Holidays and Parenting Time in Arizona

January 15th, 2018

The end-of- the-year holiday season is typically the biggest time of the year for many families to get together. If the parents are divorced, the Christmas season could bring forth new disputes. It’s very important to protect children from any sort of drama during the holiday weeks, especially when they expect to spend their school vacation enjoying themselves. In Arizona, the divorce decree usually also includes a separate parenting time plan that lays out who time is shared over the holidays.


Holiday Parenting Time Under Arizona Law


The family courts in Arizona have a statutory requirement for divorcing couples with children to provide a holiday schedule. Under A.R.S. §25-403.02 (C), this plan must include a “practical schedule” for how parenting time is allocated during the holidays. There should be specifications for with whom the child would reside, how the child should be transported, and a reconciliation method in case disputes arise.

Parents should specifically arrange a parenting time plan for the year-end holidays. Unlike other vacation times, the November-December period involves many public holidays, seasonal celebrations, and family gatherings. The child might require transportation more so than during other long holidays like the summer vacation. It’s highly recommended that divorcing parents get family law help in Scottsdale to come up with a reasonable plan.


Organizing a Parenting Time Plan for the Holidays


Very generally speaking, parenting plans during the holidays can be developed in three primary ways. First, some parents agree to have the children for Christmas every other year. For example, mom could have the kids for Christmas and Thanksgiving during even years, and dad during the odd years. Some parents divide holiday time evenly during the day. For example, the kids would spend Christmas mornings with mom and the evenings with dad. Other parents designate certain holidays for themselves. For example, the kids may spend every Thanksgiving with mom and Christmas with dad.

Of course, parenting plans can be adjusted according to different religions and cultures. Adjustments can also be made depending on the vacation time the parent gets. However, it’s very important to have the holiday season planned ahead and in writing. The arrangements are ideally made months in advance unless it’s already specified during the finalization of the divorce. But practical concerns do arise every year, so ex-spouse’s with children should make arrangements early.


Be Specific with the Details


More importantly, divorcing parents must make sure the parenting plan is highly specific. For example, separating parents may decide to give mom the kids for Christmas during even years. But that’s a very basic provision. Is “Christmas” limited to just Christmas day? Will the children require transportation from parent to parent? On which day and at what time will the kids be dropped off and picked up again? These specifics should be handled in the parenting plan.

How to Handle Debt and Other Financial Problems in 2018

January 8th, 2018

A brand new year is here, bringing with it exciting new possibilities. Some possibilities in 2018, however, will not be exciting for some Arizona households. According to a recent study published by TransUnion, a credit reporting agency, consumer credit card debt will increase this year for the fifth consecutive time. Earlier this year, the amount of credit card debt American households owned reached a whopping $1 trillion. By next year, market research shows that many households would significantly struggle to pay off that debt.

Despite a strong economy, American households continue to amass debt. Credit cards are not the only culprit. A significant number of households are indebted due to unsecured loans like payday loans. This is in addition to typical loans like a home mortgage and student loans. While 2018 may be a good year in economic terms, it will also be a year many Arizonian households and individuals grapple with debt. Here are several debt management tips to keep in mind:


Avoid Taking on New Debt


Remember that any money you borrowed for the holidays will have to be paid off this year. If you are already in debt, it’s not a good idea to take on even more debt. Use your income or savings for holiday activities like parties and vacations and avoid borrowing more money overall. Control your spending habits right now to start reducing your debt gradually this year.


Talk to a Lawyer Regarding a Debt Relief Strategy


If the debts have piled up high already, the creditor may start suing you next year. Therefore, consult with a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale to formulate a strategy to get rid of at least some of that debt. You can consider filing for bankruptcy if you find yourself literally unable to make payments. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows judges to discharge certain forms of unsecured debt, like credit card debt and payday loans. Ask a lawyer whether filing for bankruptcy would make financial sense in the coming year.


Negotiate with Creditors


If there are creditors calling, demanding that you pay back a loan, there are several options you can consider here. First, if the creditor is abusive and is subjecting you to harassment, you could consider taking legal action against creditor harassment. If the creditor’s communication tactics are legitimate, you can try negotiating. Creditors prefer to have their loans paid back at least partially than to have a bankruptcy court discharge the debt. Therefore, if you are unable to meet due payments, try to negotiate the interest rate or request an extension. Your lawyer may be able to assist.

Last but not least, save for emergencies. The start of the year is a great time to open a new savings account. When you have money saved for tough times, it will eliminate the need to take on personal loans or use expensive credit cards.

Should You Rush to Get a Divorce before 2019?

January 1st, 2018

There’s been some public speculation in Arizona that couples who want to get a divorce should rush to do so before 2019 rolls around. The reason is the GOP tax bill that has now become law. The new law contains an eyebrow-raising provision that will eliminate the tax deduction for alimony and spousal maintenance.


The Truth about the “Divorce Penalty” in the New GOP Tax Bill


The elimination of the tax deduction for alimony will only go into effect on December 31, 2018. That means couples who divorce before this date can still benefit from the tax deduction. In other words, no, you don’t have to rush to get a divorce before 2019. However, you might want to consider getting a divorce before 2019 to still benefit from the deduction. Seeing that most divorces can take a year or longer to complete, if you are a high net worth or high-income spouse with a long-term marriage and you are considering exiting the marriage, 2018 might be the best time to do it to preserve the tax deductibility of any spousal maintenance you are ordered to pay.

Once the new law goes into effect in 2019, taxpayers in Arizona will not be able to deduct any alimony payments from overall taxable income. Alimony recipients, on the other hand, will not need to report the payment as taxable income anymore. Put another way, spousal maintenance payments will simply be cash out from the payor spouse and cash into the recipient spouse with no impact on either party’s tax returns.


How will the Revised Tax Law Affect Your Divorce Settlement?


It’s important to keep in mind that the new law only affects those who get divorced after New Year’s Eve of 2018. If you are currently in the midst of a divorce negotiating alimony, the new tax law does not need to cause any disputes. Critics of the divorce penalty have argued that the new law would put an excessive financial strain on the ex-spouse that pays alimony or child support. However, these concerns should not affect those who plan to finalize their divorces in 2018.

According to a divorce lawyer in Scottsdale, if divorce settlements are renegotiated after the deduction extension period, the new settlements may be allowed under the tax bill to include language that still allows for the alimony deduction.


Divorcing in 2018 and Beyond


As we push into 2018, it is wise to consult with an attorney to carefully phrase the language in divorce settlements currently being negotiated. There could be additional laws in the future that addresses issues with child support if any arises because of the elimination of the spousal maintenance tax deduction.

In any case, it is not wise to rush a divorce settlement because of a single tax clause. Do consult with your attorneys to makes sure the final settlement is exactly what you need. If children are involved in the divorce, their well-being should be prioritized, as it would be by the courts.

The Truth about Holiday Season “Bad Credit” Loans

December 25th, 2017

The holiday season is finally over. Among the flurry of deals and discounts consumers typically get when shopping, there are also seemingly lucrative deals for borrowing money. Most consumers use credit cards or otherwise borrow money to spend during the holidays, hoping to pay it all off next year. Not everyone gets their yearly bonus in advance. Arizonians and Americans, in general, have a very complicated relationship with debt. Consumers can be highly unrestrained when it comes to borrowing money. This is why most people still end up with so-called “bad credit” loans that they can’t pay off. Borrowing money when your credit score is already low can send you spiraling straight into a debt trap. Therefore, when you see advertisements for payday loans or bad credit loans, keep the following information in mind:


“Bad Credit” Loans May Come with Sky High-Interest Rates


These bad credit loans are a form of payday loans. Lenders that offer loans like this target borrowers who are ineligible for conventional loans because of existing debt. If a person’s credit score is low, it indicates prior debt problems, and possibly even personal bankruptcy. Legitimate lenders, like banks, do not typically allow people with bad credit to borrow more. Additionally, people with bad credit may have been maxed out of credit cards. So this group of borrowers is desperate and ripe for exploitation.


Loans for borrowers with bad credit are easy to get, but not so easy to pay off. These loans do not typically require collateral but come associated with sky-high interest rates akin to typical payday loans. Unless you pay off one of these loans right away, you may end up with serious debt next year.


What to Do When You Have Too Much Unsecured Debt


If you are nose-deep in debt because of unsecured loans, there are still positives to look forward to. These loans have no associated collateral, so you don’t have to worry about losing a house or a car. If the debt has piled up high and you can no longer afford to pay it all back, then you can consider filing for bankruptcy. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy law, unsecured debt, including payday loans, can be discharged. Consult a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale to know if you are eligible for a Chapter 7 filing.


Bankruptcy is not the only option to consider. Debtors can negotiate with creditors to bring down the interest rate or pay only a part of the loan. If a creditor is verbally abusive towards you demanding payment, you can file a creditor harassment complaint. There are new protections for consumers against loan sharks who mislead borrowers about financial tools like bad credit or payday loans. In these situations, you can find debt relief with legal assistance.


Avoiding Bad Credit Loans in the New Year


You don’t have to file for bankruptcy or hire a lawyer if you are not in debt. Therefore, the best way to avoid being burdened by personal loans in 2018 is not to borrow them in the first place.

If the debt is an issue, don’t borrow more to finance more shopping or vacations. Save money instead. If you are in dire need of credit, consider obtaining a legitimate loan where the interest rate is not so high.

Why January Sees a Surge in Divorce Filings

December 18th, 2017

The holiday season is in full swing right now. Everyone expects a great start for the New Year, especially families. However, come January, we will also see a rise in divorce filings, according to data from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”). During the months of January in the past several years, AAML data shows between a 25 to 30 percent increase in divorce filings nationwide. This trend isn’t confined to the US either. Researchers have observed it in the UK as well.

In other words, one in five couples gets a divorce in January after the holidays. What could be driving this trend and should married couples be worried? How can family law help in Scottsdale assist in a post-holiday divorce? Read below to find out:

Driving Forces Behind Post-Holiday Divorce Filings

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly one cause for why people file for divorce so soon after the holidays. It could be that most people want to start a new year with a clean slate. If the marriage has been experiencing severe problems in the past year, then it makes sense to start the New Year with a divorce and hope for the best in the future.

The holiday season itself could be a driving force behind the divorce. Families get together for important events like Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means staying together, often with extended family, in the house without that many excuses to leave. Instead of bringing people together, the holidays can also exacerbate problems that drive people toward separation. The holiday time can exert pressure to present a happy face and pretend that everyone in the family is doing fine. It can take a toll on the psyche.   Many spouses see January as their first real time to flee the marriage without doing so during the holiday crush.

The holidays can also make financial problems worse, one of the main reasons behind the divorce. People spend enormous amounts of money shopping for the holidays, throwing holiday parties and enjoying vacations. When the final credit card bill arrives, marital fighting ensues, and the marriage is broken beyond repair come January.

Reasons Not to Rush a Post-Holiday Divorce

Anger and tension can be high when the holidays end. But like all things in life, it can be unwise to rush towards a divorce according to marriage experts and even some divorce lawyers. In states like Arizona, divorce can be expensive and protracted because courts are overwhelmed with so many cases. Besides, Arizona is a community property state, where all assets acquired during the marriage are presumably distributed equally, despite the income levels of each spouse. Contesting such distributions in court can prove costly in time, treasure and emotion.

It’s best to consider alternatives before rushing to separate from a spouse. For example, divorce lawyers in Scottsdale can help you and your spouse mediate differences in marriage. The couple can consider the possibility of divorce and see how assets may be divided before going to court. It’s best to negotiate a separation without contesting everything in a full-fledged litigation. A temporary legal separation is also an option for those who don’t want to divorce, who want to continue to be on each other’s health insurance and other issues.

Instead of rushing to file for a January divorce, think about the end game. What will happen to kids, pets, or elderly dependents? What about finances for the rest of the year and health insurance? Consult a lawyer regarding all of this before going to divorce court.  You can confidentially consult that lawyer in December, January or any other month of the year. Don’t rush—instead be smart, prudent and calculating to maximize your property recovery and your emotional health.