Whenever two people decide to call it quits on a marriage, there is a lot that needs to be dealt with. This is especially true if the couple has been together for a considerably long period of time. Dividing and sharing different things often causes strife and fights which is part of the reason why the process takes such a long time.
There are different options for those who are considering divorce. The first is to agree on every aspect of how you are going to end things. This is known as uncontested divorce. One party files for divorce and the other does not have any aspect that they disagree with. This can also go a step higher where it is described as ‘no fault’ divorce. This is allowed in some states only. In this case, the couple only needs to cite irreconcilable differences as the reason for the divorce. Even after agreeing on everything, you would still need to follow the legal process to have the marriage dissolved. While you can do it on your own, it is best to get a divorce lawyer so that nothing slips through the cracks and the divorce is finalized as soon as possible.
The other option is to follow the legal process and go to court if you do not agree on certain aspects of how to dissolve the marriage. This can be very expensive as each party needs to have attorney representation. It can also drag out for months on end. A cheaper and sometimes faster way of looking for common ground is through mediation. In this case, you get a court-appointed mediator to negotiate the terms of dissolving your marriage. This objective third party is not biased to either side. However, you can still choose to get a lawyer to sit in through the process in order to ensure that your interests are fully represented.
Asset and Debt Division
When you get divorced, you need to figure out who gets what at the end of the day. This includes all marital property including houses, cars, investments and debt. Anything that was acquired during the period of the marriage is up for grabs. However, property acquired before is not considered unless you later changed the ownership to both of you. Gifts such as inheritance are also not considered as marital property unless you used them to acquire marital property.
If you are able to reach a consensus without intervention, you will be able to save on a lot of the money that would have been used in legal fees. Even so, you need to still write this down officially and present it to the court. If you cannot agree on how to divide the property, this will be one of the things argued out in court with the final decision left to the judge.
Spousal Support or Alimony
Spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, is another aspect of divorce. If you have been married for a considerable period of time, your standard of living could have improved as a result of the marriage. Additionally, some people end up forfeiting a source of income to take care of children and run affairs of the family. In such a case, the spouse needs to have monthly upkeep until they can find a new job, gain enough skills to secure a job or until they are married or living with another lover. The amount is determined by a number of factors including:
The state of health of the payee
The ability of the payer to pay
Asset division during divorce
Current standard of living
The payer can ask the court to discontinue the alimony or reduce it in amount in case the payee gets re-married, starts living with another lover or gets a job. This, however, is ultimately upon the court and not both parties.
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Other aspects such as child custody and support are also part of divorce proceedings if the couple had children. All of these factors are argued out in court during the proceedings and the decision is left to the court. However, if you were able to agree on your own or get a mediator to help in the process, you can still make decisions on how to approach all these issues and then have a lawyer present it to court for legalization. This is much cheaper and involves less fighting and drama. The latter is beneficial, especially for those who have children and would like to protect them from the ugliness that hostility can easily cause.