Divorce Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is there anything I should immediately do if I think I may need a divorce?
Gather as much financial information about your spouse as possible (paystubs, bank statements, tax returns, mortgage info, retirement and investment account info, etc.), keep a log of significant events that you may need to accurately recount later, and consult an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. Some preparation and putting a reliable plan in place now can save you money and aggravation later.
2. What’s the divorce process?
A complaint is filed, the other party is served with a summons and a copy of the complaint, and the case begins. If an issue requires immediate attention (i.e. child custody/visitation/support or alimony), the parties may go to court for temporary orders. During the next phase, information - usually financial - is exchanged between the parties and there are negotiations. If the case is resolved, an agreement is signed and the divorce finalized. If any issues are unresolved, the case proceeds to trial.
3. How should I search for an attorney?
This decision could mean the difference between walking away from a marriage with a favorable arrangement and financial stability or struggling for years to come. Use the internet to research attorneys: their reviews, qualifications, and past client experiences. Ask people you trust for recommendations. And hire an attorney that focuses on divorce practice.
4. How is property divided in a divorce?
There’s an “equitable distribution” of the marital assets in the divorce, which essentially means the property must be divided fairly. This includes real estate, retirement accounts and other investments, cash, businesses, and everything else the parties own. Age, income, health, assets, and contributions to the marriage are some of the factors the court considers in the division. The longer the marriage, and the more equal the contributions from the parties - including non-economic contributions like home-making and child-rearing - the more likely it is that the property will be divided equally.
5. What happens to my business in a divorce?
It depends on how another property is divided and whether there are any support payments being made by the party keeping the business. The business will likely be considered “marital property,” and is subject to division - or in most cases a buyout. However, if the income to the party from that business is used in setting child support and/or alimony, the business is less likely to also be used in the property division.