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Divorce Tips from Attorneys

March 28th, 2017

Getting a divorce can be a messy affair, financially and emotionally speaking. Contested divorces can be particularly hard on both parties, as experienced divorce attorneys will quickly point out. Divorce has a way of bringing out the worst in even the nicest people. While emotions can play a role, it’s critical to maintain clear emotions when dividing assets in a divorce and reaching a custody agreement if there are any children. Here are several tips for Arizona divorcing couples from divorce lawyers who have seen it all:

Keep Your Feelings out of the dispute

Divorce can be a very emotional affair, no matter how hardened one tries to be during the process. It’s very important to keep personal feelings out of it when dividing assets and negotiating during divorce proceedings. Emotions can unnecessarily complicate the process. You must aim to get the best out of divorce proceedings to ensure your long-term well-being. Getting caught up in petty fights in the moment will not go well for either party.  Let your lawyer do their job, stand back and watch, and ideally everything will be handled.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

According to a divorce lawyers in Scottsdale, some people pay attorneys a lot of money to recover assets that do not matter. For example, it makes no financial sense to get your divorce attorney to send a letter to retrieve a $100 piece of furniture from the ex, especially when attorney letters can cost as much as $500. Divorce can be costly. So wise petitioners pick battles that are worth spending money to win.

Assets in One Spouse’s Name Can be Divided

In divorces, basically everything can be divided between the spouses. This includes assets that are specifically under either spouse’s name. Debt, extra income, royalties, a lottery win—all of these and much more can be divided in divorce proceedings. Divorce attorneys warn clients not to assume that assets under one’s own name are not up for grabs. The only protection against dividing assets is a prenup or a postnup agreement. But these agreements should be handled early on in the marriage.   Even if you signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it could be deemed void by the court depending on the circumstances during which you signed such paperwork. Consult an experienced lawyer to determine your rights. 

Be Careful of Generous Income Reporting Before Divorce

It’s common for people to overstate incomes in credit card or loan applications. A spouse that discovers such generous disclosures of income can present these documents in court in a divorce case. Under those circumstances, the court could assume that you make as much money as you boasted in your loan application under penalty of perjury in a prior loan application, warns a divorce attorney in Scottsdale. On the other hand, if you find similar overstatements by your spouse, you can be the one to use them in court against them.

Take Time to Gather Evidence for the Divorce

Divorce lawyers advise clients not to walk out the door before proceedings begin, unless an abusive situation is present. It’s highly advantageous to stay behind and gather evidence for the divorce, such as photographing assets, property and gathering documents. Make copies of account statements of the spouse as well to present your case with solid evidence once the proceedings begin.

Divorcing is not easy on anyone. But following the above suggestions will help you present the best case in court.  Hiring a seasoned legal professional to guide you through this complex process is self-evident.

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

March 20th, 2017

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

When you file for bankruptcy in Arizona, you are bound by state as well as federal laws. Before you file for bankruptcy, you need to know whether you actually need to. Most people who are deep in debt opt to file for Chapter 7, which provides a certain degree of debt relief, asset protection and management of existing debt. However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can only be used once every seven years. So, you really need to know whether you want to file for bankruptcy now or seek alternative solutions.

When it comes down to it, it will be up to you to decide whether you should file for any form of bankruptcy. A credit counselor may be able to help you. Before you make up your mind, here are several tips on filing for bankruptcy in Arizona:

Take Advantage of Arizona’s Exemption Laws

Arizona’s Exemption Laws allow a certain degree of protection against repossession of assets by creditors who have provided unsecured debt. For example, if you are neck deep in credit card debt, you don’t need to fear that the credit card company might show up and demand your house or car. Credit card debt is mostly dischargeable under Arizona law. Likewise, if you want unwanted collection calls to stop, you can simply do so by informing the creditor that you have filed for bankruptcy. Consult an attorney in your local area, for example, a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale, to know whether you can benefit from exemption laws and avoid filing for bankruptcy, or hastily seek to file.

Income may Only Qualify You for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your household income must be below the state median income for households of your size. If you fail this “means test,” you may have to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Moreover, a bankruptcy judge can later examine whether your income is sufficient to repay debt under Chapter 13, rather than file under Chapter 7.

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have to repay your existing debt in part under a strict household budget. Your finances will be closely watched by a court-appointed Trustee. If you fail to meet any of the court-mandated obligations, then the Chapter 13 filing could later result in sanctions or “conversion” to another type of bankruptcy under the code. Having competent legal counsel at your side at all times is critical.

Moving on with the Proceedings

If you have made up your mind to file for bankruptcy, you will have to go to a court at the zip code you have lived in for at least 91 of the past 180 days. If you haven’t lived at your current address for this amount of time, you should use the court relevant to your old zip code address. Expect most of the proceedings’ paperwork to be distributed through via snail mail. With or without counsel, you will have to go to the bankruptcy court in person at least once. Go online to find information about your court and to download important documentation.  Appearing in a federal court house is often easier to digest with a competent licensed attorney by your side.

Cost

There are a number of fees associated with filing for bankruptcy in Arizona. In addition to paying for a lawyer, you will have to pay fees for things like mandatory pre-filing credit counseling, filing forms, making copies, and other similar tasks. Fees for different things will vary. For example, getting counseling can cost between $25 and $100.  Costs can be as little as $400 for preparing documentation. However, hiring a lawyer may cost as much as $5,000.  Every case is different.  Be careful agreeing to the “lowest cost” bankruptcy attorney who later calls you demanding thousands more in fees to continue with your case.  Like anything in life, lowest price does not mean highest value.   

If your income is too low, some of these costs may be waived off or you might only have to pay a portion of the fees. Filing for bankruptcy is not free, so do expect to pay as you go through the federal proceedings.

What does a Divorce Cost in AZ

March 13th, 2017

Getting a divorce is Arizona can be costly. However, how much you spend will depend on the type of divorce. A contested divorce with protracted proceedings will definitely cost more than an uncontested one. While there are no set rates, it’s possible to get an estimate based on historical averages of what divorcees spend on their case. 

Costs of Divorce at a Glance

How much does a divorce cost in AZ? While costs will largely depend on attorney’s fees, most people do not realize it right away, but there are other costs to consider as well. Divorces that go all the way to trial will incur third party expenses for such things as a custody evaluator, a business appraiser and forensic accountants to present financial data to court. If the couple is separating with children, then the divorced parents will have to attend a Parent Information Program class. If the divorce requires a mediator, then that will be an additional cost for the mediator who charges an hourly rate. 

Estimated Average Costs of Divorce in Arizona

According to some estimates, the average divorce case can cost as much as a new car. However, people typically do not spend more than $10,000 per spouse.

Most of the expenses will come from the attorneys. Consider for example, the average divorce lawyer in Scottsdale. Family lawyers in the state charge between $250 and $550 per hour on average. If you hire a deeply experienced lawyer, the cost can be as much as $550 per hour. In addition to the hourly rate, some lawyers also charge extra for drafting letters, printing documents, travel time, mailing, stamps and so on. Attorneys’ fees therefore can total a combined average of about $20,000 per case.  However, there is no assurance that fees come in higher or lower than this figure.   

After attorneys, those filing for divorces should expect to pay for outside expert witnesses. The divorce case may require the services of mental health expert, business accountant, real estate appraisers and many others. These experts in total can cost as much as the attorneys do. Of course, not all divorces require experts to testify or issue expert reports. If two people with a shared business or a lot of real property get a divorce, the expert fees can be significant. In some divorce cases, costs can range from $25,000 to $100,000 per side when including expert witness fees. 

Costs of an Uncontested Divorce

Divorces do not have to go to trial if certain conditions are met. If the divorcing spouses agree on the material terms of the separation, or if one spouse does not participate in contesting the divorce, then the case does not have to go to trial. As a result, costs will be considerably less.

The divorcing couple can go to the court and file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The court, depending on the county, will charge between $200 and $400 in filing fees. If the two parties amicably divorce at this point, then only court fees will have to be paid assuming the parties are sophisticated enough to paper their own divorce. 

If the divorcing couple needs legal assistance, for example a divorce attorney in Scottsdale, legal fees at an hourly rate will have to be paid in addition to court fees. Some couples prefer to hire a mediator and legal counsel.  Mediators typically charge similar reates to attorneys. Overall, the fees of an uncontested divorce are far less in comparison to contested litigation. 

If you are planning for a divorce, it’s best to talk to your spouse and amicably separate. Otherwise, you will have to be willing to pay a lot more for the lawyers to fight it out.   

Tips on Filing for Bankruptcy

March 7th, 2017

Many people opt to file for bankruptcy when their income isn’t sufficient to repay creditors. Certain types of bankruptcy filings can lead to elimination of at least some or all debt and a halt for collection calls. While bankruptcy can be devastating emotionally, it does have many benefits. If you are planning on applying for bankruptcy, here are several useful tips to know about:

Learn About the Different Types of Bankruptcy

There are several different types of bankruptcy. The two main types many people know about are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 eliminates virtually all debt, especially from unsecured loans. Chapter 13 is used to come up with a court-approved plan to partially repay all debt in 3 to 5 years. You will have to learn about what each type entails and which type of bankruptcy is best suited for you. Before you file your case, you will have to learn about the law a bit first.

Hire a Lawyer

It’s virtually impossible to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer. The body of law in this area is muddled and complicated so you will really need an experienced attorney. Hire a lawyer from the county you live in, for example a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale. It’s best to consult with an attorney before you decide to proceed with a court filing. Your attorney will tell you how to fill out the legal documents and what evidence to present in court. Attorneys are necessary because, in some cases, creditors have the right to sue you back. A lawyer may be able to intervene and reduce the risk of this.

Understand Your State Laws

Bankruptcy law differs from state to state. How many of your assets you can keep, or how much debt will be discharged will depend on the law in your state. Therefore, it’s very important that you understand the rules and guidelines set forth in the state of your residence. You can get expert help too. For example, you can ask a local bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale for state laws in Arizona.

Bankruptcy Does Not Get Everyone off the Hook for Debt

Filing for bankruptcy often removes the obligation of a single debtor to a creditor. This does not apply to others responsible for the same debt, such as the other joint account holder or a co-signer. If there’s credit card debt, then all the people formally responsible for that account will have to pay. When you file for bankruptcy, the other person could end up being solely responsible for the debt. You may want to think in advance to avoid this scenario. Ask your lawyer for the best course of action.

Inform All the Creditors

You will have to inform all your creditors that you are filing for bankruptcy, not just the creditors responsible for the overwhelming debts. In some states, it’s required by law. When you are in the process for filing for bankruptcy, you must inform all debt collection callers of the situation and provide the name of the attorney handling the case so the calls can stop.

Bankruptcy need not be expensive and emotionally draining. Follow the above tips to make it less so.

SB 1121 Makes It’s Way Through the Legislature… But Hold On!

March 2nd, 2017

SB 1121 was introduced in the Arizona Senate and having passed it is now in the House of Representatives. But what does it intend to do? The bill heading to the House of Representatives is certified qualified applicators fingerprinting requirements. But when you read the  text of the SB 1121 Bill  it states:

AN INDIVIDUAL WHO APPLIES FOR CERTIFICATION AS A NEW QUALIFIED APPLICATOR SHALL SUBMIT TO THE DIVISION A FULL SET OF FINGERPRINTS AND

FEES AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 41-1750. THE DIRECTOR SHALL SUBMIT THE

FINGERPRINTS AND FEES TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY FOR THE PURPOSE OF OBTAINING A STATE AND FEDERAL CRIMINAL RECORDS CHECK PURSUANT TO SECTION 41-1750 AND PUBLIC LAW 92-544. THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY MAY EXCHANGE THIS FINGERPRINT DATA WITH THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION.

So to whom does this apply? The law draws a distinction between a certified applicator and a certified qualified applicator. Here are the relevant definitions:

    • “Certified applicator” means an individual who is licensed by the division to provide pest management services in accordance with this chapter.
    • “Certified qualified applicator” means a certified applicator who is eligible to act as a qualifying party.

But, the law does not define qualified applicator. It defines certified qualified applicator and certified applicator but now we are faced with a requirement for the qualified applicator. This writer believes the bills intends to apply to certified qualified applicators or those we used to call qualifying parties who first apply. However, it is not clear. The industry needs clarification. Confusion such as this can lead to different results. One result is that only Certified Qualified Applicators who apply must get fingerprinted. But another possible result is that all applicators who first apply must be fingerprinted. We want to clarify this so the industry can act in accordance with the law. This kind of confusion can lead to enforcement with little direction. Must you fingerprint all applicator candidates of only CQA’s?