5 Questions to Ask During Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney

A divorce attorney is your lifeline to ensure your divorce progresses as smoothly as possible.

The first step when hiring an attorney is an initial consultation, where you share information about your divorce and ask questions. You should be prepared for this consultation with relevant documents, like a prenuptial agreement or any earlier legal proceedings to help your attorney get a good understanding for your story and provide you an accurate timeline and cost estimate, local family law firm DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC suggests.

Because a divorce attorney will need to know some intimate details about you, you may want to meet with a few attorneys until you find one you feel comfortable with.

Here are five questions to ask during your first meeting with a divorce attorney.

How much experience do you have with cases like mine?

You can find out before your meeting whether an attorney specializes in divorces or general family law, but you may not know about specific cases they’ve handled.

After you’ve shared the details of your case, you can ask whether it’s similar to other cases they’ve had. You can also ask for any details the attorney is permitted to share to determine if their experience will help them handle your situation.

How does your practice handle divorce cases?

While Arizona law will be the same for everyone going through a divorce, individual law firms may divide their work differently between lawyers and paralegals.

Some firms may have one attorney handle your case from beginning to end, while others may divide the work between a lead attorney, legal assistants, or other attorneys with experience in certain aspects of the case. Knowing how a law firm divides work will prevent confusion down the road with regards to who to contact with questions.

What are your fees?

Attorneys are legally required to be transparent about fees. There are variables in every divorce case, and they may not know exactly how much your case will cost, but they can tell you how to get the most value for your money.

For example, if they charge per interaction, they may recommend you save your questions and send them in a single email or make a single call at the end of the week.

No matter what attorney you choose, trials are costly — they can double your cost, according to legal encyclopedia Nolo — so you will likely pay less if you have an uncontested divorce, and your attorney should be willing to help you settle out of court whenever possible.

How long will my case take?

Case lengths vary based on complexity, but an experienced attorney can give you an estimate of how long your case will take. The average amount of time is one year, but they can take as long as 18 months if a trial is involved or as little as 8 months when uncontested, according to Nolo.

What advice can you give me?

Asking for advice during the initial consultation is important for two reasons: First, you can benefit from a divorce attorney’s knowledge and experience. Second, you can get a glimpse into whether this person is someone you can work with.

At DeShon Laraye Pullen, the attorneys have years of experience focusing on family law. For more information or to schedule an initial consultation, visit DeShonPullenLaw.com.

How To Bring Up Divorce With Your Spouse

It’s not unheard of for married people to occasionally think about ending their relationship. If you feel there is no chance for improvement or you are genuinely miserable, it may be time to move forward with a divorce.

Even if you are sure you want a divorce, it can be terrifying to raise the subject with your spouse. With preparation, you can have a productive conversation about what is often an unpleasant issue. Here are some tips to help you bring up divorce with your spouse.

Emotional Preparation

You may have mixed feelings about ending your relationship because you still care about your spouse, even if you no longer want to be married. If you’ve already discussed problems with each other or in therapy, you will likely feel more confident that you’re making the best choice for you.

Even with that confidence, consider beforehand how your spouse will react, so you can prepare for a range of emotions including tears, anger, a long conversation, or even no response. You know your spouse best, so go over scenarios in your head or even discuss them with someone you trust who will help you prepare what to say.

Do Your Research

Although you don’t need to be ready to sign paperwork, it is helpful to have an idea of what to expect during and after the divorce process. The process can include reviewing information about common issues, similar to the ones that local law firm DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC says you’ll need to know about:

  • Division of marital property and assets
  • Division of debts
  • Legal decision-making and parenting time
  • Child support
  • Spousal support

“The unique issues in each divorce case will depend on the length of the marriage, the property you own, whether you have children, and other factors,” DeShon Laraye Pullen says.

You do not have to resolve these issues the first time you bring up divorce, but you should be aware that these discussions are coming.

Choose the Setting

Although discussing a divorce can lead to a fight regardless of the setting, it may go smoother if you talk somewhere you both feel calm.

“You might want to have a meal prepared and a space you feel comfortable in before you speak to your partner,” Support and Solutions for Women says. “Your talk with your spouse might be long and involved, or it might be short and simpler than you think — either way, choosing a space where you feel safe is crucial.”

A safe place implies avoiding public places, such as restaurants, where it’s difficult to speak privately. Additionally, if you have children, ensure they are not within earshot and preferably not in the same location.

Follow a Script

You will need to be honest and direct with your spouse, so as not to give false hope for a reconciliation. To ensure you’re understood, consider the most important points you want to make.

“Plan out what you have to say ahead of time so you are prepared, and write it down if you must,” Men’s Divorce says.

Additionally, the tone of the conversation should be logical and considerate of both your needs. Focus on what you want or need and avoid assigning guilt about why the marriage is ending.

Hire a Lawyer

Even the most harmonious of divorces will benefit from having a divorce lawyer guide you through the process.

DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC encourages cooperation to resolve divorce issues economically and efficiently and is also well-equipped to represent you in an adversarial divorce case. For more information and to schedule an initial consultation, visit DeShonPullenLaw.com.

What Happens To Your House After Divorce?

If you own a house, it is likely your most valuable asset — and one that can’t simply be cut in half. As such, when going through a divorce, it’s important to understand the details of how you and your spouse can divide the property.

Here are answers to some questions you may have that will help you understand what happens to your house after a divorce.

Who is the legal owner?

The main factor in determining who owns the house after a divorce is who owned the house while you were married. If you bought the house while you were married, then you both own it.

“Arizona is a community property state, which means that courts view all property and assets acquired during the marriage as community property,” local law firm DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC says.

If only one of you owned it before the marriage and never added the other person to the mortgage or deed, nor used shared money to pay the mortgage, then the same person still owns the house. However, if your separate and shared properties were mixed, you may both be considered owners.

“For example, if a spouse who was the sole owner of the family home before the marriage changes the title to community property or uses marital funds to pay the mortgage, a court would consider this evidence that the owner intended to make a ‘gift’ of the home to the marital community,” Divorce Net says.

Will the house need to be sold?

You may choose to continue owning the house together, perhaps, so your children can continue living in it or to keep it as an investment property. In these cases, the debt needs to be assigned to one spouse, with the caveat that the other spouse could still be held responsible for it.

“Couples dividing debts should be aware that their separation agreement or divorce order is not binding on creditors, who may continue trying to collect a community debt from either spouse,” Divorce Net says.

Because you may prefer not to share property, you can choose for one of you to be the sole owner. In that case, “that person will generally have to compensate the other spouse, so the division represents a 50/50 split,” DeShon Laraye Pullen says.

A third option is to sell the house and divide whatever money is left after you pay off the mortgage.

How do negotiations work?

You can have a judge decide how your assets, including the house, are divided. Generally, your community property will be divided equally and your separate property will stay with each respective owner. The judge’s decision is final.

Alternately, you can come to an agreement without getting a judge involved.

“Reaching an out-of-court settlement agreement with your spouse is always more efficient and economical, as well as less stressful and emotionally draining,” DeShon Laraye Pullen says. “Relatively amicable, affordable and mutually empowering processes such as mediation, negotiation, or collaborative divorce might interest you.”

No matter the option you choose, a divorce lawyer can represent you throughout the process.

DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC encourages cooperation to resolve divorce issues economically and efficiently and is also well-equipped to represent you in an adversarial divorce case. For more information and to schedule an initial consultation, visit DeShonPullenLaw.com.

Avoid These Costly Mistakes in Divorce

Getting divorced can be complicated as you figure out how to split a combined life. More than dividing a bank account, you have to look at everything you shared with your spouse, including assets, mortgages, credit card debt and, of course, children.

While every divorce will inevitably include elements of emotional turmoil and financial headaches, you can take steps to improve the outcome. Here are some of the costliest mistakes to avoid in divorce.

Refusing Mediation

Generally, the quickest and least expensive divorces take place out of court with the help of a mediator and potentially each spouse’s attorney. If you or your spouse harbor strong ill will toward the other, you may be tempted to go straight to court, but keep in mind that costs will add up, and the final decision is entirely in the hands of the judge.

A mediator, on the other hand, can help you settle disagreements with compromises. You can still hire an attorney to advise you and even represent you at mediation meetings.

“Mediation also provides divorcing couples a lot of flexibility, in terms of making their own decisions about what works best for their family, compared with the traditional adversarial legal process, which involves a court trial where a judge makes all the decisions,” according to DivorceNet.

Forgetting About Taxes

Your tax obligations could change as you switch from filing jointly to filing as a single person, meaning there is the potential you pay more than before. Additionally, if you share children, only the custodial parent can claim them as dependents.

Until your divorce is final, you’re legally married, which means you may need to file taxes jointly if it wasn’t finalized before the end of the year. If you’ve been living separately, however, you may be able to file as head of household.

Back taxes could also be an issue, as you’ll both be responsible for their payment, but the amount owed will likely depend on how much money income you each contributed during the tax period.

Misunderstanding Assets and Debt

If you sell your house, the taxes will come out of how much you each make after paying off the mortgage. You’ll also have to pay capital gains taxes on any investments you sell, such as bonds, stocks, artwork, or other high value assets.

Arizona is a community property state, which means a court will generally divide any property equally between you and your spouse.

“If one spouse wants to keep more property or assets, such as one spouse keeping the family home, that person will generally have to compensate the other spouse, so the division represents a 50/50 split,” according to local law firm DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC.

The same idea goes for any debts you and your spouse took on while you were married. Debts are usually split, and settling them may require selling something you own together for one spouse to pay off half the balance.

Going It Alone

Your divorce attorney is key to keeping the process fair and moving along smoothly. Additionally, you might ask for help from a therapist, tax consultant and, in cases of domestic violence, law enforcement professional. Using the right expert ensures your attorney is focused on the legalities of your divorce.

If you are going through a divorce, the attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen can help you navigate through all the necessary details. Visit DeShonPullenLaw.com or call (602) 252.1968 for more information and to schedule an initial consultation.

Navigating the Return to School for Divorced Parents

This past year has been tumultuous, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the globe. If you’re divorced and attempting to co-parent in the midst of the turmoil, the effort to maintain a sense of normalcy or consistency has likely been difficult, or even impossible.

In particular, schools have made a lot of changes, as children faced a new environment attending in person, online, or a hybrid of those. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines suggestion a distance of 3 to 6 feet between students, depending on the transmission level in a community, and many students are headed back to a physical school building. (For quick reference, check ABC15’s status list for Arizona school districts.)

As you figure out your children’s education plans with your co-parent, here are a few tips:

Communicate Openly

To keep things amicable, HelpGuide suggests co-parents practice good communication skills, including listening with the intent to understand, making requests rather than demands, showing restraint, committing to keeping in consistent contact with each other, and staying kid-focused during crucial conversations.

Update Your Custody Agreement, If Needed

With your children’s schooling schedule changing, you may have to head back to court to iron out a new custody arrangement. You can do this even with a permanent custody agreement, if one of you has had a substantial or material change in circumstances. An example of this can include a school changing from online to hybrid or in-person learning, or an employment change that affects your or your ex’s ability to care for your children.

It is generally less expensive and in everyone’s best interest to avoid a court hearing and, instead, use a mediator, especially if you’re concerned that a judge’s decision will leave both of you unhappy.

“Everyone has a different risk tolerance with COVID and this is a decision with no right answer,” according to the National Law Review. “ A mediator can provide feedback and suggestions and offer a safe environment for you and your ex to trade ideas and work out a custody plan that works for everyone.

Keep Agreements Above Board

Unofficial changes to your custody agreement can be tricky because anything that deviates from the original court order is not legally enforceable. That could be a problem if you disagree about your arrangement in the future.

As for legal adjustments, think carefully about what you want, as they can be time-consuming and difficult to revert if one spouse does not agree with a change. For example, changing custodial parents to take advantage of a school district with the type of learning option you want could backfire in the long run, if you were hoping to return to what you had after a few months.

“It can be argued that a precedent has been set for a permanent change to school and parenting time,” according to the National Law Review.

Recalculate Child Support

Whether your kids head to school full- or part-time or are still learning from home, you might need to pay for childcare. That cost may be reflected in child support payments paid by the non-custodial parent. The Arizona Courts website gives information about how child support is calculated and how much is based on childcare costs.

If you need legal help navigating co-parenting as your kids return to school, visit DeShonPullenLaw.com or call (602) 252-1968 for more information and to schedule a consultation with an expert family law attorney.

How Divorce Affects Your Taxes

Preparing and filing taxes may feel especially overwhelming if you’ve recently gone through a divorce or are in the midst of one. You may be asking whether you should be doing your taxes alone or with your ex and what expenses you can claim.

These and other questions can have unique answers for divorced people working to disentangle their finances from each other. To help, here are answers to some questions for you to consider as you prepare to file your taxes.

Can I file a joint return with my ex?

The answer to this is simple and depends on your marital status as of Dec. 31 of the previous year. If you were still legally married that day, you can file a joint tax return for the year. If you prefer not to file a return with your ex, you can file separately but may need to communicate about income and deductions with each other.

If your divorce judgment was finalized on or before Dec. 31, you are considered divorced for the entire year — at least for tax purposes — and cannot file jointly.

How do I pay taxes on divided property?

With regards to property ownership, if you split what you owned between the two of you, there is nothing to be taxed. However, if you bought or sold property as part of the divorce, there could be tax consequences.

For example, if you sold property you owned as a couple and made money off the sale, you may need to pay capital gains tax. It can get complicated when you factor in how long you owned something and how much it was worth when you bought it, so check Internal Revenue Service rules to see what applies to your property.

Is alimony tax deductible?

Before 2019, spousal maintenance was tax deductible for the person paying it, which meant the person receiving it had to pay taxes on the amount. That is still the case for anyone with an agreement dated prior to 2019, according to the IRS.

However, if you were divorced in 2019 or later, or made a new agreement since that time, that policy has changed.

“Beginning on January 1, 2019, those paying spousal maintenance will no longer be eligible for a federal tax deduction on those payments,” according to local law firm DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC. “Recipients, meanwhile, will no longer be required to pay taxes on any spousal maintenance they receive.”

Is child support deductible?

In short, no. Just like married couples cannot deduct the money they spend on their children, divorced couples cannot deduct the money they spend on child support.

Who claims what money when it comes to taxes in a divorce situation?

It doesn’t matter who earned money while you were married, as both of you split that amount equally when filing taxes.

“In community property states like Arizona, the income earned by a couple is considered earned by both of them,” DeShon Laraye Pullen says. “Thus, one half of the income earned by a spouse while married is considered the income of the other, whether they file jointly or separately.

Are legal fees deductible?

For the most part, the answer is no, but there are a few exceptions. For example, if you received tax advice connected to your divorce or paid fees to figure out alimony, you can claim those as miscellaneous deductions. Your deductions can add up to no more than 2% of your adjusted gross income.

Navigating through the legal intricacies of divorce can be tricky, which is why an experienced attorney can be your lifeline. For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit DeShonPullenLaw.com or call (602) 252-1968.

Areas to Consider When You Divide a Marital Business During a Divorce

Some couples have to divide their businesses during a divorce. This can be a complicated process, so doing your research, and using your knowledge can certainly help the situation. There are three options at your disposal to understand before choosing the best option for your situation. These three options are briefly described below:

1. Buy-Out Your Partner

Buying out the other partner is an option many couples prefer. As an example, you have a marital business worth one million dollars, and the divorce agreement has given your partner 60% of the business. In such a case, you pay your partner $600,000 (60% of $1,000,000) and retain full ownership of the business. Although the buyout option is popular, it can cause potential financial strain on one of the parties. Discover a couple circumstances to consider a buyout:

You Have the Financial Means to Support a Buyout

You must have the finances to buy out your partner. Depending on your agreement, you can pay your partner in a lump sum or periodic payments, or provide them assets of equivalent value. For example, you can exchange marital assets for your partner’s business share.

You Believe in the Business

You shouldn’t buy a business on the decline unless you are confident you will turn it around. Ideally, you should only buy out your partner if the business is strong – and you believe in its’ cause or purpose. Thus, you should have an intimate knowledge of the business which may include a professional audit and valuation. Please note that the court cannot order one partner to buy out the other. You must agree with your spouse on any arrangement.

2. Co-Own the Business

Your business relations with your spouse doesn’t have to end after the divorce. You have the option to continue to run the business together post-divorce and divide the proceeds as per the divorce agreement. Below are some circumstances that make co-ownership attractive.

You Want to Keep the Business in the Family

The best way to keep the business in the family is to co-own it. That way, you can eventually transfer it to your children, or other beneficiary, through the development of a trust or other formal documented process.

The Business Is Your Main Livelihood

You shouldn’t sell your main source of livelihood because of a divorce. For example, if you have a law firm that generates the majority of your marital revenue, your finances are at risk of decline if you sell the business.

The Business Is Difficult to Sell

You may continue to co-own the business if it is difficult to sell. Maybe the economy is in a downturn, or the business has numerous debts. There may be other factors impacting this solution as ideal.

4. Sell the Business

A third option, which is also popular, is to sell the business and divide the proceeds. For example, if the marital agreement has given each of you equal shares of the business, you can sell it and divide the proceeds equally. Below are some of the circumstances under which selling the business makes sense.

Your Divorce Is Acrimonious

Co-ownership will be difficult if you are not on good terms with your partner. In such a case, sell the business and disentangle completely from each other.

You Don’t Want to Run the Business

You should also sell the business if you don’t want to run it. Maybe your partner managed the day-to-day operations of the business, and you have no business experience or interest. You may not have the time affordable to manage the business which impacts your need to sell the business.

You Don’t Have the Financial Means

Selling the business may make sense if you cannot afford any dips in performance that may or may not come with the divorce and change in structure. If you don’t want to co-own the business with your partner, and/or your partner wants a lump sum payment for a buyout, you may need to consider selling.

A divorce attorney can walk you through the above options and their application to your circumstances. DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC has more than enough experience with complex divorce issues. Contact us as soon as possible to help you with business division or any other divorce issue.

How to Get Private School Costs Included in Child Support

During a divorce, the court will not automatically include private school costs in child support calculations. You have to convince the court of the need for private school. Below are some things you may need to prove to strengthen your case.

You Want to Maintain the Status Quo

You have a better chance of success if the child is already in a private school. Your divorce should have minimum impact on your kids. If the child is already in a private school, then you will disrupt their lives and education if you move them to a public school. The court may agree with you if the child has been in private schools since they started formal education.

The Child’s Religion Requires It

Another tip is to prove private school is necessary for the child’s religious upbringing. This argument may work if you can prove:

  • Both parents are members of the same religious organization
  • You agreed to bring up the child in the same religion

You have the best chance of success if you are a member of the same religion for a long time. However, you might not succeed if you recently joined the religion during your divorce.

You Are Involved in the Child’s Education

You may also need to prove your involvement in the child’s education. The court may believe your involvement if you prove:

  • You help the child with homework
  • You helped choose the current school
  • You attend parents meetings at the school
  • You help the child with school projects

The involvement may show the court you understand the educational needs of the child.

The Child Has Special Needs or Gifts

Some children have special needs or gifts that private schools are more equipped to handle than public schools. If you have such a child, then you need to prove how they will benefit from the private school. For example, your child may need a private school if:

  • Your child is a gifted artist and the private school has a great art program
  • Your child has a disability the private school can accommodate better than public schools

You need to prove both the special need or gift and how a private school can meet it better than a public school. For example, you can use an educational expert as a witness to help the court understand the issue better.

Your Older Children Attended Private School

Another tip is to show the court you have older children who attended private school. This can help you prove:

  • You have always valued private school
  • Affordability is not an issue (if your financial circumstances haven’t changed)
  • You want the same education for all your children

You may have an even stronger case if both of you also attended private schools. Parents often want the same (or better) education for their children they had.

The Noncustodial Parent Can Afford It

Lastly, you also need to prove the noncustodial parent’s ability to pay private school tuition. Their ability depends on various factors, such as:

Income

Include income from all sources. For example, you should include:

  • Salaries
  • Trust income
  • Commissions and benefits
  • Profit from businesses
  • Capital gains on properties

For a parent who is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed, the court may compute the income the parent should earned under normal circumstances.

Other Obligations

The court will also consider other financial obligations of the noncustodial parent. Other obligations include children from previous relationships and spousal support.

An experienced divorce lawyer can help you prove your case and get the best education for your child. DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC has a wealth of experience in family law issues. Contact us today so we can review your case and advise you on the best way forward.

How Are Retirement Benefits Divided in an Arizona Divorce?

Going through a divorce can be a challenging ordeal.  Not only is it extremely stressful trying to figure out who gets what, but when retirement benefits are at stake, the whole process becomes that much more tedious.

Trying to figure out what interest your spouse can acquire in your retirement benefits and how to protect those interests can be a complicated issue, especially when taking into account the specific laws and the numerous retirement plans available.

That is why, in this post, we will dive into the complexities of retirement benefits, how they are divided in a divorce, and how the law offices of DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC can help you.

Arizona Law and Community Property

Arizona is considered a community property state. This indicates that generally, spouses share equal ownership of anything that is purchased, acquired, earned, or paid for during their marriage.  So even if one spouse paid for some property, or it is only their name on a title, if it was acquired during the marriage, then most likely, both spouses own it equally.

According to these Arizona laws, retirement assets, including pensions, are treated the same way as other community property, meaning that in a divorce, they are divided equitably between the spouses. However, in order to figure out how it will be shared, you need first to figure out the type of retirement plan you have.

Types of Retirement Benefits

Even though there are many types of private pension plans, the two most common types of retirement accounts include a “defined benefit” plan or a “defined contribution” plan.

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan

This is a plan where you invest money that grows over time, such as a 401(k) or an IRA. It does not promise a specific dollar amount at retirement, but rather employees or employers can contribute to the plan, and those contributions are invested on behalf of the employee. These plans fall and rise based on the investment’s performance.

In Case of Divorce

In cases where you have a defined contribution retirement plan, if a divorce occurs, you are entitled only to the value of the account.

Defined Benefit Plan

A defined benefit plan is a system where you invest money into a program that will provide you with a specific benefit at a certain age, such as a pension. This benefit can be a dollar amount, or it can be based on a computation that takes into consideration your years of service and your salary.  Often, these defined benefit plans make up 10% of plans in which employees are enrolled in.

In Case of Divorce

If you have a defined benefit plan, you may be entitled to the value of the account in addition to or in place of any monthly pension payments. However, this will depend on the terms of the plan.

Division of Retirement Benefits

When a married couple divorces and one spouse is enrolled in a private pension plan, the spouse that is not enrolled can prepare a special order referred to as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to create a legal right into the retirement plan proceeds.

Even though state law usually governs divorce proceedings, retirement plans are governed by federal regulations known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which sets up the requirements for a QDRO. And when these requirements are met, the QDRO will direct the plan administrator how to split up the community property portion of the retirement benefit accounts. Simply put, retirement plans must comply with federal laws, and even the judge in a divorce proceeding cannot order the plan administrator to do anything that is not allowed in the plan.

In the alternative, to avoid invading retirement plans, if both parties agree to it, the non-employee spouse can accept other assets that are equal in value to the retirement benefits they would have received. However, it is important to discuss all of these options with your attorney before proceeding with one course of action over another.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order

To have your benefits paid out, your Qualified Domestic Relations Order must meet all the requirements. At a minimum, these QDROs must include the following:

  • The name of the member and their last known mailing address
  • The name of each alternate payee covered by the Order and their last known mailing address
  • A method that determines the amount of the member’s severance, survivor, or retirement benefits to be paid by Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) to each payee covered by the Order
  • The period or the number of payments to which the Order applies.

During the divorce proceedings, both spouses will identify which assets they want to be divided, including the retirement benefits. If you are awarded part of your former spouse’s retirement account, the court will issue a QDRO, which will then be submitted directly to your former spouse’s retirement plan administrator. If the QDRO is accepted, the plan will let you know right away. If the plan rejects the QDRO, they will provide you with a clear explanation as to why and what steps you need to take to get it approved.

Other Retirement Plans

Qualified Domestic Relation Orders are specifically for private ERISA plans. If you have a government-sponsored retirement plan such as a Federal Employee Retirement Systems (FERS) or the ASRS, these are handled by a different process called the Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP).  That is why it is so crucial to discuss your retirement plans with an experienced attorney who understands the differences between each of them and which laws apply.

How Can a Family Law Attorney Help?

If you are heading towards a divorce, you need a knowledgeable lawyer on your side. Dividing retirement benefit accounts can be a very tedious and complicated process. Not only is it imperative to ensure that the special orders are filled out correctly, but that they are also in agreement with the numerous laws and plan requirements.

For these reasons, if you are looking into dividing your retirement benefits, do not wait any longer. Contact an experienced family law attorney today by calling the law offices of DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC at 602-252-1968. Let us provide you with the personalized legal representation that you need during this difficult time.

 

Can I Date During the Divorce Process?

No definitive answer exists on whether you should date during the divorce process. If you’ve been living like roommates with your soon-to-be-ex or separated for some time, it’s natural for you to want to move on with your life and restore your faith in love and relationships. Yet, dating during the divorce process can have legal consequences, so you need all the information to make the best choice for your circumstances. We’ve developed this short guide to help you examine the potential consequences of dating before your divorce is finalized. We also provide some useful tips if you choose to date during the divorce process.

Child Custody

During the divorce process, your spouse will likely put everything you do related to parenting under the microscope if you have children. If you are struggling with agreeing on the terms of custody, including the amount of parenting time for each person, you can expect your spouse to use your new relationship against you. Whether it’s true or not, your spouse could argue that your children aren’t getting needed attention because you are spending too much time with your new partner.

As you are negotiating a custody arrangement, your new relationship might also factor into your parenting schedule. Sometimes, those going through a divorce make choices to give them more time with a new partner. If the new relationship doesn’t last longer than a few months or even a year, parents often regret using this relationship to guide decisions about parenting time.

Spousal Support

If your spouse finds out you are dating during the divorce process, you could suffer financially if you expect to be on the receiving end of spousal support payments. Courts typically view spousal support as a temporary action to give the lower-earning partner the time to rebuild their life and find solid financial ground. The ultimate goal of spousal support is to allow one enough time to get back on their feet to independently support themselves. If you begin dating a new person during your divorce, you risk the court ordering a lower amount of support. This is especially true if you choose to move in with a new partner prior to finalizing your divorce. In fact, your spouse might try to stop your spousal support payments completely.

If you earn the most income in your marriage and you have to pay spousal support, your ex might be hurt by your new relationship and want to punish you. In these cases, you can expect a hard fight for the maximum amount of support that the court will award.

Property Division

Part of the divorce process is dividing real estate, personal property, and financial assets between you and your spouse as you separate your lives. Dating during divorce could result in receiving fewer assets in the divorce. Many spouses assume that if their soon-to-be-ex is dating, he or she is also using marital assets. This could mean using money to take trips, go out to dinner, or buy expensive gifts.

In some cases, this means supporting a new partner financially, shopping, and spending more on health and beauty services. It doesn’t matter if these things are true or not. If you are dating and your spouse perceives them to be true, it can turn an amicable divorce into a nasty fight over marital assets. In many cases, couples come to the joint realization that it’s time to end their marriage. They work together to make a clean break. For example, you might offer to pay your spouse one lump sum of spousal support in exchange for keeping the house, or vice versa. A new relationship on either side can quickly take these friendly agreements off the table.

Emotional Considerations

Aside from the death of a loved one, divorce ranks near the top as one of the most difficult events that some people go through in life. Even when couples go through a divorce on the best terms possible, emotions run high. A new relationship on either side can trigger bigger emotions, leading to far more tension and conflict during your divorce. If you choose to date, your spouse might want to punish you in every way they can–by using kids, support, assets, and more. He or she might choose to speak out more during meetings. Not only can this make your divorce more emotionally draining, but the longer your divorce takes the more expensive it is, too.

Tips for Dating During a Divorce

Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, so no law prohibits you from dating during the divorce process. Ultimately, only you can make the decision about whether to date during the divorce process. If you know dating will set off your spouse, it’s probably in your best interest to wait until your divorce is finalized. On the other hand, if you’ve met someone so incredible and you choose to spend time together, you need to be cautious. In light of the above information, these tips can help you keep the divorce drama to a minimum if you choose to date:

  • Avoid public places with your new partner, especially those close to home or places you used to go with your spouse.
  • If you have children, keep them away from your new partner until your divorce is finalized to help ensure your spouse doesn’t learn about your relationship.
  • Take things slow and avoid moving in with your new partner until after you are divorced to prevent custody and support issues.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney Today

Divorce is an emotionally traumatic experience that prompts many to move on with life as soon as possible, even if that means dating before the papers are finalized. Dating during the divorce process sometimes impacts divorce agreements and creates more tension. Ensure you are making the right choice for your situation by consulting with an experienced divorce attorney. The skilled legal team at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC understands your desire to live, laugh, and love, and we are here to guide you through your divorce. Contact us today online or at 602-252-1968 to schedule a consultation to discuss your divorce.

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