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Tucson Family Law Blog

Making financial plans for a divorce

People in Arizona may want to make some financial preparations before they file for divorce. This may be particularly true if they are not very involved in the household finances. A first necessary step might be gathering as many financial documents as possible and making copies of them. If the divorce becomes acrimonious later, it might be difficult to get these from the other spouse.

Establishing a personal bank account and an individual line of credit may also be important for people who share accounts with a spouse. People may want to order copies of their credit report so they can address any errors before the divorce is in progress. For people who do not earn a living, it might still be possible to get a credit card based on household income. Applying for credit cards should be done well before the divorce is underway because this part of the process may take some time.

Housework and divorce

Arizona couples who routinely argue over housework issues may be interested to know that such arguments can result in a divorce. This is according to a study conducted by Harvard Business School.

The study, which evaluated 3,000 couples, determined that a quarter of those who went through a divorce referred to 'disagreements about housework" as the primary reason for going their separate ways. Couples who hire a cleaning services and other types of assistance to save time are more likely to stay together.

How abusive parents may try to get custody of children

Some Arizona parents might be concerned during a divorce about the other parent having access to their children if that parent has been abusive. Courts generally encourage children to spend time with both parents, and in some cases, allegations of abuse might not be believed or adequately investigated.

It is not uncommon for people who have been abusive spouses, parents or both to try to control the situation by suing for custody. The phrase "coercive control" refers to tactics that may include financial, mental, emotional and legal abuse as well as stalking. Abusive parents might try to manipulate the child by telling lies about or even threatening the other parent or the child's stepparent. According to the American Psychological Association, courts may not consider a history of abuse when awarding custody. The American Judges Association concluded in a 2012 study that in more than two-thirds of challenged cases, abusive parents convinced a court that the other parent should not get sole custody or was unfit. One domestic violence expert says courts downplay the dangers to children of a parent who is abusive toward the other parent.

Shared parenting is favored by most courts

Arizona parents considering divorce or already dealing with custody disputes have probably heard about shared parenting. In recent years, most jurisdictions in the U.S. have moved toward the notion that joint custody is the preferred parenting arrangement for children whose parents live separately. Studies have shown that children are more likely to prosper when both parents are active and involved in their lives.

While judges are tasked with the job of determining custodial arrangements, parents can be proactive in looking out for their kids. Approaching divorce or custody disagreements via collaborative processes involves the use of lawyers and mediators who focus on finding solutions rather than winning legal fights. Judges are required to consider the best interests of children when making decisions. If parents set aside their differences and follow the same approach, they can often arrive at workable solutions a judge may miss. Shared physical and financial responsibility for children is optimal, but improper management or enforcement of obligations can cause a myriad of problems for everyone involved.

Kevin Federline seeks more child support from Britney Spears

Arizona fans of singer Britney Spears might have heard about her successful Las Vegas residency. She earned $15 million per year there, but it also reportedly caused her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, to demand more in child support for their two sons.

Spears and Federline, who was a backup dancer, split up in 2007, and she paid him $1.3 million at the time and also agreed to pay several years of spousal support, which is now $20,000 per month. However, this child support amount was based on her income at a time when her career was flagging and she was struggling with mental health issues. In addition to the Vegas residency, she has released four albums since then.

Common pitfalls to avoid when dividing a retirement account

Arizona couples who are getting a divorce might find themselves in conflict over a retirement account. According to a 2016 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, this is the second most common source of conflict in a divorce after alimony and just before business interests.

If there is a 401(k) or pension plan that needs to be divided, the couple will need a qualified domestic relations order. The plan administrator must approve the QDRO, which should be prepared by an attorney. The recipient of the distribution can take it directly or can roll it into an IRA. In the latter case, neither taxes nor penalties must be paid. In the former case, the recipient will have to pay regular income tax on the distribution but no penalties.

Divorce and the protection of finances

Before tying the knot, marriage-bound Arizona residents should think about protecting their assets. While it may seem very cynical to make plans for what could happen during a divorce, having the proper safeguards in place is often a wise move.

In order to protect what they own, spouses should make sure that they maintain separate financial accounts. Many couples may choose to have joint accounts to conveniently pay for certain expenses. However, it may be prudent to create a new account for joint financial obligations instead of adding a spouse's name to an existing account. For an individual who has already combined finances with their spouse's, they should open an account in their name only if they receive an inheritance or gift. Separate accounts should also be used for expenses for any assets that are in just one party's name.

Tips for dealing with finances when divorcing later in life

Divorce has been on the rise over the past 25 years for people older than 50. This can mean certain financial concerns for people who divorce as they are approaching retirement. However, people in Arizona may be able to protect themselves financially by taking these steps.

First, before meeting with an attorney, an individual should put together a list of all assets and all jobs held by them and their spouse. This can help in planning for property division. Sometimes, people might have job-related assets they have forgotten about such as retirement accounts, profit-sharing plans and more. If one person will pay spousal support to the other, the couple should consider what will happen if the payer dies, becomes disabled or suffers a loss of income. They may want to put a life insurance policy or another type of insurance in place. Another option is taking a lump sum rather than monthly payments.

Can a shared support enforcement system benefit states?

For Arizona parents who receive child support, tracking and enforcement payments by the paying parent is an important part of the process. Each state has its own system of doing this, and many states have attempted, planned or begun modernization efforts of these systems over the years. Currently, each state upgrades its own system with the federal government then reimbursing the state for 66 percent of the cost. The federal government is seeking to change the way this works.

The federal government is asking for $63 million to be added to the 2019 budget, delegated to the Department of Health and Human Services to be used to create a child support enforcement system that it would then make available to all states. While the details about the way this would work, what the system would be like and when it would be made available to the states have not been released, the government has stated that this will save money in the long run: up to $800 million in 10 years.

Collaboration can make divorce easier for kids

Arizona parents headed for divorce can avoid ugly courtroom battles if they are focused and make use of available resources. In the midst of an emotional split, the temptation looms large to use the legal system as a vehicle for revenge, but doing so can put children in the middle, which is something most people agree is an unwanted outcome. If parents work together and keep children's best interests at heart, a great deal of time, money and acrimony can be saved.

In most jurisdictions, the starting place for custody negotiations is an equal division of time split between the parents. Every family is unique, and different situations require thoughtful adjustments from that starting point. For example, travel and work schedules may make 50/50 parenting impossible, or the distance between parental residences could create hardships for the children. The key to working things out is the maintenance of strict focus on the children involved.

Contact

Law Office of Michael A. Johnson, P.C.
177 N Church Avenue
Suite 311
Tucson, AZ 85701

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