Tips from Chandler family law attorney

Marriage ceremony of someone getting remarried

Remarriage Can Affect Alimony

Alimony, also called maintenance, is one of several financial obligations that an individual may be required to pay to their former spouse after a divorce occurs. While this amount is almost always awarded to the wife in the divorce, it can stop under a few exceptional circumstances these days. You should think of  “spousal maintenance” as a more temporary arrangement and may be received by either person when the marriage is terminated.

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 support helps maintain a spouse’s standard of living after divorce until they can claim that standard without the payments.

Alimony is awarded to the lower-earning individual in marriages lasting at least ten years. The amount of alimony awarded — and the duration for which it is received — relies on several factors, including how long the marriage lasted and each partner’s current or potential incomes. Other factors that may impact who receives alimony and how much alimony is to be accepted 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
  • Any excessive spending, gambling, or destruction of property 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 the couple’s child or children’s needs are considered child support, not alimony.

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. In these circumstances, payments generally resume when the situation that caused the paying party to be unable to meet their financial obligations improves.

The obligation to pay maintenance automatically ends in cases of death or remarriage. However, the paying party will need to file a motion to terminate the support and provide proof to the remarriage court. Suppose the paying party continues to make his or her payments without being aware of the remarriage. In that case, they may be entitled to a refund of those payments made after the remarriage occurs.

Once payment has been terminated due to remarriage, payment cannot be reinstated, even if the receiving party’s remarriage ends in annulment or divorce. For further explanation on the types of support that may be ordered in divorce cases in Chandler, trust the attorneys at Shaffer Family Law for accurate and complete information. You can reach the office at (480) 470-3030 today!

a divorcing couple sitting unhappily on a couch

Top 4 Reasons Why Couples Divorce

Divorce is quite common in the United States – almost half of all marriages end in divorce or permanent separation. For some couples, commitment is a common factor in why some couples stay together. But there are some circumstances when divorce is necessary.

Infidelity

Cheating is at the top of the list of reasons couples get divorced. Extramarital affairs destroy trust and cause a breakdown in communication between spouses. Partners cheat for different reasons, including a lack of passion, anger, and resentment, or maybe due to self-esteem issues.

Lack of Intimacy

During the honeymoon phase of marriage, intimacy never seems to be an issue for couples. Unfortunately, as a relationship develops, intimacy can start to dwindle. Most often, it is physical intimacy, though emotional intimacy is just as important. When a couple loses their closeness, it can get to the point where they no longer feel in sync with each other. Slowly, their desires change, and the love that connected them disappears.

Poor Communication

Communication is the core of any marriage, and a marriage is in trouble when both people are no longer able to communicate constructively. Bad communication in a marriage can lead to many issues, including resentment, disrespect towards your partner, lack of intimacy, or cheating. In some cases, all of these at once. Soon, one or both spouses will no longer see the value in the relationship and the purpose of staying.

Domestic Abuse

Abuse in the home is one of the worst experiences a person can go through in a marriage. It not only affects them but affects their children as well. When a partner becomes verbally or physically abusive towards their spouse, it often leads to the end of the marriage. While divorce is not easy, it is a lot better for the mental and physical health of the victim. By leaving a partner, they can prevent worse outcomes, including severe injury or mental health issues, for themselves and their children. At Shaffer Family Law, we are here to help you throughout your divorce process. To set up an appointment, give us a call at (480) 470-3030.

woman talks with lawyer about domestic violence during her marriage

Can a Lawyer Help Domestic Violence Cases?

Some people can go through their marriage with no issues, no disagreements, and no voices or hands raised. Unfortunately, for most people, that isn’t always the case. Every marriage experiences its highs and lows, and when people aren’t able to deal with the challenges of life in the right way, they often lash out in frustration, disappointment, and anger, which can easily set the stage for poor response and influence the need and desire for a divorce.

What is domestic violence?

When a couple starts to fall out of love, it is often a downward spiral filled with negative emotions, which can manifest in various ways and lead to domestic violence. Domestic violence is more than just one spouse physically abusing the other. The unpleasantness of domestic violence is a lot deeper and complicated.

It is a pattern of physical, psychological, and abusive behavior that can affect any family member regardless of their age, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, or economic status. Depending on the severity of the abuse, they can end up with a misdemeanor or a felony.

Physical domestic abuse can be anything from grabbing, shoving, punching, scratching, throwing objects, intimidation, and even threatening your loved ones, destroying your property, disrupting sleep patterns, killing you, or sexual abuse, which can happen in any type of relationship.

Emotional or psychological abuse is behavior used to control or damage a person’s emotional health. It can be verbal or non-verbal and often manifests as name-calling, controlling your day to day life, putting your down in front of others, interrupting or ignoring you, cheating or being overly jealous, blaming your for their abusive behavior, or monitoring your phone calls, texts, location, and computer use.

How can an attorney help you with domestic violence?

Your lawyer is supposed to be your advocate. They are there to represent and fight for your interests. They can make strategic decisions, including what evidence to present or witnesses on your behalf. But, when it comes down to it, you are the only person who can decide about the settlement. Your lawyer can go into more detail about the best choices and possible outcomes. Still, if you, at any point, have concerns about how your lawyer is representing you, you can always talk to them about what they are or are not doing or choose another lawyer.

Check with domestic violence or sexual assault organizations in the city you live in for resources, including organizations that can help you pay for representation. Also, National Domestic Violence Hotline can help victims, survivors of domestic violence. Call 1-800-799-7233. 

Essential divorce documents

Essential Divorce Documents

As your marriage ends, there is no wrong way to feel. However, you do need to remain cautious about staying focused during the entire process. Particularly during the beginning of the process, you might miss out on critical items that can ensure future financial stability. One of the most significant things you can do is prepare; especially when meeting with a divorce, you should always have these essential documents in order.

  • Tax Returns: Make sure to have a minimum of three years’ worth of your tax returns. They can provide a wealth of information that could impact your divorce settlement.
  • Lifestyle Analysis: Complete a detailed analysis of one-time and continuous expenses, including any anticipated expenses you may encounter down the road, including medical and education costs. Make sure to consider inflation.
  • Net-worth Statement: Finally, you will be filing an affidavit for the court that provides a clear picture of the financial status of the marriage, including earnings and income, assets and liabilities, and current and projected expenses. One way to get an overview of present costs is to run your credit report, which will help you get a snapshot of liabilities and joint obligations. You should also consider any assets you have, including items in your safety deposit box, artwork, antiques, etc. This statement will serve to elucidate spending priorities in the context of all other financial information, including retirement accounts and other investments.

What About Hidden Assets?

In some cases, spouses may have done things to hide assets, including hidden bank accounts, substantial payments by an unknown source, or unusual payments to utility or phone companies. Sometimes, spending patterns do not match up to reported earnings, indicating that there may be secret income sources. If they have been trying to keep the facts from the court, it may result in severe points against credibility, which may give you the benefit of the doubt.

Shaffer Family Law Can Advocate for You

When you have a trusted attorney working on your behalf, everything will go more smoothly. If you are looking for experience and dependability in a divorce lawyer, give Shaffer Family Law in Chandler a call today at (480) 470-3030.

lawyer asking questions to divorcing couple

Here’s What Your Lawyer May Ask You

Heading into an initial divorce consultation, you might be wondering what types of questions the attorney will ask you. During that first meeting, the consulting lawyer is bound to ask you a few important things about your current situation and your wishes. You should be prepared for any meeting with a legal advisor and having even a small idea of what to expect can help you gather the appropriate information to make the most of your consultation. Here are a few questions a divorce lawyer at Shaffer Family Law may ask:

What is Your Living Arrangement?

Each couple divorces at their own pace, and many people separate before they decide to file for divorce. So, before you make any big legal decisions, the attorney will wish to know if the two of you live together or separately. Also, it’s important to determine whom, if anyone, lives in the family home, if you own one.

How Long Have You Been Separated?

If you and your spouse were separated before your divorce, the lawyer will need to know about it. An informal separation may not impact your divorce much, but one that is legal could significantly impact the way in things are handled moving forward. For example, the legal separation may have already determined the rules of property division, child custody, alimony, and so on.

Do You Share Custody of Your Children?

Children under the age of 18 need care, and if you and your spouse have any children together, you need to create a parenting plan. Child custody and child support issues are a complex, stressful aspect of a divorce, and they can be extremely emotional. For this reason, the divorce lawyer needs to know precisely what your wishes are, as a parent, so that he or she can make a legal plan that suits your needs.

What Caused Your Divorce?

Although Washington state is a no-fault divorce state, the reason for your divorce can still impact your divorce process. The attorney needs to know whether you or your spouse wronged one another, especially as it pertains to finances or domestic violence. If your spouse was abusive, they may owe you financial compensation in the form of additional alimony, or even in additional assets during the property division stage.

Also, if there was a situation where one spouse spent a substantial amount of your funds for their own benefit, you could be entitled to compensation. If your attorney knows about the issues in advance, they can be better prepared to advocate on your behalf.

What Are Your Must-Haves?

When your attorney knows precisely what your priorities are, it will make it significantly easier for him or her to build a solid argument in your favor. If, for example, your main objective is to get you full custody of your children and keep the marital home, your lawyer can plan a way to prioritize those goals first. Whenever you meet with a potential lawyer, whether for a divorce, child custody battle, or another family law issue, it helps to be prepared. You may want to prepare a list of questions to get the most out of your consultation.

A family divorce lawyer explains the separation, annulment and divorce

Divorce vs. Separation vs. Annulment

At Shaffer Family Law, our goal is to help you understand the process and make decisions that will benefit you. We believe that mediation and negotiated settlements are almost always better alternatives to courtroom litigation. If legal action is necessary, we will fight to protect your rights. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the divorce process.

Divorce vs. Annulment of Marriage

An annulment of marriage is a legal ruling that marriage is not binding. Annulments can occur when a court finds a marriage invalid. While a divorce ends a legally valid marriage, an annulment acts as if it never happened. The result of an annulment is the same as a divorce. The parties are single to remarry or enter a domestic partnership. An annulment proceeding also determines child custody, child support, alimony, and division of assets.

Divorce vs. Legal Separation

A legal separation is when a court established a separation between spouses. The marriage has not ended, which means both spouses are prohibited from remarrying or entering a domestic partnership with another person. Divorce and a legal separation create a legal space between you and your spouse. You live and keep your finances separated. The court orders child custody and support, division of marital assets and debts, and spousal support (alimony if you divorce).

The main difference is that with separation, you remain legally married to each other, which means you must continue to mark “married” on forms, and you cannot remarry. You can also inherit from each other.

Is divorce, annulment, or separation the best choice for me?

Deciding if you want to obtain a divorce, annulment, or legal separation is a personal decision. However, not all procedures are equally available to all individuals. For example, getting an annulment is often limited. If a union does not qualify for an annulment, a couple needs to decide if separation or filing for a divorce is the best option.

Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need to hire a lawyer before obtaining a divorce, legal separation, or annulment. However, some couples consider legal representation to get guidance through the complexities of child custody, spousal support, and more. To learn about how Shaffer Family Law can help you, give us a call today at (480) 470-3030.

A unhappy boy with parents arguing about high conflict divorce case

High Conflict Family Court Cases in Chandler

Identifying whether your case is “high conflict” can be surprisingly difficult. In most cases, there is some level of conflict in a divorce or parenting dispute. The question is whether a case has an abnormally high amount of conflict.

Some examples of high conflict cases involve domestic violence, serious substance abuse, mental illness of a party, or a party that lives out of town or is seeking to relocate. On the opposite end of the spectrum are cases that are relatively amicable. Those can be resolved with little time, energy, and expense.

Perhaps the best way to determine whether your case is high conflict or has the potential to become high conflict, is to look at how disputes are handled between you and the other party. If minor disputes easily turn into major battles, it is a clear sign that you and the other party do not get along, for whatever reason, and the matter will likely involve a significant amount of conflict.

Conversely, if the minor disputes are handled in a civilized manner, even if neither party is completely satisfied with the solution, your case does not involve an abnormal amount of conflict. More important than simply identifying whether a case is high conflict is recognizing who is harmed by high conflict cases. That means the children involved. Most Judges are not concerned with the level of conflict in a case if it does not involve children. If children are involved, the parties will likely have many years in which they are forced to deal with one another in co-parenting.

High conflict cases can have serious consequences. For example, in most cases, joint legal decision-making (custody) is awarded. A high conflict case has a higher likelihood of a sole legal decision-making (custody) order. In addition, high conflict cases can cost the parties significantly more money in trying to prove or resolve the high conflict issues.

The court can order high conflict parenting classes. The Judge can also order parental evaluations for substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness along with child interviews. In many high conflict cases, a Parenting Conference or even full custody evaluations can be ordered. All these things will extend the time it takes to resolve your case and cost additional fees.

If you have a high conflict case, please contact our experienced Attorneys at Shaffer Family Law at (480) 470-3030 to schedule your consultation.

Unhappy child with spouse after family divorce

Is Your Child Refusing to Visit Their Other Parent?

Child custody is a difficult and emotional part of a divorce. And those issues do not necessarily end once you reach a child custody agreement. Problems may occasionally arise after a divorce, typically involving children. A common issue parents face is their child refusing to visit the other parent. If your child insists on not visiting your ex, your instinct will probably be to give them their way. A child custody arrangement is supposed to be about what is best for the child, right? But before you decide on what you should do, here are a few things to consider before moving forward.

Legally Required

Remember, a child custody agreement is not just a casual agreement between you and your ex. It is a legally binding contract that both of you are obligated to uphold. If you don’t follow the decided arrangements, meaning that you don’t drop off your child on the specified day and time, you could face legal charges.

Understanding Your Role in Visitation Arrangements

A child custody order requires parents to make a child reasonably available for visits, though making a child available doesn’t mean that one parent has to force them to visit or drag them kicking and screaming. For example, the arrangement might be that their father gets them on the weekend with pick up at mom’s house; their mom doesn’t have to physically deliver the child to dad. If mom can’t get a teenage child to leave her bedroom, it’s probably not mom’s fault that the visit didn’t happen.

However, each parent needs to communicate with the other parent when the child is sick or unable to make a scheduled visit. A parent who quickly and frequently talks to the other parent when a child is refusing visits will have a better outcome in court.

Although you need to follow the terms of your custody order as carefully as you can, there are situations where a visit may be impossible. For teenagers, especially older teens, they may refuse visits, and there is not a lot you can do as a parent. Though, with younger children, you may need to do more to make sure they don’t miss their time with their other parent.

Dealing with a Child Who Refuses Visits

If you have a stubborn child, the last thing you want to do is give in to them. It would help if you instead tried to find out why your child is refusing the visits in the first place.

·   Did something negative happen at their other parent’s home?

·   Have any significant changes in one parent’s household occurred that may be affecting the child’s attitude toward visitation?

·   Are visitations between the parent and child new, and your child is having a hard time adjusting?

There are so many different circumstances that could be causing your child to act up, and each one will require a different solution.

To protect yourself in court, make sure to document each incident when your child refuses a visit and the reasons for your child’s refusal. You may have to testify in court, and having these documents can help you. The best thing you can do is to contact your ex as soon as possible. Give them a chance to talk with your child or develop other strategies together to help make the visit happen. 

When a child refuses to visit their parent, it puts both parents in a tough situation. At the same time, your child’s safety is important, but so is protecting yourself. If you still have questions about visitation, contact a Chandler family law attorney at Shaffer Family Law for advice.

Child looking out the window thoughtfully

Emotional Toll of Divorce on Your Child

Divorcing parents have a lot to consider and they must handle legal matters along with dealing with child custody and support. On top of everything, they want to preserve the well-being, health, and happiness of their child. You need to understand how divorce can affect children. 

Shaffer Family Law examines how divorce impacts children on a psychological level. Note that no matter how well parents tackle the topic of divorce, there will always be some sort of negative reaction. After all, divorce is the first time many children experience an ending to something. They are going through the loss of something they depend on, especially since children look at their parents as a permanent fixture in their lives. Losing this structure will be a big hit. 

Some children cope better than others, though some are less equipped to handle such big changes in life. They may turn to poor coping mechanics and become agitated, anxious, and depressed. It is common for children to lash out at peers or authority figures and those in school may start getting into trouble at school. Acting out is usually a way for an unhappy child to express their feelings. 

Some children do the opposite and may internalize their grief. It is not uncommon for children to blame themselves for divorce and it could later create emotional problems including perfectionist tendencies, which can lead to self-sabotaging behaviors and mindsets. To help your child get through the divorce, you need to pay attention to how you react to certain situations. You should also keep track of how your child reacts to certain events, like when the divorce is finalized.

You need to guide your child so that they can take steps to correct any harmful behavior they may have developed. Supporting children through this period of instability is essential to ensuring they adapt well in the aftermath. 

At Shaffer Family Law, we are here to help you through the hardships up divorce and we know all too well the effects that divorce can have on children. For any questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys, give us a call today at (480) 470-3030.  

A special needs child in wheelchair and parent going at the beach

Divorcing with a Special Needs Child

Divorce is hard enough when you have children, but if you are someone who is going through a divorce and has a child with special needs. When it comes to this, you may have additional matters to work through as you separate your life from your ex’s and plan for your child’s future.

Even if you and your former partner had come up with plans regarding care for your child down the line, you may need to revisit those plans once you decide to part ways. What types of matters might you need to address during divorce as the parent of a child with special needs?

Long-Term Care Costs

Depending on the type of disability your son or daughter has, caring for them over a lifetime could potentially hundreds of thousands. Have you and your former spouse planned the finances surrounding the finances that come with care? Is the responsibility going to be equal when it comes to paying for that care? Are you going to create a special needs trust? These are the things you should work through now, while your divorce is ongoing, to avoid unnecessary strife down the line.

Parenting Plan Considerations

Many divorcing parents find that creating parenting plans helps them avoid conflicts and stay on the same track regarding parenting. A parenting plan may prove even more critical, however, if you are co-parenting a special needs child.

In addition to talking over custody and visitation arrangements, you may also have to consider factors like transportation home after school. You must also think about each of your responsibilities regarding special dietary considerations, time spent on communicative devices, and more.

When you share a child with someone and make the decision to co-parent, you will need to continue to work with them until your child becomes an adult. When it comes to being the parent of a child with a disability, you may even need to work together well into your child’s adulthood. Setting a plan can help you do so with minimal drama and hardship.

At Shaffer Family Law, we know how hard it can get when it comes to navigating the difficulties that surround child custody issues. You can schedule a meeting with our team by calling (480) 470-3030 today!

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