Almost 1 million people got divorced in the USA during 2021. This, fascinatingly, is the lowest level in 40 years. Either love is on the rise, or marriage is on the decline – depending on whom you ask. The United States federal government has largely left the business of divorce up to individual states. Each state has a unique set of legal customs designed, in theory, to make divorce as fair and equitable as possible for both parties.
In reality, divorce can be very complicated and messy indeed. Both parties taking part in a separation should hire a qualified lawyer. Divorce lawyers help to guide people through the often stressful process of separation and take part in the negotiation of terms and conditions. Here is a quick guide to the ways in which divorce lawyers help their clients.
In This Article
Acting As A Mediator
Divorce can, understandably, be a messy and emotional affair. When a couple breaks up, the cold hard legal facts of the separation can be clouded by the immense emotional strain, which both parties labor under. A good divorce lawyer essentially acts as a sort of mediator, making sure that couples have to spend as little time as possible suffering under confusing and stressful circumstances and acting on their behalf.
Many couples manage to completely avoid interacting with each other during the divorce proceeding, instead preferring to allow legal representatives to negotiate terms and conditions on their behalf entirely. Some lawyers advise their clients to avoid all personal contact with their former partners because of the potential conflicts and legal complications that can arise when they do.
Advising On Spousal Support
Many clients rely upon their lawyers to help them understand the potential for spousal support payments to or from their estates. Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a court-ordered payment made by one spouse to the other following a divorce or legal separation in the United States. The purpose of spousal support is to provide financial assistance to the lower or non-earning earning spouse during and after the divorce.
In determining the amount and duration of spousal support, courts consider a number of factors, including each spouse’s earning capacity, the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and each spouse’s age and health. The court may also consider the contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including homemaking and child-rearing.
There are several types of spousal support that may be ordered in a divorce, including temporary support during the divorce proceedings, permanent support for a set period of time, and indefinite support. The type of support that is ordered depends on the specific circumstances of each case.
Spousal support may be modified or terminated if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a loss of income or a change in the recipient’s financial situation. In some cases, spousal support may be waived by the agreement of the parties. Divorce lawyers have an essential role to play in all this, guiding their clients and helping them understand the legal frameworks in which alimony orders are constructed. Still, alimony is one of the elements of divorce that can cause the most conflict between former partners.
Developing A Child Custody Plan
Divorce lawyers also frequently play a large part in the creation and implementation of a child custody plan. In the United States, child custody is determined based on what is in the best interests of the child. Lawyers assist clients in drawing up child custody plans by evaluating their individual circumstances and negotiating a parenting plan that reflects the client’s needs and priorities. The plan may include provisions for legal custody, physical custody, and visitation schedules.
Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, including decisions about education, health, and religious upbringing. Physical custody refers to the child’s physical residence and the parent with whom the child primarily lives. Visitation schedules outline the times when the non-custodial parent may spend time with the child.
In negotiating a child custody plan, lawyers often review relevant legal standards, including state laws and court decisions, to advise their clients on their rights and obligations. They may also consider factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s age and developmental needs, and any history of abuse or neglect.
Lawyers may also negotiate on behalf of their clients to resolve any disputes that arise, such as disagreements over the interpretation of the parenting plan or changes to the plan over time. They may also represent their clients in court, if necessary, to enforce the terms of the plan or to modify the plan in the future.
In addition to negotiating the terms of a child custody plan, lawyers also assist clients in preparing and filing any necessary court documents and may represent them in court proceedings. They also provide guidance on the legal process and assist clients in navigating the court system. Child custody cases frequently become highly complicated. A divorce lawyer can make complex child custody cases less likely to happen by creating a transparent and fair plan during the divorce process.
Reviewing Assets At Stake
There are often many different kinds of assets at stake during a divorce. A good lawyer will help a client to see beyond the highly emotional business of breaking up and deal with the mundane – and yet complex – task of assessing what kind of assets need to be negotiated over. Divorce lawyers essentially act as advocates and mediators, enabling clients to avoid further complicating an already sensitive situation. Some clients will waive their right to seek assets from their former partners in order to spare themselves the trouble of negotiating.
The vast majority of the assets that are being negotiated over during divorce proceedings will come under the umbrella definition of property. In the USA, property can include land, buildings, personal belongings, intellectual property, and financial assets. The definition and protection of property rights vary by state and are governed by federal and state constitutions, common law, and statutes. If all of this sounds complex, it is because it is! Divorce lawyers are able to cut through the complexity and inform their clients about the way in which property can be divided and appealed for in understandable terms.
There are two main types of property division in the USA: community property and equitable distribution. Community property states, including California and Arizona, divide property and debts equally between spouses. A divorce attorney Woodland Hills has in service, for instance, would work with their clients with community property laws in mind that are relevant to and in place in that specific area. Although a divorce attorney in Woodland Hills may have different solutions than one in, say, another town on the other side of the country; it depends on the exact location and its property division laws.
For example, in equitable distribution states, which make up the majority of the country, the property is divided based on what is deemed fair and reasonable, taking into consideration factors such as the length of the marriage, the income of each spouse, and the contributions made by each spouse to the marriage.
The property subject to division in a divorce includes assets such as real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts, pensions, and personal property. In some cases, spouses may agree on the division of property and debts through a prenuptial agreement or a settlement agreement reached during the divorce process. If the spouses are unable to agree, a judge will make the final determination
Helping With Debt Distribution
When couples divorce in the United States, their debts and assets are typically divided between them as part of the property division process. Again, like property, the exact way in which debt is divided can vary depending on the state where the divorce takes place, but typically the court will aim to split the debt in a way that is fair and equitable to both parties.
This may involve taking into account the amount of debt each spouse has incurred, who incurred the debt, and the income and assets of each spouse. For example, if one spouse incurred a significant amount of credit card debt during the marriage, the court may determine that this debt should be their responsibility to pay off. On the other hand, if the debt was incurred for the benefit of both spouses, such as a mortgage on a jointly-owned home, it may be split between them in a way that reflects their relative financial abilities.
It is important to note that when it comes to debt division, the court’s focus is on fairness rather than equality. This means that the court may not divide debt equally between the spouses but instead in a way that takes into account the individual circumstances of each spouse. This can result in one spouse being required to pay off more debt than the other.
Divorce lawyers act as advocates for their clients, ensuring that the party they represent does not get unfairly encumbered with debts that they did not incur. This is often a point of contention during divorce proceedings, and divorce lawyers take some of the strain away from this undoubtedly stressful element of a case. Debt distribution is never pleasant, but it is a necessary element in many cases.