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Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

When will I be done paying my ex-spouse alimony?

Alimony is one of the financial obligations that may connect two divorce Phoenix residents after their legal relationship has been terminated by the courts through divorce. Unlike child support which is to be used by the parties to support and care for their shared offspring, alimony is financial support that one former partner may be required to pay to the other in order to help the recipient live following the marital split. In most cases an award of alimony will end based on the facts and circumstances of the former couple's case and will be discussed in their agreement or award of alimony.

For example, during a divorce a party may request of their former spouse the payment of support after their marriage has ended. The court, upon receiving the request, may evaluate the parties' relative financial positions, the length of their marriage, the help the requesting spouse needs to become financially self-sufficient, and a number of other considerations. If the requesting spouse needs only a little help to get on their feet then the court may order a one-time, lump-sum award.

Fathers have rights to custody and time with their children

Generations ago it was significantly more common for mothers to stay home with the children born to their marriages and to forego work outside of the home as their husbands took on careers and earned the money that supported the family. Since mothers were seen as the primary caregivers of the children it was more likely that they would be granted custody of their kids in the event that their marriage to their husbands ended.

Now, however, Phoenix fathers are as likely to be involved in the upbringing of their kids as their children's moms. There is no presumption that a child should automatically be placed in the physical custody of their mother if the child's parents choose to end their relationship; in Arizona and jurisdictions throughout the country child custody determinations must consider the best interests of the children who will be affected by the orders and agreements accepted by the family law courts.

Ride-share drivers placing child support roadblocks

Arizona garnishes employee wages as part of its child support enforcement measures to collect overdue child support. However, there are procedural loopholes for independent contractors, such as ride-share drivers for Lyft and Uber.

A court issues a notice of assignment for late child support payments to employers who automatically garnish wages. However, in instances where a parent who is in arrears is an independent contractor, these notices go directly to the parent. Drivers for ride-sharing companies directly receive these notices as independent contractors.

Arizona grandparents' rights

One of the child custody issues facing couples undergoing divorce are whether grandparents have any visitation rights. However, Arizona law provides limited rights for these visits.

The state exempts intact families from grandparent visitation. Even for the right for filing a petition for visitation, grandparents must prove one of several conditions. First, the child's parents' marriage was dissolved for at least three months. Or, a parent is dead or was officially declared missing for at least three months. Finally, the child was born to unwed parents who never marry.

Determining custody of the family business

A spouse's business is an important asset when their marriage ends, particularly in a high asset divorce. Knowing its worth even before divorce negotiations may be vital and helps assure that there is a fair buyout or sale to the other spouse.

An unbiased professional such as a forensic accountant should appraise the value of the business even if the other spouse is transparent. The appraisal should cover the value of equipment such as computers and any buildings and real estate that it owns. They should know the income that the business generates each year and its future growth potential.

What can a prenup do?

Couples in Arizona can enter a prenuptial agreement before their marriage that requires the disclosure of their assets and can help resolve issues if the couple ever divorce. These agreements, however, have advantages and disadvantages.

For couples in a community property state, like Arizona, a prenup may help protect their financial assets. A couple in this state equally share assets, debt and property regardless of the spouse named on titles, documents and deeds. This is burdensome for a spouse who made greater contributions to the marriage.

Staying involved with custody

Fathers have gained equal rights to child custody and asserting fathers' rights can overcome the judicial bias for awarding custody to their wives. Accordingly, divorce should not be separation from the children and fathers should plan for custody, visitation and co-parenting.

Fathers should plan for custody arrangements after their marriage ends. They should determine whether they want joint, shared or sole custody. Practical visitation plans should be considered. Once these custody and visitation matters are decided, the father should communicate his decisions to his attorney so that it can be shared in court, settlement negotiations or mediation and form the basis of parenting plan.

Court reviewing state child support guidelines

Calculation of child support payments in Arizona follows guidelines issued by the state Supreme Court. The Court is considering changes to these guidelines because of Arizona's minimum wage increases and new federal regulations. These will impact support calculations and parents' finances.

Arizona voters approved a referendum requiring minimum wage increases in the state in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Without changes to support guidelines, minimum wage workers would be unreasonably harmed by a calculation formula in the current child support guidelines known as the self-support reserve. This is used to evaluate and determine whether a parent can afford to pay support while keeping a minimum standard of living.

Protecting retirement assets

Property accumulated over many years of marriage can lead to a high asset divorce. Addressing these retirement assets is extremely important but may be particularly complicated.

Spouses should collect all financial data on marital assets or their own separate property. For property division, this can help determine whether one spouse made a premarital contribution. Keeping documents can also be used to follow performance of investments and account balances over the years.

Separating from the home

A spouse should consider the couple's house, like other property and marital assets, as something that they may have to lose in their divorce. For tax and other financial reasons, the apparent financial value of the house and emotional attachments, may be misleading.

The spouse should first consider the value of selling the property as part of the divorce settlement. Selling or keeping the property have separate tax consequences.

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