The thin line between love and hate is nor more apparent than in family court, most notably in contested divorce cases. A divorce lawyer can be used to help streamline the process as the two spouses can barely have a civil conversation and if they do, it is short and unrelated to the divorce. Every divorce case is different but most cover major issues that can affect a person’s life and those they love, for a long time. In this article, I will address the three biggest factors in a contested divorce that everyone who is considering filling out divorce papers or has filed for divorce should know.
- Child Custody-Where Will the Children Reside?
One of the biggest, most fought over issue in a contested divorce is child custody. Child custody encompasses the legal rights of the children (i.e. joint custody or sole custody), which lays the foundation going forward as to which parent will make the most critical decisions for the children. With sole custody, one parent will make all of those decisions whereas in joint custody situations both parents confer with regard to major decisions. The next issue concerning child custody is where the children will reside and a parenting schedule. If the parties still reside together with the children during the divorce, it is difficulty to determine who will be the primary or custodial parent. If one parent has already left, the court may view that in its determination for a final custody order. Fighting for custody can involve expert testimony, therapists, teachers, family and can become very expensive but in the end, if you do not fight for your kids, who will you fight for?
- Alimony and Contested Divorces
If there was a picture next to the word alimony in dictionary it would probably be of a man who is so angry that you will probably turn the page very fast. Alimony in non-fault states can be awarded to the dependent spouse regardless of the acts that spouse may have committed during the marriage. For example, if your spouse had a five year affair with your best friend, your spouse can still receive alimony in a divorce. Adultery is only one reason a spouse can be upset about paying alimony but in the end when someone wants a divorce, they want to move on in every way including moving on financially. In most states, there is no set formula to determine alimony so the paying spouse tends to want to fight this issue as hard as possible and for as long as possible.
- Equitable Distribution, the division of marital property.
The third issue I will touch upon in a contested divorce is the division of marital property. In contested matters, one of the issues may be that certain assets were purchased before the marriage but one spouse may still want a share in those assets anyway. One spouse may claim that they helped enhance the value of those assets and should receive a portion. In other cases, both spouses may want to keep the marital home or other asset that is dear to both of them. A Judge has the power to order the property or asset for one spouse, the Judge may order to sell the asset and divide the proceeds as he or she sees fit. However, before you actually get to a Judge, the fighting, arguing and negotiating continues in order to jockey for what is most important to you.
Regardless if you feel your case will be somewhat amicable or you know it will be a long battle, consult with and work with an experienced professional to ensure you know all your rights.