November 20, 2017

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Divorce Law

Divorce or dissolution of marriage, is the process used to legally end a marriage. If you are facing divorce, you should seek the advice of a Divorce Attorney to ensure you protect your rights, and the rights of your children. View qualified Divorce Law Firms in your area to find Divorce Lawyers.

Types of Divorce

State laws vary, but most provide for two kinds of divorce:

  1. Fault – where one spouse has behaved so improperly (adultery, abuse, felony conviction) s/he is blamed for the divorce. If the petitioning spouse succeeds in placing fault, s/he will typically be awarded more of the marriage assets than the other spouse.
  2. No-fault – where no blame is assigned, and the petitioning spouse merely needs to state one of several accepted reasons to obtain a dissolution (irreconcilable differences, marriage breakdown).

Divorce Issues

Typically, there are several matters that are addressed during divorce proceedings:

  • Property distribution
  • Spousal support
  • Child Custody (see Child Custody)
  • Child Support (see Child Support )

Property Distribution

Unless you had an antenuptial or prenuptial agreement (a contract between the spouses dictating how their separate and marital property is to be distributed in the event of divorce or death), the Court will decide how to divide the parties’ assets. Although the general rule of thumb is that each spouse receives half of the assets of the marriage, courts often are not bound by this and often specifically consider one spouse’s need for alimony.

Additionally, the Court may decide that the premarital agreement is unenforceable and determine its own plan to divide the parties’ assets.

Spousal Support

There are many types of spousal support (alimony), including:

  • Temporary – awarded during a legal separation or pending the divorce decree
  • Permanent – awarded in rarer circumstances to disabled spouses, or those who have stayed home for years and now are unable to support themselves. This alimony will cease at remarriage.
  • Reimbursement – if one spouse supported the other during schooling, allowing that spouse to ultimately earn more money, an award to reimburse the working spouse may be made.
  • Rehabilitation – awarded for a definite period of time to help one spouse obtain the employment skills or education s/he needs to be self-supportive

Although typically made in a periodic payment (usually monthly), alimony may be awarded as a lump sum.

Legal Process

Typically, a divorce will proceed as follows:

  • Petition for divorce or dissolution – the spouse who files the petition is called the Petitioner, the other, the Respondent
  • Temporary order – usually after a temporary matters hearing, the Court will make any necessary orders pending the final decision, including alimony, child support, child custody and asset preservation (which commands the spouses to not transfer or dissipate any assets)
  • Mediation – may be ordered and the spouses have to try to work out a compromise on all issues. If successful, the parties usually provide the Court with a proposed decree and the Court typically approves it.
  • Decree – this will be the court’s permanent order and will divide the property, establish child custody and support and any spousal support.

Related areas:

Family Law, Child Custody, Child Support, Parental Rights, Marital Law