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Who gets what? Property division in Arizona divorces

In what might be the largest divorce settlement ever across the pond, the wife of a British hedge fund manager is seeking a portion of the substantial assets she and her husband have accumulated. As a hedge fund manager, the husband oversees more than $4 billion, and together, the couple have donated over $1 billion through the charitable organization they founded in 2003. The wife is the CEO of the organization and places its value at up to $5 billion. The couple, who met while students at Harvard University, were in court last week to negotiate a settlement.

Arizona couples going through the divorce process may not have quite the net worth of this couple, but property division is still going to be a part of the process. All divorcing couples, regardless of the amount of assets involved, will be required to complete paperwork and make disclosures regarding property owned or acquired during the marriage. In Arizona and other community property states, the division is a bit different than in some states.

If divorcing in Arizona, are you liable for your dead ex's debts?

Some divorced couples breathe a sigh of relief once the final documents are signed. This could be for many reasons, but one reason is probably because they think they are finally off the hook when it comes to their former spouse's debt. From this day forward, they think, I'm no longer responsible for someone else's money issues. But is that really true? In community property states like Arizona, it may not be.

In these states, when it comes to property division, the assets and debts are often shared. So it makes sense that if a married couple entered into a loan together, or had a joint credit card, the court tells each person to pay a portion of the balance due. For example, one ex-spouse pays his or her share, but the other doesn't and the one who didn't pay dies. It's entirely possible that the creditor may come knocking on the door of the living ex-spouse, the one who already paid what he or she was supposed to pay.

Arizona's Sheriff Arpaio seeks out those owing child support

Whether celebrated or vilified, most will admit that Maricopa County's Sheriff Joe Arpaio gets results. This was once again demonstrated this past Father's Day, when Sheriff's Deputies and volunteers went out in search of men and women with outstanding warrants. Specifically, the people they went looking for were all parents who were not paying their child support as ordered. With about 300 outstanding warrants received by the Sheriff's Office each year, deputies take certain days, such as Father's Day, Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, to focus on executing the warrants.

While most law enforcement offices don't spend their holidays seeking out those who fail to pay child support, issuing a warrant is a method of trying to ensure support orders are paid. Other methods include wage garnishment, tax liens and suspending driver and professional licenses. Some people who don't pay as they should do so as a deliberate choice, even if they have the financial means. And some simply fall behind because they don't have the money.

Child support orders and modifications in Arizona

Arizona parents going through the divorce process may be interested in hearing about an unusual twist concerning child support payments. A couple in Iowa were divorced in 2004 and for years afterward, they fought over the terms of their divorce settlement and custody of their children. In 2011, the ex-wife was convicted of first-degree murder and incarcerated. Despite her conviction and loss of custody of her children, a judge ruled that her ex-husband had to pay her back child support and divorce settlement payments.

Earlier this year, the Sac County Attorney's Office petitioned the Court to garnish the child support payments being received by the woman. The Office asked that some of the money go towards the amount the ex-wife owes in restitution to her victim's family. The ex-wife's attorney argued that the money should instead go to family members who have helped financially support the children. In the end, the judge directed the payments to the victim's family, noting that the ex-wife does not need any financial support, as she is incarcerated and no longer has custody of the children.

Assets could be hidden using digital currency

Arizona residents who use Bitcoin and are undergoing a divorce may be interested to learn about a budding issue relating to the electronic currency: divorce courts and lawyers are becoming increasingly aware of the ability of soon-to-be-spouses to hide assets using Bitcoins. During the divorce process, both spouses are asked to fully disclose their income and all financial assets. This information is used to help determine property division, as well as how much one party should pay in alimony or spousal support. Some would rather pay less, so they attempt to hide their assets.

Some have found that one way to do this is to transfer money to Bitcoins, which are largely anonymous, and then not include them in the financial divorce paperwork. However, before this trend takes off, lawyers and courts are stepping up to put a stop to it. According to one news story, lawyers may start including digital currency specificallly in the list of items for the other party to disclose. California courts have already issued search and discovery warrants specifically mentioning digital currency.

Ex-husband of "Breaking Bad" actress seeks child support payments

Parenthood often means making difficult decisions regarding children. This is especially true for parents dealing with a divorce. Arizona parents are aware that child custody and child support decisions are not easily made during a divorce, and they often create tension and arguments between parents. They can greatly affect the divorcing spouses, as well as the children, during dissolution and post-divorce. Even when an amicable child support arrangement is reached, the agreement might later require modification or enforcement.

"Breaking Bad" actress Anna Gunn was recently asked for child support from her ex-husband. The couple split in 2008, which was also the year the hit show premiered. The two finalized their divorce in 2009 and reached an agreement regarding support for their two daughters. According to reports, the former couple agreed that Gunn would provide child support for a short amount of time. This would help cover the costs accrued for raising their two daughters.

How to prepare for child custody mediation

Arizona residents in the process of divorcing are likely aware of how much is involved. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, matters such as property division and alimony often must be settled in court. What's more, with children involved, it can become all the more complicated. Oftentimes, child support arrangements must be settled, along with child custody. These issues can be a source of great stress for parents.

However, some of this stress can be alleviated with preparation. Some parents will be able to work out a child custody plan with a mediator. Knowing what to expect in child custody mediation can help parents present a clear case and fight for an arrangement that best suits their needs and the needs of their children.

Child support in Arizona: collection efforts and modifications

Arizona parents with a child support order may be interested to learn about new efforts states are taking to collect child support payments. Currently, when a parent isn't paying as ordered, many states will garnish wages, withhold tax returns, deny passports or suspend business licenses. But there are limitations to these efforts. For example, states may not be able to impose the penalties if the paying parent has remarried, as the new spouse cannot be penalized for the parent-spouse's failure to pay.

To strengthen collection efforts, forty-four states are now allowing the private sector to help. For instance, some states allow the parent owed money to hire a collection agency, while other states allow their own child support services agency to hire an agency. In each instance, the collection agency will take up efforts to gather the money owed from the parent who isn't paying, much like a bank hires a debt collection agency to recoup unpaid credit card debts.

What if parents have no formal child custody agreement?

Arizona parents going through a divorce may be interested in hearing about a man in another state facing criminal charges for alleged custodial interference. Supposedly, the man kept his two-year-old daughter from her mother and took their child to another state, without consent. As the man took his daughter across state lines, the charge is federal custodial interference, which carries a potential sentence of up to five years in prison.

The case stems from a child custody dispute and the failure of the man to return his daughter after a scheduled visit. An arrest warrant was issued and the child returned after the man was taken into custody. Interestingly, no formal custody order or agreement exists between the mother and father. The mother filed for legal custody this past January, but a hearing has not yet occurred. The parties did have a verbal custody agreement. That along with the father's calls stating he would not return the child was apparently enough for the police to act.

Child custody agreements and modifications in Arizona

The saga continues. Last week, we learned that celebrity Bethenny Frankel refused her estranged husband's request for a lump sum of $10 million to settle their divorce. After 15 months, the two have still not finalized their divorce case. One of the issues is Jason Hoppy's claim that he helped Ms. Frankel build her Skinnygirl Cocktails company, a business she reportedly sold for $100 million in 2011. He wants a portion of the proceeds.

Another issue is custody of their 3-year-old daughter. Ms. Frankel is said to want full custody with visitation rights for Mr. Hoppy, while he wants joint custody. Arizona divorcing couples may find familiarity in the request, or at least in the notion of determining child custody rights. While most judges prefer the parents come to an agreement themselves on matters such as joint and legal custody, visitation rights, holidays and summers, some divorcing couples will not be able to reach a mutual understanding. In these instances, the judge will determine the custody arraignment.

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