With a simple no-fault process and cities that were harder hit by the financial crisis a decade ago, the rate of divorce in Arizona has been higher than the national average for quite some time now. If you’re going through a divorce in this state, you can take heart in knowing you are not alone. More than 10 of every 1,000 men and women in the state were divorced in the last year. However, in spite of divorce being a common procedure in Arizona and beyond, there are some myths about the process that remain. One of those myths is the notion that if you avoid the service of divorce papers, your spouse can’t divorce you. Read on for more information about the service of process and how that affects the proceedings.

Methods of Service of Process

When filing for divorce in the state, you are required to serve your spouse with papers that announce your filing in the court and give your spouse the opportunity to respond to the filing. Among the documents that must be served are the petition for the dissolution of marriage and the summons. Once served, your spouse has 20 days inside the state to file a response with the court and 30 days if he or she lives outside of Arizona. You have 120 days after filing papers with the court to complete service of process. Failing to do so may result in dismissal of your case.

The Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure allow for the Service of Process in divorce cases to take place in a number of ways, including:

  • Service by acceptance: Through this method, you simply give the divorce papers to the other party, along with an “Acceptance of Service” form that your spouse signs in front of a notary and returns to you. The documents can be given in person as you file the documents with the clerk, in person in the presence of a notary, or through the mail. Most banks provide notary services and you can also find a notary by searching for this service in your area on the internet or in the local yellow pages.
  • Personal service by a sheriff or constable: With this method, you contact the sheriff’s department in the area where your spouse lives and arrange for them to serve the papers. It may take two to three weeks for the sheriff’s department or constable to perform service.
  • Personal service by a process server: You hire and pay a registered process server to serve the papers at work, home, or some other location.
  • Service by mail in which you send the papers with return receipt requested and a restricted delivery so that your spouse is the only one who can sign the receipt. Wait for the green receipt to be returned to you, indicating that your spouse has received the summons and petition. Remember that the clock starts ticking on your spouse’s response time to the service when he or she signs the receipt, not when the receipt is in your possession.
  • Service by publication, in which you publish a copy of the summons in the newspaper with a statement that informs your spouse as to how he or she can get a copy of your filed petition and other documents.

The experienced attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC can provide guidance on the method of service that might be the most practical in your case.

When Service By Publication Can Be Used

As explained by Pima County, service by publication can only be used when you are unable to find your spouse or your spouse is avoiding service of divorce papers, and this method can only be used to serve the petition for divorce and for legal decision-making and parenting time issues. Service by publication cannot be used for issues concerning child support, spousal maintenance, division of marital property and debts, or any other issue which requires personal jurisdiction.

Maricopa County Superior Court adds that this method of service is only to be used as a last resort, once you have exhausted other efforts of service. In order to use service by publication, you must obtain permission from the judge in your case to do so by filing a motion and showing that you have made reasonably diligent efforts to use other forms of service. Some reasonably diligent efforts that may be included in the affidavit to support service by publication are:

  • Verification that your spouse is not at any of his or her previous addresses.
  • Talking to family, friends, or former coworkers who may have your spouse’s current address.
  • Internet searches of the white pages, voter registration records, obituaries and other public information records for your spouse’s address.
  • Hiring a private detective to search for your spouse.
  • Proof that your spouse is intentionally avoiding service.

If you are permitted to serve your spouse by publication, you must have the summons published at least one a week for four consecutive weeks. Service is considered complete 30 days after the initial publication. The attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC can advise you of other requirements when using this method of service.

Other Alternate Methods of Service

If your spouse is intentionally avoiding service of divorce papers, the judge may approve alternate methods of service beyond publication in a newspaper. One of the methods that may be approved is securely posting the summons and petition on the door of your spouse’s residence while also mailing a copy to his or her last known residence or work address. It is important when determining an alternate method of service to seek permission from the court to to provide service in this manner as the service will not be valid without court approval.

Let Us Help

If your spouse is avoiding service of divorce papers, it may require more effort on your part to ensure that the process is completed, but it does not mean that you will be unable to proceed. The attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC can explore all of the options for service of process and help you to ensure that the process you are using is recognized as valid by the court. For more information or a case evaluation, contact us online or by calling 602-252-1968.

 

Couples who are going through divorce often disagree about issues like child support, custody of children, and property division. In many cases, they also engage in disputes regarding alimony. While these issues are difficult, regardless of the financial status of the couple, when the parties are considered high net worth, many issues become more complicated when there are significant assets.

High Net Worth Divorce and Private Agreements

In many cases, those who had significant assets prior to marriage will have a signed prenuptial agreement. The court will review the terms of the prenup to make sure it is valid. Should the agreement be determined to be enforceable, there may be fewer issues with property division and spousal support payments if they are clearly delineated in the agreement. Reasons an agreement may be deemed invalid including a failure to disclose all assets or forcing the agreement to be signed prior to marriage.  At DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC we can review your prenuptial agreement on your behalf and determine if there are any flaws.

There may also be cases where a couple entered into a post-nuptial agreement. These agreements are often entered into when one of the parties acquires a business or inherits a business. The court will review any post-nuptial agreements which the couple has signed because the court will want to ensure the agreement is fair and equitable. These agreements may be entered into at any time following a marriage and therefore, the court is likely to ask numerous questions pertaining to the reason for the agreement being presented.

High Net Worth Divorce and Child Support

Arizona has guidelines which the court will follow when establishing child support payments as part of a divorce. However, these guidelines may have a different impact on high net worth couples because their child may have different financial needs. For example, children of high net worth couples may have a nanny who cares for them, attend private school, or attend camp when school is not in session. These additional expenses may result in additional child support payments.

Another concern for parents who have a high net worth is college tuition. Regardless of the age of the children, parents who are going through a divorce may also consider additional funding for college tuition or create a trust for the child for their future needs. These are issues which should be discussed with your family law attorney at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC to ensure your child’s needs for today, and for their future are addressed during the divorce process.

High Net Worth Divorce and Property Division

Because property is divided using the “community property” laws in Arizona, there are may be several challenges to property division. Generally, this means any property which was acquired during the marriage will be divided equally between the two parties.  This will include pension accounts, bank accounts, brokerage accounts which were opened while the couple shared a home. However, both parties may have had individual property which is not usually subject to community property laws because it was owned prior to the marriage or because the property was inherited by one of the parties during the marriage.

Couples who have a high net worth should also be aware the court has discretion to potentially divide assets which were owned prior to the marriage. You should consider discussing this potential with your family law attorney so you understand what this could mean for assets which you originally thought might be safe from division. Keep in mind while many couples have household goods which they can normally agree about, high net worth couples may also have to deal with artwork, antiques, and jewelry which can complicate the division of property.

When One or Both Owns a Business

High net worth couples may also have business interests either jointly or separately. When dealing with property division, the courts may order a forensic accounting to determine the value of the business as well as determine future earnings which may be awarded as part of the final divorce settlement. Business division between couples can be complicated because in some cases, there are third parties who own part of the business. The court will want to determine what portion of the business is owned by one or both of the parties to the divorce before making a final decision. Both parties should be aware it is highly unlikely the court will mandate both parties remain owners unless there is an agreement between the couple to continue to operate the business with both acting in good faith.

Tax Considerations and High Net Worth Divorces

Anytime a couple is filing for divorce, there are tax considerations. In the case of high value divorce, this can be more complicated. There are numerous issues to address including capital gains when property must be sold, whether the couple will file a joint return for the tax year in which they were divorced, and who will claim the children as dependents going forward. These issues must all be addressed to ensure there is an equitable solution.

Divorce is never easy. Generally, parents both want what is best for their children and there may also be several issues where a couple can agree on how they will be addressed. However, there may also be a need to litigate in court in order to resolve complicated divorce issues.  Working with an attorney who has experience dealing with complex divorce issues including handling divorces for high net worth couples can make a significant difference in the outcome.

Whether you have decided to file for divorce, or your spouse has filed for divorce, you need an experience divorce attorney who will guide you through the process. When you and your spouse have high value assets, the process can be further complicated which is why working with an experienced attorney is necessary. Call DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC today at (602) 252-1968 and let us help you through this difficult process. We understand this is a difficult time but you can feel confident we will take the time to understand your goals and help you make the right decisions for you and your family.

Arizona family law firms, including DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, often are asked questions pertaining to child support. Child support is designed to ensure every child’s basic needs are met. Whether parents were married or not, both have an obligation to ensure their child’s financial security. When child support is ordered by the court, parents should be aware the amount of support is determined by child support guidelines which are imposed by Arizona’s statutory law.

These guidelines provide guidance to the court by taking into consideration the income and expenses of each parent. In cases where the parents share custody, the amount of time which each parent physically has the child may also be taken into consideration. It is important to understand that guidelines are simply guidance: the court may increase or decrease the amount the non-custodial parent pays depending on specific circumstances including health needs, special day care arrangements and more. When one parent has a substantial increase or decrease in the amount they are earning, child support may also be adjusted accordingly. However, knowing all of this information will not address the concerns some parents have when they fall behind on child support payments.

Risks Associated With Non-Compliance of Child Support Orders

When the court orders child support payments, they may be ordered to be paid weekly or monthly. When the order is violated by not making the payments, there are various steps the courts may take in order to ensure the child is being properly supported. Some of the steps may include ordering the non-paying parent to appear in court, assessing a penalty for not paying including a 10 percent interest rate, and when necessary, ordering the wages of the person paying to be garnished.

None of these steps happen overnight which often means there are past due child support payments. During the time the parent fails to pay the past-due amounts, there will be interest accruing on the past due amount. The payer, is typically obligated to make regular payments until such time as the child in question reaches the age of majority, or graduates from high school, generally, this means until they are 18 or 19. There may also be circumstances, such as in the case of a child with special needs, where the support payments must be paid indefinitely. However, the child turning 18 or 19 does not free you from the obligation of past-due payments.  This always raises the question about what happens to the past-due amounts of child support which were unpaid.

Steps Which Can Be Taken to Enforce Child Support Orders

In most cases of unpaid child support, Arizona’s Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) who has numerous legal tools at their disposal to collect child support payments which are owed. While a parent who is supposed to pay child support has the option of requesting a hearing to appeal a decision once they have been notified that DCSS is pursuing collection, some of the steps which may be taken should they lose that appeal include:

  • Income Withholding Order (IWO) – the use of this order applies to current as well as past-due amounts of child support. This order allows for DCSS to have funds withheld from paychecks and issued to DCSS.
  • State Income Tax Refund Offset – anyone who owed $50 or more in past due child support payments may have their Arizona state income tax diverted for the purposes of reducing arrears. It is worth noting  a person who owes child support may also be in jeopardy of losing their federal income tax refund.
  • Seizure of Assets – anyone who has outstanding child support debt may be subject to having their assets seized. This may include, but is not limited to bank accounts including savings accounts and any stock, bond or mutual fund holdings.
  • Credit Bureau Reporting – past due child support payments can and are reported to the major credit bureaus. Any payments which are in arrears for six months or more are reported as collection accounts and will remain on a credit report until such time as the payments are brought current.
  • Passport Renewals – anyone who has child support arrears in excess of $2,500 may face challenges renewing a passport.
  • Professional Licensing – any person who has a professional license which requires renewal may face challenges if they have past due child support payments. Licenses may also be suspended at the discretion of DCSS.
  • National New Hire Directory – many people are unaware there is a federal new hire directory. DCSS can use this directory to locate parents who have fallen behind in their child support payments to enforce child support orders.
  • Home Liens – any person who owes back child support and sells real estate could have the portion of the sale which is owed in child support seized from the proceeds.
  • Backup Income – those who owe child support and are eligible to collect disability or unemployment insurance may find DCSS has seized funds to pay arrears.

As you can see, there are several legal options available to collect past due child support which makes it nearly impossible to ignore.

No Escape From Past Due Child Support

When a person fails to make timely child support payments, the family law firm of DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC  is often asked to assist in obtaining these payments on behalf of the party who was owed the payments. We are fully aware the longer these payments remain outstanding, the more challenging it becomes to collect the payments. The parent who is responsible for making payments is also facing a debt which continues to grow which makes them more likely to avoid paying them in the future. What many people do not understand is unlike consumer debt which remains uncollected, child support payments are not subject to Arizona’s statutes of limitations.

What this means is if the person who owes child support files for bankruptcy they still will be responsible for making the past-due payments, regardless of the amount owed.  If the parent who is entitled to the payments was successful in securing an Arizona judgment, the judgment never goes away either.

Contact The Phoenix Child Support Attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC

When you are facing child support issues, the right attorney can make all the difference. Protect your rights and contact an Arizona child support attorney at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC to schedule an initial consultation. Call our offices today at (602) 252-1968 or (480) 524-1540.

A marriage never starts with the couple thinking they will eventually get a divorce. But between forty and fifty percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Many times, divorce is no one individual’s fault. Sometimes, the marriage just ends.

Regardless of the reason for divorce, it is expensive. Many estimates put the cost of divorce starting in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. And it only goes up from there. The more assets you have, the more expensive your divorce becomes.

Working with a trusted and compassionate Arizona divorce lawyer can provide you the guidance and support you need during this emotional period of your life. The right lawyer can also help you save on costs and make sure you don’t spend more the necessary.

Common Reasons for Divorce

To file for divorce in Arizona, you must have been a resident for at least ninety days. Arizona is also a no-fault divorce state so you do not have to provide a specific reason for your divorce. On your divorce petition, all you must allege is that your divorce is irretrievably broken.

But there are some common reasons a married couple moves forward with divorce. These include:

  • Infidelity
  • Abuse
  • Unrealistic expectations of marriage
  • Lack of preparation
  • Lack of equality in the marriage

Your situation is unique to you. While you may experience one or more of these situations in your marriage, the question of whether divorce is right for your marriage is up to you. You might think what went wrong in your marriage but it’s important to not focus on that but instead what you do next. Deciding on divorce is a difficult decision and one that you should not take lightly but when you have decided, it’s important to work with a seasoned divorce lawyer in Arizona to help you navigate the complex legal process ahead.

Most divorces are not simple, especially divorces involving high net worth couples. Issues needing resolution often include:

  • Parenting time
  • Decision-making authority for children
  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Division of property
  • Division of assets

You also need to consider time. Once you file for divorce, there are filing deadlines which must be met, including financial disclosures. These documents are complex and require a deep dive into your financial life. The court requires this information to make sure each person is receiving an equitable distribution of marital assets. During this discovery process, we can also determine if your spouse is hiding assets in an effort to reduce what they may have to contribute to the divorce. It’s shady but we have seen it happen many times.

Why High Net Worth Divorces Cost More

As a high net worth individual, you have more property and other assets which require division between you and your spouse. Sometimes, courts must get involved to split your assets, further increasing the cost.

When contemplating divorce as a high net worth individual, speaking with an experienced divorce attorney in Arizona can give you the confidence you need that your divorce will be handled correctly. One of the most important things you need to understand is your finances. If you know what you have as a couple, you know what a fair distribution might look like. Your lawyer will help you with this step.

High net worth divorces may also be more expensive because they are more likely to be contested. When this happens, courts are often involved and that greatly increases attorney fees. This does not mean you should avoid hiring a lawyer. That can be the worst decision you make.

To ensure you receive a fair distribution of your marital assets, evaluating your full net worth is important but takes time. In addition, some assets may not be marital property. When you got married, most of your assets became marital property and anything you acquired during your marriage might also be marital property. But there are some exceptions which your lawyer can help you determine.

Many high net worth divorces also involve international assets. This creates extreme complexities with your divorce, including possible tax ramifications. This requires the keen eye of an experienced Arizona divorce lawyer with a thorough understanding of high net worth divorces and your specific situation.

In high net worth divorces, alimony payments may also be extremely high. Alimony is used to keep the spouse who may not have been the high earner in the marriage in the same or similar living situation they were in during the marriage. But sometimes, a spouse will conceal property, bank accounts, and other assets to reduce their overall net worth. This results in a reduction of the potential alimony they need to pay.

Don’t Rush

Divorce is expensive. You need to make sure divorce is the right decision for your specific situation. Once you determine it is, then you need to make sure you take it seriously.

We often hear clients say they just want to get divorce over with and move on with their lives. We understand this is a complex and emotionally draining process. But if you don’t do it right this time, you may have to go down this road in the future to make sure you have a fair and equitable distribution of your assets.

Rushing divorce can result in making grave financial mistakes. You cannot correct some of these mistakes after we finalize your divorce. We know it’s painful but let us help you protect your rights.

Speak with a Divorce Lawyer

Many people choose to live together before marriage. That can help reduce the likelihood that the couple’s marriage will end in divorce. But it’s not a guarantee. So don’t ignore how you feel and seek out help right away.

When you have made the decision that divorce is the right choice for you, seek out a skilled Arizona divorce lawyer. The right lawyer can help you protect your rights during divorce proceedings to ensure you do not regret rushing through the process.

Contact us online or at 602-252-1968 today. Dedicated. Loyal. Trustworthy. Reliable.

Arizona is one of nine states that follows a “community property” definition of marital assets.  In the most basic sense, in Arizona, property acquired during a marriage by either spouse is deemed “community property” belonging to both spouses equally, regardless of which spouse paid for or did the work to obtain that property, and regardless of in whose name title to the property was taken. Community property includes wages and earnings of a spouse, tangible property acquired during marriage, and the proceeds of community property (e.g., investment income). In contrast, property brought into the marriage by one spouse, acquired by gift or inheritance, or designated as belonging to one spouse or the other by agreement, constitutes “separate” property belonging only to one spouse.

In a divorce, Arizona spouses generally have an equal, 50/50, right to share in community property, but each retain “separate” property for themselves. That might seem like a straightforward concept when it comes to distributing the contents of a savings account. It can get complicated, however, when the marital assets to be characterized and divided comprise ownership interests in, and proceeds of, an operating business.

In this blog post, we briefly discuss the effects of community property rules in an Arizona divorce where the assets at issue include ownership interests in and proceeds of an Arizona business. For answers to specific questions about how Arizona law may characterize your ownership of and proceeds from your business in a divorce, contact an experienced Arizona family law and business attorney today.

Ownership Interests: Separate or Community Property?

An ownership interest in a business, be it corporate stock, membership units of a limited liability company, or interests in a partnership, may constitute “community” or “separate” property under Arizona law. Generally, how they get characterized depends upon how they were acquired. For example, if a spouse incorporates an LLC to operate a business after getting married, then even if that spouse is the sole owner of the membership interests of that LLC, the interests likely constitute community property. In contrast, if a spouse already owns interests in a business before marriage, then the interests likely constitute “separate property.”

As a basic proposition, business ownership interests that constitute community property must be divided equally in a divorce, no matter what implications the division might have on the management, control, or operation of the business itself. This can cause significant complication for a business owner and for the business itself. For example, suppose a spouse and a third party form a business during the spouse’s marriage in which the spouse owns 60% of the business and the third party owns 40%. Absent agreement to the contrary, in a divorce the spouse’s ownership interest would be divided, leaving the spouse with just a 30% ownership interest in the business and giving the business a new 30% owner, the spouse’s ex. Further complication could follow from that eventuality if, for example, the LLC agreement barred transfer of the LLC’s interests, or allocated management rights according to ownership interest.

Because of the potential complications above (which merely illustrate one scenario in a vast array of business-related headaches that can occur in an Arizona divorce), spouses who form Arizona business entities after marriage are well-advised to enter into agreements with their spouses that expressly characterize ownership interests as either “separate” or “community” property, and into agreements with their business partners that contemplate the eventuality of an owner getting divorced.

Business Proceeds: Separate or Community Property?

As if the complications described above were not enough to make your head spin (if you don’t have the help of experienced family law and business counsel, that is), Arizona law can make division of business ownership proceeds even more tricky. That is because even if business ownership interests constitute one spouse’s separate property, Arizona law may, in some circumstances, characterize the proceeds of those ownership interests – distributions, dividends, or capital appreciation, for example – as community property.

To be clear, Arizona law sets a baseline rule that proceeds of separate property also constitute separate property. But not always. Proceeds of business ownership interests that constitute separate property could still be characterized as community property if:

  • The proceeds reach the owner spouse in a form commonly characterized  as community property, such as if a business pays a salary to the spouse, rather than making dividends; or
  • The proceeds if the business are attributable to the efforts of the non-owner spouse.

Speak with an experienced Arizona family law and business attorney to evaluate whether how community property rules may affect how you receive income from a business you own, and how your spouse’s contribution to the marriage may affect the characterization of proceeds of those business interests.

How Arizona Lawyers Help to Plan for Business-Related Community Property Issues

The best way to navigate community property division of Arizona business ownership interests and proceeds is to plan ahead. Through the careful execution of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, as well as agreements among business owners (such as LLC Agreements and stockholder agreements), business owners in Arizona can plan for the eventuality of a divorce and spare themselves significant difficulty and financial strain if it happens.

Should you find yourself in the position of not having planned ahead for how your business assets would be divided in a divorce, the advice and counsel of an experienced family law attorney may well prove critical. You may , for example, need to prove that certain business ownership interests constituted separate property, or that your ex-spouse did not materially contribute to the enhancement of the business in a manner that would transform proceeds into community property. Consult with an Arizona family law and business attorney as soon as possible if you are facing a divorce that your business planning never contemplated.

Unwary Arizona business owners can easily find themselves neck-deep in a thicket of legal complication by failing to consider the impact of the state’s community property rules on their business. Do not wait to seek sophisticated, experienced legal counsel. Contact a skilled, experienced Arizona family law and business lawyer today to gain an understanding of your rights. Call (602) 252-1968 to speak to one of our attorneys.

While most of us have a pretty good idea about what a prenuptial agreement is, many people don’t know the first thing about postnuptial agreements. If you’re married and don’t have a prenup, you may want to consider a postnuptial agreement – and it does not mean that you are hedging your bets or are even considering divorce. Instead, a postnuptial agreement is a legal contract that fills in for a prenuptial agreement – if you don’t have one or if yours has timed out or has otherwise been revoked – and is only implemented in the event of divorce. If you have questions related to a postnuptial agreement, the experienced family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC in Phoenix can help.

A Postnuptial Agreement Aids the Divorce Process

If your marriage does end in divorce, your postnuptial agreement aids the divorce process immensely. A postnuptial agreement is not a harbinger of divorce by any means, and many go unused permanently. If your marriage does come to an end, however, this legal document will guide the important decisions that need to be made, including:

  • The division of your marital property – The division of marital property is one of the most hotly contested issues in any divorce and can greatly increase the time it takes to obtain a divorce. Your postnuptial agreement will delineate who gets what, which properties are marital property, and which properties are separate property – and removes this time-consuming and expensive obstacle from the divorce process.
  • Spousal Maintenance – If your postnuptial agreement addresses spousal maintenance – what many of us think of as alimony – you similarly won’t need to address this issue in the course of your divorce. Spousal maintenance is highly specific to the case at hand and can take a considerable amount of time to negotiate during the divorce process. Your postnuptial agreement can take this component of your divorce off the negotiation table.

It’s important to point out, however, that issues related to child custody and child support cannot be addressed in a postnuptial agreement (or prenuptial agreement). These are issues that must be settled by the court (or agreed to by the court) and must only be settled in real-time in accordance with state laws.

Fortifying Your Marriage

Many people contend that a postnuptial agreement is a sign that one’s marriage is destined to fall apart, but this is far from the case. On the contrary, going through the process of creating a postnuptial agreement makes you and your spouse face the facts as they relate to divorce, and this can help you recognize just how difficult and painful a divorce would be. You can look at your postnuptial agreement as a tool that helps you keep your marriage on track. You both had to sign off on the postnuptial agreement, and you’re both well aware at this point exactly how damaging a divorce would be.

Money Arguments

Since we’ve touched on the topic of how a postnuptial agreement can help strengthen your marriage, it’s important to bring up the issue of arguments about money in a marriage. Arguments about money are undeniably common in marriages, and serious money arguments are closely associated with divorce. A postnuptial agreement can address and guide your current finances. A postnuptial agreement puts all your money questions into black and white and provides answers to those questions. This can help alleviate your worries and concerns related to money in your marriage. Instead of letting money problems lead you to divorce, you can use your postnuptial agreement to address your money issues head-on – before divorce becomes the answer.

Protecting Your Future

Even if you have a comprehensive prenuptial agreement, it likely can’t anticipate all of life’s twists and turns. This is where a postnuptial agreement can help. If you and your spouse have greatly increased your financial holdings over the course of your marriage, have started a business, have expanded a business, or have branched out financially in ways you never imagined, a postnuptial agreement can succinctly address the issue.

Your Postnuptial Agreement

If you’re wondering whether you need a postnuptial agreement, consider your finances, and if they are anything other than extremely straightforward, a postnuptial agreement is probably a good idea. While prenuptial agreements are governed by legal statute in the State of Arizona, postnuptial agreements are a matter of judicial precedent, which means they are recognized by the courts because there is precedent to do so. Your postnuptial agreement is viewed by the court in much the same way that any contract is – as long as it contains the elements necessary to make it valid and enforceable, including:

  • Your postnuptial agreement should be in writing.
  • Your postnuptial agreement should be signed by both of you.
  • Your postnuptial agreement should be notarized.
  • The agreements set forth in your postnuptial agreement must be fair and equitable (the court won’t sign off on the agreement if it deems that one spouse is coming out ahead at the other spouse’s expense).

Keeping Things Fair

The court will be looking to make sure your postnuptial agreement treats both of you reasonably fairly. Within these parameters, you are free to get creative with the division of your marital property. If, for example, your family business is your spouse’s darling, and you hope to remain in your family home, you can divide things with these goals in mind. The court is interested in the fairness of how the dollar value of your assets is divided but cannot concern itself with the personal value you place in your home, business, art collection, investments, or anything else – only you and your spouse can assign these values, and you can use your postnuptial agreement to address them.

Questions about a Postnuptial Agreement? Call a Phoenix Family Law Attorney

A postnuptial agreement can address the financial concerns in your marriage and guide your financial decisions if your marriage does end in divorce. A postnuptial agreement, however, can only help if it is a valid legal document that fairly addresses these issues, and the dedicated family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC in Phoenix are committed to helping you create a postnuptial agreement that protects your rights and works for you. Our formidable legal team is here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 602-457-6559 for more information today.

 

 

 

If you are facing a divorce, you are naturally concerned about your post-divorce finances, and you may be wondering about alimony. Spousal maintenance – what most of us think of as alimony – is among the most misunderstood components of divorce, and it’s worth taking a closer look. Historically, only the wife could ask for alimony, but this has changed, and either spouse can ask for alimony if their circumstances fall within the parameters of the Arizona statute.

While there is no guarantee that you will receive spousal maintenance after your divorce, if you qualify and the court deems you in need, this financial bump can help you better navigate your post-divorce life. If you have divorce concerns related to alimony, the dedicated family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC in Phoenix are committed to helping you obtain a divorce that works for you – and that includes alimony if you are so entitled.

Your Divorce

Before you can receive alimony, you must directly ask for it in your divorce petition. If you waive your right to this spousal maintenance, you can’t go back in and modify your decree in an effort to obtain it. In other words, it’s important to get this right from the get-go, and working with an experienced family law attorney will help ensure that you do.

Your Affidavit of Financial Information

Your Affidavit of Financial Information (AFI) is critical to every financial component of your divorce, including child support and alimony. As such, it’s imperative that you pay close attention to compiling a financial affidavit that accurately reflects your finances. This document will delineate your gross monthly income from every source, your monthly expenses, and the children you support. You will provide your divorcing spouse’s attorney with your AFI along with supporting documentation, and it’s important that the numbers on both match each other.

The information on your AFI will likely include:

  • Documentation regarding your income (including paystubs)
  • Financial information related to self-employment (as applicable)
  • Financial information pertaining to your children (including daycare and babysitting as applicable)
  • Information related to your current and past employers
  • Your income taxes for the last three years
  • A list of your monthly expenses
  • Information about expenses related to medical/eye/dental insurance
  • A list of your outstanding debts

Temporary Spousal Maintenance

As you move through the divorce process, you may need temporary spousal maintenance to help keep you afloat, and you can file a motion for the same. Your motion should lay out exactly why you need the financial support and should demonstrate that your divorcing spouse is capable of paying for it. The basics should include:

  • Your expenses
  • Your income and its inability to cover your expenses
  • Your lack of access to community funds
  • Your spouse’s income and ability to cover your financial needs during the pendency of your divorce

Your motion can also address expenses associated with your divorce, such as your legal fees and moving costs.

The Initial Analysis of Your Case: Qualification

To qualify for alimony, you must be able to prove that at least one of the following applies to you:

  • Your personal property alone (the income it produces) is not sufficient to provide for your reasonable needs.
  • You are unable to provide for your reasonable needs through your ability to work alone, or you lack the earning potential to earn enough, or you care for a child whose age or health requires you to stay home and not work.
  • You significantly contributed to your divorcing spouse’s educational and/or career successes.
  • Your marriage lasted many years, and you are currently of an age that precludes you from obtaining employment sufficient to provide for your reasonable needs.

If at least one of these does not apply to you, you don’t qualify for alimony, and the process ends here.

Analyzing the Factors Specific to Your Situation

Once you are determined to qualify for spousal maintenance, the court will take the factors specific to your situation into account in determining the amount of support you will receive and the duration of that support. These factors include:

  • The standard of living you and your spouse established during the course of your marriage – The court recognizes that you and your spouse probably won’t both be able to maintain the standard of living you reached in your marriage, but it is interested in making sure that your separate standards of living won’t be seriously lopsided.
  • The length of your marriage – Generally, a marriage that lasts less than ten years is considered a short marriage, a marriage that lasts from 10 to 20 years is considered medium length, and a marriage that lasts more than 20 years is considered a long marriage. Longer marriages generally translate to more alimony for a longer period of time.
  • Your age, physical and emotional health, earning capacity, and employment history – The court will look at these components in relation to your ability to earn. The less able you are to earn, the more significant your alimony amount and duration are likely to be.
  • Your spouse’s ability to pay alimony
  • The comparative financial resources that both of you have
  • Your contributions to your spouse’s ability to earn
  • The extent to which you sacrificed your own earning potential to stay home and care for your family
  • You and your divorcing spouse’s ongoing ability to contribute to your shared children’s education
  • Amount of time you’d need to get the training or education necessary to obtain a job that would adequately support you
  • Excess spending, concealment of funds, or fraudulent disposition of marital property – If your divorcing spouse engaged in any of these practices, it can lead to him or her paying more in spousal maintenance than he or she ordinarily would have.

If You Have Alimony Concerns, Contact a Phoenix Family Law Attorney Today

Financial concerns are among the most stressful concerns associated with divorce. The dedicated family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC in Phoenix are committed to helping you obtain the spousal maintenance to which you are entitled. Our experienced legal team is on your side, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 602-457-6559 for more information today.

The number of married couples divorcing after the age of 50 has been rising in recent years. In some ways, divorce later in life is simpler. The kids are grown so support and visitation are rarely issues. In other ways, ending a long-lasting divorce later in life presents challenges that require added consideration.

Divorce typically leaves both spouses in worse financial condition than while married. Creating a post-divorce financial plan becomes more critical when marriages end late in life. A full inventory of assets and their values must be made. Division of assets and debts should be decided based on life expectancy, age difference and potential sources of post-divorce income.

Younger ex-spouses generally find opportunities to recover and have adequate time to pursue them. The opportunities and time to recover for spouses divorcing late in life are usually much more limited. To ensure both spouses are financially secure after divorce, property and debt distribution often require different considerations than needed when spouses are young.

Home ownership. Disposition of a family home for young couples is usually straightforward for Phoenix, Arizona residents. Either the spouse with primary custody of the children will often keep the home or the property will be sold and profits split between the spouses. Older spouses should not automatically decide to sell the property as it may prove financially beneficial for one spouse to keep the home.

A reverse mortgage can provide a consistent source of income once a homeowner reaches 62. Access to government aid programs such as Medicaid and veterans’ pension programs may be limited by financial assets but not by equity in a primary residence. Seniors who have $100,000 in the bank may be prevented from accessing some programs they could otherwise use if that same $100,000 was in home equity.

Senior homeowners often enjoy property tax breaks and utility discounts but must live in the home to benefit. Even if a spouse foregoes those benefits by moving from the home, the property can generate a steady source of income as a rental, particularly in hot real estate markets. Alternatively, the ex-spouse may remain in the home but rent a room or a section of the home if feasible.

Retirements and pensions. In general, spouses are entitled to half the retirement or pension benefits earned during the marriage by either spouse. When both have retirement accounts, it may be simpler to just agree that each will keep his or her own account. Where one spouse does not have a retirement account or where there is a significant difference in account values, provisions must usually be made to divide the accounts.

Retirement and pension account provisions vary. Some may allow distribution of funds soon after divorce. Others may restrict distribution until one or both spouses reach a specific age. Extra time and effort may be required to obtain valuations of funds in these programs and to draft required paperwork such as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to access the funds. Full knowledge of account values is essential to accomplish a fair distribution of property.

Social Security. While generally not an issue for younger couples, for spouses nearing 60 this issue holds great importance. A divorce decree cannot allocate Social Security benefits. Distribution is based on federal law. At age 62 a person married for 10 years can claim half of an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit without reducing the amount to which that spouse is entitled. If the ex-spouse dies after 10 years of marriage, the survivor may be able to claim the full benefit at age 60.

For a person with a limited work history, obtaining a Social Security benefit based on the spouse’s work record can provide substantial income. If the marriage has not lasted 10 years, it may be wiser to consider a legal separation or other arrangement at least until requirements are met to access Social Security benefits.

Health insurance. One spouse often faces loss of health insurance coverage after divorce. Options may include extending existing coverage via COBRA provisions in the current policy or requiring the spouse with insurance to pay for all or part of a policy covering the soon-to-be uninsured spouse at least until that spouse becomes eligible for Medicare. A spouse already eligible for Medicare might also consider requiring the spouse with greater income to pay the cost of a Medigap insurance policy to supplement Medicare coverage.

The option of legally separating for a period rather than divorcing might be considered as well. Since the marriage remains legally intact, the insured party’s health insurance policy will usually continue to cover the other spouse.

Alimony and life insurance. Spousal maintenance or alimony can only be logically considered once the value and intended disposition of property is determined. If both spouses have been actively employed during the marriage and earning comparable salaries, alimony may not be needed. However, where one spouse left the job market for a considerable period to be the primary caretaker of the children, the requirement to pay alimony becomes more likely. The reality for at least one spouse in many late-in-life divorces is that opportunities will be limited to re-enter the job market at a salary sufficient to achieve financial independence.

When alimony is ordered in a divorce involving older couples, the person paying should be required to maintain a life insurance policy naming the alimony recipient as beneficiary. This protects the recipient from being cut off from a stream of needed income should the payer unexpectedly die.

Estate planning. Once the divorce is final, ex-spouses should revise wills, medical directives and other documents that designate beneficiaries or have given power of attorney to the other spouse. Spouses may want to consider whether the divorce decree should include provisions to establish trusts or require that specific provisions be maintained in each person’s will for benefit of children.

Couples in a long-term marriage generally have accumulated more assets over time.

Anyone contemplating divorce would be wise to consult an attorney for advice and assistance. Particularly when a divorce comes late in life, the guidance of a tax consultant may prove equally necessary and valuable as most divorce issues basically involve a numbers game. Legal and financial assistance can help ensure you obtain a fair division of assets to provide financial stability for years to come.

Discuss Your Options at an Initial Case Review with DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC

At DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC, we know how to navigate the complexities that surround child custody issues skillfully. You don’t have to face the court or your ex alone in court. Contact one of our divorce attorneys for an initial case review. You can schedule a meeting with our divorce team by calling (602) 252-1968 or sending us a message via our online request form.

“Ghosting” is a phenomenon that occurs when someone you know just suddenly vanishes or refuses to respond to your communications without a given reason. When it happens between a married couple, the action of the spouse, who “ghosted” you, is committing spousal abandonment in the State of Arizona.

You do not want to stay in the marriage but may feel like you do not know where to turn after discovering you must serve divorce papers. The reassuring news is that you have options.

In this post, the legal team at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC describes an overview of spousal abandonment divorce proceedings in Arizona and the steps you can take to serve your petition. While the information presented below is general, you can speak with an Arizona divorce lawyer for situation-specific advice.

Establishing the Grounds for Divorce

Arizona courts require you to provide a valid reason for seeking a divorce from your partner. Fortunately, we are a no-fault divorce state, which means that you do not need to plead your case beyond the marriage being irretrievably broken.

Therefore, spousal abandonment is reason enough for filing a dissolution of marriage. You must also wait out at least one year after abandonment before submitting your application.

The Arizona Divorce Process When You Cannot Locate Your Spouse

Even though you cannot locate your spouse, you must still follow the typical divorce procedure by filing in the Superior Court in your county of residence.

In most divorce cases, including spousal abandonment, there are three necessary steps to follow:

  1. File your petition for a Dissolution of Marriage in your residential county
  2. Serve the petition in a manner consistent with an unlocatable spouse
  3. Attend court hearings to pursue a Decree of the Dissolution of Marriage

As you can see, it is a straightforward process for any divorce. However, when the action involves children, it becomes a more complex procedure.

It is helpful to talk with an Arizona divorce lawyer for this situation. He or she can help you make decisions that are in the best interest of your minor dependents.

Serving Divorce Papers to an Unlocatable Spouse

Serving divorce papers in Arizona must occur even when you cannot find your spouse. Typically, most divorces serve documents by mail or hand-deliver them via a process server. In the case of an unlocatable spouse, you will use a substituted methodology.

With that said, you must first exhaust every opportunity to reasonably locate him or her before using a substituted service. This concept gives rise to hiring a process server to “skip trace” him or her.

Skip tracing is a method of using a person’s personal information compared against state, federal, and individual credit databases. If the process server uncovers your estranged spouse’s location, then service resumes as usual.

However, if he or she is still unlocatable, then you will serve your spouse via publication. Service by publication occurs where you post the petition in locally distributed newspapers. An Arizona divorce lawyer can help you execute this aspect properly.

Contact an Arizona Divorce Lawyer at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC for an Initial Consultation

Dealing with divorce is upsetting enough without adding abandonment to your injury. You do not have to face this situation alone.

At DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, we understand the impact that this situation has on your life. Our team of Arizona divorce lawyers is here to help you at every critical point of the divorce process.

You can schedule an initial consultation with our team of legal professionals by calling (602) 457-6559 or completing our contact request form.

You’ve dreamed of finding the right person your entire life, and now you have. You and your partner are ready to start an incredible life together, and it all begins with a wonderful wedding day. Before you walk down the aisle, though, you’ll have a few choices to make. Yes, you’ll have to decide which caterer to use and who will be a bridesmaid, but you’ll also need to discuss whether you want to utilize a prenuptial agreement. Before you sign your marriage license, make sure you understand what a prenuptial agreement is, how it works, and whether one is right for your relationship. Here’s what you need to know.

First off, it’s important to understand exactly what a prenuptial agreement is and what it is not. This type of agreement is a legally binding document that is designed to protect your personal assets and belongings in the event of a divorce. While no one enters a marriage with the expectation of the relationship ending, it’s important to keep in mind that marriages end for a number of different reasons. Many of these are out of your control. People grow, circumstances change, and relationships adjust. A prenuptial agreement ensures that in the event of a divorce, you and your partner will leave with your personal assets, rather than dividing these equally after your separation.

If you’re thinking about creating a prenuptial agreement, you can start by meeting with an attorney. Your lawyer wants to help both you and your partner move forward. They’ll be able to advise you as to how a prenuptial agreement can benefit both of you. Your attorney can answer questions about the document and assist you in drafting a prenuptial agreement that works for you. Understand that even if you aren’t sure what you want to include in the prenuptial agreement, your attorney can provide guidance and assistance.

Some couples worry that a prenuptial agreement will damage their relationship. They’re afraid that if they choose to create a prenuptial agreement, it will cause a rift between them. Before you choose to create this document, sit down with your partner. Have an honest discussion about the benefits or drawbacks of creating a prenuptial agreement. If either one of you owns property, has family heirlooms, or owns a business, a prenuptial agreement can be especially beneficial. Should you divorce at some point in the future, this agreement ensures that you will each walk away with your personal assets that you brought into the relationship.

In addition to protecting your assets, a prenuptial agreement can discuss how you want to handle alimony, as well as the separation of debt. Once you are married, you and your partner may choose to utilize joint checking accounts or credit cards. If you separate, this will need to be divided and each person will be held liable for a certain portion of any debt. A prenuptial agreement can discuss this carefully.

Whether you have been dating for weeks, months, or years, make sure you have an honest discussion with your partner about creating a prenuptial agreement. Simply broaching the topic of a prenuptial agreement should not cause damage to your relationship. After all, if the two of you stay married, it will never come into play. If, however, you do choose to separate, it can provide protection and benefits for both of you.

It’s also important that you remember to meet with an attorney to draft up a legally-binding prenuptial agreement if you choose to utilize one. A verbal agreement will not be considered a legal agreement in the case of a divorce as there is no way to prove what was actually said or agreed upon. A family law practice attorney can help you and your partner carefully consider your wishes and desires going into your marriage and can assist you in creating the documents you need to move forward together.

You can schedule an initial consultation with a Phoenix prenuptial agreement lawyer today by calling (602) 461-7818 or by sending us a message through our online contact form.

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