial data to court. If the couple is divorcing with children, then the divorced parents will have to attend a Parent Information Program class. If the divorce diverts to a private divorce mediator, then that will be an additional cost for the mediator who typically charges an hourly rate.

How Much Does A Divorce Lawyer Cost In Arizona?

Most of the expenses will come from the attorneys. Consider, for example, the average cost of a divorce lawyer in Scottsdale. Family lawyers in the Scottsdale area charge between $250 and $550 per hour on average. If you hire an immensely experienced lawyer in Arizona, the cost can be as much as $400 to $750 per hour. In addition to the hourly rate, some lawyers also charge extra for drafting letters, printing documents, travel time, mailing, stamps and so on. Divorce lawyer fees in Arizona can total a combined average of about $20,000 per divorce.  However, there is no assurance that fees come in higher or lower than this figure because every divorce is truly unique.

After attorneys, those filing for divorces should expect to pay for outside expert witnesses. The divorce case may require the services of a mental health expert, business accountant, real estate appraisers, and many others. Collectively, these expert witness fees can cost as much as the attorneys. Of course, not all divorces require experts to testify or issue expert reports. If two people with a shared business or significant real property get a divorce, the expert fees can be meaningful. So how much does a contentted divorce cost in Arizona? In some contested divorces, total costs can range from $25,000 to $100,000 per side when including expert witness fees.

Learn more about Divorce In Arizona

How Much Does An Uncontested Divorce Cost in Arizona?

Divorces do not have to go to trial if certain conditions are met. If the divorcing spouses agree on the material terms of the separation, or if one spouse does not participate in contesting the divorce, then the case does not have to go to trial. As a result, the costs will be considerably less.

The divorcing couple can go to the court and file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The court, depending on the county, will charge between $300 and $400 in filing fees. This makes the average court cost of an uncontested divorce in Arizona about $620. This does not include Arizona divorce attorney fees. If the two parties amicably divorce at this point, then only court fees will have to be paid assuming the parties are sophisticated enough to paper their own divorce.

If the divorcing couple needs legal assistance, for example, a divorce attorney in Scottsdale, legal fees at an hourly rate will have to be paid in addition to court fees. Some couples prefer to hire a mediator and legal counsel.  Mediators typically charge similar rates to attorneys. Overall, the fees of an uncontested divorce are far less in comparison to contested litigation.

If you are planning for a divorce, it’s best to talk to your spouse and amicably separate. Otherwise, you will have to be willing to pay a lot more for the lawyers to fight it out.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. You can contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your unique situation. You can also check frequently asked divorce law questions at Romano Law.

Learn more about Uncontested Divorce In Arizona

How Much Does Collaborative Divorce Cost in Arizona?

On average collaborative divorce in Arizona costs about $7,500.  Arizona collaborative divorce costs ranged from $5,000 to $10,000 according to Equitable Mediation. However, Canterbury Law Group has navigated many collaborations for less than $10,000 in legal fees per spouse.  This is a far cry from the tens of thousands of dollars that other couples inevitably can spend in a contested litigation in a court of law. Collaborative divorce is one of the peaceful divorce options, also known as amicable divorce.

How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost in Arizona?

Divorce mediation costs about $7,500.  Divorce mediation costs in Arizona ranged from $5,000 to $10,000 in 2019.

What is the Average Cost of Divorce in Arizona?

The average cost of divorce in Arizona is $20,000. Arizona divorce costs ranged from $15,000 to $100,000 per side when including expert witness fees in 2019. The cost of hiring a divorce lawyer in Arizona can cost as much as $550 per hour.

How Much Does a Legal Separation Cost in Arizona?

The complete cost of legal separation can vary enormously, from as little as $1,000 to in excess of $100,000 when matters such as alimony, child custody and having to work through the disposition of a very complex marital estate are to be decided. So, you can imagine, there are many factors coming into play to determine the total legal separation costs. Read on to learn more about these factors.

Arizona Divorce Attorney Fees

In a divorce proceeding, a request may be made to the judge by one party that the payment of the attorney fees for that particular party should be covered by the other party in the divorce process. The court can order attorney’s fees paid when the party being asked to cover the cost was not represented by legal counsel or when both parties were represented by legal counsel. The importance of this is delays and errors that are unintentional yet caused by the pro se litigant can have on the outcome of the award of the legal fees of the other party that were incurred when these mistakes were being dealt with.

A.R.S. § 25-324 is an Arizona statute allowing the for the payment of fees due to an attorney in cases of marriage dissolution. The court does have the discretion to award the attorney fees against a specific party in some circumstances.

When it comes to making a decision regarding a fee award, the court is obliged to objectively make an evaluation of how reasonable the legal positions were adopted by the parties during the divorce proceedings. The subjectivity of a spouse’s intentions is not taken into account when it comes to the decision made by the court and neither is the party’s lack of knowledge regarding family law, divorce law, local rules and court procedures. The court will examine the available financial resources of both parties before making a decision. What is more, the court will also take into account the financial disparity between the two parties and compare the fees that are owed versus the assets of each party and so on. In three circumstances, though, the court shall award attorneys’ fees against a party:

  • The petition was filed by the party in bad faith
  • The petition submitted by the party was not grounded in fact or the law
  • The party’s petition was filed for some “improper purpose, such as to harass the other party, to cause an unnecessary delay or to increase the cost of litigation to the other party.”

Other costs that may be considered for award include but are not limited to the following:

  • Deposition costs and expenses considered to be reasonably incurred during the litigation process and any following appeal
  • If the court makes the decision that orders money to be paid directly to the attorney of the requesting party, that attorney will be responsible for the enforcement of the order

Sources:

  1. “Alona M. Gottfried, Esq.” Arizona Mediation, azmediator.com/uncontested-divorce-arizona/.
  2. “How Much Does A Divorce Cost In Arizona?” Arizona Legal Center, 12 June 2018, arizonalegalcenter.org/how-much-does-a-divorce-cost-in-arizona/.
  3. 25-324 – Attorney Fees, www.azleg.gov/ars/25/00324.htm.

Need an Affordable Divorce lawyer in Scottsdale?

The Canterbury Law Group should be your first choice when you need the best divorce lawyer in Scottsdale orPhoenix, Arizona. Our experienced family law attorneys will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation.  Proven trial lawyers in family court, you can trust the firm to represent you fully so you can get on with your life. Call today for your initial consultation.

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