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Divorce Agreements

Did You Know?

  • A little less than half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce
  • About 38% of all couples divorce within four years of marriage
  • Children from divorced families have a high risk of becoming divorced

Family Law - Divorce

Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. What happens in your divorce settlement can have reaching effects on how you will live over the next 5-10 years. When couples get a divorce, many issues need to be resolved. One of these is property division. There are two main ways that property is divided: equal division (known as "community property") and equitable distribution.

Community property divides property and earnings accumulated during the marriage equally. This means that each spouse receives one-half of the property. This does not include separate property that one spouse acquired with his or her own funds, inheritances, personal injury awards, or a business owned by the spouse before marriage.

Equitable distribution divides property and earnings accumulated during the marriage in a fair manner. Usually, this means that two-thirds go to the higher-wage earner and one-third goes to the other spouse. It is also important to remember that debts accumulated during the marriage are also subject to equitable distribution and community property.

How do I initiate the divorce?

In order to file for divorce, you do not have to be physically separated from you spouse. A statement called Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, containing information about your marriage and stating that you believe the marriage to be irretrievably broken is prepared by you or your attorney and filed with the Court. Notice is then given to your spouse that you have filed for divorce.

There are two types of divorce: absolute divorce and limited divorce.

Absolute divorce is when a divorce a marriage is completely dissolved. An absolute divorce can be granted on the grounds of marital misconduct (at-fault) or on the grounds that the relationship no longer works (no-fault). All states offer no-fault divorce; however, some states require a separation period before the divorce can be granted.

Limited divorce , also known as "separation", is when both parties terminate cohabitation but remain married to each other. Some couples decide to separate on a trial basis to determine whether divorce is the best solution to their marital difficulties.

Alimony is also an issue that needs to be settles in a divorce. Money may be paid from one spouse for support of the other spouse after a divorce or during a separation. Although most alimony payments are made from the husband to the wife, in instances where the husband stays home and takes care of the home and children, the wife will be required to pay alimony.

How long before I can obtain a divorce?

The answer often depends on the complexity of your case and when the Court has time to hear your case. The Court cannot grant a divorce until the parties have waited at least ninety days from the date your spouse receives legal notice of the dissolution action.

When should I file?

The law extends certain protection to the individual parties, the children of the marriage, and marital property, which can only be obtained once the action has been filed with the Court and legal notice of the action has been given to your spouse.

In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the parties, by agreement or by Court order, can establish a plan specifying their respective rights and responsibilities for payment of debts; use of property, including the marital residence; spousal support; parental decision making and parenting time; child support; and attorney's fees.

What is contained in the final divorce decree?

The final decree dissolves the marital relationship and provides a complete settlement of the matters arising out of the marriage. These matters include the evaluation and division of marital property and debts, spousal support, child support, parental responsibilities related to decision making and parenting time, taxes, and deductions, life and health insurance and costs associated therewith, and responsibility for attorney's fees.

What can I expect from the divorce process?

A divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. Seeking immediate legal advice will not only put aside some of your fears and concerns, but can help you avoid conduct at the initial stages of the proceeding, which might prejudice your entire case. The legal system is not perfect and you can anticipate delays and, at times, frustration with the process. For the children of the marriage, the marital break up is a frightening experience. Divorce may end the marriage, but not the relationship, especially if children are involved. Mental Health counseling is often useful for the adults and the children.

What will a divorce cost?

Legal fees are based on many factors, including the complexity of your case; the time limitations to complete the work, the ability to work cooperatively with your spouse; and the Court's docket. It is important to have a written fee agreement.

If you are going through a divorce and are concerned about alimony payments, contact an experienced divorce attorney today. You can use this Free Online Consultation Form.

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