Divorce, Child Custody & Support
Overview – The Basics
Contemplating divorce is difficult. Whether or not you are sure you want to end your marriage, it helps to learn the basics of divorce law. Should you conclude that divorce is necessary, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.
A divorce is a judicial decree by which a valid marriage is dissolved. From a legal standpoint, the divorce process will divide the couple’s assets and debts; determine the future care and custody of their children; and give each person the legal right to marry someone else.
Divorce can be emotionally and financially devastating. We can help clients resolve sensitive issues in the most economical and dignified manner possible. For those involved in divorce/dissolution of marriage, this might mean mediation or arbitration. In other cases, we advise clients that their interests will be best protected by initiating court proceedings.
We will help you reach a custody agreement or win a judgment that is best for your children. That arrangement may involve shared/joint custody or sole custody, and will define the child’s primary residence, the custodial parent and visitation (parenting time) schedule with the non-custodial parent. The terms of child support will be worked out, and if circumstances change, we will seek a modification of custody and support orders.
We will protect your financial interests during divorce. In some cases spousal support (alimony), temporary or permanent, may be an issue. Division of property involves not only the obvious real estate and bank accounts, but identification of retirement accounts and other marital assets and drafting of Qualified Domestic relations Orders (QDRO). The tax implications of asset and debt division will be carefully considered.
If the relationship involved domestic violence, you may need the protection of a restraining order during your legal separation or after your divorce. If you have been the subject of false allegations of assault, we will advise you on appropriate steps to take in your defense.
Division of Property
When a couple has little or no marital property, no children, and no disagreement on spousal maintenance/alimony, their divorce usually goes very quickly. Most couples, however, have numerous issues to work out during the divorce process.
Division of property may involve children or significant marital property: personal property, real estate, a family business, large or concealed debts, trusts, real property in other states, joint and separate accounts, investments, insurance, pensions and other assets. In any divorce, especially one involving complex property matters, an experienced family law attorney can offer valuable guidance and advocacy.
Dealing with Divorce
For some, divorce may feel like a liberating new beginning. For most, however, it is not so straightforward. The end of a relationship as important as a marriage brings numerous difficult emotions. Indeed, recovering from a divorce is similar to the grieving process one experiences when a loved one dies. The process typically consists of five stages: shock and denial; anger; ambivalence; depression; and recovery. Not everyone experiences these emotions in the same way or in the same order. You may move in and out of a phase more than once, even experiencing more than one phase at a time. It is a difficult and time-consuming process. Family counselors advise that it may take as long as one or two years to truly recover.
Understanding the process and the feelings you may experience will help you to grieve the relationship. It is important to allow yourself the time you need to recover from the traumatic experience of ending a marriage so that you can move on to the next phase of your life. An experienced family law attorney can provide invaluable advice and support throughout the divorce process.
Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce
Q: What is a legal divorce?
A: A divorce is the dissolution of a marriage. After divorce, both parties are free to remarry. During typical divorce proceedings, the couple’s assets and debts will be divided and the care and custody of any children will be determined. Each state has its own distinct divorce laws.
Q: What are “fault divorce” and “no-fault divorce”?
A: In the past, divorce generally had only been granted on the basis of marital misconduct called “fault”: adultery, mental cruelty, or another wrongful act. There were also defenses to these faults. In these divorces, the spouse at fault often received a smaller portion of the marital settlement. In a no-fault divorce, the parties merely need to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably or that the couple has irreconcilable differences. Every state has some form of no-fault divorce, but the particulars of the laws can differ markedly from state to state.