When a couple comes to terms with the fact that they will be seeking a divorce, the next natural step is to begin discussing the issues of custody, property division, spousal support, and similar matters. These discussions are important because, if couples are able to resolve these matters privately, they can save a significant amount of money on litigation. It is not always possible, of course, for couples to resolve their disputes privately. In some cases, there is too much hostility or difference of opinion for couples to do so. Even in cases where couples are able to come to an agreement, they still need to make sure they work with an experienced attorney to ensure their rights are protected and their interests advocated.
In our last post, we spoke very briefly about divorce decrees, what they are and generally what they cover. As we mentioned, it is important to work with an experienced attorney in negotiating with a spouse on divorce issues and in representing one's case before a judge. It can also be important, though, to work with an experienced attorney after a divorce decree is entered.
There are a number of issues that can come up in connection with a divorce decree after the process is completed, and it is often necessary for parties to go back to the court and ask for changes to be made. Post-decree petitions, as they are called, are filed with the aim of modifying or enforcing court orders.
We have previously spoken on this blog about the best interests of the child standard and how critical it is for judges when making child custody determinations. One of the things that can sometimes come into consideration when making best interests determinations is the way a child's parents use social media. In a time when so many people use Facebook and similar websites, it is important to consider how one's use of social media could impact court proceedings.
Increasingly, comments made online are being used in divorce and child custody cases. Because of the frankness with which people sometimes communicate online, there is the potential that online comments can be used in court to show that a parent may not be the best person to take custody of a child, whether because they demonstrate a propensity to violence, mental instability, or because of some other factor impacting the child's best interests.
In our last post, we began speaking about how the use-or rather abuse-of social media can impact child custody cases. The issue is an important one in a time when many people make use of social media to communicate with one another, including couples who are going through divorce or child custody proceedings.
We have already described a couple examples of how social media use can negatively impact a parent's child custody case. Another example, besides communications suggesting a desire to alienate the other parent from the child's affection and those involving threats or suggestions of violence, would be comments demonstrating less than savory aspects of a parent's current lifestyle. This can include the quality of company a parent keeps. Because children will be exposed to this company and these behaviors, judges are able to consider these things when considering custody.
In our last post, we began discussing the topic of business valuation and how business owners can protect their business assets with a prenuptial agreement. Short of having an effective prenuptial agreement, business assets are divided according to the principles of state law.
When business assets are part of the picture during divorce, things can get somewhat complicated when it comes to division. Although there are a variety of potentially sticky circumstances that can arise, we'd like to look briefly at two particular ones which we have highlighted on our firmsite, and some of the issues that can come up in these cases.
Business valuation is an important task and skill, constituting both an art and a science, as a recent article in The Lane Report noted. Business valuation could be called a science because it involves precise knowledge about how to accurately calculate the value of a business. It could also be called an art, though, because there is no set way to do it, and it usually involves some degree of skillfulness based on experience regarding the most appropriate way to approach valuation.
There are a variety of reasons why a businessperson might seek out a business valuation, including estate planning, retirement, merger or acquisition, or litigation. Another reason might be divorce. In divorce, business assets which are deemed to be marital are subject to division, and courts need to know exactly what a business is worth in order to determine property awards.
We've been talking a lot about property division lately in our posts, both with respect to the case of oil baron Harold Hamm and dealing with debt in prenuptial agreements. Here we'd like to take it a different direction and discuss an issue that is important for many people going through divorce. This is the issue of how the family home is dealt with in divorce.
The family home is, for many couples, the largest asset they own. Unfortunately, dividing up the family home is not always an easy issue to settle, both because there can be disputes over who should get the home, the potential that one or both of the parties may be unable to keep the home on their own financial terms, and because of certain arrangements couples may enter into which could involve some risk.
In our last post, we began talking about the issue of keeping the family home in divorce, an issue which can be somewhat contentious in divorce. As we noted, couples are not always able from a financial standpoint to keep their home, especially when a refinance is not possible.
Where refinancing is possible, it is important to check title transfer documents to ensure everything is done correctly. It is also important for couples who have an agreement for one party to refinance the home to make sure in advance the refinance will go through. This can be done by asking the lender to run a credit check. If problems are likely to arise, changes in the agreement can be negotiated.
In our last post, we began speaking about addressing debt in prenuptial agreements. As we noted, Arizona law provides specific guidelines for how community and separate debts are to be paid in the event of divorce, and it is important to be aware of these before hammering out a prenuptial agreement.
Prenuptial agreements, of course, can effectively trump state property division laws and this is why they are such a great tool for financial protection for the wealthy, or even the not so wealthy. When it comes to including debt in a prenuptial agreement, there are a variety of ways to proceed depending on the couple's circumstances and financial goals.
When most people hear about prenuptial agreements, they tend to think of an agreement that deals with how assets are to be divided in the event of divorce. This is correct, of course, but it is certainly not the whole picture, as prenuptial agreements can address a variety of other matters as well. One of the issues a prenup can and should address, but which is sometimes not thought about as much, is the division of debts in the event of divorce.
Under Arizona law, as in other states, there are default rules for how property and debt is handled in divorce and it is helpful to understand these when talking about prenuptial agreements. One of these rules is that the separate property of one spouse is not liable for the separate debts and obligations of the other spouse. Community property, however, can be liable for the premarital separate debts and liabilities of a spouse to the extent the indebted spouse contributed to community property. This, to be clear, is the amount of the community property which would have been the indebted spouse's separate property if he or she were single.