All I want for Christmas is…a divorce?

Said no one ever!

And yet, just after the holidays we see a spike in divorce filings.  Maybe it’s because couples don’t want to tarnish holiday memories with talk of divorce.  Maybe it’s more about starting the new year fresh.  But whatever the reason, there’s a definite uptick in the number of filings, which peaks a few months later.

If divorce is part of your New Year’s Resolution, there are some important things you can do now to prepare mentally, emotionally and financially to navigate this difficult process. mentions these Positive Steps You Can Take Now:

  • Seek divorce advice as soon as possible, from an attorney, mediator, and/or financial planner
  • Begin financial preparations immediately
  • Take care of yourself by talking to a neutral party such as a therapist, a family counselor, or a close personal friend (if they can remain neutral).

The Divorce Preparation Checklist published by offers these additional practical steps:

  • Change your passwords
  • Get a PO box
  • Start putting money aside

Click here to read the entire article: Divorce Preparation Checklist – 12 Non-Negotiable Components

Divorce is an emotional process, no matter what time of year, and can be especially difficult just after the holidays. An experienced divorce attorney can be a trusted ally and help you plan for and execute an equitable divorce.

Call McMurdie Law today to schedule a consultation: 480-777-5500

We’re in Love, Do We Really Need a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial agreements (prenups) are something for the rich and famous of Hollywood, but does Average Jane or Joe really need one?  Most fiances are afraid that if they need a prenup it’s a prediction of things to come and they will surely end up divorced. Today half of all marriages do end in divorce and prenups when done correctly will lay the ground work for smoother transition if it does.

Prenuptial agreements help protect the assets that you had before marriage, and even those your acquire during marriage.  It can preplan alimony so that you don’t fight about it in court. It can protect income that you receive during marriage from other assets you had before marriage. It can protect businesses and keep them outside the marriage. Read more in this article “Engaged? This is why you need to sign a prenuptial agreement.

Estate planning is another way to protect your assets during marriage, too. Sometimes for older couples, or in the case of second marriages, it may be better to attend to the estate planning rather than a prenup to ensure your own children inherit your separate estate. Learn more about legal considerations for late-life marriages.

Answering the question, “do I need a prenup?”, Is one that is best answered by meeting with your recommended family attorney.

Call McMurdie Law today to schedule a consultation: 480-777-5500

Dos and Don’ts before the Holidays Arrive

We are in the middle of August and the count down to the holiday season is here. Has your co-parenting been smooth or rocky this year?  Take the time now to reflect and let go of what you can and address what you can with your co-parent in advance of the year-end holiday season.

Successful co-parenting relies on good communication, upholding your arrangements and allowing the other parent’s unique parenting style.  Your intention is important in how you deal with them…are you still upset underneath it all?

This article on describes 10 Co-parenting Styles … With Tips to Fix What Isn’t Working. Even the best-intentioned co-parents sometimes clash, but utilizing a parenting coach or mediator with coaching training can assist you in better approaches in person and more effective email communication.

Consider these 7 “Don’ts” to avoid when co-parenting, outlined in this article: Cooperative Co-Parenting: Keys To Making It Work (click to read the full article). Pretty obvious if you go take a look….like the first one:

Don’t deny your child personal time with both of their parents.

Now how about some “Dos”!:

  • Do obtain ongoing counsel from a mediator/professional coach like me who can guide the divorce/post divorce to effective outcomes
  • Do communicate more often in all ways. Making and communicating plans in advance keeps your ex in the loop and gives you plenty of time for mediation should disagreements arise.
  • Do always remember to put your children’s interests first when planning your time together. This helps keep them engaged and creates memorable experiences with each parent.
  • Do be willing to be flexible. Many holidays fall on fixed days that might not fit into the normal co-parenting schedule. The highest goal is to create positive experiences for your kids, and especially if you ask for extra or off-schedule time.

If you need help reviewing and discussing your own parenting plan or think mediation could resolve your challenging co-parenting dynamic, now is the time to act.  Call (480) 777-5500 to schedule a consultation.

Most people plan their weddings a year to two years in advance.  Why don’t we do the same thing for divorce?

Divorce is a complex and often intimidating process, even for uncontested cases.

The most challenging aspects usually involve how to divide parenting time and responsibilities, the close second is protecting and preserving your assets while trying to divide them at the same time.

Advanced planning, often utilizing the assistance of a certified divorce financial planner, is a great way to prepare. In collaborative practice, our team can help you plan in advance so that you minimize the expense of undue fighting in court or at the table.

Finances – Your investment and retirement accounts will likely be divided, along with all of your bank accounts. Check out this post from nerdwallet for 7 Ways to Ready Your Finances for Divorce

Parenting – with an eye toward what is best for your children, you will want to minimize their time in the car transferring them to the other home, so it is important to plan living closer to work and to schools.   Planning this in advance can minimize the costs of relocation and stress from coming changes.

Insurance – Your automobile, home and life insurance policies and their beneficiary designations must be reconsidered and changed by the time you are divorced. In Arizona you are required to provide medical insurance coverage for children if it is available to you.

This article takes a unique look at a pre-divorce checklist, identifying common mistakes and how to avoid them: Simple Divorce Checklist Can Keep You From Making These 10 Common Mistakes.

If divorce may be in your future, there is no time like now to begin learning about your best options. Call McMurdie Law Office, PC at (480) 777-5500 for a pre-divorce planning consultation about your specific needs.

Thinking about Changing Your Children’s School this Fall?

Co-parents are sometimes at odds when it comes to important decisions relating to their children. School choice is one topic that can become particularly challenging. Each parent wants what they believe is best for the child, but when opinions vary, it’s important to understand who has the ultimate legal decision-making authority. Your parenting and custody arrangements now factor into the outcome, now more than ever.   Joint custody, or joint legal decision making, grants both parents equal decision-making rights and responsibilities, although the court may include orders that one parent has final authority over certain decisions, like choice of school.

A recent Appeals Court ruling clarified the final decision-making authority for co-parenting or divorced parents with what used to be called “joint legal custody” in Arizona. If one parent has been granted sole legal decision making, then that parent has final say on major decisions that can include medical care, religion, education, including where the children will attend school. If the parents share legal decision making, then parents have to make these decisions together and the court now must refrain from making those parental decisions.

While communication and collaboration is always best for co-parents, if you find yourself at odds with the other parent on important decisions, it is best now to get the advice from an experienced attorney because latest case law has limited the court’s authority to decide certain decisions that should be decided by parents.

And when it comes to decisions about school, it should be addressed in the prior school years in early spring so that the decisions can be made in time for enrollment the next school year. If McMurdie Law can be of assistance, please call us at 480-777-5500.  



Honoring your Ex on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is this Sunday.

For divorced or co-parenting moms, it can be an especially emotional day. Small children may be unaware or unable to celebrate mom without some parental help. And honoring the mother of your children can go a long way toward maintaining a good co-parenting relationship, and teaching your children the importance of special occasions.

Tips for Honoring your Ex on Mother’s Day

  • Acknowledge the effort and love your ex puts into parenting your children
  • Allow your ex time with the kids, even if it’s not “her day”
  • Support your children in celebrating their mom in their way (helping them make her breakfast, sending her flowers on their behalf, or initiating home made Mother’s Day cards)
  • Acknowledge a step-mother’s role, too, but know that for your children mom is the most important person on Mother’s Day

These articles include additional tips that you might also find helpful:

As with any family law situation, McMurdie Law is here for you if parenting plan or visitation issues arise. Call (480) 777-5500 to schedule a consultation.

Summertime Bliss or Co-Parenting Chaos?

As the kids begin the countdown to summer break, are you anticipating a blissful, relaxing time-off from the routine? Or is co-parenting chaos your new summer norm?

Summer can present challenges for co-parenting families.

From road trips and sleep-away camp to family reunions and international excursions, summer is often full of events that fall outside the normal school year routine.

Sometimes things come up that are not clearly covered by parenting plan guidelines.

Here are some tips to keeping the kids’ best interest the main focus of summertime schedules.

  1. Communicate often and early – make plans as far in advance as possible and keep your ex in the loop, giving you plenty of time for mediation if disagreements arise.
  2. Be flexible and willing to compromise – summer brings different activities, such as family events or travel, that don’t always fit into the normal co-parenting schedule. Be flexible with your time in favor of the kids’ summer memories, and especially if you ask for extra or off-schedule time.
  3. Consider the children’s interests – let the kids’ interests guide your plans and always keep them informed. This helps them create memorable experiences with each parent.

These articles include additional, valuable tips that might help smooth summertime co-parenting stress.

If you need help interpreting your own parenting plan or think mediation could help prevent summer discord, now’s the time to act.  Call (480) 777-5500 to schedule a consultation.

Tax Time Turmoil? Ways the New Tax Laws May Affect You

Settling finances can be one of the most difficult and trying aspects of divorce. It’s complex and confusing and couples rarely see eye-to-eye.  Thanks to the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it’ll be even tougher.

Some areas that may impact divorcing couples will be:

  • alimony will no longer be deductible for the payer, and taxes don’t need to be paid on it by the recipient
  • More generous child tax credit rules
  • a new $500 credit for dependents who are not eligible for child tax credit
  • the standard personal and dependent exemptions have been eliminated for 2018-2025, so this tax season is the last time you will be able to claim it

These articles will help you understand more about how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will affect your finances going forward:

We can help you with questions about your specific situation.  Call today to schedule a consultation: 480-777-5500


Worry-Free Spring Break when Co-Parenting

Spring Break is around the corner. A little advance planning and a review of your custody agreement can avoid snags with your ex-spouse that could ruin the fun. While situations vary, you can ensure the ground rules for spring break travel are set in advance by considering these tips:

  • Plan ahead and clearly communicate your intended plans.
  • Get signed and notarized travel consent forms in advance.
  • Share (or get) itinerary specifics such as flight numbers, hotel details and contact numbers.

These articles can help you learn more about planning for vacation travel when you’re co-parenting:

Traveling With Kids After Divorce and Traveling with kids: 5 tips for divorced co-parents

If you have specific questions about travel guidelines under your own custody agreement or parenting plan, we can help.  Call today to schedule a consultation: 480-777-5500

10 Steps to a Mediated Divorce

The term “mediation” broadly refers to any instance in which a third party helps others reach agreement. More specifically, mediation has a structure, timetable and dynamics that “ordinary” negotiation lacks. The process is private and confidential and can produce binding orders that are enforceable by the courts.

Mediation in Divorce Includes 10 Specific Steps

  1. Choose to use mediation for your divorce or family case.
  2. Together, the couple selects their mediator and signs a fee agreement.
  3. Mediation sessions can begin before, during, or after filing your Petition with the court. Filing your Petition opens the case.
  4. The Mediator prepares your Petition for Divorce, Annulment or Modification. This Petition must be from one spouse, the “Petitioner.” The other spouse is the “Respondent.”
  5. The Respondent is served with the Petition, and other documents, by a process server or signs an Acceptance of Service. That day begins the countdown to the earliest date to file the final divorce papers, the 60 day deadline.
  6. The parties participate in 2-5 mediation sessions to reach agreement on all issues in the matter.
  7. After each session, some of the final agreements can begin to be written. The parties will review what is drafted and make necessary changes or corrections.
  8. After the final mediation, the final Decree or Orders, are signed and notarized by all parties. They are then filed for the Judge’s final signature. The Judge’s signature makes the documents enforceable court orders.
  9. After the Judge signs the final Decree, or Orders, copies are returned to the parties.
  10. Follow up work begins, such as changing titles of homes, vehicles, and retirement accounts. This can be overseen by the mediator or parties as agreed.

Mediation is one of the best ways to get your divorce or any other family law dispute resolved. Mediation is faster, it costs less, and it gives both parties a chance to be heard and to discuss things that may never be discussed in a court room setting.

For more information about Mediated Divorce, I recommend this article on Findlaw:

It includes a description of the mediators role, as well as an outline of the mediation process.