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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Determining the Value of your Marital Estate

The divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group often see a spouse beginning a divorce without any clue of knowing the true value of their marital estate. Many spouses do not even have account access or numbers to the earning spouse.Fear not. Even if you are completely unaware of your family finances, when you file for divorce the time to finally and accurately determine all marriage assets will have arrived. Your Canterbury lawyers will make sure this happens. It’s the law. It’s not up to him or her.

Because Arizona is a community property jurisdiction, generally speaking, spouses own equally almost all property and debt acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on it. Also, half of each partner’s income earned during the marriage is owned by the other partner, as well as debts incurred during the marriage are debts of the couple together. Do not let your spouse bully you—or suggest “they will leave you with nothing” if you challenge them in the divorce. They are not just bullying, they are plain wrong—under the law.

The “discovery” phase of your divorce case is used to determine information, including assets and values from the other side. In Arizona, court rules require mandatory disclosure by each side of any information that may impact their case. Therefore, your spouse must voluntarily provide you all such information, even without a specific request. However, relying on your spouse’s good will in adhering to this rule is not enough in many divorce cases. If informal requests for financial details go unanswered, or you do not feel confident you are receiving accurate information, you do have alternatives in gathering this information. Your Canterbury lawyers will be critical in unpeeling the complex layers of your family estate—and locating assets, by any means lawfully allowed—to maximize your recovery at trial.

1. Tax Returns. Personal, corporate and partnership tax returns can help in identifying property, accounts and assets sold during a given tax period. If your spouse is not forthcoming with copies of returns, or you believe the returns given to you are not the actual returns filed, you can request copies from the Internal Revenue Service.

2. Court Issued Subpoenas. A subpoena can be issued to a person or entity not a part of your lawsuit, including financial institutions and employers. The recipient of the subpoena legally has up to thirty days to physically produce the information requested. When issuing a subpoena to a financial institution, your spouse’s name and social security number is all that is needed in most cases to obtain information on accounts on which that social security number or name appears. Subpoenas to employers may work to obtain details including as history of pay, bonus information, employment terms and benefit information, such as retirement, pension, employee savings and stock option accounts. Bank statements and paystubs do not lie—your spouse can. By getting the documents up front, we can catch them in their lies.

3. Additional Legal Discovery Tools. If additional information is needed to determine the value of your marriage, there are other discovery tools that require responses given under oath:

  • Interrogatories – written questions to your spouse
  • Skip Trace investigations onto the “financial grid” to locate any assets linked to his or her social security number and date of birth. Assets at home, and abroad, can be located.
  • Requests for Production of Documents – written requests to obtain certain documents
  • Requests for Admissions – written questions to your spouse asking that he or she to admit certain facts as true
  • Depositions – oral question and answer sessions at which your attorney asks questions of your spouse while under oath, or an expert witness, or sometimes a third party in the presence of a court reporter, from whom a written transcript of the questions and answers can be obtained and the testimony is preserved for trial.

4. Outside Experts. In the unfortunate cases where a spouse is hiding assets or has engaged in pre-divorce planning, the hiring of third party specialists might be necessary in order to obtain the necessary information. Experts such as private investigators, asset location specialists and computer forensic professionals may be able to help you and your Canterbury team find the truth and get you paid.

When your family and livelihood are at stake in your divorce, it is critical to be prepared with a highly skilled team of litigation attorneys on your side. Canterbury Law Group was founded to provide no-nonsense legal counsel for Phoenix divorce cases at the highest level possible. We are an energetic and unified team of lawyers and paralegals deeply committed to your needs. Call now for an initial consultation. 480-744-7711.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Prenups in Scottsdale

Prenuptial agreements are very common amongst all ages and classes of Americans, as they can provide important advantages for both partners in a proposed marriage. Many people have an instinctively negative reaction when they hear the term “prenuptial agreement.” However, this is not reality. In fact, prenups are often used to plan for future affairs and arrange things legally in ways that are mutually beneficial to both spouses.

The attorneys at Canterbury Law Group typically suggest prenups for people in their 30s or older with any substantial assets, children or a former spouse. Prenuptial agreements are particularly useful for people who are entering into a second marriage. In the case of remarriage, one or both spouses may already have significant assets, and may want to arrange that blood related family members from the first marriage inherit property and assets in the event of divorce or death after the second marriage.

The family law attorneys at Canterbury Law Group work diligently to provide prenuptial agreement advice in Scottsdale. If you’re considering a prenup, here are four tips from our legal experts:

  • Plan ahead. Begin the prenuptial agreement process six months to one year before your wedding dates to ensure that both parties have ample time to review it. Last-minute contracts are harder to enforce.
  • Eliminate your emotions. The emotions of falling in love can alter reality, so be sure to work with trusted advisers on this legally binding agreement.
  • Make your agreement realistic and legal. The goal is to have a contract that is enforceable and provide each spouse with an understanding of what they will get if the marriage ends.
  • Research your state’s law regarding marriage and property. Marriage property laws are different from state to state. Ideally, you have a licensed attorney handle the entire process from start to finish so you can focus on the exciting wedding to come.

If you need prenuptial agreement help in Scottsdale, Arizona, then contact Canterbury Law Group today to schedule a consultation. 480-744-7711.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Legal Trends in Divorce

Divorce has been around for centuries, but it is by no means a stagnant concept. Similar to nearly everything in life and the law, divorce has changed with the times and will continue to do so. The family attorneys at Canterbury Law Group are on the forefront of these evolving divorce trends.

1. Decreasing Marriage Rate – Less Divorces – Contrary to popular belief; the divorce rate in the United States is declining. After peaking in 1980 with 22.6 divorces per 1,000 married women, aged 15 and older in the U.S., the rate has been going down ever since. In 2009, there were 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women. However, what’s really happening is that there are fewer marriages overall as more couples are choosing to live together instead of get married. Fewer marriages translate into fewer opportunities to get divorced—and that equals declining divorce rates.

2. Increase in “Grey divorce” – Although the overall divorce rate is declining, the 50+ age group is seeing a dramatic rise in marital breaks. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, which coined the term, “the divorce rate among adults ages 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010.” In fact, one in four people getting divorced today is 50 or older. The growing phenomenon even has a name to describe it: “the grey divorce revolution.” One possible explanation for the increase in divorce in older couples is the fact that there are simply so many baby boomers out there. Another factor could be that second and subsequent marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages—and those who have had several marriages are often older in general.

3. Mandatory Divorce Classes – While state laws vary greatly regarding divorce from no-fault provisions to “cooling off” waiting periods, nearly all states now offer courses or seminars to divorcing couples, especially those with children, according to the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. In many states, attendance is mandatory before a court will grant the divorce of parents in particular. Such classes may include meetings with a therapist, watching videos, or role-playing.

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 the Scottsdale attorneys at Canterbury Law Group are well equipped to provide you with the tools to make the best decision that suits your particular situation.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Shared Holiday Time After Divorce

Divorced families with children may face some hardships during the holiday season because of parental custody and shared holiday time. At Canterbury Law Group, our Scottsdale divorce attorneys help navigate the difficult custody process with the ultimate goal to make the situation as clean as possible for everyone involved, especially the kids.

Here are some common ways that parents divide and share holiday time:

  • Alternate holidays every other year. You can assign holidays to each parent for even years and then swap the holidays in odd years. With this arrangement, you won’t miss spending a holiday with your child more than one year in a row.
  • Split the holiday in half. You can split the day of the holiday so that your child spends part of the day with each parent. This arrangement requires planning and coordination because you don’t want your child to spend holidays traveling all day.
  • Schedule a holiday twice. You can schedule time for each parent to celebrate a holiday with your child. For example, one parent can celebrate Christmas with the child on Dec. 23th and the other parent on the 25th.
  • Assign fixed holidays. You can have each parent celebrate the same holidays with the child every year. If parents have different holidays that they think are important, each parent can have those holidays every year.

Some holidays have special considerations because both parents usually want to spend time with the child on or near the holiday. We have the following recommendations for such situations.

  • Your child’s birthday: You can schedule a short visit for the parent who doesn’t have the child on the birthday, give both parents birthday time in the schedule, or the parents can alternate having the birthday.
  • 3 day weekend holidays: These holidays include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day. Parents can alternate the 3 day weekends, split the weekends, or give the Monday holiday to the parent who already has the weekend.
  • Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: Usually your child spends every Mother’s Day with the mother and every Father’s Day with the father.
  • Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend: One parent can have Thanksgiving Day and the other parent can have the weekend, you can give both parents time on Thanksgiving and on the weekend, or parents can alternate having Thanksgiving and the weekend.
  • The Christmas holiday season: One parent can have Christmas Eve and the other parent can have Christmas Day, one parent can have Christmas and the other parent can have winter break, you can make New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day into one holiday and the parents alternate having it.
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Written by Canterbury Law Group

5 Tips to Make the Holidays Brighter for Divorced Families

The law team at Canterbury Law Group realize that managing separation and divorce often feels magnified as the holiday season approaches. Many people feel overwhelmed by the stress and strain of trying to maintain the status quo, when in reality, their entire world seems to be collapsing. The Holiday season serves as a constant reminder of past festive and happier times and is contrasted by the current feelings of loneliness and despair.

Although there are no overnight solutions to cure holiday blues, there are steps you can take to help the season be merrier.

  • 1. PLAN AHEAD – Schedule fun and stress-free events with your loved ones. If the holidays tend to be too painful and the divorce reminders are everywhere, consider an out of state vacation that allows you to “escape” the painful triggers.
  • 2. ESTABLISH NEW FAMILY TRADITIONS – While you may want to maintain some of the past traditions, it’s a good idea to create new rituals with family and friends.
  • 3. REASSURE KIDS THAT THEIR HOLIDAYS WILL CONTINUE, BUT IN A NEW WAY – Rather than focusing on the sad elements, get your kids excited about the new traditions. Be sure to let your children have part in what your family will do to celebrate. And now, they get “two” holidays each season (one with Mom and one with Dad).
  • 4. ASK IF YOU ARE ACTING “IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD” – Decide in advance how the holiday time will be divided. Reassure your kids that you will be OK while they are with the other parent. Keep the arrangements as simple as possible.
  • 5. MAKE A SCHEDULE – Make a list of everything you need to do for the holidays and a target date to accomplish your goals. This will help you to feel more in control and less stressed.
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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Common 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.

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

Steps in a Scottsdale Divorce

At Scottsdale-based Canterbury Law Group, our legal team is well versed in Family Law including divorce. Our litigators are often asked to describe the different stages of divorce. While each divorce is unique, here is a quick review of what you may expect:

The first step in the process is filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The person who files the Petition is identified as the Petitioner (or Plaintiff) and the opposing spouse is identified as the Respondent (or Defendant.) A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is a public record that includes basic facts about you, your spouse and your children. The document is usually brief and does not contain a great deal of personal information.

Once the Petition is filed with the Court, due process requires that the Respondent be “served” with the Petition and a Summons to Appear. Once served, your spouse has 20 days to file a written Response to the Petition. Once a Response has been filed, the attorneys then discuss if temporary order or support is needed. Temporary orders of support may include child support, spousal maintenance and marital expenses paid by one spouse to the other while the case is pending.

Financial investigation is the next step. This portion of the case involves determination of the value of the marital estate or “discovery,” which includes depositions, subpoenas, interrogatories and review of financial documents by accounting experts. If the assets and debts are agreeable by both parties, they may choose to waive formal discovery. However, if either party disagrees with their spouse’s estimate of value or the amount of debt distributed to each party, formal discovery will be necessary. Rigorous asset searches are often performed to find any hidden assets in non-disclosed accounts, safety deposit boxes, or overseas accounts.

If both parties cannot reach an agreement, the attorneys may choose to submit the issues in controversy to the Judge during a pretrial conference. Pretrial conferences are sometimes conducted in the Judge’s chambers. The Judge’s pretrial recommendations are not binding but they do indicate how the Judge might prefer to settle the case. Pretrial conferences are often a critical motivation for reaching a final settlement without preparing for a full trial on the merits. Trials are expensive and unpredictable.

In the event an agreement cannot be reached through negotiation or pretrial conference, the matter is set for trial. A case is often set several months out. During the months before trial, your attorney will be preparing your case. Trials range in duration from half a day to perhaps a week, depending on the complexity of your case. There are no jury trials in divorce cases. The decisions are made solely by the Judge. A final divorce judgment and Decree will be entered at the conclusion of the trial. Those orders remain binding upon both spouses for the life of the order unless appealed by either party within a certain number of days.

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