So, you have decided your best course of action is to dissolve your marriage with your spouse? Before you do anything, it?s important to get your ducks in a row. Determine what you own, what you owe and get a good idea of each party?s annual salary.
Once you have a handle on your assets, income and debts, seek legal advice from a trusted, respected attorney in your community. Ask friends and other respected members of the community for a recommendation. An attorney will help you navigate the process and help you figure out many of the milestones and questions you will have throughout your divorce.
Separation or Divorce?
Separation and divorce can be confusing. There are different types of separation and each type has different property rights according to which separation is chosen.
Trial Separation vs. Living Separately:
A trial separation is an agreement by a couple to live apart for a period of time to determine if they will separate permanently. During this time, the assets accumulated by the couple and the debts they incur are often considered marital property. This option is not usually legally recognized.
Living apart indicates that a couple does not intend to reunite. With this option the couple no longer shares the same dwelling and changes the spouses’ property rights. Some states consider property accumulated and debts incurred while living apart to the debt of the person who incurred it. In some states, this property is considered joint until a divorce complaint is filed. Additionally, a couple must live apart for a period of time and after this period, the couple is then permitted to file for a no-fault divorce.
Legal vs. Permanent Separation:
When a court rules on the division of property, alimony, child support and custody and/or visitation, but does not grant a divorce, it is known as a legal separation. This option is not common, however, there are instances where a couple does not wish to divorce because of financial, personal or religious beliefs. This is a court order that addresses all issues that would be outlined in a divorce.
A permanent separation occurs when a couple decides to part and begins immediately when the couple begins living apart. During this time, assets received and most debts incurred are considered as separate responsibility of the person who incurred them. However, debts after separation and before divorce are usually considered joint debts if established for such necessities as providing for children or home maintenance.
Options for Divorce
Making the decision to divorce as a couple is usually best. The more issues you can work out together, means you will decide topics such as how your children will be raised, what happens to the family home, as well as the division of property. By making these decisions a couple you can save on money, time and heartache. By avoiding continued parental fighting, a couple can help their children through a tough time with a little less pain involved.
Collaborative practice is an instance in which the clients and lawyers agree that court is not an option and will voluntarily share information while working together cooperatively toward a settlement. These cases exists where each client?s lawyer is a collaborative lawyer and sign an agreement that in the event a case is not settled, each couple has to hire new litigation representation. The lack of financial incentive to go to court encourages each party to settle earlier.
Is A Lawyer Necessary?
If abuse is an issue – spousal, child, sexual or substance abuse ? you should definitely hire a lawyer. It may be impossible for the abused spouse to negotiate the terms of divorce and in instances such as this a lawyer can sort out necessary steps to take to establish protection for the abused spouse and the children.
Additionally, it is sound thinking to hire a lawyer in the event your spouse is dishonest or vindictive, in which case, you may need someone who speaks in your best interest.
Lastly, if your spouse has an attorney, this is a good indication to engage your own attorney. Once again, your attorney will keep your best interests in mind and if you have children or are facing financial issues, hiring your own lawyer can provide you with a clear perspective that will help you throughout the proceedings and can speak favorably on your behalf.
A Judge?s Resolution Does Not Make Happier Consumers
The number of issues resolved at trial decreases the satisfaction with the process. The longer a case is extended, the unhappier the participants are likely to become. And no matter the result, some people are naturally unreasonable and dissatisfied because of the money they have spent to dissolve the marriage and the contested nature of divorces that go to trial.
Protect Your Rights with a Respected Attorney You Can Trust
If you have decided on divorce action, you need a legal team that can help you navigate divorce processes and guide you through all disputes. Contact the divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Barbara Sherer. We provide you with expert legal advice while making sure that the outcomes will protect you and your family.