Divorce is fundamentally a legal issue – however, the legal issues are fairly simple. I often ask clients to think back about their wedding – how much of that was legal? Weddings are emotional, spiritual, familial, relational events. The divorce isn’t all that different. It is an emotional, relational, and familial transition. It doesn’t feel like much of a legal issue. The legal issues fall into three main categories.
First, the parties must determine property division. Essentially, there needs to be an accounting of all assets and liabilities. There then needs to be a clear division of this property. This division includes all debts (credit cards, student loans, etc.), real estate, investments, cash accounts, retirement assets, cars, personal property, and many other categories.
Second, if there are children, there must be a determination of custody and the financial support for the children. Child support is mandated by the state but couples often come up with unique settlements that more accurately fit the needs of the family. There must also be designations of legal and physical custody of the children. There is also often a parenting plan put into place that outlines decision making responsibility, specific schedules for the children, holiday scheduling, details about transitions, traveling, introduction of new partners, and communication. The parenting plan can be less or more detailed depending on the needs and interests of the parents.
Finally, there needs to be a determination of cash flow moving forward. If both parties are self-sufficient and able to support their current lifestyles, there may be no exchange of finances moving forward. If one party has a need, there may be a determination of spousal maintenance (alimony).
While no two cases are identical, these three categories are the main areas that need discussion and resolution during a divorce. Give Kimberly a call to learn more about your rights with regard to these categories and the best process for moving forward.