Posts Tagged ‘divorce attorney’

TEMPE AND MESA ARIZONA DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW LAWYER DISCUSSES BUSINESS VALUATIONS

Monday, July 30th, 2012

 

Arizona Divorces, Equitable Division of Assets and Debts, Including Complex Business Valuations:

Submitted by Attorney Douglas C. Gardner

Under Arizona law, the Court must equitably divide the assets and debts of the parties involved in a divorce case.  The general rule is that the equitable division will also be an equal division, though there are some exceptions where an un-equal division is considered equitable or fair by the Courts. 

Many assets and debts are simple enough to divide.  If there is $1,000.00 in a bank account, each party simply takes $500.00.  If one side already took $400.00, then of the remaining $600.00, one party will receive another $100.00, and the other party will get the $500.00. 

Similarly, with debts, each party is generally required to pay 50% of the debts.  Sometimes a house can be sold and the equity can be used first to pay down the debts.  Sometimes one party will do a balance transfer of 50% onto a different card, and each party will then be required to pay their 50% off at their own pace. 

Retirement accounts such as 401(K) accounts can be divided quite readily, though doing so may require a court order or complex paperwork.  The concept though is the same in that each party will get 50%. 

By settlement of the parties, and occasionally by court order, certain items are offset against other items.  The Court may give Husband the $500 pink sewing machine and give Wife the $500 orange chain saw, which would be an equitable division as each party has an item of equal value. 

Some care must be taken when using offsets or setoffs.  For example, $1000 in a savings account is not equal to $1000 in an IRA or 401(k).  The $1000.00 in the savings account has already had the taxes paid.  The $1000 in the IRA or 401(K) will require taxes of approximately 20% and a penalty in most cases of about 10%.  So the $1000 IRA or 401(K) nets only about $700.00 and the $1000.00 in the savings account nets the full $1000.  Similar issues result in property, real estate, stock, and businesses that have capital gains and other tax issues involved.  A qualified and experienced attorney should be able to help you understand the principles, and a CPA or accountant should be able to help you specifically quantify these valuation issues.

Having been involved in many complex divorces, an issue that often arises is the division of a business owned by one or both of the parties.  In cases where one party owned the business prior to the marriage, the other party may still have some claim to a part of the business.  In cases where the business was purchased or built during the marriage, the business must be equitably divided. 

Sometimes the easiest way is to sell the business and each party receives 50% of the net sales proceeds.  This makes things simpler for both parties, both attorneys, and the Judge.  However, in many cases the business is not one that is easily sold, or the business is the livelihood of one of the parties.  In these cases the business may be sold by the community to one of the individuals, or rather the purchasing party will pay the other party 50% of the value of the business. 

Figuring out the value of the business can be expensive and complex.  An appraisal for most houses costs $300-$400, and these can usually be obtained quite quickly.  The abundance of houses, all somewhat similar to one another (most have a kitchen, a family room, a few bedrooms and bathrooms) allow for comparable sales to be used to quickly identify the going rate for houses of a certain size and in a certain location.  With businesses, they are much less one size fits all.  Some businesses such as accounting or medical practices are service related.  Other businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores are retail, merchandise, or goods related.  Some businesses own the real estate used, while others rent or lease.  Some businesses are very risky and demand much higher returns.  Some businesses have intense competition, while other businesses have unique niches. 

Having been involved in many divorces including businesses, and having an accounting, finance and business background myself, I have seen how important it is to have businesses professionally evaluated.  Sometimes this can cost a few thousand dollars, but think for a moment what the cost to just guessing would be.  Hypothetically, the parties “guess” the business to be worth $300,000.00.  A business valuation would have cost $3,000.00.  Each party would have paid half of the business valuation.  If the “guess” is off by more than $3,000.00, one party will get burned.  What if the business was really worth $320,000.00 instead of $300,000.00?  The receiving party would receive $160,000 instead of $150,000.00 for half of the business.   This small difference in value would have easily justified the cost of the business valuation. 

There are some cases where the business is a very small business, or a new business with lots of debt, that is simply not worth much.  In these cases the business may not merit a full blown appraisal or valuation.  There are some options that can be considered to help both parties make appropriate decisions in such cases. 

Once the value of the business is determined, the parties need to ensure that certain adjustments are considered.  A business worth $500,000.00 may not automatically require a buyout of $250,000.00.  What if the business has debts of $400,000.00?  The net value of the business may then be only $100,000.00.  

A more complex adjustment is for anticipated capital gains tax.  If a business has been largely depreciated, upon the sale (other than a sale to a spouse as part of a divorce) the sale will trigger capital gains tax on the business.  This can be up to 20% of the purchase price (and subject to change as tax laws seem to do from time to time).  A business worth $500,000.00 could have a built in $100,000.00 of capital gains tax that would need to be considered and adjusted as appropriate.  This is more complex as there is uncertainty as to when the business would actually sell, and what the future capital gains tax would be. 

If you are involved in a divorce case involving simple or complex asset and debt issues and want experienced legal representation, please call 800-899-2730 and ask to speak with Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.

A Financial Benefit to Paying Child Support

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Submitted by Attorney Kirk Smith

 

There is a general discontent among those who must pay child support. The consensus among them is not that they are unwilling to financially support their children; but rather, that they seemingly overcompensate the primary physical custodian for the expenses of the children, as these expenses fall appreciably lower than the child support they owe. Notwithstanding this perceived inequity, there is some consultation for child support obligors, as their tax liabilities generally decrease due to paying child support.

 

When child support is calculated each parent will be obligated to pay a specific percentage of the total amount calculated. How this plays out typically is that the primary physical custodian will pay nothing directly to the non-custodial parent, but the non-custodial parent will pay a specified sum each month to the primary physical custodian. For the purpose of this discussion do not get caught up in the fact that the primary physical custodian typically pays nothing directly to the non-custodial parent despite being allocated a percentage of the child support obligation.

 

An example of how these percentages might be allocated is; the primary physical custodian would be obligated to pay 20% of the total amount of child support calculated and the non-custodial parent would be obligated to pay 80% of the total amount of the child support calculated.

 

The family law courts will use these percentages under Number 27 of the Appendix of Arizona Revised Statutes 25-320, to determine the allocation between the parties of the dependent tax benefit, for the years following the divorce or separation.

 

Number 27 of the Appendix of Arizona Revised Statutes 25-320 states;

 

All the federal and state tax exemptions applicable to the minor children shall be allocated between the parents as they agree, or, in the absence of their agreement, in a manner that allows each parent to claim allowable federal dependency exemptions proportionate to adjusted gross income…To implement this provision, the proportionate share of the combined adjusted gross income of both parents is rounded to the nearest fraction with a denominator no larger than 5 (i.e. 1/2, 1/3, 2/3, 1/4, 3/4, 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, 4/5).

 

Applying this statute to the above example, and assuming that the parties have only 1 child, the non-custodial parent would receive the dependent tax benefit 4 out of the next 5 years. Looking at the years following the divorce or separation, 80% of 5 years is four years. The percentage then used to determine each parent’s child support obligation is also used to determine who receives the dependent tax benefit each year.

 

Figuring out who receives the dependent tax benefit can become more complicated with multiple children between the parties, however, the aforementioned principles still apply. Child support obligors then can take a measure of solace that even though their finances will diminish due to their child support obligation; their finances typically increase when it comes to receiving their yearend tax refund. 

If you are in need of legal counsel and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please call 800 899-2730  or visit our website at www.yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com. or www.davismiles.com

 

 

Strategic Reasons for Being Nice-Custody Determination

Friday, June 8th, 2012

 

Submitted by Attorney Kirk Smith

 

In many cases, parents divorcing, or parents who were not married but are now separating, will fight a merciless custody battle for their children. The extreme acrimony attendant with such battles, in my experience, can have a very real impact on the children of these divorces. Increased cooperation between the parents lessens this emotional impact, and by itself, should be sufficient incentive for most parents to “play nice” during the subsequent legal process.  

 

None the less is there a strategic reason for one parent to be gracious to the other, outside altruism, that benefits them in the court’s final custody determination?  

 

In most cases one parent will become the primary physical custodian of the children, meaning that that parent will have the children at their residence the majority of the time each week. There are specific statutory factors the family law court examines when determining who becomes the primary physical custodian of the children. See Generally A.R.S. §25-403. 

 

One of the factors the court looks at in determining who should receive primary physical custodianship is;

 

Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent. This paragraph does not apply if the court determines that a parent is acting in good faith to protect the child from witnessing an act of domestic violence or being a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.A.R.S. § 25-403 (6)

Of course in some cases the other parent is a real danger to the children therefore it is necessary to diminish that other parent’s time with the children or ask that it be supervised. More often then not, however, both parents are usually suitable to care for the children, and an attempt to completely eliminate the other parent’s time with the children will be seen by the court negatively. The parent trying to “thwart” the other parent’s visitation with the children then could seriously and detrimentally effect that parent’s  chance of becoming the primary physical custodian because that parent did not “allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent.”

If you are in need of legal counsel and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please call 800 899-2730  or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com. or www.davismiles.com

A rule of thumb, assuming that the other parent is not a danger to the children, is to allow and encourage the other parent’s time with the children. This does not mean that you must have a half time schedule with the other parent, nor does it mean that anytime the other parent asks for time it must be provided. What it does mean is that going to extremes by trying to eliminate the other parent’s access to the children without good cause, strategically speaking, can backfire and decrease your chances of gaining the final custody determination from the court you wish.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY DAVIS MILES MCGUIRE GARDNER

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

 A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so. Mahatma Gandhi 

This June marks our one-year anniversary of merging two strong law firms, Davis Miles and McGuire Gardner.

Choosing to merge was not a difficult decision when you consider the benefits our clients now have available to them. The objective was and is to provide a convenient spectrum of legal services while maintaining our high standards.

Davis Miles McGuire Gardner now has over 50 attorneys in 27 practices including, Arbitration, Bankruptcy, Commercial Collections Corporate/LLC, Criminal & DUI, Estate Planning, Family Law, Immigration, Intellectual Property, Litigation, Mergers & Acquisitions, Real Estate, Tax Law, Trusts & Estates/Planning, and more.

A vital business practice is monitoring and measuring our success and recognizing what areas we need to improve.  At Davis Miles McGuire Gardner we are pleased that our commitment to professional standards of conduct was recognized by Martindale-Hubbell’s who awarded us the highest ratings.  Another litmus test is other firms and peers. In a peer review we ranked at the highest level.

As a result of our continued efforts to meet and surpass our clients expectations, DAVIS MILES MCGUIRE GARDNER continues to serve as the provider law firm for LegalShield (PrePaid Legal). Legal Shield continues to provide outstanding legal counsel to their growing clientele in New Mexico and Arizona.

The merger of these two firms is only part of the process in creating an all-encompassing firm for our clients and their needs. We will continue to seek out the best attorneys who are equally dedicated to serving our clients with integrity, consideration and respect. 

If you are in need of legal counsel and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please call 800 899-2730  or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com. or www.davismiles.com

 

 

ARIZONA DIVORCE: WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF A DIVORCE IS COMING

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Tempe Arizona Divorce Lawyer Discusses Steps That Should Be Taken To Protect Yourself If A Divorce or Legal Separation Is Coming

 

 

Under Arizona law, as soon as the divorce case is filed and served upon the other person, and both parties are aware of the existence of the case, the Preliminary Injunction provides each party with certain protections such as preventing the other party from absconding with the children or assets. 

 

However, even before a case is filed, there are certain steps that should be taken to protect one’s self and to ensure that information remains available and obtainable.

 

As soon as you believe you will be going through a divorce, make sure you change your passwords to your computer, email accounts, blogs, cell phones, etc.  While some of the information on your electronic devices may need to be disclosed and provided, you will need to ensure that you have sole access to these lines of communication.  You want to ensure that if your attorney sends you attorney/client privileged communications by e-mail that only you will have access to these communications.

 

You should also ensure that you have safely written down the account numbers, account balances, and the name and address of any financial institution or retirement company with which you or your spouse have accounts.  This information can occasionally disappear once the divorce is filed, and while your attorney may be able to subpoena or otherwise obtain this information, this comes at a cost. 

 

You should also make a list of any valuable property that you brought into the marriage, or that you have received as a gift or as an inheritance.  Under Arizona law, these are likely to be determined to be your sole and separate property. 

 

You should make a separate list or inventory of every item of personal property that you and your spouse own.  This can be done with a video camera walking room to room and panning across each room to show the furniture and appliances in each room, or can be done by a spreadsheet or otherwise.  If for some reason you are unable to return to the marital home, you will want to have already completed this list ahead of time.

 

Finally, you will want to find a trusted friend or family member, with whom you can store this information and copies of any important documents that you do not want to disappear or become lost. 

 

If you are considering a divorce or legal separation, and would like to speak with an experienced family law attorney about your rights, responsibilities, and ways to protect yourself in your upcoming divorce, please call 800 899-2730 and ask to speak with attorney Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.

TEMPE AND MESA ARIZONA DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW LAWYER COMMENTS ON COMMON TAX ISSUES

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Arizona Divorce And Family Law Tax Issues Must Be Considered Year Around By Attorneys and Parties

In dealing with hundreds of divorce and family law cases, parties and even many lawyers often forget to include provisions regarding common tax treatment. These important financial issues should not be overlooked.  As the April tax deadline for 2011 is behind us, we must nonetheless continue to look at 2012 and future tax years in all settlement and trials.

The most common issues is the claiming of the children for tax exemptions.  Under the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules, the parent with whom the child resides the greater part of the year is entitled to claim the child as a general rule.  The Federal IRS rules do, however, allow for the State Court divorce judge to make a different allocation.  Under Arizona family law, the statute requires that in most cases the Judge must divide the claiming of the children proportionate to income.  As far as the IRS goes, this is taken care of by the use of form 8332 which can be found online or obtained through a tax preparer.

It is to the benefit of both parties to consider who will benefit most from the tax exemption.  In some cases in which one party will receive a substantially greater advantage than the other party, one party can be permitted to claim the child every year in exchange for an increase or decrease in child support.  This would be done by agreement of the parties and should be included in an Order signed by the Court.

Another common issue is whether to file jointly or separately.  It is often financially advantageous to file jointly, though in high conflict cases the difficulty in working together toward a common goal may outweigh the financial advantage.  The total tax return can be divided equally in some cases.  In other cases, it is more fair to calculate the two returns separately, and then determine how to split the incremental increase in the refund if the parties file jointly.  Talk with your tax preparer or CPA regarding filing jointly or separately, and work with your divorce or family law attorney to ensure that your agreement is written in such a way to maximize your tax benefit.

There are tax advantages to being able to file as the head of household.  Generally this can be claimed by the parent with the child the majority of the time.  If divorcing couples have more than one child, they may each be able to claim at least one child as the head of household.  This should be reviewed by your tax preparer or CPA, and worked through with your divorce and family law attorney.

In some cases, it may be advantageous to file single, rather than married filing separately.  Even if your divorce case has not concluded, there are specific rules that when applicable may allow a party to file a single.  These rules include maintaining a separate residence for all of the past six months of the taxable year, and maintaining over half of the cost of maintaining the home.  You should work through these issues with your tax preparer or CPA, and work with your divorce lawyer to ensure that any agreements or court orders permit you to file as you have been advised by your tax professional.

Because the tax issues can be complex, you should ensure that you work with an experienced family law attorney or divorce lawyer.  If you are involved in a divorce or custody case, and are looking for experienced representation involving tax issues or other complex issues, please call 800 899-2730 and ask to speak with attorney Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.