I Don’t Want to Lose My Business During a Divorce. What Can I Do?

Going through a divorce is trying for everyone involved, but worrying about losing a successful business throughout the process can make matters worse. Business owners risk losing everything they have built during a divorce because of Arizona’s community property laws or because an owner has to raise cash. Without a prenuptial agreement in place to protect your business, your spouse has a stake, even if he or she did not contribute the blood, sweat, and tears that made your business a success.

If you are having marital issues and suspect a divorce might be in your future, it’s imperative that you take action now to preserve your business. Below we provide some strategies you can employ.

Strategies to Preserve Your Business During a Divorce

If you are married and live in Arizona, your business is likely a joint asset, unless you have a prenuptial agreement that states otherwise. The following strategies can help you to minimize financial losses during a divorce:

Keep Impeccable Records

If you aren’t keeping detailed financial records and you haven’t been separating business and family finances, now is the time. Entanglement between business and family finances is a bad practice that becomes even more difficult when divorce is involved. Poor record keeping creates challenges when you are trying to accurately value your business and split assets during a divorce. You have no chance of buying your spouse out of the business or coming to a compromise when you cannot distinguish what is what. Additionally, accurate and detailed records support your case in front of a judge, if you cannot reach an agreement prior to your divorce hearing.

Pay Yourself Well

Often times business owners take a small salary and reinvest profits to build and grow their business. If you continue to pay yourself a low salary, you potentially give the court a reason to give more of your business’s profits to your spouse.

Arrange for an Independent Business Valuation

Whether you are planning to file for divorce or amidst proceedings, you need to know exactly what you are working with before you can make any concessions, compromises, or decisions. Hire a neutral valuation specialist to review your financial records and place a value on your business. You may be able to get a court-appointed specialist if one of you has already filed for divorce. Always get a second opinion before you agree on a particular value, so any decisions about distributing profits start from an agreed-upon number.

Reduce Your Spouse’s Role in the Business

The greater a role your spouse has in your business, the stronger case they may have against you to receive a share of the profits. The same applies if your spouse has worked at the business for a long time. Simply firing your spouse is not be the best course of action, so you should definitely consult with an experienced divorce lawyer.

Compromise with Other High-Value Assets

Sometimes divorces are so contentious, that one spouse will figuratively do everything to blow up assets, which hurts both and impacts the lives of children. If you are on reasonable terms and discuss an amicable situation, consider compromising other assets to avoid having to dissolve or lose your business. For example, you might offer your spouse your house, retirement accounts, a vacation home, or all the vehicles in exchange for complete ownership of the business. If your business continues to thrive, you can replace high-value assets more easily than rebuilding a business. Compromise doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can also compromise a portion of profits for a minimal amount of time to retain ownership. Before you proceed with potential compromise, you should consult an experienced lawyer.

Extend Your Payments to Your Spouse

If your divorce has been finalized and you owe your spouse a significant amount of business profits because of a buy-out, paying it all at once could mean financial catastrophe. At the very least, it could hinder growth. Instead, arrange to pay your ex for his or her share of the business over time. You can make monthly or quarterly payments from your business’s cash flow or if necessary, secure a business loan.

You Don’t Have to Lose Your Business, Contact a Divorce Attorney Today

Divorce is an unpleasant life event that can be devastating to business owners. Some couples who own businesses manage to succeed personally and professionally. Yet, in other cases, the marriage falls apart while the business thrives, forcing couples to figure out how to divide the business without dissolving it. Divorces involving businesses are especially complicated and expensive, especially if the case needs to go in front of a judge. The skilled divorce attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC understand the gravity of your situation, and we are here to help. Contact us today online or at 602-252-1968 to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your marital status, the particulars of your business, and potential strategies to help you avoid losing your business during a divorce.

Can I Relocate with My Kids After My Divorce?

Divorce is a major life event that results in a myriad of changes. A former spouse might get a new job, meet someone new, or simply want to leave Arizona to start a new life. When minor children are involved, moving out-of-state will drastically affect the current child custody arrangement. Some parents maintain an amicable relationship and work out the details when one wants to relocate. In other cases, parents need to look to the courts to come to a new custody arrangement. Below we provide more information about the factors that can impact your ability to relocate with your kids after divorce.

Relocating with Children After Divorce

If you want to relocate your kids from Phoenix to Scottsdale or from Gilbert to Mesa, you will not need to update your child custody arrangement. Arizona law considers relocation as a move that is at least 100 miles away or out-of-state. The parent who wishes to move has the legal duty to notify the other parent of their intentions via certified mail 45 days in advance of their move. The other parent then has the time to petition the court to prevent the move from occurring. Ultimately, the court will decide whether you can relocate with your kids.

If your former spouse petitions the court to stop you from moving, you will have to attend a hearing. Both of you will have an opportunity to present your case by providing testimony from family, friends, and others. Once the court has all the facts, the judge can make an informed decision about relocation.

Factors that Impact a Court’s Decision Concerning Relocation

Arizona courts do not make child custody decisions lightly, especially those involving moving with children. A judge will examine multiple factors, placing the best interest of the child as the top priority. They include:


Courts favor some motivations for relocation more than others. A parent who wants to move to get a new job, especially one that offers more pay and more opportunities often has a better chance of relocating than a parent who simply wants to move to get a fresh start.

Child’s Quality of Life

The court will examine if relocation will lead to an improved quality of life for the child. What does improved mean? It varies from case to case, but some examples include:

  • Access to better schools
  • Access to more family
  • Access to better childcare
  • Ability to live in a more financially secure household

Parental Relationships

Judges closely evaluate a child’s relationship with each parent. Parents who don’t spend time with their children after divorce, regularly miss or give up their visitation time, or have unhealthy abusive relationships with their children will have a challenging time preventing relocation and likely cannot move with their child if they have full physical custody.

Sibling Relationships

Moving kids away from one or more siblings or half-siblings can be a traumatic life event. Judges carefully weigh relationships kids have with their siblings before modifying a custody arrangement that allows a parent to relocate with their kids. Additionally, the judge will look at how well the siblings who might be moving together get along. Will relocating place an older child in a caretaker role, perhaps impacting the one child in a negative way?

Impact of Less Visitation

One of the consequences of relocating with kids is that the other parent will have less visitation. If the relationship is strained, this may not impact the court’s decision. Yet, kids who spend regular or equal time with the other parent have some type of bond, potentially a strong one. The judge will carefully evaluate the potential emotional consequences a child can suffer as a result of not getting as much time with the non-moving parent.

Child’s Adjustment Period

Moving to a new home and a new community comes with an adjustment period for everyone involved. The adjustment period that a child goes through factors into a judge’s decision about relocation. Many children easily adapt to new situations, but not all do. The judge will consider how well and how quickly your child(ren) will adapt to their new life.

Child Preference

Once a child reaches a certain mix of age and maturity, their preference holds weight with the court. Children, even older ones, don’t always make choices in their best interest, so your child’s preference does not mean the judge will approve or deny relocation. Yet, the judge will carefully listen to your child’s preference and their reasons why and consider it with other factors, especially his or her best interest.

Other Factors

Listed above are the most common factors Arizona courts review when making decisions about relocation. Yet, these are not always the only factors. Each child custody case involving relocation is different. Relationships and underlying facts are different. The court might wish to examine other things that apply to a specific case. For example, a parent who wishes to relocate who has a criminal history or a history plagued with drug and/or alcohol use might find it difficult to move with kids. A history of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and instability can also prevent a judge from modifying a custody arrangement.

Once the court has examined all factors related to you relocating with your kids, he or she will make a ruling about whether you can move or not. If the judge decides you can relocate with your kids, your child support order will be adjusted accordingly.

Relocating with Kids? Contact Us Today to Learn About Your Rights

Co-parenting and dealing child custody matters after a divorce can be overwhelming and stressful for parents and children alike. If you are seeking to relocate out-of-state with your kids, or your former spouse wishes to relocate with your child, contact us today online or at 602-252-1968 to learn more about your rights and the process of modifying a child custody order. The experienced family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC can help.

Alimony, also known as maintenance, is one of several financial obligations that an individual may be required to pay to his or her former spouse after a divorce takes place. While this amount used to be almost always awarded to the wife in the divorce and could only stop under a few select circumstances, these days — given the rise in women in the workforce, changes in marital law, and rapidly changing financial circumstances — spousal maintenance is often a more temporary arrangement and may be received by either side when the marriage dissolves.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony is a term used to describe court-ordered payments awarded to a spouse or former spouse in a separation or divorce agreement. This form of support is intended to maintain a spouse’s standard of living after a divorce until he or she has the opportunity to maintain that standard without the payments. Alimony is almost always awarded to the lower-earning individual in marriages that have lasted at least ten years. The amount of alimony that is awarded — and the duration for which it is received — depends on a number of factors, including how long the marriage lasted and the current or potential incomes of each partner in the marriage. Other factors that may impact who receives alimony and how much alimony is to be received include:

  • Each spouse’s age, health, and physical capabilities
  • The paying spouse’s ability to pay alimony
  • Each spouse’s comparative financial resources and earning ability
  • Contribution that the alimony-seeking spouse has made to the paying spouse’s earning ability
  • Any excessive spending, gambling, or destruction of marital property that has been committed by either spouse.

For the receiver of alimony, the payments are a form of taxable income. For the payer, they are a deductible expense. Alimony payments cannot be discharged through bankruptcy, and they are specifically meant to be used to meet the needs of the spouse or former spouse. Payments intended to be used for the couple’s child or children’s needs are considered child support, not alimony. For further explanation on the types of support that may be ordered in divorce cases in Arizona, trust DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC for accurate and complete information.

What Arizona Law Says About Alimony and Remarriage

According to Arizona law, there are only two situations outside of an agreement between spouses or express provisions in the divorce decree that can end the obligation to provide maintenance payments as ordered:

  • Death of either party.
  • Remarriage of the party receiving maintenance.

The law also provides the ability to suspend alimony and other types of support payments if the paying party suffers a mental or physical injury that prevents him or her from working for a period of time. In these circumstances, payments generally resume when the situation that caused the paying party to be unable to meet his or her financial obligations improves.

The obligation to pay maintenance automatically ends in cases of death or remarriage, though the paying party will need to file a motion to terminate the support and provide proof to the court of the remarriage. If the paying party continues to make his or her payments without being aware of the remarriage, he or she may be entitled to a refund of those payments that were made after the remarriage occurs. Once a payment has been terminated due to remarriage, that payment cannot be reinstated, even if the receiving party’s remarriage ends in annulment or divorce.

Alimony and Cohabitation

According to an article published in the Atlantic, more and more people — particularly younger adults — are choosing to cohabitate rather than getting married. While there are many reasons for this, the fear of the psychological, emotional, and economic implications of divorce are at the top of the list. To many of these individuals, cohabitation offers the benefits of marriage, including help in paying the bills as well as physical and emotional companionship, without the risks posed by divorce.

Arizona law is not clear on how cohabitation impacts the provision of spousal maintenance payments. However, the more closely the cohabitation resembles a marriage, the more likely the courts are to consider the change in the cohabitating individual’s income that may no longer necessitate alimony payments by a former spouse. In order for a paying spouse to have a judge consider the modification or termination of spousal support to a cohabitating spouse, he or she must file a motion for modification or termination with the court. Evidence relating to the economic nature of the cohabitation, including proof that the support-receiving spouse and his or her cohabitating partner are sharing expenses will be required in order to prove that the cohabitating spouse’s expenses and needs for support have experienced a significant and continuing change.

If you are interested in modifying or terminating spousal support due to cohabitation by your former spouse, the experienced attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC can explain the process in more detail.

What if the Paying Spouse Remarries?

Alimony payments cannot be modified due to the remarriage of the paying spouse. Even if the remarriage comes with new household expenses or there are children born into this new marriage, the obligation to the former spouse receiving maintenance payments will continue unless there is a significant and continuing change in income that results in the paying spouse being unable to pay. Often, even if the spouse is unable to pay, the order will only be suspended — not terminated — until the spouse is again able to meet his or her obligations.

Do You Need to Modify Your Agreement?

The courts in Arizona realize that there are changes that may significantly impact the ability to pay or the need to pay support and allow for support agreements to be modified as situations warrant. If your spouse is remarried, planning to remarry, or is cohabitating, we can help you understand the legal options that are available to you. For more information and a case evaluation, contact the experienced family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC online or by calling (602) 252-1968.

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.

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.

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 602-252-1968 or completing our contact request form.

In Arizona, the family courts make a provision for separating and divorcing couples to settle some of the terms of their arrangements in private. If both parties can agree on issues such as child support, visitation and the division of assets, they can create and sign a rule 69 agreement. By having this agreement in place, both soon-to-be former spouses can concentrate on the unresolved issues in court and leave the agreed-upon matters alone.

The rule 69 agreement was created to make family law cases easier to handle. If divorcing couples can resolve some of their concerns before the court date, they can save the judge, and everyone else involved, a lot of time. If used correctly, a rule 69 agreement can reduce much of the stress of a separation or divorce. It can be abused by either party, however, which is why Arizona law has set parameters for rule 69 agreements.

Rules and Legalities of the Agreement

Rule 69 agreements are legally binding contracts. Once entered by the judge, they are difficult to modify. Because of this, rule 69 agreements must meet at least one of these criteria:
• A written document, preferably signed by both parties;
• Read for the record in court;
• Recorded by audio in the presence of settlement conference officer or a court-appointed mediator.

If either party meets one of these requirements, it’s difficult for the other to assert that they did not consent to the arrangement. It is possible to discredit a rule 69 agreement in Arizona, however, provided the challenging party can prove that something is wrong with it.

Fighting a Rule 69 Agreement

As mentioned above, it’s not easy to back out of a rule 69 agreement after it is provided to the court and approved by the judge. Once these contracts are submitted, they’re considered a court-ordered arrangement. You may be able to nullify the rule 69 agreement, however, if you can prove one of the following:
• You weren’t present when the document was created and signed;
• You were forced into agreeing to the arrangements under duress;
• The terms outlined in the agreement are not fair to you or in the best interests of your child(ren).

Bear in mind that if you don’t win your case, you can be ordered to pay your spouse’s attorney fees. It’s better to challenge the agreement only if you have unshakeable evidence that it isn’t valid or that it violates someone’s rights.

The Bottom Line

Rule 69 agreements are only meant to help couples who are separating and divorcing work together to create a plan that benefits everyone. Mediation is available to help couples collaborate on final decisions. Once they present an agreement to the court, the judge will ask both parties if it was entirely mutual, if either of them agreed to the arrangements under duress and if both parties believe the terms stated are in the best interests of everyone involved, particularly the children. In other words, the judge will give both sides every opportunity to speak up if they don’t feel good about the agreement.

Call DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC today if you have any further questions about Arizona’s rule 69 agreement.

At DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC, we know how to navigate the complexities that surround Arizona’s rule 69 agreement skillfully. You can schedule a meeting with our team by calling 602-252-1968 or sending us a message via our online request form.

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