Law Offices of Matthew S. Schultz, P.C.

Phoenix Arizona Family Law Blog

Divorce is more than just a legal matter

Getting a divorce may seem like a fairly straightforward process. In some regards, that is true. Divorce means two people dividing shared assets and property, and sometimes determining child custody arrangements. Those might be questions with very clear answers.

The emotional aspects of the divorce can be much more difficult. If you are in the middle of a divorce here in Arizona, you probably know this all too well. You may be struggling with how to take care of yourself during a difficult time in your life. Fortunately, experts have several suggestions for meeting your emotional needs.

Obtaining child support modifications because of a hardship

Generally, a child support payment is based on how much a noncustodial parent earns. The goal when crafting a child support order is to ensure that the child's needs are met. However, if parents in Arizona experience a job loss or other financial hardship, it's possible to ask for to have a child support order modified. The order can be modified either temporarily or permanently depending on the reason for a parent's financial hardship.

In some cases, the parents themselves will negotiate a change to a child support order on their own. In most cases, a court will approve any agreement that parents create between themselves assuming that they are reasonably close to state guidelines. Those who are seeking a modification in court must typically file a motion and then alert the other parent of the pending legal action.

Divorce requires calculation of pension plan value

When an Arizona couple chooses to end their marriage, one or both parties often have some form of company-sponsored retirement plan. Every retirement account represents a marital asset, and the departing spouses must divide the funds as part of the divorce. Calculating the value of a retirement account can become complicated, especially for defined benefit plans.

Defined benefit plans are also known as pensions, and they promise a set amount of annual retirement income to the plan participant. A participant's life expectancy, rate of annual income, retirement age and the pension discount rate determine the valuation of the asset. This differs from a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k) plan, that has an investment account with a value that can be measured at any time. A defined contribution plan does not guarantee a specific retirement income. Its value is strictly the amount of money available in the account.

Productively raising children together after splitting up

Arizona parents who are not a couple but will be co-parenting their children might at first struggle with making it work smoothly, healthily and productively. However, there are many ways they can reflect and see if their co-parenting relationship is working well.

One way to measure how productively the co-parenting relationship is going is by looking at the communication between the parents. Parents who can talk openly about their children is a good indicator that things are going well. Agreeing in the important things related to raising children, such as decisions involving the children's healthcare, education, discipline and religious upbringing, can be sign that things are going well.

Dads often feel shortchanged in custody determinations

It's all but stereotypical to assume that a divorced father will be automatically awarded less than 50% of custody and forced to pay what he believes is an unreasonable child support payment. Yet many men feel exactly that way. However, many divorced Arizona women also complain that the court is unfair in its determinations. Perhaps the lesson to be learned from this seeming contradiction is to understand how the system works and, even more importantly, consider what doesn't work.

While the overriding consideration in custody determinations is the child's best interests, a seminal issue the court will look to is an agreement, or lack thereof, between the parents. If one exists and it's reasonable, the court will likely approve it. If none exists, the parents will then make their case for custody arrangements based on their individual assessments of the 'best interests" of their child. However, both legal and family analysts emphasize some fundamental dos and don'ts when making a case for custody.

Legal rights of unmarried fathers

Many Arizona fathers may be concerned about their rights to their children, especially if they are not married to the mother and never were. In many cases, unmarried fathers remain in a committed partnership with the mother of the child; they simply choose not to marry. Statistics show that around 40% of all kids are born to parents that are not married. In other cases, the parents have ended their romantic relationship but co-parent the child like a divorced couple. However, when no marriage exists, fathers may have to take additional steps in order to protect their rights and ensure that the parent-child relationship is enshrined in law.

When the parents of a child are not married, paternity must be legally established. This is true even when both parents are in a long-term relationship, live together and share a home. In most cases like this, the father's name will be placed on the birth certificate from the very beginning by the mother when she fills out paperwork. A father can also file a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity in case the information is not included in the birth certificate for some reasons. When the parents' relationship is more contested, the mother may reject the claim of paternity. A paternity test can clearly establish the father's identity.

Headed for a child custody hearing? Be prepared

An often-unfortunate aspect of divorce is that it can spark disagreements between parents regarding the best interests of their children. Like most good parents in Arizona and beyond, you want what's best for your kids and it's understandable that you are confident in determining it. If your divorce is going to include child custody litigation, however, it likely means your ex disagrees with your assessment.

This means you will need to convince the court in your favor. If you walk into the courtroom without having prepared at all ahead of time, you're at risk for disaster. Especially if the co-parent involved took time to research state laws and to plan a strategy. Basic knowledge, knowing what to expect and a strong support network are key factors toward success in child custody proceedings.

Cryptocurrency presents challenges during divorce proceedings

Cryptocurrency emerged as a new form of asset in 2009 with the development of Bitcoin. This digital currency often creates difficulties during divorces. Cryptocurrency by its design can be hard to trace, which forms an opportunity for a spouse in Arizona to hide the asset. The values of various cryptocurrencies fluctuate as well. Pinning down the value of a cryptocurrency asset for the purposes of the divorce settlement can be challenging.

Investigators have the ability to track down cryptocurrency holdings when people buy them through online exchanges. A forensic accountant might locate the original money in a bank account that was transferred to the cryptocurrency transaction. Direct purchases of cryptocurrency without the involvement of an online exchange require much greater investigative efforts to find. A person caught attempting to hide cryptocurrency assets during a divorce might lose a portion of the divorce settlement or potentially face jail time because hiding assets is a form of contempt of court.

Cooperation important in joint parenting plans

Going through a divorce in Arizona is one of the most stressful things that can happen in a person's life. It can be taxing physically, psychologically, emotionally and financially. In cases where there are children involved, the strain can be even worse. For parents who are willing and able to work together, though, it may be possible to create a joint parenting schedule that works for all the parties involved, parents and children. When creating a joint parenting schedule, it's important to empathize with the child's position, consider logistics and focus on the best interests of the child.

As difficult as it can be for the parents, divorce can be much harder on the kids. The parents need to try to see the situation through the eyes of the children, imagining the inconvenience of traveling from one home to the other and going from a two-parent household to a one parent at a time situation. Generally, the transition for the children should be made as easy as possible. It's important to maintain consistency of lifestyle, especially while the children are young.

Some spouses are not forthcoming about marital assets

Individuals going through a divorce in Arizona may be missing out on information that could impact the financial outcome of their divorce. It has long been the stereotype that it is the man who is interested in hiding financial assets away from his wife in a divorce. However, those old assumptions do not necessarily hold true in modern society. Many wives earn as much or more money than their husbands. In a number of marriages, the wife is the one who is primarily responsible for the finances, so she has greater opportunities to hide resources in the months that lead up to a divorce.

A warning sign that a husband preparing for divorce may look out for is a new interest in cryptocurrencies on the part of his spouse. Many divorcing individuals see cryptocurrencies as an excellent place to hide away money and then recoup it after divorce. Cryptocurrencies can be purchased in small amounts, so husbands may be wary if they notice consistent small withdrawals from their account or relatively small payments via PayPal.

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