Frequently Asked Questions
Given the appropriate facts and circumstances, you can file for legal separation, dissolution of marriage (most common) or nullity of marriage if you believe a valid marriage was never formed. Seek the counsel of an attorney if you wish to pursue legal separation or nullity of marriage and these options are more complicated than a simple dissolution.
That will depend on several factors such as how much effort you put into the preparation of responses to documents and responses to disclosure of information.
You and your spouse can either agree on a schedule or the court will make a decision about where the children go and when. The court’s decision will be based on ensuring the consistency and stability of the children typically referred to as “Best Interest of the Child”.
The court may consider any factor it believes is relevant to the determination, but will most likely look at the amount of quality time each child spends with each parent, if there is any domestic violence involved in the matter, if there is any child abuse involved, who are the child or children bonded to and in who’s care do the children thrive.
There are two types of support; temporary support and permanent support. Both types of support include child support and spousal support. The purpose of temporary support is intended to maintain the status quo while the action is proceeding. Permanent support is intended to provide support for all times beyond the proceeding so that the children and the supported parent can continue to live in the same lifestyle as they did during the marriage. Start keeping a budget to help determine what that picture looks like now represented in financial terms.
The short answer is that you are required to work at your highest capability to support yourself and your children. There are several factors which may affect this requirement. If you are not receiving help with daycare or after school care that will affect your ability to work full time. If you have a child with special needs that will affect your ability to work full time. If you need more education to work at a higher level that may affect the type of work you can do. You may need more education or training. The court will take all of these issues into consideration in making a support order.
First, call the police and file a report or seek a criminal protective order. The police in most all jurisdictions will help you with making the determination if a criminal protective order is required. Know that domestic violence perpetrated by a spouse may be physical, verbal or psychological, such as stalking your or sending you hundreds of emails and /or text messages in a day. Seek immediate help from the police and a counselor as well as an attorney.
Either the parties can work to divide the assets between the parties or the court will make a determination. The court is required to make a division that is as equal as possible. In making a decision on who gets what asset or liability, the court will consider who can pay for the asset or liability and which party needs that asset to continue to support and provide for the children, i.e., who should be awarded the house and where have the children lived for most of their lives. Again, the court looks to maintain stability and consistency for the children.
Again, either the parties can arrive at an amount that the business is worth and then decide who will take the business and how much will be paid to the other party. If the parties can not make this decision then the court will make this decision based on a report from a forensic accountant after looking at all the books.. and records of the business. The court may also take into account any separate property that was used to start the business or to keep it going. The infusion of separate property into a business will make the analysis more complicated but it is not impossible to make a decision with this added wrinkle.
So long as the party claiming the use of separate property in the acquisition of an asset or use in operating a business can be traced to a separate source, the court will give that party a reimbursement of separate property. This is a simplification of the issue, however the bottom line is to keep all records related to receipt of separate property and how those funds were used so that the court can give the party seeking reimbursement credit.
The first determination is when was the account opened and did it take place during marriage. If prior to marriage, then the party who opened the account and made contribution will receive credit for the initial deposits and all accumulations on those amounts. If the account was opened during marriage, then the account will divided between the parties. In either case a process called a QDRO or Qualified Domestic Relations Order will be required.
If debts are acquired during marriage they are considered to be community debts and each party if obligated to pay for the debt. In most instances, the debt will follow the award of an asset such that if a house is awarded to one party, that party will be required to pay the debt on the house. The same is true with automobiles. Credit cards are usually equally divided in half by allocating the cards as evenly as possible to the parties.
Each party in a termination of marriage action, most commonly called a dissolution of marriage action provides that each party has the right to receive funds to be equally represented in the action. Simply put, one spouse has the right to request that the other spouse pay for both parties’ attorney fees and costs. In some, instances a parent who is paying for the attorney’s fees may be ordered to pay for all attorney’s fees.
The court looks at a multitude of factors. The court considers the need of the party and the ability of the other party to pay. The court also considers the amount of spousal support that either party is paying or receiving. Finally, the court considers the basis for fees from the party seeking the fees.