Saving Your Marriage

By James Jennings

I have people come into the office after they got served divorce papers and tell me that they don’t want to get divorced.  I also I people call me and tell me they want a divorce but their spouse will not sign the divorce documents because they won’t give them a divorce.  The grim reality is this: if someone wants out of a marriage in Arizona then the court is not going make two people stay married.  The court will grant the divorce.

This is not to say that there is no hope.  You can try counseling, you can take a break from one another by filing a legal separation instead of pursing the nuclear option (divorce).  You can try talking with one another -especially if children are involved and seeing what’s in their best interest.

The court also has some services that might be able to resolve your issues in a divorce.  One such service is Conciliation Services.  The process begins with filing a request – which Discount Divorce and Bankruptcy can assist you with.  Once the request is filed for Conciliation Services the court will put the divorce process on hold for 40 days.

The meeting with Conciliation Services is usually within 4 weeks of filing the request.  You’ll meet with a staff member who has at least a Master’s Degree in in Mental Health and 2 years of experience in counseling or social work.  These people can speak to each of you intelligently about parenting time disputes, legal decision making, and other family issues that may be of concern to you.

However, in the long run if Conciliation Services doesn’t work then it may be time to move on and accept the fact that the marriage is over.  You may have to learn to let go and focus on what’s best for the children and your life by concentrating the divorce case and navigating the best outcome for all involved.

I like what Tupac Shakur, an American rapper and actor said:

“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the [expletive] on.”

If you have any questions regarding a specific legal matter or legal strategy you should contact an attorney for legal advice.  If you would like to get started on a family law or bankruptcy case call us today, 602-896-9020, email us at discountdivorce@msn.com, or visit our website at DiscountDivorcePro.com.

We invite you to subscribe to Discount Divorce & Bankruptcy Twitter account: @discountdivorce and Facebook page: facebook.com/discountdivorce Both of these social media sites have value information.

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The Court’s Filing Fee

By James Jennings

When a case is prepared and ready to file the court will charge a filing fee.  You can think of a filing fee as a state or federal tax that is levied to issue you a case number.   The filing fee is collected for several purposes chiefly among those is the operation of the Clerk of the Court’s Office.  While still some of the funds are deposited in the expedited child support and parenting time fund established pursuant to Ariz.Rev.Stat. §25-412.  For a complete understanding as to what the funds are used for see Ariz.Rev.Stat. §25-284.

Each county in Arizona sets its own fee for each type of case that is filed.  For example Maricopa County charges a fee of $338 – as of the posting of this blog – to the Petitioner to initially file for divorce.  While in Pima County court charges a $298 filing fee. (It begs the question, so why doesn’t everyone file in the cheapest county?  Great question.  Mainly because you would be filing in the wrong venue which could have some adverse affects on your case.)  Still in some situations they charge nothing at all.  An example of this would be to file an Order of Protection in a domestic violence situation.

Also, keep in mind that the bankruptcy court has it’s own filing fee schedule, this  phenomenon is not limited to just the state court system, though I will mostly be writing about the state courts in this posting.  To file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy the Federal Court charges $335.

Filing Fee: Waivers and Deferrals

So what happens if you cannot afford the filing fee?  Three hundred thirty-eight dollars is a lot of money to pony up to be sure.  The good news is there is a system in place that address this issue.  If you cannot afford the filing fee you can apply to have it either waived or deferred.

The law –Ariz.Rev.Stat.12-302 -has a set of guidelines built in to help the court and their customers figure out who qualifies and who doesn’t when determining if the fee is either waived, deferred, or paid in full.

In a nutshell the law looks at the income of just the filing party and how many dependents they support.  It then takes into account the current poverty guidelines established by the Federal Government.

AJCA §5-206(E)(1) in part states:

The applicant has a gross income that as computed on a monthly basis is one hundred fifty per cent or less of the current poverty level established by the United States department of health and human services.

It goes on to further state some exceptions:The applicant’s income is considered to be sufficient, but the applicant provides proof of  extraordinary expenses, including medical expenses, costs of care for elderly or disabled family members or other expenses that are deemed extraordinary, that reduce the applicant’s gross monthly income to at or below one hundred fifty per cent of the current  poverty level established by the United States department of health and human services. Gross monthly income includes the applicant’s share of community property income.”

Also if you are receiving certain benefits like TANF or food stamps you may qualify as well.

“The temporary assistance for needy families program established by … the social security act ..”

The food stamp program …”

What is the Difference Between a Waiver and a Deferral?

A deferral means that you will be billed later.  Depending on your income, number of dependents and other factors you may have to pay a down payment of either $10 or 25% of the filing fee up front.  While in other situations you don’t have to pay anything at all up front to have your case filed.  Then the court will set you up on a payment plan.  A word of caution.  When you get the bill from the court, don’t ignore it.  They will send you to collections and take your tax returns until it is paid in full.

The income level table can be found at the Arizona Judicial Branch’s website  if you have time to search for it, or you can just contact a representative at Discount Divorce and Bankruptcy for more information.

If you still cannot afford the payment plan the court set you up on you can appeal it.  The court will review the appeal and make the appropriate determination on your ability to pay.

Now on the other-side of the coin a waiver is just that.  The court waives your fee and you don’t have to pay anything.    §5-206(F) says:

The court shall grant a waiver if the court finds that the applicant is permanently unable to pay or if the applicant establishes by affidavit, including supporting documentation, that the applicant is receiving benefits pursuant to the supplemental security income program (42 U.S.C. §§ 1381 through 1385).

In other words if your getting SSI there is a good chance they may waive your filing fee.

I should also mention that the Bankruptcy Court operates differently when it comes to waiver and deferrals.  In most cases everyone qualifies for a deferral as long as they put down at least $50 on the date they file their case. <

So if you’re like many thousands of Arizonians that are financially challenged and you have to file for a divorce, bankruptcy, or whatever and cannot come up with the court’s filing fee then there is help.

I like what Bill Gates, business magnate and philanthropist said, “I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.” And this is exactly what the lawmakers did.  They made a program to help those who have to file but are struggling to make it happen.

If you have any questions regarding a specific legal matter or legal strategy you should contact an attorney for legal advice.  If you would like to get started on a family law or bankruptcy case call us today, 602-896-9020, email us at discountdivorce@msn.com, or visit our website at DiscountDivorcePro.com.

We invite you to subscribe to Discount Divorce & Bankruptcy Twitter account: @discountdivorce and Facebook page: facebook.com/discountdivorce Both of these social media sites have value information.

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Handwriting: It’s Important.

By James Jennings

We all know what “ugly handwriting” looks like. It’s the exact opposite of those beautiful neat and often calligraphic looking works of art that we all envy.

Ugly handwriting has poor rhythm and many inconsistencies. I was told as a child by an unsympathetic nun -I went to a private school run by evil women in penguin suits- that my handwriting resembled a garden – a garden with weeds.  Well I couldn’t let that stand so I set to work to improve my handwriting.  My handwriting became such a model of perfection that to this day it hangs on display at St. Gregory’s Catholic School in the First Grade classroom.  Oh, and a quick shout out to Sister Thomas.  If it wasn’t for your cruel words of inspiration that cut like a Roman Scourge I wouldn’t be the man I am today, an over achieving prima donna with handwriting that could make an angel weep.

Well enough of my bragging.  Today, if you already haven’t guessed, I want to just say a few words about handwriting in general.   Now and again I have people come into the office and want to start a case with us.

Usually the first step in any case is gathering information.  To facilitate this we ask that our clients complete a questionnaire.  The questionnaire will ask important information like, what’s your name, what’s the name of the other party, where do you live, and the like.

However, some people, for some reason, don’t think it’s necessary or important that the staff here at Discount Divorce and Bankruptcy should be able to read the answers to these questions.  Well, nothing could be more important than being able to read your handwriting.  We want to do a good job after all.

Imagine this.  Imagine that you sat down with me to tell me about your case and you decided to put ear plugs in my ears.  Do you think that I would be able to hear you?  What if you thought it would be a good idea to speak to me in a foreign language like Swahili?  Do you think that there would be effective communication between the two us?  I bet not.  So why would you write so poorly as to make the information you are trying to convey so difficult to understand?  Why handicap your case from the very beginning?

Communication in any form, especially in the written form, is important.  If we cannot read your handwriting then it makes our job of getting your case done quickly and efficiently near impossible.

Not to put too fine a point on it but I will give you a real life example.  Last year I had a client come in to proof read and sign her documents.  She is a real sweetheart with a bubbly personality but her handwriting was horrible.  On her questionnaire that she filled out in the office she wrote what looked like an “s” but was actually a “g” in the spelling of her last name.

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The letter “g” looks like an “s”.

This “g” also fooled my proof reader into thinking it was an “s” as well. So we printed all of her documents prior to her coming in – close to fifty pages- and gave them to her to proof read.  This is when she told us that the name was spelled wrong.  We had to correct the name in ALL the paperwork. This name appeared in the documents more than 100 times.  It was her last name, the last name of her husband, and the last name of her three children.  That’s a lot of changes because of one little letter being poorly written.

Moreover, if she had not caught this error it would have seriously set her case back if it got filed with this mistake.  We would have to amend all the documents, ask the Court for permission to file them as amended (if it wasn’t caught soon enough), then refile them, and then re-serve them on her husband.  All this could set her case back 60 or more days in some situations.  Moreover, this would cost her additional fees for the process server.  All over one letter.

Communication is a two way street.  Not only do you have to give the information but the other person has to understand the information given.    Take your time.  Write nice.

I like what Mokokoma Mokhonoana,a writer of thought-provoking aphorisms once said, “A bad handwriting is as annoying to a reader … as an irritating voice is to a listener.”

I think Mokhonoana has a good point.

If you have any questions regarding a specific legal matter or legal strategy you should contact an attorney for legal advice.  If you would like to get started on a family law or bankruptcy case call us today, 602-896-9020, email us at discountdivorce@msn.com, or visit our website at DiscountDivorcePro.com.

We invite you to subscribe to Discount Divorce & Bankruptcy Twitter account: @discountdivorce and Facebook page: facebook.com/discountdivorce Both of these social media sites have value information.

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The Myth of Gender Bias in Child Custody Cases

By James Jennings

We’ve all heard it at one time or another, “Women always get custody of the children.  It’s so unfair!”  Well is that really true?  Do women ALWAYS get custody of the children?

How about this one, “She won’t allow me to see the kids so that means I can’t see them anymore.”  That’s the one that really gets my goat.  You stop being a father because she said.  Really?

From a legal perspective, the Family Court in Arizona is obligated to focus on the best interests of the children.  Ariz.Rev.Stat. §25-403 is the statue that the court must take into consideration when determining which parent will have legal decision making authority (what most people call custody) and what the parenting time (what most people call visitation) will be in all cases regarding minor children.

§25-403(A) says in part:

The court shall determine legal decision-making and parenting time, either originally or on petition for modification, in accordance with the best interests of the child. …

You noticed what the standard here is?  The standard is: “… in accordance with the BEST INTEREST of the child”.

Does it say anything about male or female, mother or father, or anything else about gender?  No, the law is completely gender blind when it comes to custody determinations.  The only thing that the law cares about is the children and what is best for them.

This notion that men should automatically be deemed an inattentive, emotionally distant and a poor caretaker by virtue of his chromosomal makeup is silly.  Just as much a woman be presumed inherently skilled at care taking, being attentive to the emotional needs of her children, or a more nurturing parent purely by virtue of her uterus. All aspects of humanity are relative and the good people over at state legislator know this to be true.  That’s why they had the good sense to pass such an awesome law.

I have seen a lot of my male clients get custody of their children solely on the fact that it was better for the kids to have dad make all the major decisions regarding the kids than it was for mom to do it.  Women like men can have their faults and sometimes those faults are not conducive to raising a child.

The court looks at a lot of factors when determining who gets custody.  §25-403 has a whole laundry list of things that help judges make this determination.

The court shall consider all factors that are relevant to the child’s physical and emotional well-being, including:

1. The past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.

2. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest.

3. The child’s adjustment to home, school and community.

4. If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal decision-making and parenting time.

5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.

6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with the other parent. This 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.

7. Whether one parent intentionally misled the court to cause an unnecessary delay, to increase the cost of litigation or to persuade the court to give a legal decision-making or a parenting time preference to that parent.

8. Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse.

9. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding legal decision-making or parenting time.

10. Whether a parent has complied with chapter 3, article 5 of this title.

Number 10 is the required Parent Information Program or PIP class that all parents must take in a divorce, legal separation, annulment or paternity case filed in Arizona.  Don’t take this required class and you may find yourself not getting custody.  See Ariz.Rev.Stat. §25-351 for more details.

11. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under section 13-2907.02.

It is obviously, not all men make great fathers just like all women are not vindictive. The majority of cases I see involve two parents whose lives together didn’t work out, want what is best for their children and understand the role each parent plays. But divorce does strange things to people. They will sometimes act out of character and with the urging of friends and attorneys take on a “win at all costs” attitude. And when this takes place it is invariably the child that ends up losing the most.

If at all possible, both parents should work together and ask the court for Joint Legal Decision Making (Joint Custody).  Joint Legal Decision Making doesn’t mean that the children live half of the time with mom and the other half of the time with dad.  It means that BOTH parents will work together in making the decisions regarding the upbringing of their kids.   The will work in concert in deciding what school they go to. What doctors they see and what the treatment plan is should they become ill and so on.

I know from experience that most judges are happy to award Joint Legal Decision Making.  It far better to have two parents working together for their children than it is for one.

If you need assistance in preparing a Joint Legal Decision Making Parenting Plan as part of your case call me.  I have twenty years of experience and we can discuss all the options available to you so that you can come up with a plan that will work for you and pass the requirements of both the law and the court here in Arizona.

I like what Jane Dee Hall, the 20th Governor of Arizona said, “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”

A truer thing has never been said.  Governor Hall was a wise woman.

If you have any questions regarding a specific legal matter or legal strategy you should contact an attorney for legal advice.  If you would like to get started on a family law or bankruptcy case call us today, 602-896-9020, email us at discountdivorce@msn.com, or visit our website at DiscountDivorcePro.com.

We invite you to subscribe to Discount Divorce & Bankruptcy Twitter account: @discountdivorce and Facebook page: facebook.com/discountdivorce Both of these social media sites have value information.

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Changing Your Name

By James Jennings

There are a lot of reasons to change a name.  The most common reason I come across is because of divorce.  If I had to guess I would say that about 1 in 10 women want to go back to their maiden names after a divorce. I can even recall changing the name of the husband in two cases.  It’s rare that men take the last name of the wife but it does happen.  Most of the time it’s because their wife is from a well-known family and there is a certain prestige that is attached to that name.  But what about after the divorce?  Let’s say you kept your married name and then decide later that you want to revert back to your maiden name.  What about in situations where the children have a different last name than that of the parent that they live with?  In my career I have assisted a lot of people change their name, the names of their child and the name of the entire family.

The easiest and most inexpensive way is part of the divorce.  In fact it is free.  You have the right according to state law Ariz.Rev.Stat. §25-325(C) to restore any name you have previously had.  Keep in mind no one can make you go back to a former name.  So for example a husband cannot demand his wife go back to her maiden name.  It is purely voluntary.

Ariz.Rev.Stat. §25-325(C) states:

On request by a party at any time before the signing of the decree of dissolution or annulment by the court, the court shall order that the party’s requested former name be restored.

However, if you didn’t change your name as part of your divorce case or you just need to change your name or that of your kids it’s a little more complicated and that is what I am going to spend the majority of this article addressing.

Changing your name is a relatively simple procedure that can usually be done without a lawyer but it is highly recommended that you have a legal professional assist you.  Discount Divorce and Bankruptcy has done hundreds of these types of cases and just about anyone can change his or her name, for any good reason.

The first thing we have to do is prepare a petition.  The petition will establish the court’s jurisdiction in the case and state what you want to change your name to and why.  The why is critical.  If we do not state a valid reason then the case will crash and burn.

When the petition is filed with the court the court will want, what mobsters referrer to as their “taste”.  (Taste: a percentage of the take. Tony gets a big taste from bookmaking or racketeering but only a little taste from medical fraud.)

In other words they will want to charge you a filing fee.  Currently the filing fee in Maricopa County is $319.  WOW!  That hurts!  The good news is the court has a deferral program so if you cannot afford the filing fee up front they have a system in place were you can pay later or even possible get it waived all together.  If you have questions about the deferral program we are always happy to speak with you about it.

Once the petition is filed and the filing fee paid or deferred we will have to set up a hearing to get the name(s) change ordered by the court.  Each county has its own procedure for setting a hearing on the name change. We will set that hearing up for you so you don’t have to hassle with it.

At the hearing the judge will order the name change if they are convinced you are not changing your name to commit fraud, evade the government, get out of financial obligation(s), or for some other nefarious shenanigans. Once the judge signs the order changing the name, you will need to get a certified copy of the order from the Clerk of the Court. The Clerk will charge $27 to issue you a certified copy.  You can then contact Social Security, the Driver’s License Bureau, your bank, etc. to change your name in their records.

To amend your birth certificate, take or mail a certified copy of the Order to the Bureau of Vital Records, or its equivalent, in the state where you were born. Request that your birth certificate be changed to reflect your new name. There will be a fee for this (I know right,  the government and their fees.) In Arizona these records are maintained by the counties. You should contact the county where you were born.

To change the name of your children is slightly more complicated still but we can assist you every step of the way.  The procedure begins the same with the filing of the petition and setting up the hearing but you have to notify all interested parties of the children’s names being changed.

Typically, the children’s other parent will have to be notified of your application to change the children’s names because they are an interested party. If the other parent does not object, the simplest thing to do is have both parents sign the Petition. You can also have the other parent sign a consent to the name change. If the parent does not agree and sign a consent or the petition, then you must serve the petition upon him/her. If he/she does not object in writing or at the hearing, the court is likely to order the name change. If the other parent does object, the court is less likely to order the change, particularly if the other parent has maintained a relationship with the child. There may be other reasons the court will approve the name change even if the other parent objects.

If the other parent will not sign the consent, you will need to serve him/her with notice of the hearing on the name change. They can sign an acceptance of service, which says they received notice, or you may have him/her served by certified mail or a process server. If you serve them by certified mail, you must serve them at least 30 days before the hearing and they must have signed the return receipt for the certified mail. You will file the return receipt along with an Affidavit of Service by Certified Mail.  Of course Discount Divorce and Bankruptcy will handle all this for you.  After all that’s why you hired us.

If you do not know where the other parent is you may serve them by publication. First you must try to locate them. Contact any friends or family members, check their last employer, etc. If you still cannot find them you may serve them by publishing your Petition in a newspaper available to the general public in the county where they were last known to have lived and the county were you have filed.  The publication must be ran once per week for four consecutive weeks. Discount Divorce and Bankruptcy will handle all the publication for you.  We are really, really good at this.

There are many reasons for a name change and I have heard a lot of really good ones but I always liked what Jerry Spinelli, a contemporary American writer of children’s novels gave as a reason.

“I’m not my name. My name is something I wear, like a shirt. It gets worn. I outgrow it, I change it.”

That reason may or may not be a good one at a hearing before a judge deciding a name change case but it is a very creative reason nonetheless.

If you have any questions regarding a specific legal matter or legal strategy you should contact an attorney for legal advice.  If you would like to get started on a family law or bankruptcy case call us today, 602-896-9020, email us at discountdivorce@msn.com, or visit our website at DiscountDivorcePro.com.

We invite you to subscribe to Discount Divorce & Bankruptcy Twitter account: @discountdivorce and Facebook page: facebook.com/discountdivorce Both of these social media sites have value information.

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Child Support Clearinghouse

By James Jennings

The Court has ordered you to pay child support.  So what’s next and were do I send my payments?  Intuitively most people would think I just send a check each month to the other party, that being the parent that was awarded legal decision making authority (also known as custody).  Well you’d be mostly wrong.  In Arizona all child support payments must go first through the state’s Support Payment Clearinghouse.

Arizona enacted Ariz.Rev.Stat. § 46-441 many years ago and it states:

Unless the court orders that support or maintenance be paid directly to the party entitled to receive it, all orders for support shall direct payment of support or maintenance through the support payment clearinghouse. All orders that specify payments through the clerk of the superior court shall be deemed to require payment to the support payment clearinghouse after a notice to the obligor is issued.”

So how this works is, in most cases, the court will instruct the payor (what they call the obligor) to send the child support payment to the Support Payment Clearinghouse. The payment will be recorded and a check issued to the payee (what they call the obligee). If the payor is employed, the payments will eventually be processed by Wage Assignment.

Wage Assignment

So what is a Wage Assignment exactly?  A Wage Assignment is another term for what the law calls an Order of Assignment. Most people think of it as a garnishment.  A Wage Assignment is ordered in every case and is an easy, convenient way for the payor to make a child support payment.

How the Wage Assignment Works

The court sends a copy of the Wage Assignment instructing an employer to automatically deduct child support from the payor’s paycheck to comply with a court order. The employer must send the payment to the Support Payment Clearinghouse within two business days of the date the employee (payor) is paid. The Support Payment Clearinghouse records the payment, and mails a check to the payee.

If the payor start a new job then they must:

  1. Give a copy of the Wage Assignment to the new employer.
  2. Within 10 days, notify the Clerk of the Superior Court and the Support Payment Clearinghouse in writing of the new employer’s name and address.
  3. Until a Wage Assignment is in effect with the new employer, the payor must make the payments directly to the Support Payment Clearinghouse.

Unemployed or Self Employed Payors

If the payor is not employed, self-employed or does not have a regular source of income, the convenience of the Wage Assignment process cannot be used to make child support payments. The payor must then  make payments directly to the Support Payment Clearinghouse.

The Logic Behind all of This

The reason this was made a law was for accountability. It is proof that the non-custodial parent or the parent ordered to pay child support has actually made the payments.

Ariz.Rev.Stat. § 46-441 goes on to further state:

The support payment clearinghouse shall have an accounting system for monitoring child support payments. The records of the support payment clearinghouse are prima facie evidence of payment or nonpayment of support.

On a positive note, this protects the payor of child support from any claims made by the other party that they did not pay child support.

What Happens if Payment isn’t Sent Through the Clearinghouse?

If you do NOT pay your child support through the Support Payment Clearinghouse then you will NOT be given credit for making your child support payment.  The Court will consider your “direct payments” as a gift to the other party and you WILL still owe the child support.

Ariz.Rev.Stat. § 46-441 goes on to further state:

Payment of any money directly to an obligee or to a person other than the support payment clearinghouse shall not be credited against the support obligation unless the direct payments were ordered by the court, or made pursuant to a written support agreement by the parties.

I have seen this time and time again.  People will come in and tell me that they are being sued for back support and they have canceled checks showing that they made direct payments to the other party and when they go to Court the judge says too bad.

I remember one case were a father went to court with his cancelled checks and showed the judge the checks.  In the memo space of each check it was written “For Child Support”

The judge said, “Show me in the law where you can make direct payments without a court order.”  Of course the dad couldn’t and the judge ordered him to pay back support. BANG BANG went the gavel and that was that.

It sucks.  It sucks bad but he was ordered to pay child support through the Support Payment Clearinghouse and he didn’t.  This was tantamount to contempt of a court order and the judge dropped the hammer on the guy.  He was upset to say the least.

What are the Alternatives to Making Payment Through the Clearinghouse?

The only way around not paying child support through the Support Payment Clearinghouse is by the order of the Court.  The only way that can happen is if a judge enters orders to that effect.

Some clients come into my office for a divorce, legal separation, or to establish child support and have real heart burn about paying support through the state’s Support Payment Clearinghouse.  They feel it is unnecessary and is government overreach. So they will have us prepare and file a Consent Decree stating that both parties are in agreement that all support payments will be sent directly to the person receiving child support and not through the Support Payment Clearinghouse as the law directs.

However, there are some draw backs on doing a Consent Decree.  A Consent Decree is not a silver bullet or a get out of jail free card when dealing with § 46-441.

First, the Court charges two filing fees when any wants to do a Consent Decree.  It’s like being double charged by the state.  These filing fees are not cheep.  As of the posting of this article Maricopa County Superior Court charges the Petitioner a fee of $338 and the Respondent a fee of $269.  Ouch! That’s $607 just in government fees.  The good news is the Respondent’s fee doesn’t have to be paid until the Consent Decree is ready to file and that is normally a couple of months after the initial filing in an uncontested case.

Second, if both parties want to fight it out in Court then a Consent Decree might not be possible.  Then it’s up to the trail judge if he or she wants to entertain the notion of direct pay and it’s been my experience most don’t.

Third, and may be the most important, is that even if you file a Consent Decree there is no guarantee a judge will approve of the parties agreeing to direct pay.  If this is the case the Judge will say no and reject the Consent Decree, thus sending it back to be redone and the direct pay clause being removed from the document.  You will be then out that extra $269 you paid the Court for the privilege of requesting direct pay.  The Court will NOT refund the Respondent’s filing fee.

So, is it worth the hassle of requesting direct pay?  That is for you to decide.  How opposed are you to sending a payment into the state each month for your children?  That’s a personal choice each couple has to make.  It may be cheaper and easier in the long run just to make the payment to the clearinghouse.  On the other hand some people like the thrill of rolling the dice and seeing what happens.

My Opinion

In my ever so humble opinion Ariz.Rev.Stat. § 46-441 is good public policy.  It protects that payor of child support and the children for whom the support is need.  But that is just my own personal opinion and like my dad always used to say, “Son opinions are like butt-holes, everyone has one and they usually stink.”  My father was truly an Irish sage.  I could always count on him for words of wisdom.

If you have any questions regarding a specific legal matter or legal strategy you should contact an attorney for legal advice.  If you would like to get started on a family law or bankruptcy case call us today, 602-896-9020, email us at discountdivorce@msn.com, or visit our website at DiscountDivorcePro.com.

We invite you to subscribe to Discount Divorce & Bankruptcy Twitter account: @discountdivorce and Facebook page: facebook.com/discountdivorce Both of these social media sites have value information.

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Let’s Talk about Wage Garnishment

By James Jennings

Creditors

Federal law places limits on how much judgment creditors can take from your paycheck. The amount that can be garnished is limited to 25% of your disposable earnings (what’s left after mandatory deductions) or the amount by which your weekly wages exceed 30 times the minimum wage, whichever is lower.

At the US Department of Labor’s website you can find some examples of how much money can be taken from your check. This is a great informational resource provided by the US government.

Child Support

More of your paycheck can be taken to pay child support. Up to 50% of your disposable earnings may be garnished to pay child support if you are currently supporting a spouse or a child who isn’t the subject of the order. If you aren’t supporting a spouse or child, up to 60% of your earnings may be taken. An additional 5% may be taken if you are more than 12 weeks in arrears.

It is important to note that child support in Arizona can be modified at anytime that amount of support would change by 15% or more.  It may be worth it to contact Discount Divorce & Bankruptcy and speak with someone about modifying your child support if you feel you are over or under paying child support.

Student Loan

The U.S. Department of Education (or any agency trying to collect a student loan on its behalf) can garnish up to 15% of your pay if you are in default on a student loan. No lawsuit or court order is required for this type of garnishment; if you are in default, your wages can be garnished.

Student loans are typically not forgiven in the bankruptcy process.  These loans will follow you to the grave in many cases.

Back Taxes

If you owe money to the IRS, watch out: The agency can take a big chunk of your wages, and it doesn’t have to get a court order first. The amount you get to keep depends on how many dependents you have and your standard deduction amount. Your employer will pay you a fairly low minimum amount each week and give the rest to the IRS.

The IRS must send a wage levy notice to your employer, who is required to give you a copy. The notice includes an exemption claim form, which you should complete and return.

State and local tax agencies also have the right to take some of your wages. In many states, however, the law limits how much the taxing authority can take.

How can Discount Divorce & Bankruptcy  help?

If you find yourself in a situation where you were served with a lawsuit by one of your creditors, Discount Divorce & Bankruptcy maybe able to help you.  We have successful helped more than 5,000 people file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy here in Arizona since 1998.

If you have any questions regarding a specific legal matter or legal strategy you should contact an attorney for legal advice.  If you would like to get started on a family law or bankruptcy case call us today, 602-896-9020, email us at discountdivorce@msn.com, or visit our website at DiscountDivorcePro.com.

We invite you to subscribe to Discount Divorce & Bankruptcy Twitter account: @discountdivorce and Facebook page: facebook.com/discountdivorce Both of these social media sites have value information.

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