Tips from Chandler family law attorney

divorce for older couples

Divorce Tips for Older Couples in Arizona Court 2019

First, the good news: overall divorce rates in the U.S. have declined in the past twenty years. But there’s some not-so-good news for married couples over fifty: in that age group, the rate of divorce has increased; in fact, it has doubled. As of 2012, one out of every four people going through divorce was over fifty — and one in ten was over sixty-five.

Fifty is by no means “old,” but we refer to couples over fifty going through divorce as “older couples,” because most people who divorce do so earlier in life, after fewer years of marriage. Why the increase in the divorce rate for older couples, whom you would think, by this stage in their marriage, had worked out the bugs, so to speak? And what considerations do older couples need to take into account?

Why Are More Couples Over Fifty Divorcing?

There are a number of possible reasons for the increase in divorce for couples over fifty. One is that there’s less stigma attached to divorce than there used to be. It could be that as more people see others their age pursuing a divorce, they realize they don’t have to stay in an unhappy marriage because society expects it.

They also may not have realized the depth of their unhappiness until they were in their fifties. Busy work lives and hours devoted to children and their activities can mask the fact that a couple has little in common. Once retirement comes and the nest is empty, one or both partners may see that what’s left is not enough. Women, who in the past may not have been able to survive financially after divorce, are more likely to be self-supporting now, and less likely to stay in an unhappy marriage for financial reasons.

There’s also the statistical reality that second marriages are more likely to fail than first marriages, and third marriages more likely to fail than second ones. Some of the couples who are going through a so-called “gray divorce” may not be divorcing for the first time. That said, more than half of all gray divorces are to those who are in a first marriage, and the majority of those have lasted over 20 years. This may be because expectations for the fulfillment marriage should offer have risen over time. Simply put, people want more out of marriage than their grandparents did, and they’re more willing to leave if they don’t get it.

What Do Divorcing Couples Over Fifty Need to Consider?

There are two overarching themes divorcing couples over fifty need to take into account: social/emotional and financial.

On the social/emotional side, think about your support system. By the time you’re in your fifties, many of your friends tend to be other couples. Your divorce decree doesn’t say who gets custody of the friends, but it’s worth thinking about, as friends tend to drift toward one divorcing spouse and away from the other. Who will be your support system when you divorce, especially if you initiated the divorce or others see it as being “your fault?”

Additionally, while you may not have to worry about custody and parenting schedules, your divorce will have an impact on your relationships with your kids. If your adult children blame you for the divorce, you risk becoming estranged from them and your grandchildren, further weakening your support system.

Then there’s the financial side of things. Despite the conventional wisdom that men’s standard of living goes up after divorce and women’s goes down, the reality is that both may suffer. There are now two households to support, not one. There may may no longer be child support payments, but there might still be children to put through college. Who is paying the tuition? What happens if they don’t?

And don’t forget alimony, also known as spousal support. If one spouse was out of the work force for years caring for the kids, it’s unlikely that he or she is going to be able to pick up and be able to re-start a career that will allow for self-support this close to retirement age. And speaking of retirement, retirement benefits earned by one spouse during the marriage are community property. In short, divorcing after fifty means that couples may have a much different, and less comfortable, retirement than they had planned.

Even with the potential emotional and financial challenges, getting a divorce after the age of fifty might still be the right decision for you. You have a lot of life ahead of you, and the power to make the next chapter a good one.

If you’re over fifty and considering, or confronted with, a divorce in Arizona, you have many issues to think about. We invite you to contact Shaffer Family Law at (480) 470-3030 today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Arizona divorce attorney who can properly advise you regarding the appropriate next steps.

8 Tips for First Free Consultation with a Chandler Family Lawyer

The First Consultation with a Family Lawyer – Things to Prepare 


If you’ve found the best Chandler divorce lawyer and have your initial consultation with them, you’ll need to prepare a few things to the meeting. The initial consultation is where you’ll be able to explain your situation, discuss the sort of divorce you’re looking to have, and ask the lawyer questions about the entire process. The lawyer will ask a lot of questions, so you’ll also want to be prepared with knowledgeable answers so that both of you could see if the relationship would be a good fit.
Besides your own questions, you’ll want to prepare a few divorce documents for your family lawyer free consultation to really make the best out of the meeting. Not many people know what sort of divorce preparation they should do before meeting with their potential Chandler divorce attorney. To help you make the most out of your family lawyer free consultation, we created a chart that will explain steps on how to best prepare for your first consultation with a family law attorney:

 

 


 

There are more things you need to know before meeting your family lawyer for the first time:

 

  1.    Gather key facts about your case
As soon as you sit down with the lawyer, they’ll ask you to describe some key facts that made you want to seek an attorney. Usually, clients will describe stories in a choppy way or with key events and facts out of order. This won’t help your case, so the best divorce preparation is one that has key facts written down, in order and are cohesive. You’ll want to write down your side of the story as if you were telling a story, doing it in chronological order and identifying key names and dates. Don’t go write a novel and try to keep it all down to just one page. This will make you understand the overall narrative of the case so that you provide a comprehensive summary. At the end, include a small description of what you would like to see happen. This tells the lawyer what you’re hoping for them to achieve if they take on your case.
Still not sure what to do? Check out this divorce guide to see how the process works and what documents do you need to prepare:

The Definitive Guide to Arizona Divorce Process

  1. Prepare relevant evidence and documents
Another thing you’ll want to do in your divorce preparation is to prepare any evidence or documents that’ll support your case. Besides hearing your narrative, the lawyer will also want to see any documents for informational purposes and to assess the strength of the case. Divorce documents to include are any financial statements, phone, email or social media records if they’ve been caught cheating, tax returns, or anything else you think is relevant and will help your case. It’s okay if you don’t bring all the divorce documents at the consultation since the lawyer will tell what else is needed at a later time. Before the meeting, though, gather the divorce documents and organize them in a binder to make it easier for the attorney to go through.
You may also review your attorney’s website before your visit to see if there are any specific documents or information your attorney requests that people bring with them to the initial meeting.
If your spouse has initiated the divorce, it’s essential that you bring any papers you’ve been served with to the attorney. You have a very limited time to respond to the allegations in a divorce petition. If no one has filed for divorce yet, you should bring basic biographical information — names, addresses, important dates — that would help your attorney to prepare a divorce petition on your behalf.
While it’s not critical to bring financial documents to your first appointment, it is helpful. This information will be relevant at some point. It is quicker and much more cost-effective for you to gather bank statements, income tax returns, credit card statements, retirement and investment account statements, and the like than for your attorney to have to request them later from opposing counsel. (For a list of documents to gather, see our Top Ten Things You Should Do Before Filing For Divorce.)

a man use social media for cheating his wife

Did you know as of 2019 social media has been often used as evidence in a family court? If you didn’t, it is good to know when you share anything on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, because it can be used against your spouse and determine the result for a divorce case.

How Your Social Media Use Affects Your Divorce

  1.  Make sure there’s no conflict of interest
At the beginning of the consultation, the lawyer will ask you if there are any conflicts of interest that might prevent them from ethically representing your case. They might ask you to bring a list of individuals who might be defendants or witnesses in the case. This is just to check of the law firm represents anyone on the other side, which would be a conflict of interest for them.
  1.    Think about your goals for representation beforehand
Don’t just go into the family lawyer free consultation saying you want to have a divorce.  You’ll want to figure out your goals for representation as you gather divorce documents, too. You’ll want to be clear and specific about your objectives and what you from the case. Prepare a list of goals that you hope the lawyer can help you achieve.
Hiring a divorce lawyer will help you accomplish your goal and avoid frustration and unexpected mistake:

7  Reasons to Hire an Arizona Family Law Attorney

  1.     Write down your questions
You’ll have a lot of questions for your initial consultation and the last thing you’ll want is to forget them while talking with the attorney. To make sure that you get everything you’re wondering answered, take the time to list them out on paper ahead of time. Some ideas on questions including:
  •         Have you represented similar cases before?
  •         What’s been the outcome of your last few cases?
  •         How is the other side most likely to respond?
  •         Is there anything else they’d like to see to evaluate your case?
  •         What are your legal and non-legal options?
  •         What percent of their practices is in the area of expertise you’re looking for?
  •         Do they see any problems with the case?
  •         What’s the process like for the case and how they’d go about handling it for you?
  •         How long do they predict the whole process will be?
  •         What do they charge for their services?
  •         What do they predict the outcome of your case will be?
  1.    Ask for the attorney’s client intake sheet before the meeting
Many lawyers require that new clients fill out an intake sheet before the family lawyer free consultation. Make sure that you fill it out completely before the meeting. If they don’t bring one up on that initial phone call, ask if one is required to complete and how they’ll send it over to you.
  1.    Provide information about the other party 
You’ll want to bring any relevant information about the other party, including pay stubs, where they work, relevant facts about their personality, etc. Also, note if there is a history of mental illness since this information can help your divorce case in court.  
       8.   (Additional Tip) Review your attorney’s website before your visit

frequently asked questions about a family law matters

 

The last tip from us is to visit your attorney website to see if they have frequently asked questions about a family law case that would answer any other questions you may have and also if there are any specific documents or information your attorney requests that people bring with them to the initial meeting. If your spouse has initiated the divorce, it’s essential that you bring any papers you’ve been served with to the attorney. You have a very limited time to respond to the allegations in a divorce petition. If no one has filed for divorce yet, you should bring basic biographical information — names, addresses, important dates — that would help your attorney to prepare a divorce petition on your behalf.

Preparing Emotionally and Mentally


You may have been thinking about divorce for a while, but actually sitting down with a lawyer takes things to another level. Or perhaps your spouse has blindsided you with a request for a divorce. No matter what your circumstances, meeting a divorce lawyer for the first time can be stressful, because it makes the prospect of divorce more real.
Divorce can make life feel out of control. A good divorce lawyer will help you take the reins again. Pay attention to how talking with a prospective lawyer makes you feel. No matter how skilled, an attorney who ramps up your anxiety may not be a good fit for you. The right lawyer for you will not only have extensive experience with Arizona family law but will make you feel that you have a trusted advocate in your corner.
Divorce preparation is key to a successful case, even if you’re barely meeting with the lawyer for the first time. Gathering everything you need will help the lawyer figure out if they can take on your case and will make it easier if you’re planning on meeting with several attorneys regarding your divorce. You’ll simply need to take your pre-made binder to each consultation instead of having to prepare for each consultation!
At Shaffer Family Law, we know our clients are counting on us to be their guides and advocates in the legal system. We also understand how stressful divorce or other family law case can be on a personal level, and it’s important to us to offer the support our clients need from their first appointment through the resolution of their case. To learn more about how Shaffer Family Law experienced family law attorneys can help you, contact Shaffer Family Law online or call (480) 470-3030 today to schedule a free consultation.

 

divorce attorney

7 Tips for Getting Your Divorce Attorney to Call You Back

You’re in the midst of a divorce, one of the biggest and most stressful events of your life, and your divorce lawyer won’t return your phone calls. There might be any number of reasons why, but understanding the problem is only the beginning of finding the solution. Your goal is to get your questions answered and your stress level reduced–not increased by the frustration of being unable to communicate. Here are some tips for getting what you need from your divorce attorney without your blood pressure going through the roof:

Set expectations early.

If you’re early in your attorney-client relationship, ask the following questions in an initial meeting: How long should I wait for a call back if I call you? How often should I expect updates about my case? What’s your preferred way to communicate? What kinds of things should I contact you about, and when should I deal with your staff instead? Take note of the answers.

Assess the reason for your call.

It seems obvious, but many people pick up the phone and dial without knowing what their objective is. If you know what you need, you’ll be able to ask for it more efficiently. Your lawyer’s a lot more likely to call you back (and less likely to bill you for it) if he or she knows it will be a two-minute call instead of a twenty-minute one. Or, in figuring out your objective, you may discover that what you’re looking for is something you might better find elsewhere, like emotional support for the stress you’re going through, and you may decide not to call your attorney at all.

E-mail is your friend.

If you’re calling to convey factual information or ask a brief question, consider doing it by e-mail. First, this gives your attorney a record of what you wanted to communicate, and second, allows them to respond when they have a moment – which may not be when you’re free to talk. Even if the information merits a call, an advance e-mail can make the call more efficient.

Rely on paralegals and assistants.

It may be that your question doesn’t need to be answered by your attorney. Try his or her paralegal or assistant first. Support staff often have a wealth of knowledge, especially about procedural things. If the support staff isn’t equipped to answer your question, they’ll give it to the attorney, who now knows his staff has deemed it necessary for him to deal with.

Don’t make threats.

Yes, your attorney has an ethical duty to keep you informed about your case. That doesn’t mean he or she is subject to disbarment for failing to call you back quickly. Threatening to call the State Bar on your attorney will not make him want to do his best work for you. Thinking about your own work experience, how do you feel when you hear that a customer who is known for harsh language and complaining is waiting for you to pick up on Line 1? Your attorney gets the same feeling. Also, don’t make threats to fire your attorney unless you really plan to. No one responds well to ultimatums.

Make an appointment.

If all else fails, make an appointment for a fifteen-minute phone call or a face-to-face meeting. Explain, with specific examples if possible, how your expectations for communications have not been met, and ask the attorney what he or she thinks is causing the breakdown. Listen to the answers, and be ready for the possibility that you bear some responsibility. Also be prepared for the possibility that you and your attorney are not a good fit and that you may need to consider retaining a different attorney. It’s better to do that than have the outcome of your divorce jeopardized by inability to communicate with your attorney.

If you need to get a new attorney…

Choose carefully. Get referrals from people you know and trust in order to choose the best divorce attorney for you. Interview your prospective attorney, and make clear that communication is important to you. As noted above, ask how, when, and with whom you can expect to communicate, and clarify what to do if those expectations are not being met.

The bottom line is that, although your attorney is surely busy, they should recognize that you are relying on them for information about something that will affect your life and your relationships. Your attorney deserves to be treated with consideration and respect, but so do you. Your relationship with your divorce attorney is a partnership, which like all partnerships, requires regular and clear communication. If you do your part, your attorney will be able to do his or her part much better.

Learn more about why we believe mutual respect and solid communication between divorce lawyers and clients is so essential. We invite you to Shaffer Family Law online, or call (480) 470-3030 today to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego divorce law firm

How Your Social Media Use Affects Your Divorce

San Diego divorce law firm

When your marriage has fallen apart, it seems natural to share your feelings with your friends — and increasingly, the way we do that is on social media. Whether you’re venting anger or celebrating a fresh start, you should be very careful what you share, and how, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the other websites and apps.

Don’t think that just because you’ve blocked your soon-to-be ex, you’re in the clear. You’d be surprised at what information can make your way to your spouse, or to your spouse’s attorney. A good rule of thumb is that you should never share anything on social media that you wouldn’t be willing to say in front of a judge at a divorce trial.

How can you protect yourself from the consequences of your life online? Read on to find out.

Get an Electronic Divorce First.

Spouses often share devices and even passwords. You’ll want to stop that right away. On the one hand, changing passwords and safeguarding your laptop may alert your spouse to the fact that you’re contemplating divorce, or at the very least that you’re hiding something. On the other, you simply have no reasonable expectation of privacy if you share passwords. Also, stop using a shared computer if you haven’t already; your spouse may be able to access the history of your activity.

However, you should not delete or alter existing posts in social media, as a court may view that as deliberate destruction of evidence. Just deactivate the accounts. Besides, even if you think you’ve wiped something incriminating off of the internet, you don’t know who has a screenshot that could later reveal you to have said or done something that reflects poorly on you, as well as to have lied about it or attempted to cover it up.

It’s Not Just What You Say; It’s What You Do (And What Others Do).

You’re smart enough not to post a status update that says, “Heading off to Vegas for the weekend with my girlfriend (don’t tell my wife)!” But you may be using social media without even realizing it, using your Facebook info to log into another site, for instance. Some people have even used account information for their social media to sign up for dating sites.

And it’s not just your own social media use you have to worry about. You may have blocked your own posts from everyone you don’t want to see them, but if you’re tagged in someone else’s photo, or even if you’re just pictured, say, embracing someone who is not your spouse, that can come back to haunt you. Everybody’s got a phone, and every phone has a camera, and every camera can upload pictures to social media quicker than you can say, “lost custody.”

A colleague had a client who suspected her husband was having an affair with a mutual acquaintance. His social media was locked up tight, and the wife couldn’t see it. The suspected girlfriend, however, had wide-open privacy settings, such that the wife, was able to see, and take screenshots of the girlfriend’s posts. This included a picture of her snuggling on the husband’s lap and a status update in which she gushed about the bracelet he’d bought her.

Even if posts are not incriminating in and of themselves, they may give your spouse and his or her attorney ideas to pursue during the discovery phase of your case. In the example above, the wife’s attorney was able to sleuth out a secret bank account the husband was keeping, and the husband wound up having to repay the marital estate for the money he had spent on the girlfriend.

How Not to Get Burned by Social Media in Your Divorce

The best advice is simply: don’t use it, with the possible exception of career and professional networking sites like LinkedIn, where you don’t really post personal information. Ask your friends not to tag you in pictures, posts, or tweets. And since you can’t control what other people ultimately choose to take pictures of or post, try not to place yourself in a situation you wouldn’t want brought to your divorce judge’s attention.

child custody attorney chandler az

“Bird’s Nest” Custody: Is it Right for Your Family?

If you’re contemplating a divorce and have children, no doubt the issue of custody is on your mind. You may have heard horror stories from friends and families of children passed back and forth between parents’ homes like a football, never quite settling in, often acting out. You don’t want that for your children—but what is the alternative?

One option is what’s called “bird’s nest” custody. In bird’s nest custody, the children don’t move back and forth between parents’ homes. Instead, the children remain in one home, and the parents take turns living in the “nest” with them. When it’s not one parent’s turn to spend time with the kids, he or she lives elsewhere.

Advantages of Bird’s Nest Custody

Obviously, the biggest advantage of bird’s nest custody is the children have stability in their living situation. They have one bedroom, not a room at each parent’s home that somehow never feels fully like their own. They never have to worry if they’re sleeping at Mommy’s or Daddy’s house tonight, or if they left their soccer uniform at the “other” house. If a neighborhood friend is having a sleepover, children don’t have to miss out because they’re staying with a parent who lives a half-hour away.

In some ways, bird’s nest custody is easier on parents, too. For example, if information needs to be exchanged, a note can be left on the bulletin board or calendar in the primary home. Also, this type of custody arrangement offers a physical reminder to be present and engaged with the children: when you’re in the “nest,” you put down your cell phone and focus on the kids.

Because there are a lot of logistical details to bird’s nest custody, it’s something parents need to agree to; courts will not typically order this arrangement otherwise. The advantage of this is that parents who do choose it are typically motivated to make it work.

Disadvantages of Bird’s Nest Custody

What bird’s nest custody offers in terms of stability and predictability for kids, it takes away from parents to a certain degree. Parents have to get used to living in different places, depending on the day (though this is probably less disruptive to adults than to children).

Perhaps the bigger issue is the expense of the arrangement, since presumably each parent will want their own home in addition to the “nest.” Thus, two parents are paying for three households, instead of two. This factor alone may make bird’s nest custody impractical for many families.

Bird’s nest custody can also pose a challenge for parents wishing to move on to new relationships. If you want to live with a new partner, they need to either be willing to move back and forth with you (assuming the custody order allows this) or be willing to live alone for days at a time when you’re in the nest with your kids.

Making Bird’s Nest Custody Work

Bird’s nest custody is not for everyone. But assuming that your finances permit, and you and your ex are willing to make some sacrifices for the sake of your kids, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Decide in advance, and put in writing, who will be responsible for what chores, expenses, household maintenance, groceries, etc.
  • Maintain boundaries. Each parent should have some space in the house that is off-limits to the other.
  • Plan for your “other” home to be as geographically close to the nest as possible.
  • Agree on and establish parenting rules to be followed in the nest.
  • Remember that the rules that apply to making a parenting plan work still apply in this situation.
  • Before beginning, make sure you and your ex get along well enough to be up to this challenge. If you and your ex are constantly bickering over the management of the shared home, and your kids are exposed to that conflict, are they really better off?

To learn more about bird’s nest custody, and whether it could be right for your family, we invite you to Shaffer Family Law at (480) 470-3030 today to schedule a free consultation.

Spouses couple signing decree papers getting divorced with alimony laeyer in Chandler, Arizona

Your First Meeting With a Divorce Attorney: How to Prepare

Regardless of whether you or your spouse initiates your divorce, or whether you want to go full steam ahead or take time to carefully explore your options, meeting with a divorce attorney for the first time can be daunting. Here are some tips to put you at ease and help you get the most out of that first meeting.

What to Bring to the Appointment

Review your attorney’s website before your visit to see if there are any specific documents or information your attorney requests that people bring with them to the initial meeting.

If your spouse has initiated the divorce, it’s essential that you bring any papers you’ve been served with to the attorney. You have a very limited time to respond to the allegations in a divorce petition. If no one has filed for divorce yet, you should bring basic biographical information — names, addresses, important dates — that would help your attorney to prepare a divorce petition on your behalf.

While it’s not critical to bring financial documents to your first appointment, it is helpful. This information will be relevant at some point. It is quicker and much more cost-effective for you to gather bank statements, income tax returns, credit card statements, retirement and investment account statements, and the like than for your attorney to have to request them later from opposing counsel.

Lastly, write down a list of questions you have for your attorney. You may forget to ask something that’s important to you if you don’t have it written down. Leave space to jot down your lawyer’s answers, too. One good question many people don’t think to ask is, “What can I do to help keep my legal costs down?” If there are things you can do to save your attorney time, it will save you money.

Preparing Emotionally and Mentally

You may have been thinking about divorce for a while, but actually sitting down with a lawyer takes things to another level. Or perhaps your spouse has blindsided you with a request for a divorce. No matter what your circumstances, meeting a divorce lawyer for the first time can be stressful, because it makes the prospect of divorce more real.

Divorce can make life feel out of control. A good divorce lawyer will help you take the reins again. Pay attention to how talking with a prospective lawyer makes you feel. No matter how skilled, an attorney who ramps up your anxiety may not be a good fit for you. The right lawyer for you will not only have extensive experience with Arizona family law, but will make you feel that you have a trusted advocate in your corner.

At Shaffer Family Law, we know our clients are counting on us to be their guides and advocates in the legal system. We also understand how stressful a divorce or other family law case can be on a personal level, and it’s important to us to offer the support our clients need from their first appointment through the resolution of their case. Contact Shaffer Family Law at (480) 470-3030 today to schedule a free consultation.

Caring mother helping little daughter dressing for walk with dad, family talking getting ready to go out standing in house hall, divorced young couple shared parenting and joint custody concept

3 Essential Tips for Making a Parenting Plan Work

Developing an effective parenting plan is important to the well-being of your child. A parenting plan establishes two things: how decisions will be made concerning the care of your child and a schedule for parents to spend time with the child. Having a solid plan will eliminate conflicts in the future and, more importantly, will allow your child to develop reliable expectations. Here are three tips for that will help make your parenting plan work:

1. Use a calendar

Kids and parents are busier today than ever before and staying organized is essential to making your parenting plan work. A calendar makes it easier for parents and children to keep track of where they will be and when. Using a calendar that is accessible to both parents will avoid confusion and resulting conflicts. There are many apps that can help parents manage their calendars electronically. In fact, many children find the use of an electronic calendar beneficial for planning their own lives and knowing what to expect.

2. Hone your communication skills

Even with the most detailed parenting plan, conflicts regarding parenting will inevitability arise. When this happens, it is important to think of communication as an extension of your parenting plan. Just as the purpose of a parenting plan is to create the best situation for your child, communicating with your former partner is essential to maintaining a positive environment for your child. Handle conflicts as you might handle a conflict at work—listen to the other person, calmly communicate your position, and try to amicably reach a resolution. You do not need to be best friends with your former partner, but you should try to maintain a respectful relationship for the benefit of your child.

3. Be flexible

Closely observe how your children are reacting to a parenting plan. Are their grades steady? How are they coping emotionally? Sometimes children need an adjustment to a parenting plan—even if the plan is working for the parents. As children adjust to their new lives, or simply grow older, you may need to work with your former partner to find the best arrangement for your child.

At Shaffer Family Law has helped many families establish a fair and beneficial parenting plan. Call our office today to schedule a consultation at (480) 470-3030.

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