A premarital agreement is a contract which people who are about to marry one another enter into: it is an agreement that clearly indicates how property and assets ought to be distributed in case of divorce, legal separation, or death. Though some may consider this to be an unromantic gesture, premarital agreements can help to provide spouses with a measure of security in their relationship, knowing that their futures are protected.
Pre-marital, prenuptial, and ante-nuptial agreements have long been a practice in the US. It was strongly enforced in 1848 through the Married Women’s Property Act. It was this act that gave women who entered into marriage their identity and rights back, since before this, a married woman’s legal existence was recognized only as extensions of her husband’s. This was due to the legal policy called coverture, a law that relinquished a woman’s legal rights upon marriage to her husband. Because of coverture, a married woman lost any right to own, sell, or transfer property, enter into contracts, earn a salary, or get an education without the consent of her husband and, even if her husband allowed her to work, the policy obliged her to surrender her earnings to him. Thus, in the event of divorce, she stood the chance of losing all her property to her husband.
History shows all the more how important a prenuptial agreement is. For both parties to appreciate its real value, though, it has to be talked about long before engagement, as openly and candidly as possible and with the help of separate divorce lawyers who will make sure that both of your rights and interests are well protected. The following are just some of the benefits this type of agreement can confer:
- preservation of family ties and inheritance;
- guaranteed protection of the children’s financial security earned from an earlier marriage;
- protection over personal and business assets made prior to marriage
- eliminates the need for lengthy and expensive asset and finance court settlements in case of divorce.
When a couple chooses to pursue a divorce, it often entails lengthy court battles, costly attorney’s fees, and emotional and psychological duress. For this reason, some couples who might otherwise choose to end their marriage may put off divorce.
There is an alternative means to ending marriage, however, one which is faster, much cheaper and less stressful, and which results in solutions that are more agreeable to divorcing couples – divorce mediation. Meditation enables couples to settle all divorce-related issues, including distribution of assets and liabilities, child custody and visitation rights, child support and alimony, in an amicable way. A mediator, who acts as a go-between the couple and their lawyers, offers suggestions and helps the couple reach a settlement quickly.
The process of mediation does not require the couple to be represented by lawyers. Through a third party called the mediator, this private and confidential process can proceed, giving the couple significant freedom in settling all the relevant issues. Other benefits of the mediation process include:
- cost – while a divorce case may take the court weeks or months to settle, mediation may take only hours.
- confidentiality – in mediation, only the couple and the mediator know what transpired during the process. The divorcing couple’s lives and what they agree on never become part of the public record.
- compliance – since the solutions arrived at are products of mutual consent, compliance to these agreements is more likely.
Though mediation is steadily becoming a popular option, it is not perfect for all couples, particularly those in contentious relationships who cannot meet an acceptable middle ground. To determine whether mediation is the right option for your divorce settlement, it is best to consult with a qualified divorce attorney about your situation and learn more about the differences between divorce processes.
Child support is one of the most difficult issues divorcing parents need to settle. It refers to the amount of financial assistance the non-custodial parent, also known as the obligor, ought to pay to the obligee, that is, the custodial parent, the guardian, the caregiver or, in the absence of all these, the state – for the support of the child.
Parents are legally obligated to support their biological children after divorce. This legal responsibility is recognized worldwide, especially by the nations which are members of the UN. In the US, this parental obligation is further enforced by the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, which also enumerates the factors that ought to be considered when resolving child support issues.
The financial support is supposed to help cover the basic needs of the child, such as food, shelter, clothing, education and health care; it is usually paid only until the child’s 18th birthday, or until they finish high school. Some of the factors considered in resolving the issue include the present income of the parents (income includes wages, commissions, dividends, workers’ compensation benefits, and unemployment benefits, among other things), the age and needs of the child, the parent’s capacity to contribute to child support, and the cost of the child’s needs.
Besides the monthly or periodic payments by the obligor, he or she may also be asked by the court to contribute to the child’s future financial activities and needs, such as vacation, camp, dental and medical care, and school expenses. There is no specific federal ruling, though, regarding the necessity of support for children who have already reached the age of 18 but still want to pursue higher education; nor is there a final court ruling regarding the continuity of the payment of support upon the death of the obligor or non-custodial parent.
The factors considered and the rules governing child support vary from state to state. Consult with an experienced child support lawyer to learn more about this issue.
The process of ending a marriage and settling all related issues legally is often emotional and fairly complex, which can make some couples have second thoughts about ending a marriage which is otherwise unsustainably. Nevertheless, couples who wish to end their marriage do not necessarily have to undergo a traumatic, costly, time-intensive process. In fact, there are a number of ways in which a divorce can be pursued simply and effectively, as long as both parties are willing to work together.
While it is true that some divorce cases can only be settled in the court, it is also true that divorce through mediation can help husbands and wives settle their divorce amicably, sparing them time in court and costly legal fees. Mediated divorce, which is quickly becoming a more popular way of reaching a divorce settlement, allows couples to decide on their own how they wish to separate and to draft their own agreement. This type of settlement also helps to diminish the pressure connected to divorce, allowing individuals to stay in control of the whole process.
Meditation is aimed at helping couples find the most ideal solutions to all divorce-related issues. With their respective lawyers (hiring a lawyer is optional, though highly recommended) they discuss things before a mediator until they come to terms that are most agreeable to both of them. Though a mediator may offer his or her opinion at times, he or she cannot force any agreement on the spouses.
Some of the reasons why this alternative to more traditional methods of divorce is more preferable include: it greatly reduces time and money spent; it allows couples to see the most agreeable solutions themselves; it promotes confidentiality, free from courtroom spectators and reporters; it allows the couples to communicate freely and effectively; and, most of all, it puts the couple in total control of the process and the outcome.
Alimony or spousal support is one spouse’s lawful obligation to give monetary support to his or her former partner after separation or divorce. In the past, spousal support typically consisted of the husband paying his former wife. Modern practice, however, typically has a more gender-neutral viewpoint, instead requiring any spouse with significantly more financial assets to provide support to the other spouse.
Rules regarding this important divorce-related issue and the factors that help determine how much support ought to be given and who ought to receive it vary from state to state, so if you are interested in pursuing a divorce in North Carolina, you should contact a Raleigh divorce attorney to better understand how the law will apply to you specifically.
Alimony usually falls under four different types:
- Temporary – this is otherwise known as “pending the suit,” from the Latin pendente lite; it is given when spouses decide to separate even before they get divorced.
- Rehabilitative – the spouse who earns less is the recipient of the support, but only until he or she acquires work and becomes self-sufficient.
- Permanent – so long as the supporting spouse is alive or the beneficiary has not remarried or died, the financial support to the one earning less is given continuously.
- Reimbursement – this support takes the form of repayment to a spouse for the expenses, such as education, he or she has made during marriage.
Some of the factors affecting decisions on alimony cases are: duration of the marriage; age of the spouses when the divorce began; income of the spouses and their financial prospects in the future; health of the divorcing parties; and fault in marital breakdown.
More than 10 years of civil union or marriage usually merits permanent alimony. However, the amount of this alimony can vary significantly, and even those who receive permanent alimony may no longer be able to support themselves at the standard of living to which they may have become accustomed in their marriage.
When a married couple seeks a divorce, it must decide how to split its debts, assets, and property. If the spouses cannot negotiate a decision on its own, the divorce court will handle it for them.
The laws for how a court determines asset division vary from state to state. Most states follow an equitable distribution model, but Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin use what is called “community property.”
In community property states, all of each spouse’s assets and debts are split right down the middle. Each spouse will be responsible for half of the debts accrued through the marriage and will be entitled to half of the assets.
However, there is a chance that a spiteful spouse will rack up new debt after making the decision to divorce, knowing he or she will be responsible for only half of it afterwards. An attorney can help you recognize and fight this unfair financial manipulation in court.
When a married couple reaches the conclusion that it needs to separate, they will have to decide how to split up all of the assets, belongings, and debts they have acquired during the course of the marriage. They may be able to do so amicably, but most divorcing couples end up taking the matter to court.
The majority of states use an equitable distribution model. This means that the value of all the marriage’s assets are summed and each member receives an equitable amount of those assets. Keep in mind that equitable does necessarily mean a perfect half and half split. Instead, the court determines what is equitable through a number of factors such as:
- Length of the marriage
- Debts and assets each individual had entering wedlock
- Earning capacity and potential
- Childcare obligations
Because of variances in these factors, it is possible for one of the spouses to get next to none of the marriage’s assets when it is dissolved. It’s best to consult with a divorce attorney during this process to increase the likelihood you receive a deal that is fair to you in the divorce’s conclusion.
So, you and your spouse have decided to end the marriage. The next thing to do is to find the right divorce lawyer to help you settle the differences and end the relationship with as little damage as possible. Although there are a lot of lawyers to choose from, hiring the right lawyer can be one way to ensure that your rights are protected and that you are represented well in court.
Not all divorce are the same, and so finding the right lawyer to fight for your right can be essential. Here are some important things to consider when looking for the right divorce lawyer:
- Experience – find a lawyer with a lot of experience in divorce or family law. Ask about how many cases he or she has handled, and what these cases where (see if they are the same circumstance as yours). See if they are familiar with the divorce laws in your area, and find someone who specializes in this particular field of law.
- Communication – have an open communication with your lawyer. Make sure that what you want and need in the divorce is clearly understood, and that your lawyer will respect your opinions and choices regarding the divorce process. Don’t let your anger transfer to your lawyer, and be proactive during the whole divorce process. Ask for a copy of all documents being filed in the court, and be responsible for your lawyer.
- Payment – consulting a lawyer regarding your divorce may be free for many, but there are those experienced in the field that charge their consultations. Ask about their hourly rates, how they are going to send the invoices (and how often), as well as reimbursements/refunds if there will be any. Put everything in paper, and everything should be clear regarding payments and fees to avoid complications in the future.
- Traits – with divorce being an emotional, financial and psychological thing to go through, having someone you are comfortable with is vital. Stress, anger and many other things can take a toll on you, and you might lose focus many times. Find someone who can point you to the right direction, and could help you get through the process as easily as possible.
Hiring the right divorce lawyers is a very important decision. Because of the complexity of dissolving a divorce, having the right person to help you walk through the process could help lessen the stress and burden that you may feel. End your relationship on the right note by having the right lawyer standing in your place.
Divorce can be a difficult and complicated process, and this problem is especially true when child custody is involved. During divorce proceedings involving a marriage with children, it will be necessary to work out a custody arrangement between the two parents. Once the court has decided on the agreements regarding child support and visitation rights, both parents should be able to follow the agreement.
When negotiating visitation rights, the process will be easier if both parents agree; however, this is not always the case. After some time and certain circumstances arise, it may be possible that a modification of visitation rights is necessary. If the parents can’t reach an agreement regarding the modifications of the visitation agreement, then it may be necessary to go to court to resolve the issue. Some of the more common reasons for modifications of visitation rights are:
1. Change of address or relocation of one parent
2. Changes in the child’s needs
3. Demise of the guardian or parent who has full custody of the child
4. Evidence of violent acts of one or both parents
5. Changes in the mental or psychological health of one or both parents
A child or children’s needs changes as time passes, and these changes may necessitate modifications of visitation rights. Minor changes such as the number of hours or days of visitation or changes in location can be talked over by both parents, but the decision should always be in the child’s best interest. Serious changes, such as relocations, child support, schedules, and other issues should be put on paper and filed for the judge and court to agree upon. This ensures clear and binding agreements on the new visitation and child support changes.
Any parent who believes they are on the losing end of the visitation rights can appeal to the court for modifications of the agreement.
When a married couple seeks a divorce, there must be a reason for the marriage to be dissolved lawfully. This means they have to get the marriage legally divorced by the state. Otherwise, the couple will remain technically married to one another until one or both of them take action. The specific grounds for a divorce vary from state to state, but there are two different general types of divorce: fault and no fault.
All states offer fault divorces, but the acceptable reasons may vary between them. These are divorces that are sought after because one partner has wronged the other. Common reasons for fault divorce include:
- Drug addiction
- Criminal conviction
No fault divorces differ in that one partner does not have to egregiously harm or wrong the other in order for the court to consider granting one. Every state has a way for citizens to seek a no fault divorce. This kind of divorce covers couples who have agreed that their marriage is not working and are looking for a way to end it. Typically, the court will require the couple to be separated for some amount of time before it will accept a no fault divorce.
Much like marriage, divorce is a major step that can drastically change your life. Being aware of what to expect and how to choose an attorney will do a lot to make the process easier to manage.