No one enters into a marriage intending for it to end in divorce. Unfortunately, that is the case for many couples. According to the American Psychological Association, the average divorce rate in the United States is around 40%. This means that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.
If you find yourself getting divorced, you can take steps to ensure that you get what is rightfully yours. With the help of a lawyer, you can rest assured that they will take care of you and represent your interests.
1. Dividing Up Property
One of the most contentious aspects of any divorce is dividing up property. Who gets the house? Who gets the car? How are retirement savings divided? These are all valid questions that you must address. In most states, the property is divided equitably, meaning it is not necessarily an equal split but a fair one. Factors considered when dividing up property include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income and earning potential, and whether any minor children are involved.
Some people may be worried about losing half of their assets in a divorce. However, there are ways to protect your property. For example, if you own a home, you can keep it in your name and buy your spouse out. Or, if you have a retirement account, you can roll it over into an individual retirement account (IRA), so your spouse does not have access to it.
Working with an experienced family attorney can help protect your property and get what is rightfully yours in a divorce. You can also ask for a property settlement agreement, a legal document outlining how property will be divided in the event of a divorce. This can help to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes down the road.
2. Child Custody and Support
If minor children are involved in the divorce, you must also address child custody and support. Child custody can either be joint or sole; joint custody allows both parties to have a say in major decisions regarding the child, while the latter means that only one parent has that responsibility. The non-custodial party usually pays child support and is generally based on several factors, such as income, number of children involved, and whether childcare expenses are necessary.
If you seek sole custody of your child, you must prove that it is in the child’s best interest. You can do this by showing that the other parent is unfit or has a history of abuse. Sole custody can also be challenging to obtain if both parents are considered fit and have a good relationship with the child.
Sometimes, agreeing on child custody and support outside of court may be possible. However, if you cannot reach an agreement, the court will decide based on what is in the child’s best interest. Always consult an attorney before making decisions regarding child custody and support.
Alimony or spousal support is payments from one spouse to their partner after a divorce. In some divorces, the law may order one spouse to pay spousal support to the other. This is typically seen in marriages with a significant income disparity or where one spouse stayed home to care for children while the other worked. Alimony is not always permanent; the law may order it for a set period or until the recipient spouse becomes self-sufficient.
Depending on your state, different factors will be considered when awarding alimony. For example, in some states, the length of the marriage is a factor, while in others, it is not. The court will also consider each spouse’s income and earning potential, as well as their age and health.
If you are seeking alimony, it is essential to consult with an attorney familiar with your state’s laws. Each state has different regulations regarding alimony, and an experienced attorney will be able to advise you on what you may be entitled to.
4. Retirement Savings
Finally, retirement savings is another critical aspect of dividing up property in a divorce. Retirement savings can include 401(k)s, pensions, IRAs, and other investment accounts. Often, these accounts are divided up equally between spouses. However, there may be circumstances in which one spouse deserves a more significant share due to factors such as the length of the marriage or primary caregiver status.
With retirement accounts, it is essential to consult an accountant or financial advisor to ensure that the assets are properly divided. This is especially true for 401(k)s and pensions, which may have tax consequences if they are not split correctly.
Divorce can be a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved. However, by working with a qualified lawyer, you can ensure that you get what is rightfully yours and that your best interests are represented through every step of the process. Always seek legal counsel before making any decisions, as this could impact your divorce settlement down the road.