Unless you have been through a divorce before, odds are you have never been told about what happens during a typical divorce, what sort of complications you should expect, what you should fight for, what you should concede, and so on. Realistically, even if you have been divorced at least once before in your life, knowing what is on the horizon for your next divorce will not be simple. Every divorce or family law dispute is unique and comes with its own set of concerns and questions.
In order to make your divorce more manageable and less intimidating, it is crucial that you get a solid understanding of the groundwork issues of the average divorce. Start by retaining the services of a trusted divorce lawyer, and then sitting down with them to discuss the basics but in detail.
Here are five topics you should definitely cover with your divorce attorney:
- Property division: Everything you had once shared with your spouse may now be up in the air as marital property. Everything you had that you decidedly did not share with your spouse may also still be in the scales of divorce, as it can sometimes be quite easy to decide on marital property division but quite difficult to prove that something is separate property. If you are in New York, like Eiges & Orgel, PLLC, then you are in an equitable property state, which means your marital property is divided fairly, not necessarily equally. Consider this straightforward example: Each spouse in a married couple puts money into a joint retirement fund for the both of them. One spouse has contributed 80% of the total amount of funds. During the divorce, the spouse that contributed the 80% would likely receive 80% of the account’s value since that is what is fair, not equal. If you have specific pieces of property you want to hold onto during your divorce, talk to a New York City divorce attorney about it early on so you can get a grasp on your options. Keep in mind that property division will also divide up your debts.
- Spousal support: In many instances of marriage, one spouse makes considerably more income than the other. This imbalance should not be viewed as any way to judge either party’s character, but it does need to be considered during a divorce. A family law court judge does not want to make any divorce ruling that will throw one or both spouses into disparity if it can be reasonably avoided. This is sometimes known as maintaining the standard of living experienced during the marriage. Spousal support is the key way a court ensures that the spouse that was making much less income, or none at all, continues to live comfortably. The length of the marriage, each party’s physical and mental health, each spouse’s education or career, level, and so on will all be determined when decided spousal support. Ask your divorce lawyer how they predict spousal support will be decided and work on a plan from there if it is not to your liking.
- Child support: Unlike spousal support, which is an obligated payment from one spouse to the other, child support is technically an obligation from each parent to their child or children. The primary custodian of the child can receive child support payments from the other parent, but those payments must be used to take care of the child and improve the child’s life. Likewise, the parent receiving child support must make an honest effort to provide for the child as well. You may notice that child support orders speak of three forms of costs: fixed, variable, and controlled. Sit down with your New York City child support lawyer and get a clear idea of these three types of child support expenses.
- Child custody: Out of all the aspects and topics in the average divorce, child custody is arguably the biggest deal that causes the most stress and contests. Indeed, anything that relates to your child’s livelihood and welfare after a divorce is the top priority of a family law court, by law. No judge can ever create a ruling that is clearly against a child’s best interests. In terms of child custody, the judge cannot award custody to a parent unfit for that responsibility. Child custody is divided into two forms: physical and legal. Physical custody allows a parent to live with a child, and legal custody allows a parent to make important decisions for the child, such as where the child goes to school. Make certain your child custody agreement is planned thoroughly and respects your own parenting rights. No matter how badly you may want to finalize your divorce, you should never rush child custody matters.
- Paperwork, articles, and more: Much of your divorce proceeding is going to feel abstract since you will be, more or less, talking about how your life will play out. However, you can improve your chances of concluding your divorce beneficially by getting your hands on hard copies of documents of all types. Bank statements, prenuptial agreements, tax returns, insurance policies, estate planning documents, and much more can all play important parts in your divorce as it progresses. Unless you want to risk getting caught off-guard halfway through your divorce, do what you can at the start to gather up everything and anything of interest. Your divorce attorney may also request copies of your paperwork for them to hold onto and review in their office.
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Now that you have a basic understanding of the five key elements of most any divorce, it is time to expand upon your knowledge, take action, and really get your divorce moving along in the right direction. At Eiges & Orgel, PLLC, our New York City divorce lawyers are serious about getting our clients through such difficult times with confidence and clarity. For more than 40 total years of legal experience, we have been providing the people of our communities not only unbeatable legal counsel but also authentic moral support.