What You Need to Know about Divorce
Divorce often proves one of the more sensitive legal matters one can undertake. Because emotions are typically involved, there is a potential for involved parties to be contentious during the proceedings. The serious, long-term financial and emotional repercussions of divorce filings require precise language, a clear delineation of assets, and the advocacy from a Family Law professional, like the experts at Zicarelli and Martello. Here are some fundamentals everyone should know about when they find themselves involved in divorce proceedings.
There are several alternatives to divorce that may prove better suited to your needs depending on your specific circumstances. Many states offer legal separations. Legal separations allow for similar decisions to be made regarding property division, child custody and child support. This option, however, does not legally end a marriage. This route is generally sought for couples that desire to maintain their marriage status of religious or health care reasons.
An annulment differs in that it declares that the marriage was never valid from its inception. It has the same legal effect of a divorce but can only be granted if it can be proved that one of the spouses was already married, tricked or coerced into the marriage, or is too young to have legally wed at the time.
When it comes to shared property, it is important to know if your state has community property laws. If so, then nearly all property obtained after the marriage is subject to equal ownership among the spouses. All of the property that falls under these community property laws will then be divided equally among the two spouses.
If your state does not have community property laws it typically falls to the courts to decide where the division of property lies for both parties involved. However, the courts will often acquiesce to a property division agreement if both spouses can draft and create their own version.
Alimony is a monthly payment made from one spouse to the other following a divorce. The payments are decided upon in advance in either a settlement agreement or as a court decision. Its purpose is to correct any financial disadvantages that the divorce may have cost on either spouse involved. Several factors are involved in determining alimony payments. The age and health of each spouse, the length of time needed for the affected spouse to become self-sufficient, as well as the standard of living established throughout the marriage all play huge roles in the final decision but are ultimately determined by the state.
For some, alimony payments would prove easier if paid in one lump sum rather than a monthly schedule. This is allowed in several states as long as both parties agree to the sum and it is at least commiserating with the amount that would be paid out monthly otherwise.
If you are to receive your alimony in a lump sum, be aware of the tax obligations. You may be required to pay the taxes on the entire amount in the year you receive it if the payment is labeled “alimony”. This can be avoided in most cases if the payment is labeled “settlement”. As each person’s case is unique, it is always wise to consult with a professional to determine your best options.
When the spouses involved in a divorce or separation are parents of a child under the age of eighteen child support payments will often have to be made to the parent who will be providing the majority of the child’s housing. The level of child support provided by the spouse is generally reflective of the amount of income earned by him or her.
This amount can always be adjusted due to current financial circumstances but it is essential that the decided upon party make his or her prompt payments. Late or negligent payments can result in wage garnishment, seizing of property, a driver’s license revocation, and a potential loss of passport.
Divorce is an emotional and delicate legal filing and should always be done in a clear, efficient manner that is as amicable as possible for all parties involved. Because of the many personal and unique circumstances that go into every divorce proceeding, it is wise to seek the legal advice of knowledgeable professionals.
A trusted name in family law with over sixty years of combined practice, the experts at Zicarelli and Martello are ready to aid you along any level of divorce or separation proceedings you may be a part of. All initial legal consultations with us are 100% FREE. Call us, toll free at 800-203-3110 and let’s discuss, one-on-one, what’s best for your future.