The Basics of Divorce
When contemplating divorce or separation, it’s generally beneficial to begin untangling finances as soon as possible. You can do this by moving assets into your individual name and ending joint credit card usage.
Fault grounds for divorce include desertion, cruelty or inhuman treatment and adultery if it occurred within five years prior to filing for divorce.
Divorce is the termination of a marriage or marital union
Divorce is a legal process in which two people legally part ways by having their marriage annulled by a court, effectively ending their union and returning them both back to being single and free to marry again. Divorce in the United States generally falls under state law; matters related to property division, child custody arrangements and alimony payments will usually fall within its purview. As this can be a complex procedure many seek assistance from attorneys in helping navigate it successfully.
Divorces can either be contested or uncontested. When going the contested route, spouses often disagree on issues like property division and alimony payments; mediation services often help resolve these disagreements and save time, money and stress for everyone involved. When both sides reach an agreement on these issues themselves however, then a divorce will become uncontested.
To file for divorce in any state, one must meet residency requirements and have legally-acceptable grounds for ending their marriage. These grounds vary by state; some can include adultery or bigamy while others do not place blame upon either party; at-fault grounds can include adultery, bigamy, infidelity, desertion and mental incapacity at time of marriage or force or fraud in obtaining marriage contract; criminal conviction resulting from imprisonment of either partner and emotional/physical abuse may all qualify as reasons to end it all.
Once upon a time, filing for divorce was generally seen as wrong; however, by the early 20th century Reno became known as “divorce capital of the world,” with courts increasingly accepting uncorroborated allegations of cruelty as grounds for divorce. Most states now allow no-fault divorce laws while New York allows what’s called a conversion divorce mechanism which permits couples to gain absolute divorce after living separately for some period of time.
After a marriage has come to an end, the court must make decisions regarding where and how any children will live and be raised. These decisions typically consider what would be in the best interests of each child and may take several factors into consideration – including health and emotional relationships between parents, their ability to provide basic needs for children as well as lifestyle factors and child preference if old enough to express one.
Child custody disputes can often be the most contentious part of a divorce. Parents frequently differ in their ideas regarding what is best for their children and it is essential for both parties to communicate about this issue prior to court ruling on it. Under most circumstances, courts award sole or joint custody with one party having sole parental responsibility – but in certain instances grandparental custody may also be awarded by court order.
No matter the form of custody awarded, both parents will receive visitation rights. Non-custodial parents are usually expected to pay child support payments which help offset the expenses related to raising children – this amount typically depends on both parent’s incomes.
Courts may also award temporary custody to one parent during divorce or separation proceedings. While this decision lies solely with the court, consideration will be given to status quo, stability of life for child in each home, quality of life within both homes, school district enrollment numbers and any other relevant factors that affect child’s environment. If exclusive custody is awarded to one parent, supervision rights or supervised visitation rights will be given to other party (unless special circumstances warrant otherwise).
As parents divorce, one of the primary issues to resolve is how best to provide for their children afterward. This involves financial support owed by both parties as a legal obligation and usually calculated using an income-based formula. Basic child support obligations should cover food, shelter, clothing and general living costs in addition to covering health care and childcare costs.
Courts typically make decisions regarding child support after hearing evidence from both sides. Hearings are conducted by a support magistrate who takes testimony and examines witnesses; after this step is completed they calculate and set payment schedules; once set the non-custodial parent will then pay their child support payments via Support Collection Unit (SCU).
If a parent is having difficulty paying their child support payments, they can petition for modification. This can happen if there has been a significant change to either income or circumstances (job loss/disability etc). Please keep in mind that courts may only approve modifications in such instances.
Though child custody and visitation arrangements may be possible between parents, when there are differences regarding how to care for and raise their children it can become challenging. When this is the case it’s advisable to hire an experienced divorce attorney who will quickly resolve these disputes as well as advise you of all of your options when determining what’s best for your family and their best arrangement for custody and visitation arrangements.
Alimony is a financial allowance awarded from one spouse to another following a divorce, usually temporary or permanent and determined based on both parties’ needs and abilities. Alimony payments may also take into account length of marriage and both parties’ incomes to help determine their size and amount.
Judges typically award alimony payments when one spouse can no longer support themselves after their marriage has ended, such as when one partner gives up work to care for children or maintain the home. Alimony should allow both former partners to continue enjoying similar standard of living during and post-marriage.
Alimony payments may be either periodic or lump sum, and are taxed as income to their recipients. Unlike child support payments which may be adjusted due to cost of living increases, alimony usually remains unchanged unless circumstances change substantially, such as loss of job or death of spouse.
Spousal support may be short or long term and typically represents a percentage of marital assets. Longer marriages tend to see longer-term alimony payments awarded more frequently; it typically ends either when either party remarries or one spouse passes away, although in certain instances courts may award rehabilitative alimony that lasts a specific number of months until both have completed training to become gainfully employed again.
If your ex is failing to pay court-ordered alimony payments, you can petition a judge for enforcement of their payment order. However, you will first need to go back into court and file a “show cause” action against them – then the judge will set a hearing date to ascertain why your ex isn’t complying with it; failing which they may be held in contempt.
Property division is an integral component of divorce proceedings and it may be difficult for spouses to agree on how to divide up assets. Usually, courts will divide up both debts and assets according to state laws; and will consider whether an asset belongs to either spouse. Marital property includes anything purchased during marriage regardless of ownership status; separate property is comprised of anything either person owned prior to marrying as well as inheritance or gifts from third parties.
As part of their asset division process, spouses should make an effort to document all items of value and estimate their worth – this will allow for an equitable distribution. It would also be prudent to hire an attorney as assistance. If a fair division cannot be agreed upon between both spouses, then the court may assign each one a percentage of what’s left after paying off debts.
An attorney with experience in family law can provide invaluable help and ensure both spouses are treated equally during this delicate process.
New York courts use the equitable distribution process to divide property among couples who own high net worth assets and multiple assets. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can help limit how much will be subject to equitable distribution.