Our AZ Family Attorneys Give Some Helpful Tips When Navigating Family Issues.
When a married couple divorces, potentially initiating a custody and child support battle, friends and family will often unite to support wives and mothers with little regard for whether their former partners also need support. The fact of the matter is that family law procedures are just as stressful for men as they are for women. One way that you can prepare yourself is by educating yourself about what rights and obligations are provided to you under Arizona family law.
Don’t Make Assumptions About How Your Arizona Family Law Case Will Turn Out.
Historically, it has been assumed that in family law matters, a wife will collect spousal maintenance from her husband after a divorce, get custody of any minor children, and receive child support. However, as times have changed, so have the outcomes of family law cases throughout the years. The court will look at factors like relative income, sacrifices the spouses made for each other, and how long it will take for a spouse to become financially self-sufficient when deciding who to award support and how much. You may not need to financially support your wife after a divorce, and may even be entitled to support from her. You should consult with an Phoenix family law attorney with a good idea of you and your spouse’s income to determine if you will likely be required to make support payments after a divorce.
Understand the Difference Between Community and Separate Property.
Arizona is a community property state, so debts and assets acquired by either spouse during a marriage are split evenly in a divorce. In general, property acquired before the marriage, or received during the marriage as a gift or inheritance will be considered that spouse’s separate property. Separate property can also become community property if it is commingled or transmuted. Many spouses don’t realize that if they get divorced, their 401(k)’s and other retirement accounts will be among the assets that are split during property division. You should brush up on which of your assets are community or separate property before beginning the divorce process.
Get Everything in Writing.
Far too often, clients come to us with complaints that their spouse verbally promised something in a divorce in exchange for a concession that never ends up occurring. For example, a wife may tell her husband she won’t pursue spousal support if the husband agrees to give her a car that belongs to both of them. Once the title and registration have been changed, the husband receives a summons for spousal support. Without some form of written agreement, the “gift” of the vehicle will be a he said, she said issue for the court.
This tip can also come in handy with custody matters. If you and your ex agree to a verbal modification of your parenting plan, issues may arise and you won’t have evidence that your ex agreed to the modification.
Stay Current on Your Payments, or Request a Modification ASAP.
If you do end up paying child and/or spousal support to your ex-wife, it is vital that you stay current on your monthly payments. Domestic obligations can’t be modified retroactively, which means that there is nothing you can do to clear a past-due balance besides making your payments.
Keep in mind, the methods used to enforce domestic obligation arrearages can be far more severe than for standard debts. If you fail to pay on debts like credit cards and student loans, you may eventually end up with a wage garnishment of 15-25%. In Arizona, domestic obligation arrearages can be garnished at a rate of up to 50% of your wages. If you have no dependents from a separate relationship, that increases to 60%. An additional 5% may be tacked on if you fall more than 12 weeks behind. Other collection methods include intercepting one-time payments like lottery winnings and tax returns, placing liens on your property, and suspension of your driver’s and professional licenses.
If you experience a change in income, like being laid off from your job, you should request a modification on your support payments as soon as possible to avoid accruing arrearages. As mentioned above, your arrearages can’t be modified once they are due. Therefore, if you know you are going to struggle to make your payments due to a change in income, you should consider petitioning the court to modify your payments. Keep in mind that some spousal support orders are nonmodifiable. Your current orders must have been in place for at least a year, and you can only modify your payments at most once per year. The court won’t reduce your payments if you quit your job with the intention of decreasing your support payments.
If You Have Children, They Should Be Your First Priority.
It will be tempting to badmouth your ex on the internet and to anyone who will listen, but it may be more beneficial for your children if you use a selective filter. Not only can speaking negatively about your children’s other parent in front of them negatively affect their development, but it may make you guilty of something known as “parental alienation.” Sowing seeds of doubt about your children’s other parent’s love for them and ability as a parent can be used as a factor against you in future custody proceedings. Doing this on social media makes it simple for your ex to prove in court.
It’s also important to keep this tip in mind during parenting time pick ups and drop offs. Explosive arguments, especially if witnessed by neighbors, school staff, etc., will reflect poorly on both parents. You should make an effort to be the bigger person and reduce your children’s stress whenever you have the opportunity.
Contact our Arizona Family Attorneys for Assistance.
When you’re ready to take the next step in your divorce, custody, or other family law matter, our attorneys are here to help. Ask questions and formulate your plan with the help of an expert Arizona family law attorney with years of experience representing clients just like you. The initial consultation is free, and our attorneys offer budget-friendly rates and payment plans. Call to get started today. My Arizona Lawyers, (480) 833-8000 for a free consultation with one of our experienced family attorneys.
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