If you are considering a divorce, you may be nervous about what to expect. You may have heard horror stories from friends or family about how their divorce went horribly wrong – or maybe about how great their divorce was. As a law firm that has maintained a family law practice for twenty-five years, there is one thing we know for sure: every divorce is different. Just because your brother obtained full legal and physical custody of his children doesn't mean that you will. Just because your best friend was awarded spousal maintenance doesn't mean you will. Instead, each case is resolved based on its own merits.
Commonality in Divorce
Despite every divorce being different in its result, the fact is every divorce deals with the same issues. For every couple, whether they have children or not, there are three topics that must be addressed. This is true for couples with extensive holdings and couples with very little. Those three things include
- division of property,
- division of debt, and
- spousal maintenance.
Division of Property
When couples divorce, they must make decisions about how to divide their property. This includes how they will divide big-ticket items, such as the family home, vacation homes, boats, jewelry, and art. It also includes dividing things like the household tools, the pots and pans, and other mundane items. Courts must divide marital property “equitably.” This means they try to divide the property in a manner that is fair. This is not the same as dividing the marital property “equally.” Negotiating property division is essential to a fair divorce. It is almost always better if the divorcing parties negotiate the property division rather than leaving it to the Judge to decide.
Division of Debt
Just as almost every couple has property, almost every couple has debt. This, too, must be divided between the parties. Many people think that debt division might align with who created the debt to begin with. However, this may not be the case. Like asset division, debt division is based on equity, not equal distribution. As such, one person may become responsible for more of the debt, regardless of who originally incurred the debt.
Spousal maintenance, previously referred to as “alimony,” is not awarded in every case. However, in every case, a family law attorney should review their client's circumstances, as well as the conditions of the marriage, to determine whether alimony might be appropriate. Once a divorce is finalized, a party may not return to court to request alimony for the first time. Instead, spousal maintenance must be addressed at the time the divorce is being negotiated or litigated. That's why "do it yourself" divorce kits are usually a bad idea.
If you are considering divorce, contact the firm of Frost & Kavanaugh. Family law attorney David Kavanaugh has represented clients in divorce cases for over 25 years. We offer comprehensive family law services at reasonable prices. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, at 518.283.3000. Together, we can map a plan for your future.