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Child Support: Hidden Income & the Self Employed

Child support calculations in all States are heavily dependent on the income of the parents.  While the income for W2 employees can be relatively straight forward, calculating the income of the self-employed can be substantially more difficult.

A self-employed parent may seek to minimize his income, and therefore child support payments, but hiding his income in his business.  This can mean substantially less support for the child.

An analysis of the income of a self-employed parent’s income must begin with his or her business tax return.  Below are four common places to spot hidden income:

  1.  Office Expenses:  Office expenses are a “catch all” category for purposes of tax returns.  But are the expenses listed really expenses for the business, or are they personal expenses masquerading as business expenses?Look for high dollar items when combing through bank statements.  A common example is writing off a trip and hotel stay as a business expense when it is truly for personal reasons.  Such a trip could be thousands of dollars a year in income missing from a child support calculation.

  2. Home Office Expense:  Like the office expense, “home office expenses” is a common place to hide income.  Furniture or computer equipment purchased for the home or entertainment of the payee parent can be written off as home office expenses for the business. A strong understanding of the purpose of the business at issue is imperative to analyzing the validity of the home office expenses.

  3. Advertising:  Is there a boat other expensive piece of personal property that is in the business’s name?  Check to see if they expenses associated with the property are being paid under the business.  A strange but repeat occurrence is the small businessmen who buys a boat in the businesses name, names it after his business or line of work, and claims it as a business expense.Not uncommon, but equally outrageous:  Watch for the self-employed who records a check to a “big national advertising paper”, when in reality, the parent is writing the check to himself.  Such fake advertising can allow the self-employed to pass large chunks of cash to him-self personally without paying taxes and while keeping it off the books.

  4. Wages:  Check the standard of living of the payee spouse.  Does he have a maid, lawn-care service, or other laborers who work on his home or other personal property?  If so, then check to see if these workers are paid through the parent’s personal income or through the “business”.  If they are paid through the business, then adjustments need to be made to the income of the payor spouse (and his business) to reflect true income.


We have had a lot of success in handling complex divorce cases where the spouse is a business owner or self-employed. If you have questions regarding divorce in Arizona and a self-employed spouse, give us a call at (602) 254-8880 to start your free consultation. If you’d like, you can send us a confidential email at your convenience.


Arizona to Extend Marriage Rights to Gay Couples

Arizona to Extend Marriage Rights to Gay Couples

Today, October 17, 2014

Arizona‘s Attorney General Tom Horne said today 10/17/14 that he is not going to challenge the federal courts decision which approves same-sex unions in Arizona.

After the news broke several gay couples began to line up at the Phoenix city courthouse to marry immediately.

Attorney General Tom Horne stated he fought the ruling as far as he ethically could and that his decision was based on a legal conclusion.  “There’s no chance of a reversal and it would be unethical for me to file an appeal that had no chance of success.” said Tom Horne.

Below is Tom Horne’s letter to clerks, giving them the green light to grant marriage licenses to gay couples.

gay marriage

This ruling is quick to follow the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to view Thomas Beatie’s (transgender man) marriage from Hawaii as valid so he could get divorced in Arizona.  This has been a very big year for marriage equality in the state on Arizona.

If you have a legal questions on gay marriage in Arizona please call the Cantor Law Group at (602) 254-8880 or set up a free initial consultation online.

Arizona Court of Appeals Recognizes Thomas Beatie’s Transgender Marriage

World’s First Married Pregnant Man is Finally Allowed to Finalize His Divorce in Arizona

Click here for the full opinion (pdf)
Today, August 13, 2014 the Arizona Court of Appeals held that Thomas Beatie, the world’s first married pregnant man, is allowed to be officially “divorced”.  Thomas’ lawyer, David Michael Cantor of the Cantor Law Group, sees this as a landmark decision in recognizing transgender person’s marital rights not only in Arizona, but throughout the United States.

In May of 2012 the Superior Court of Arizona found that Thomas Beatie, the world’s first married pregnant man, “will continue to have solely legal custody” of his three children.  This occurred after a very intense and public temporary order proceeding involving Thomas and wife, Nancy.

Then in June of 2012, the Honorable Judge Douglas Gerlach issued an order questioning wheather the court even had jurisdiction over the divorce.  The issue for the judge was whether this Hawaii marriage was valid under Arizona law, based on Thomas’ sex change status and his retention of his female reproductive organs at the time of the marriage.

After a Hearing in December of 2012, involving expert witnesses which included Thomas’ sex change surgeon, the judge ruled that Arizona did not have jurisdiction over the case, and that Thomas’ marriage was invalid under Arizona law as a “same-sex marriage.”

Ruling from the Court of Appeals

After appealing to the Arizona Court of Appeals, they have ruled today “we find the Family Court has subject matter jurisdiction to proceed with Beatie’s petition for Dissolution of Marriage and, ultimately, to enter a Decree of Dissolution, and therefore reversed the Family Court’s dismissal of Beatie’s Dissolution petition”.  The court focused on the fact that Thomas complied with Hawaii’s “clear and unambiguous” Statute regarding sex change operations and Thomas’s obtaining a valid Hawaii marriage license.

The court specifically stated “it was not within the authority of the Family Court to, sua sponte, expand the requisites of the Hawaii Statute,” and “there is no apparent basis in law or fact for the proposition that in the event Thomas gave birth after having modified his gender designation, it would have abrogated his “maleness”, as reflected on the amended birth certificate”.

Mr. Beatie made headlines in 2008 as the World’s First Married Pregnant Man after being legally recognized as a man in 2002.  As a married transgender male, he then gave birth to his three children from 2008 to 2010 and now resides in Arizona.  Judge Gerlach’s original decision of Thomas’ divorce caused a media frenzy which resulted in interviews with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Drew, among others.  The Arizona Court of Appeals’ recognition of Mr. Beatie’s marriage is believed to be the first of its kind in Arizona.

Attorney David Michael Cantor said “Thomas jumped for joy when he heard the news that the Arizona Court of Appeals recognized his transgender marriage as valid under Arizona law.”  Thomas Beatie said, “I feel I have finally been recognized in Arizona as not just a man, but a human being.”  Mr. Cantor then continued “This has now opened the door for all other States transgender marriages to be recognized in the divorce courts of Arizona.”

For Media:

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For the full text of the opinion: Click here for the full opinion (pdf)

For any other media requests please call Sean Duggan at (602) 254-8880.

5 Ways Marital Rape Can Happen

This is a Guest Post from Brett Podolsky, a Houston Criminal Attorney.

Marital rape is a form of sexual abuse often encountered in domestic violence cases. It refers to non-consensual sex act performed by a spouse. In many regions of the world, the spousal rape is still condoned and considered legal. However, most developing countries increasingly criminalize the act and impose severe penalties upon the perpetrator.

The cases of spousal rape are difficult to prosecute and defend as the evidence and testimonies typically change frequently throughout the course of the trial. The spouses influence each other with promises to change their behavior resulting in unclear path of persuasion. The charges are often dropped in the middle of negotiations due to reconciliation efforts between the parties involved. However, those who are determined to pursue should be aware of the reasons why the rape has occurred and present the facts in the court.

Drug Use – Spousal rape often occurs when a person is under the influence of recreational drugs, medication or alcohol. Both the perpetrator and the target may be under the influence and may not remember the course of events. These cases are the most difficult to prove and often result in court dismissals unless there are witnesses and strong evidence of the rape.

Sodomy Acts – Sodomy is frequently performed when a spouse is mentally challenged and can only complete the sexual act orally or through the anal intercourse. The event frequently includes animals and artificial devices. This type of copulation is often engaged between homosexual individuals and may not be reported to the authorities due to the embarrassment factor.

Spousal Duties – Many couples have their roles divided within the institution of marriage and are expected to comply. One of these roles may include one spouse feeling entitled to performing sexual acts at any time without the consent of the other spouse. In many cases, heterosexual couples face this dilemma where the woman is requested to comply with her husband’s desire for sex.

Religious Inclinations – Most religions have strict rules in regards to marital copulations. Two different religion beliefs may clash with each other. It is important to discuss these differences before committing to marriage as any sexual act may be portrayed as a sexual abuse while the other party may view it as a spouse’s prerogative.

Fear of Being Hurt – Many spouses let sexual abuse happen because they’re afraid of being hurt or killed. If there is a history of domestic abuse, the partner will coil and meet the abuser’s desires. The undesired sex becomes a part of daily living and many partners cope with it to avoid physical and emotional pain.

Marital rape should be always reported to the authorities. Worldwide reclassification of spousal abuse has been in effect for many decades and abusive sexual acts are no longer valid regardless of religion, status and race. Seasoned team of attorneys must be engaged to protect the rights of the offenders and the victims of rape alike. All occurrences should be recorded by medical providers and police officials to ensure proper conviction of the abusing spouse.

For more information about Marital rape, visit

Women Should Start Financial Preparation for Divorce before Their Marriage

Put Money Away!While many people contemplating marriage do not want to consider the prospect their marriage may not last, the high divorce rate makes it important to engage in economic planning to ensure financial security in the event of a divorce.  This planning should begin before a person even ties the knot, but the process of preparing for divorce is an ongoing endeavor with steps that need to continue both during marriage and during the divorce process.

Although women have made enormous strides in terms of occupational advancement and income equality during the last twenty years, the average lifetime earning capacity for women still lags behind men.  A recent census report found that the average median income for women who work full time was approximately $36,000 whereas the average for men is over $47,000.  This means that women must be especially cautious about protecting their financial future from the potential impact of divorce.

The disparity between the average median income of men and women tends to be magnified by the impact of a divorce.  Researchers at George Mason University conducted a study to analyze how divorce financially affected the standard of living of husbands and wives following a marital dissolution.  The study concluded that on average women suffer a 73 percent decline in their standard of living following divorce while termination of a marriage enhances the standard of living for men by 43 percent.  Given this astounding difference in the impact of divorce based on gender, financial planning for the possibility of divorce is critical for women no matter how unromantic the prospect.  Given these financial realities, we have suggested some suggestions that women can use to safeguard their financial security in the event of divorce:

  • Consider a Prenuptial Agreement: The popular depiction of prenuptial agreements by the media and Hollywood focus on these marital agreements as documents designed by men with a high net worth or substantial earning capacity to ensure they get the best of their spouse in a divorce.  This distorted view of a prenuptial agreement ignores the fact that with the exception of attempts to limit a court’s power to determine a child support award, the parties are free to agree to engage in financial arrangements that provide for protection, predictability and security for both parties.  A prenuptial agreement can even be modified during the marriage to reflect the changing economic circumstances of the parties.  Any agreement regarding property division or alimony should be reduced to a writing prepared by an experienced Divorce Lawyer rather than just an oral agreement.
  • Understand the Family Finances: In many households where the husband is the primary wage earner, he also controls and manages the finances for the couple.  While this is not necessarily a problem, you want to make sure that you are at least a co-pilot for the family’s financial journey rather than a passenger.  If you do not have at least a rough idea about the value of your marital estate and the composition of the assets that make up that estate, it can make it easier for your spouse to hide or divert assets.  Although both spouses have a financial disclosure requirement toward the other, many spouses try to hide income or assets to gain an advantage in the financial settlement.  It is also a good idea to establish independent bank accounts and credit cards as well as squirreling away a little money for a rainy day.
  • Gather Relevant Financial Documents: Although both parties will be required to provide disclosure regarding assets and debts as well as financial income affidavits, your ability to gather copies of financial records like W-2s, tax returns, profit and loss statements, insurance policies, statements for retirement accounts, mortgage statements, credit card bills, bank records and similar documents will facilitate a divorce attorney or forensic accountant’s ability to flag questionable transactions or track hidden assets or income streams.

While this is certainly not a comprehensive list of ways to financially prepare for divorce, an experienced Divorce Attorney can advise you regarding strategies tailored to your unique circumstances.  While no one enters into marriage with the expectation that they will one day face the prospect of divorce, people also do not purchase car insurance because they expect to be in a car accident.  Sometime life just happens.

The guest writer is Howard Iken, a SuperLawyer rated attorney in Florida. Mr. Iken helps clients with divorce and custody matters in Florida.

Thanks to Ken Teegardin for the photo.

How to Prepare for a Heated Custody Battle

There is no subject that raises the heat level as much as a contested child custody case. Parents have a uniquely strong bond with their children. Most of those parents go into “extreme battle mode” when faced with a court battle that may end up drastically restricting their contact with their kids.  A custody case can be stressful, mean, expensive, and drawn out. If that did not sound bad enough, the average custody case is fantastically expensive and can drain the financial resources of the average parent. There are ways you can prepare for your custody case that will minimize the damage and increase your chances of success. Follow these simple guidelines to best prepare for any heated custody battle:

1. Stop drinking, stop smoking pot, and cease the use of any drugs. That may seem like a no brainer but many people will not follow this simple bit of common sense.  Illegal or semi-legal drugs do not mix with a custody case. Your use of those substances reflects on your ability to parent. And the use of drugs is certainly detectable. Many a custody case has turned on a simple urine or hair test that screens for drugs.  An accusation that you use drugs may strike a chord with a judge that carries a personal dislike for drug use. So if your custody battle is important to you, stop all drug use right this moment.

2. If you were using drugs and have successfully stopped, at least 90 days before the custody case heats up, be sure to get your own hair-screening test. It should be “clean” and will provide an invaluable piece of proof should the inevitable accusation of drug usage come up in your custody case.

3. Unless you normally sound like the finest, nicest person in the universe, stop emailing, texting, or sending written messages to the other parent. The basic problem is that most people end up hanging themselves with poorly thought out written communications. Any type of text, email, or letter can be admitted into evidence in court.  So if you cannot control every word out of your head make sure you never do anything in writing.

4. Ramp up your involvement with the kids. Be sure to attend soccer games, volleyball games, children’s events, and parent-teacher conferences. Get to know their pediatricians by name and make it a point of attending every visit.  Before your custody case begins you should make it apparent that you are part of every fiber of the children’s lives.

5. Stop going out at night. A life of seeing friends and going to bars sounds like a lot of fun. But the life of a good parent is much more boring. Good parents stay home with their kids. And good parents end up doing better in a heated custody battle.

6. If you work extremely early, or late hours, consider a change in your job. Same principle if you work a lot of weekends. The best schedule allows you to drop off the kids at school and also allows you to pick them up at the end of each day.

7. Get rid of your Facebook account. Many a heated custody case has been completely sunk by Facebook postings. Get rid of your account right now. There is no benefit to a Facebook account when it comes to custody cases and the potential harm is great.

8. Don’t move out without the children in tow. If you move out without the children you have just completely destroyed your custody case.

You should live every day like your children are the most important part of your life. Design your day around the children and then plan each weekend for their benefit. Don’t say anything in writing and don’t do anything you would be ashamed for your pastor to see in church.  And be careful about everything you do. Because anything negative in your life may be documented, massaged, and highlighted for later presentation in court. Follow those simple steps and you will be on your way to a successful day in court in any heated custody battle.


The writer, Florida Attorney Howard Iken is a Clearwater Florida divorce attorney.  Mr. Iken also helps divorce clients in Orlando Florida with their family law, alimony, and modification cases.

Emergency Child Custody Orders and Cross Border Disputes Between Parents

This is an article contributed by Farzad Family Law of California.

Jurisdictional disputes between California and Arizona parents in child custody cases are not uncommon. Not only are the two states in proximity to each other but we have seen quite a bit of travel and change of residences between the two states. At Farzad Family Law our lawyers have also seen cases where a parent with a California child custody order seeks to modify it in Arizona and vice versa.

In this article, we are going to write about California law. We are, after all, California family law attorneys. Any questions about Arizona law can be directed to Cantor Law Group.

Here is a common hypothetical and the subject of this article.

An Arizona mom and dad have Arizona child custody orders. California family court has never been involved. One of the parents is now in California but the children have not been here long enough nor there is not another legal basis for the California court to exercise the more traditional jurisdiction (which is the court’s “power”) to make custody orders. The parent that is herein California believes the children are in serious danger and needs emergency orders in California. What can that parent do?

Before we begin, please understand that no article is going to give you the answer to every scenario and nothing in this article is intended to nor should it be construed as legal advice. What we have done here is to give the general parameters of what the California family court may take into consideration when it is faced with an emergency request by a parent with out of state orders.

What is Emergency Child Custody Jurisdiction in California?

California’s jurisdiction comes in different forms. One of them is what we call “temporary emergency jurisdiction.” “Temporary” means exactly that – the court will not make permanent orders on an emergency basis. “Emergency” means the court will look at the issue much faster than the normal court calendar would allow. Emergency orders can be same day or within 24 hours.

For the court to make temporary emergency custody orders in California, the following needs to happen:

  1. The child or children must be in this state, AND
  2. EITHER the child or children have been “’abandoned”, which means they have been left without the basic necessities, reasonable care or supervision, OR the California court needs to make emergency orders to protect the child or children or even the parent from mistreatment or abuse or threat of mistreatment or abuse.

What is mistreatment or abuse? It’s not specifically defined or narrowed in California child custody cases. That means the definition is broad. It includes but is not limited to domestic violence, situations that involve a parent’s failure to attend to the children’s serious medical needs, physical harm to the children or a serious threat of it, or other situations that expose the children to danger, such as evidence of drug or alcohol abuse.

The Court doesn’t make such rulings lightly. There needs to be evidence of the abuse or mistreatment or threat of either.

How Long Do the Emergency Custody Orders Last?

How long the emergency order lasts depends on different factors. In our hypothetical, the California court would have to immediately communicate with the Arizona court. If you think that means the California judge picks up the phone and calls the Arizona judge, you are not too far off. That happens. Regardless of how the communication occurs, it cannot be unreasonably delayed. Once Arizona takes over the matter and the emergency, California’s orders can terminate and the parents litigate their custody issue in Arizona.

What happens if nothing is commenced in Arizona? Or the Arizona court doesn’t keep the case? Are there other ways California can just keep the case? These questions are beyond the scope of this article and require the expertise of  experienced family law attorneys.

About the Author: B. Robert Farzad is the president of Farzad Family Law, APC, located at 1851 East 1st Street, Suite 1150, Santa Ana, CA 92705. He is a California licensed attorney and his law practice is limited exclusively to California family law matters. He can be reached at (714) 937-1193.

Marital Property and Divorce: Your Questions Answered

This is a Guest Post from Perry Warren of Maselli Warren, PC.

One of the most common questions our lawyers get from clients going through their divorce is, “how much do I stand to lose?” Basically, the concern relates to marital property and how much the court may (or may not) require them to carve up with their soon-to-be ex spouse. For those with high value real property assets, including a business, the division of their property could result in dissolution of companies and significant financial difficulty. That’s why it’s important to understand what is at stake before making the first move.

States with Marital Property Laws

Around the country, states that consider assets acquired over the course of a marriage as ‘community property’ usually require those items be divided as equitably as possible when the couple splits for good. These states, including Arizona, don’t just consider marital assets to be homes or automobiles, but also pension funds, income, jewelry, bank accounts, and home furniture.  Yes, the court can legally split your retirement fund in half.

If your spouse wants to be vindictive by trying to ruin your business in the divorce, don’t worry – your legal team may be able to force the liquidation of all that expensive jewelry you bought for her. And vice versa. The point is remaining as friendly as possible through the process allows both people to emerge with their finances in as good a shape as is possible.

Separate Property from the Marriage

Not all property obtained during the marriage is community property during a marriage’s dissolution. Items, including money, that you receive as gifts during your marriage aren’t divisible in divorce. The court will require you show proof that the property or item in question is a gift. In addition, any property you owned prior to your marriage is exempt from the proceedings, providing that you can also show the court proof that you owned it before tying the knot.

By Equitable We Don’t Mean Equal

When our lawyers say ‘equitable’ in dividing marital property, we don’t necessarily mean equal. The court may decide that your spouse has a 70 percent stake in your marital home because they paid that portion of the mortgage. It’s only fair that they take away what they put in, though another judge might see the situation differently. One way to remove the wild card approach to asset dividing is to draw up – in cooperation with your legal teams – a settlement agreement. This document is a prearranged divvying up of property that both you and your ex spouse agrees upon before proceeding to court. Judges like these contracts because they streamline the process, which also makes finalizing your divorce much easier than if you both go into the proceedings with hot heads and cold hearts.

Divorce is never without emotion, but it doesn’t need to drag on and hinder your emotional and financial recovery. Hiring skilled divorced lawyers with a track record of success can turn a grief stricken moment into a positive, allowing you and those you love to close this chapter of your life and start fresh.


is a NJ bankruptcy attorney based out of Princeton. Perry is certified as a civil trial attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey and has tried and litigated substantial cases throughout New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

If you have a question about Divorce in Arizona, please call us at (602) 254-8880 or email us to schedule a free consultation with a family lawyer.

Social Media Influence in Divorce Cases

Divorce on Social MediaYears ago, married people who wanted to get in touch with old flames or badmouth his or her current spouse would hide their actions, knowing that this type of behavior would anger his or her spouse and might be used against them in a divorce case.

Cheating spouses would hide receipts, letters or phone calls from someone other than his or spouse. Angry spouses would hide their anger in public, only talking privately to friends. Today, social media sites like Facebook, and to a lesser extent MySpace and Twitter, are full of posts from people connecting with past lovers, flirting openly or badmouthing current spouses. Some people have begun to label these splits a Social Media Divorce.

Facebook and other social media websites do not make people look up old flames or find new people to have an affair with but they do make it very easy to do so. A person may write a letter to an old flame, then decide it is a bad idea, and never mail the letter. Now, once a message is sent on social media, it is too late to reconsider.

A person who is angry with his or her spouse can post nasty comments about him or her and hit post before thinking about what they are saying. If the person simply vented to a friend, his or her spouse would never know but now, millions of Facebook users see these comments and the offended person feels obligated to take action.

Social media influences child custody cases as well as divorce cases. A person who posts pictures of him or herself using illegal drugs or drinking can expect those pictures to show up as evidence that he or she should not have custody.

Anyone who engages in an extramarital affair and makes the evidence public via social media should expect this evidence used in his or her divorce case even if they use Facebook’s privacy settings. Family law attorneys are experienced in how to use Facebook evidence, including advising their clients on how to gather evidence that the court will consider.

If you are contemplating divorce, do not provide the perfect digital evidence for your spouse’s divorce attorney. Don’t flirt, brag or badmouth your spouse, even if you change your privacy settings. Spouses can “friend” one of your friends and see everything you have posted. In addition, do not let anyone take a photo of you engaging in any inappropriate behavior. Potentially incriminating photos will show up on image searches if they are tagged, even if you delete them from your profile.

The Cantor Law Group has experience with Social Media Divorce cases and also experience in using private investigators and forensic computer analysts to assist in gathering information in a divorce case. If you would like to speak with a Divorce Attorney for free, call us at (602) 254-8880 to schedule a free consultation. You can also use our secure and confidential email form to contact us too.

People Considering Divorce Have A Few Things To Consider

This is a Guest Post from Sean Smallwood, a Divorce Lawyer in Florida.

When married couples consider starting divorce cases there are many different paths that the case can take depending on the facts involved in the case. Below are a few questions that every person considering divorce must think about and answer.

First, the parties to the divorce must figure out if they can agree to issues such as division of property, whether or not there will be any spousal support, and who will pay attorney’s fees to name only a couple. If both sides are able to agree to all issues in advance then they may be able to proceed on an uncontested basis. This option is usually the most cost effective and causes the least stress on the parties involved.

It is important for people contemplating a divorce to keep in mind that they should be very careful not to allow themselves to be taken advantage of in the case just to be able to say that the case was uncontested. Additionally, many cases that begin as uncontested will become contested as the case proceeds.

Next, if the parties have any minor age children then child custody issues will be a factor in the case. The Parties must decide what type of parenting schedule they can agree on regarding the amount of time each parent will spend with the child. There are many possible issues where disagreements can crop up when kids are involved such as parental responsibility, decision making authority, child exchange locations, transportation, and which parent’s home will be used for school designation to name only a few. Parents must also take into account that the amount of time-sharing they have with the child can directly affect child support payments.

If the parties getting divorced are not able to agree on the issues outlined above then their case will proceed on a contested basis. This means that there are issues in the case that they are not in full agreement on. Most states require all contested divorce cases to go to mediation prior to any trial on the issues. This is done in an effort to try to unclog the already crowded divorce courts.

A majority of divorce cases will settle at or shortly after mediation takes place and those who do not proceed to trial on the left over disputed issues.

This post was provided by Family Lawyer Sean Smallwood ESQ.

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