Deciding to get a divorce is, in and of itself, a big decision. During divorce proceedings, many more big decisions will need to be made. There will be decisions that need to be made about your assets, your debts, and your children. All will have important and often significant impacts on your personal and financial life and wellbeing. It is both a good and an often difficult thing to confront the fact that you and your spouse can play a major part in making these decisions. If the two of you can agree on key decisions involved in the divorce process, a court is, under most circumstances, likely to honor and follow these decisions. Should you and your spouse be unable to reach an agreement in making decisions in the divorce process, the court will make the decisions for you.
There are four central issues involved in the divorce process, if there are children resulting from the marriage. The issues are:
- Division of property
- Alimony or Spousal support
- Child Support
- Child custody
Obviously, if there are no children resulting from the marriage, the last two issues will not apply to your particular divorce case.
Within the central issues are a myriad of decisions that need to be made. For instance, when it comes to child custody, you will be faced with decisions such as:
- Which parent will retain physical custody of the children?
- Which parent will retain legal custody of the children?
- Should one parent have sole or primary custody of the children, what kind of visitation rights will the other parent have?
- Who will have weekends with the kids? Who will have holidays with the kids?
Child support also raises important decisions, including:
- Who will pay child support?
- How much will child support payments be?
- What will be the end date of the child support payments?
- Who will cover health insurance costs for the children?
- How will costs for things like extracurricular activities, tutoring, and private school tuition be allocated?
- Will you share the cost of college tuition? If so, how will the cost be shared?
- Who will be claiming the children as an income tax exemption?
There is also the issue of alimony, also referred to as “spousal support,” that will need to be addressed. Alimony is when one spouse is obligated to make payments to another spouse as a result of divorce. Not only is alimony a sensitive issue, as are most of the issues involved in divorce, but it is also one that comes with a host of decisions to be made, including:
- Who, if anyone, will pay alimony?
- How much will the alimony payments be?
- How long will alimony payments be made?
The court will generally decide the issue of alimony based on a variety of factors such as need, ability to pay, and length of marriage.
Last, but certainly not lease, there is property distribution to consider. Property distribution involves the allocation of marital debts and assets. First, it needs to be determined what assets and debts are classified as marital and what will be considered separate and not subject to distribution during divorce proceedings (it remain in the ownership of the one spouse). Decisions to be made regarding property distribution include:
- What are the value of the marital assets?
- What is the total of marital debts?
- What percentage of marital assets will each spouse receive?
- What percentage of marital debts will each spouse receive?
- Who will retain the marital home?
As you can see, the divorce process is rife with decisions. There is a decision at every turn and it can be really overwhelming, especially considering divorce is such a personal and often emotional time. You do not have to go through all of this alone. Dedicated divorce legal counsel can help support you and protect you during this important and difficult time.