Tips from Chandler family law attorney

stacks of money lost in divorce mistakes

Common Financial Mistakes to Avoid During Your Divorce

During your marriage, you and your ex more than likely have funds and budgets together. These are sound marital practices, but divorce puts you in a position that requires an in-depth review of the income, expenses, and assets that you and your ex brought to the marriage and forces you to make essential decisions with lasting implications.

Too often, people underestimate just how complicated these issues can be and how important it is to make the right choices. Your best plan of action is to be informed, don’t rush the process, be practical, not emotional, and consider the future when you get your divorce finances together.

Here are a few things to avoid when going through the divorce process.

  • Not understanding your marital finances. The first step in reaching a fair financial outcome in your divorce is establishing where you and your ex-spouse stand. Establishing this requires you to review both your incomes and expenses carefully. You should evaluate all sources of income that your ex and you have, from your salary to investments and benefit plans. It will give you an idea of what your exact divorce finances.
  • Underestimating your monthly spending. You must figure out what you spend monthly and what your cost of living will be once you finalize your divorce. Ensure your monthly spending is estimated appropriately and that your budget is reasonable enough for your current standard of living. You will need to factor in future inflation (a common mistake), future costs, and insurance. Your budget will become the starting point for determining alimony. This calculation needs to be correct because, if not, you run the risk of underestimating your future needs.
  • Keeping the family home when you can’t afford to. A house is more than another asset; it’s an intimate place with a priceless emotional value. However, you need to be realistic and protect yourself from future financial trouble when settling a divorce. Unfortunately, this means making tough decisions, like admitting you cannot afford the home. If you ignore the numbers and attempt to hold on, you could find yourself struggling under the weight of the mortgage, maintenance, and property tax costs.
  • Not understanding your responsibility to pay the marital debt. In most cases, if there is debt acquired during your marriage, it is a shared responsibility. Dividing marital debts is part of the divorce process, but debtors often do not listen to the arrangements you and your ex made. Unexpected debts like this could cause complications and sudden stress in your divorce finances if you are unaware of your responsibility, or if your ex accepts responsibility yet fails to keep up.
  • Choosing the wrong attorney. Your divorce is already stressful and time-consuming, especially when figuring out your divorce finances. An aggressive lawyer may frustrate your ex, which can cause negotiations to turn hostile. Additionally, an attorney that instigates a fight runs the risk of squandering your share of the marital estate. It is best to find an attorney that will advocate for your best interest in a professional way, which means leaving emotion out of it.

There is certainly a lot to consider, and it can be overwhelming. But taking the time to be informed and find all the circumstances with the knowledge of your current situation can help you avoid these divorce finance mistakes. Remember, try to act from logic and consider finding trustworthy, qualified financial professionals for the best possible outcome. Our attorneys will advocate passionately on your behalf. Give our Chandler office a call today at (480) 470-3030

divorce during covid 19

Divorcing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

At Shaffer Family Law, we know you are struggling to cope with everything surrounding COVID-19. Whether you’re an essential worker who has been risking your life every day that you go to work or got laid off because your company had to shut down, we are all out here trying to keep our sanity. We are all learning to navigate a new way of life that involves social distancing.

However, families still need legal help. Many clients wonder how COVID-19 will affect their divorce, and many are wondering if they should do it during the pandemic or wait?

Here is what is happening:

Divorce rates will increase. With social distancing governing day-to-day lives, and with families living 24/7 in close quarters, we will see a significant increase in divorce filings. Historically, divorce rates have increased during worldwide crises, and this will be no different.

  • Filing for divorce now will get you ahead of a court backlog. Simultaneously, to practice social distancing, courts are limiting the number of hearings taking place. Because of these restrictions, there will be a backlog of divorce matters in the queue. If you know you want a divorce in the coming year, now is the time to file. Beating the delay will increase your likelihood of getting divorced in 2020.
  • Filing for divorce now will protect your financial liability. According to Arizona law, your marital community and its associated assets and debts exist from marriage to the date of service of a divorce petition to the other party. What does that mean for you? If you file for divorce now, your liability for your spouse’s financial choices will terminate once they have divorce papers. With the uncertain nature of our economy, filing for divorce may be crucial for protecting you from bad or poor financial behavior and choices of your soon-to-be-ex.

If you are considering or currently going through a divorce, contact the attorneys at Shaffer Family Law by calling our office at (480) 470-3030 to schedule a consultation. We remain fully operational while practicing appropriate social distancing and cleaning regimes.

woman supporting child | Shaffer Family Law

Can an Attorney Help with Child Support Cases?

When couples with children divorce, it typically means that the father is granted some visitation rights or custody, though they must pay the mother child support. This payment approach can be reversed in certain situations. A family court judge can help make a decision based on the wellbeing of the children but will also consider the rights of the parents when determining visitation rights.

Child support is calculated differently by each state, though it is based on whether both parents have joint custody or if only one person has sole custody of the children. A professional child support attorney Shaffer Family Law will be able to provide you with the information you need.

Parents with primary custody are often eligible to receive child support payments from the other parent. This support covers costs for basic needs, including medical care, childcare, educational expenses, transportation and travel, entertainment, and extracurricular activities. Once an agreement is decided, a parent may raise or lower child support due to situations like changes in income or changes in split custody.

Our attorneys for child support can make the child support implementation and modification processes easier on the parents. Our attorneys will be able to explain child support rights to you and answer questions you have regarding which situations qualify for child support modifications.

Issues regarding child support can be complicated for both parents. Attorneys can also help a custodial parent recover back child support that has not been paid by the other parent. An attorney with experience in this area of the law can make things easier to understand by explaining the rules, regulations, and steps involved with enforcing or complying with child support orders and making or receiving child support payments.

This legal professional will also ensure that child support rights are adhered to, safeguarding the rights of children to benefits and education in a public institution.

Attorneys assess child support cases and file documents, clarify terms of child support orders, calculate anticipated child support payments, and collect and enforce these payments. They enter relevant negotiations on behalf of their clients and protect the interests of clients during court proceedings. The cost of hiring an attorney is often worth it because it saves the client time and effort and streamlines the child support process.If you are a divorcing parent, explore the differences between mediation and litigation for child support and consider consulting with a lawyer. Most attorneys will provide an initial consultation before services are retained. Parents can use this meeting to learn about the experience, availability, strategy, and fees of the attorney. Even if you are not going through a divorce, but you have a child support problem, contact us immediately for your informative consultation!

Child doesn't want to see parent after divorce | Shaffer Family Law

What to do When Your Child Doesn’t Want to See Their Parent

You have primary custody of your child, and your co-parent legally has visitation rights detailed in your custody and visitation agreement. However, there may be a time when your child is supposed to their parents’ home, but they refuse to or throw a tantrum.

This may cause your co-parent to believe that you caused your child to turn against them. However, you know it wasn’t anything you said or did to influence their opinion. And now you there’s the risk of being penalized by the court for not adhering to the parenting time arrangement. What are your options?

Well, first, you need to find out why your child doesn’t want to visit their other parent. In many cases, there’s a new significant other they don’t like or something simple like their other parent doesn’t have good wi-fi. Whatever the issue is, if it’s not something that is going to affect your child’s safety or well-being, they will need to visit with your co-parent.

No matter how you feel about your co-parent, it’s important that you encourage the visits and work with your co-parent to resolve the issue. When you show you child that you two are united, it can show you child that they can’t play one parent against the other.

Family court judges do consider each child’s preference when making decisions about parenting and visitation rights. A child is generally not allowed to refuse visitation with a parent until they turn 18. 

The custodial parent can file a request to change the custody agreement due to the child’s reluctance to visit with their non-custodial parent.  However, the court’s decisions will be determined by the best interests of the child.  In some situations, these interests aren’t what the child’s desires.

If you have any questions about your custody deal, give Shaffer Family Law a call at (480) 470-3030 today. 

Domestic Violence in Divorce Cases

Domestic violence is a problem that can influence every part of your life. If you are a victim, it is common to feel isolated from your friends and family. And when we feel alone and scared, it’s even harder to leave an abuser and start a new life.

The situation becomes even harder if you have children with your abuser. Research has shown that roughly 60 percent of abusers who attack their intimate spouses also direct some of their violence towards their children.

One crucial thing to remember is that domestic violence can play a considerable role in your decision to divorce. You may need legal assistance to help gain your freedom and the attorneys at Shaffer Family Law can help you by representing your case before the court.

Domestic violence is an area of the law that often has criminal consequences and has a big influence on the result of a family law case. A conviction following domestic violence charges can have negative implications on a child custody case, often because of the indication of child endangerment.

Our attorneys are prepared to advocate zealously on your behalf regardless of how far the domestic violence case has gone forward. Give our Chandler office a call today at (480) 470-3030. If you need help with this situation, give the National Domestic Violence Hotline a call at 1-800-799-7233.

Divorcing at an Older Age

While the divorce rate has declined in the population, there has actually been an increased rate for people over the age of fifty to get divorced. The phenomenon is being referred to as a ‘gray divorce’ and surprisingly enough, a divorce after age 50 is different from getting divorced in your 30s or 40s.

While the process of the dissolution of a gray marriage is the same as the process of any other marriage, coming to a settlement agreement can be much more challenging because each party in the divorce wants to protect themselves during the divorce and safeguard their financial future so that they are able to live comfortably in their later years.

There is no denying the fact that splitting will get harder as you age, both financially and emotionally. You must separate your emotions from the division of assets, as well as worry about unique financial repercussions that might not occur in other divorce cases. Getting divorced when you’re over 50 can be harder for a variety of reasons.

Dividing assets is a common part of divorce proceedings, but this division can create problems for one or both partners. As you get older, your ability to work to make an income quickly diminishes. Income has either stopped or slowed down, and splitting assets and fixed income affects each person compared to those who are still at a working age. You may be at-risk of not having enough money for your bills and will need to drastically change your life.

Dealing with taxes can be hard in your senior years if you are filing as a single individual. It’s hard because while you’ll be in a higher tax bracket, your income level is lower. You may also be at risk of owing taxes on your retirement accounts when the funds are divided.

Protect Your Finances During a Late-in-life Divorce

Now that you understand the unique challenges you will face; it is important to learn how to avoid financial errors so that you do not have to worry about recouping from them. Here are some valuable tips to get protective of your finances so that you can still live comfortably once you are single:

  • Stay Civil When Talking About Marital Assets: When you get married, everything is about your love for your spouse. When you get divorced, it is a business transaction that is all about money. Letting your emotions affect how to behave can make it harder to divide your assets objectively. Of course, this is easier said than done, but you need to look at the divorce as a business deal instead of having the emotionally charged arguments, which will only cost you time and money.
  • Evaluate Your Individual and Shared Debt: No one wants to be surprised by debt that is not in your name. Try to run credit reports on you and your spouse before you file so you’ll be able list your debt as a couple and debt that was accumulated by the other person.
  • Evaluate Marital Properties and Retirement Accounts: When negotiating what type of settlement is going to be most beneficial to you, a divorce lawyer can help. Many people believe a lump sum payment to the other spouse is better than the long-term value of the assets.
  • The Effects on Your Children: As you have gotten older, you have probably talked about your estate and how assets will be given out. A later in life divorce can affect this estate plan, which will affect your children and grandchildren. This would be a good time to let your children know how their inheritance could change.
  • Don’t Overlook Medical Care: Older age also comes with an increase in medical issues. It is an especially important time to have health insurance since your health can affect your assets and financial future.

If you would like to speak with a divorce and family law attorney about your case and get their advice, give Shaffer Family Law a call for a consultation at (480) 470-3030.

4 Types of Child Custody Arrangements

Child custody is the term legal used to define the relationship between a child and their parents or legal guardians. It’s mainly used within the context of divorce and separation to describe how both parents should care for and visit with their children.

There are a few custody arrangements, so it is helpful for parents dealing with custody issues to understand the options that may be available to them. Each type carries different implications, so getting it right is critical to the success of the relationship you share with your child and your ex.

No matter what your family’s structure is, deciding upon a child custody arrangement that acts in the best interest of your child is a critical first step toward living life under the new norm.

Here are the four types of child custody arrangements:

  1. Legal Custody: Legal custody describes the basis of parental rights and responsibilities. It is the clearest form of child custody from a legal standpoint, since it usually involves the rights given to all parents regardless of arrangement type. Every parent has legal custody, whether they have sole or joint custody.
  2. Physical Custody: Physical custody is a term reserved for parents who provide daily care and support to the child. It is also referred to as residential custody, which essentially describes who the child will live with. A physical custody arrangement can be joint or sole custody.
  3.  Sole Custody: With sole custody, the courts assign the responsibility and care of a child to a single parent. The parent who has sole custody is sometimes referred to as the custodial parent, while the parent who only has visitation rights is called the non-custodial parent. The sole custody arrangement is common because it gives the non-custodial parent the opportunity to still visit with their children, without disrupting the consistency of schooling and home life needed for a child to thrive.
  4. Joint Custody: Sometimes called shared custody or shared parenting, joint custody is when the child’s full-time living arrangements are divided between parents using a method of percentage. For instance, a court may award a joint custody agreement using a 50-50 split. However, the actual rate used varies according to what is in the best interests of the child. Joint custody arrangements are more challenging in terms of a court ruling. There is a ton of consideration on behalf of the family court judge assigned to your case. It’s possible that receiving joint custody might not even be on the table if he or she feels that it is not conducive to your child’s well-being.

When it comes down to it, the priority should be providing for and protecting your children. If you are concerned about child custody issues as a married or unmarried person, you have options. More than anything, you have rights that deserve to be protected.

When you hire a licensed Arizona family law attorney at Shaffer Family Law, you can have the peace-of-mind in knowing that you are doing your best at giving you and your family the best chance at moving forward in life.

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!

Text Messages Increasingly Used as Divorce Evidence

In family courts across the country, text messages and other forms of electronic communications have been used as evidence in divorce proceedings. In today’s technologically advanced world, texting has become the go-to method of communication. While we think that our personal text and phone messages are confidential, the truth is, once you send a text message there’s not no taking it back.

This can be negative, since it’s so easy to take messages out of context and people can interpret the message in a wrong way. It has also, unfortunately, become a tool for people engaging in extramarital affairs.

Divorce attorneys have noticed an increased use in digital messages submitted as evidence, a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Texting to your lover is basically like walking in the door with kiss marks on your neck. It’s easy to be caught. Even if your divorce has nothing to do with a cheating spouse, text messages can still cause problems for you, especially if you text a message that could be construed as hostile or negligent.

This is especially true if you have been fighting for custody of your children. If you send your ex-spouse an angry text about one of the contentious issues, the message can now be used as evidence in court to make it seem like you have anger issues.

And if you’ve been trying to prove spending more time with you is best for your children, you don’t want to give your ex any more ammo to fight that claim. While the message alone may not be very strong evidence, it can be used in addition to other evidence being used against you. Text messages can be misinterpreted so it is best to avoid sending anything in anger.

The credibility of text messages

Some legal experts believe that the use of personal texts as evidence is an invasion of privacy and shouldn’t be acceptable in court. However, if your partner’s cell phone is part of a family account, you may have the legal right to look at her messages.

Then again, it may be a crime to try to get the text messages from a phone that doesn’t belong to you. Remember, like in criminal cases, the credibility of your evidence is generally based on how defense got their hands on the evidence.

Another challenge to the admissibility of a text is to have the proof that it was actually your spouse who wrote and sent the messages. Even though your spouse’s phone contains steamy messages to an unknown person, there may be doubt that they were the ones who wrote it.

While there is a lot of legal work when it comes to addressing these issues, if you’re facing a divorce, it’s a good idea to work with an experienced family law attorney. They’ll be able to help you determine whether the text-message evidence will influence the court or be dismissed as irrelevant. Give Shaffer Family Law a call today at (480) 470-3030 to get started on your case.

Divorce Advice for Stay at Home Moms

During divorce, can you think of anyone one more at a disadvantage than stay-at-home moms. Since many of these women have been away from the workforce for a while, they are less likely going to be able to finance their newly single status, especially with children. This disadvantage is evident as soon as the divorce process begins. Therefore, it is so important to get organized as quickly as you can because the faster you can get your things in order, the safer your financial future could become.

Here are some tips to think about:

  • Documentation plays a big role when it comes to working towards a favorable divorce settlement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Attorneys, mediators, and certified divorce financial analysts will more than likely request a variety of documents so that they can have a clear picture of your current marital finances. You want to make sure that you have copies of tax returns from previous years, income statements, bank statements, insurance policies, loan and mortgage details, and any information regarding investment accounts.
  • It is no secret that divorce can be expensive and since many stay-at-home moms lack access to marital funds, accessing those funds is a critical first step in finding a way around this problem. Some women secretly stash cash away from the eyes of your spouse. You may also want to take advantage of learning about your marital finances while you can. Find a way to get the most realistic picture of your current finances. This can include looking at bank statements, tax returns, or any other financial documents you find lying around.
  • If there is a chance that you have some sense about what your expenses are as a married couple. Whether it’s mortgage (or rent) payments, utility bills, Wi-Fi and phone bills, and many other essentials of daily life are going to need to reflect two separate households. At this point, you’ll need to come up with a realistic expectation of your monthly expenses. Child support isn’t going to cover all your expenses.
  • Make a list of the items, assets, and other details that are the most important to you in the divorce settlement. They should include tangible items, like any sentimental items and family heirlooms. This also includes figuring things regarding visitation, custody rights, and co-parenting solutions. When you have a list upfront, this allows you to focus on the bigger picture, instead of getting stuck on the minor details of the negotiation process.
  • It is completely reasonable for stay-at-home moms to want to keep the marital home, usually for sentimental value or to maintain some form of a stable routine for their children. Unfortunately, this may not be a practical choice because unless your new budget allows it, you could find that keeping the marital home is not sensible. To determine the home’s actual value, you will need to have it appraised. You can then use this important information to start planning the amount of money that is needed for you and your spouse to pay off your shared debt or divide the funds.
  • If you’ve been a stay-at-home mom for a while, there’s a chance that you have not been using your name and other information to apply for credit. This situation will make things hard, especially when it comes time for you to make another major purchase that where you will need financing. You can easily find out your current credit score with online tools like Credit Karma. Depending on what you score is, this is what indicates whether you’ll be eligible for a new mortgage, auto loan, or even for renting an apartment. A low credit score can be improved over time and the first step is to open a line of credit in your own name. Contact a lender at your local bank to see if you can find someone who is willing to issue you a small line of credit. 
  • Even if you receive child support or alimony, you’re probably going to have to start earning your own money sooner than later. The quicker you re-enter the workforce and start earning money, the quicker you’ll be able to secure yourself financially. Contact your network: you friends and any former coworkers. Let them know the type of work you want to do and ask them to keep an eye out for you. Even if you’re not ready or able to jump back into working in the corporate world full-time, look for short-term and part-time gigs.

Getting a divorce is a huge life change, and you’ve got a list of things to do. Here at Shaffer Family Law in Chandler, our attorneys will be with you every step of the way. If you’ve been staying home and taking care of your children, you deserve competent legal assistance. This also applies to stay-at-home dads as well! Call us today at (480) 470-3030.

Domestic Violence in Divorce Cases

Domestic violence is a problem that can influence every part of your life. If you are a victim, it is common to feel isolated from your friends and family. And when we feel alone and afraid, it becomes very difficult to leave an abuser and start a new life without them.

The situation becomes even harder if you have children with your abuser. Research has shown that roughly 60 percent of abusers who attack their intimate spouses also direct some of their violence towards their children.

One crucial thing to remember is that domestic violence can play a considerable role in your decision to divorce. You may need legal assistance to help gain your freedom and the attorneys at Shaffer Family Law can help you by representing your case before the court.

Domestic violence is an area of the law that often has criminal consequences and has a big influence on the result of a family law case. A conviction following domestic violence charges can have negative implications on a child custody case, often because of the indication of child endangerment.

Our attorneys are prepared to advocate zealously on your behalf regardless of how far the domestic violence case has gone forward. Give our Chandler office a call today at (480) 470-3030.

If you need help with this situation, give the National Domestic Violence Hotline a call at 1-800-799-7233.

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